Mac OS Leopard can’t format a USB hard disk? Seriously?
Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
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.
- iWatch poll ends, first accessory poll begins
- Hyundai bringing CarPlay to 2015 Sonata
- Apple agrees to anti-theft smartphone measures
- 8GB iPhone 5c launches in more European countries
- iPhone 6 metal mockups spotted at electronics show
- Alpine Electronics announces aftermarket CarPlay products
- Apps: A&E/History 2.0, Ally 3.0, Amazon Cloud Drive Photos 3.0 + Pandora 5.3
- Pioneer officially announces aftermarket CarPlay access
- iWatch: LG to supply flexible displays, September release?
- Alleged iPhone 6 front panel, batteries leaked
- Favi Swivel Screen Portfolio Case with Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad Air
- ChargerLeash Charge & Sync Smart Lightning Cable
- iWalk Sound Angle Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- iWalk Extreme 10,000 Duo Battery Pack
- Speck DuraFolio for iPad Air + iPad mini
- Hack Things Poppy 3D Camera for iPhone 4/4S/5/5c/5s + iPod touch 5G
- Tavik Hemings for iPad Air
- Spigen SGP GLAS.tR SLIM Privacy for iPhone 5/5c/5s
- Incipio [Performance] Armband for iPhone 5/5c/5s + iPod touch 5G
- Brookstone Perfect Drink App-Controlled Smart Bartending
- The Complete Guide to Apple TV Channels
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad, 2001 to 2010
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad: 2011 to Today
- Viewing only downloaded iTunes Match tracks
- Splitting purchased content between two iPads
- iLounge’s 2014 CES Best of Show Awards: iPad, iPhone, iPod + Mac
- Preview: 7 Big Apple Trends To Expect At The 2014 CES
- Non-Bluetooth Lightning dock speakers
- Shared Apple ID and switching away from iPhone
- Syncing multiple iCloud data with a family Mac