Mac OS Leopard can’t format a USB hard disk? Seriously?
Though I spend most of my waking hours working with them, I spend almost no time actually writing about Mac computers. Generally, I love my Macs, and wouldn’t trade them for anything. But ever since Leopard was released, I’ve been having serious multiple-hour-wasting problems doing straightforward things. And when I go to research possible solutions, I see that lots of other people are having the exact same problems. Today’s example: formatting a USB hard disk with Disk Utility.
Last week, after trying Time Capsule and realizing that there was no way I could—at least with its current software—rely upon it as a device for streaming iTunes video content around the office or house, the 1TB Capsule went back to the store and was replaced by a brand new 1TB G-Tech G-Drive Q. For the uninitiated, G-Tech makes great drives, and Q is a fast but wire-tethered option. It was a snap to transfer the contents of a smaller 500GB USB 2.0-only G-Drive onto the newer 1TB unit, but when I went to format the 500GB model, I hit a snag. Apple’s Disk Utility couldn’t do it.
Specifically, when you use the Erase tab—which anyone would do when trying to erase a drive—Disk Utility gets stuck at the very start of the formatting process, when it’s supposedly creating a partition map. When displaying the “Creating Partition Map” message, the adjacent barber pole-style progress bar grinds and grinds for hours, until it’s terminated.
Closer inspection of the application showed that it was hung. Reading numerous support postings online showed me that other users have been experiencing this issue for quite some time. Trying the same format with another Leopard machine produced the same results, and trying a format from the OS X 10.5 installation DVD did, too.
After contacting G-Tech, which tried its best to be helpful, I was presented with only two known solutions: find an older version of OS X, or use a PC with MacDrive to format the drive. “Ah,” I said, “I have 10.4.10 installed on my Mac mini.” Amazingly, that didn’t work, either. It turns out that when G-Tech said older, it meant “pre-10.4.6.” Apparently, Apple has been aware of this issue since April of 2006, when OS X 10.4.6 was released and Disk Utility started to hang when formatting USB drives (see G-Tech’s FAQ, CURRENT FIREWIRE/SATA/USB PRODUCTS, #10). Nearly two years have passed, and the bug hasn’t been fixed, persisting through the 10.4 point releases and now 10.5, as well.
So there’s good news for those of you who have been having USB hard disk formatting problems: if you can find a Mac OS X 10.4 install disc that’s pre-10.4.6, pop it into your computer, hold down the C key, and run Disk Utility straight from the DVD. Pick the Erase tab, hit Erase, the formatting process will take 30 seconds or less, and you can go back to using your USB drive normally. Can’t find an old Mac OS X disc? Use a PC with MacDrive. Amazing, isn’t it, that something as simple as this—in an application that once worked just fine, and still works just fine from DVD—hasn’t been fixed for so long? And that for recent Apple customers whose only OS discs contain 10.5, the easiest solution might be to use a PC?
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Apple Pay support coming to more vending machines, kiosks, parking meters
- Apple releases iOS 8.1.3
- Apple TV adds 120 Sports channel
- Report: Bank verification methods leave Apple Pay vulnerable to fraud
- Apple filing reveals executive compensation plans, earnings
- Report: Apple Watch battery life expected to be about 19 hours
- Apple outlines limited HomeKit support for non-HomeKit accessories
- Report: Apple agrees to accept product inspections from Chinese government
- IK Multimedia announces iRig Mic Studio
- NimbleBit announces Apple Watch support for Letterpad
- Odoyo Power+Shell EX Rechargeable Battery Case for iPhone 6
- Patriot Memory Fuel iON Magnetic Charging Case with Charging Pad for iPhone 6
- Lenmar Maven Battery Case for iPhone 6
- STM Studio for iPad Air 2
- VSN Mobil V.360 Camera
- Booq Booqpad for iPad Air 2
- Incipio offGRID Express for iPhone 6
- Incipio Tuxen for iPad Air 2
- Incipio Trestle for iPhone 6 Plus
- Urban Armor Gear Folio Case for iPad Air 2
- Can I share in-app subscriptions among family members?
- Can I cancel or ‘unsend’ sent iMessages?
- Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s HomeKit
- Reorganizing files in the iTunes Media Folder
- Exchange text messages between two iPhones with no cellular data plan
- The Booths of the iProducts Marketplace at CES 2015
- Hands-on with CarPlay at CES 2015
- iLounge announces its CES 2015 Best of Show Awards
- Five Things to Watch for at CES 2015
- Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide for 2014