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 to sell limited-edition Olympic Apple Watch bands exclusively in Brazil
- Report: iPhone 7 will include Lightning adapter instead of Lightning EarPods
- Edward Snowden designing device to prevent iPhone wiretapping
- Report: Apple Car team running into challenges, launch may slip to 2021
- Corning announces Gorilla Glass 5
- Apple under fire for providing refurbished replacements under AppleCare+
- Report: Apple acquires cloud music provider Omnifone? [Update: No]
- Apple releases second iOS 10 public beta
- India clears the way for Apple to open retail stores
- Apple Pay launches in Hong Kong
- Netatmo Tags for Welcome Smart Home Camera
- iDevices Socket HomeKit-enabled Light Adapter
- Koogeek Wi-Fi SmartPlug for Apple HomeKit
- Marbotic Smart Letters for iPad
- Ecoxgear Sol Jam Bluetooth Speaker
- Gumdrop Cases DropTech Case + Hand Strap for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Braven BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker
- Braven BRV-Blade Bluetooth Speaker
- Invoxia Voice Bridge
- Incase Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app