FireWire woes: Kanguru drive the culprit

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 5th, 2004 • 4:03 am

I think I’ve finally identified the reason behind my recent FireWire woes.

Today, I wanted to do a search for a file in the Finder. I chose to search “Everywhere” because I couldn’t remember which volume it might be on. The searching process started, the search results window appeared and started filling up, and then — I heard a “clunk” noise in my external Kanguru QuickSilver drive. The activity in the search results window stopped, and everything in the Finder just froze. Other applications were still responsive, unless I tried to access some Finder-related feature through them, typically through an Open or Save As dialog. This would cause them to freeze as well.

Force-quitting and relaunching the Finder didn’t work.

Turning the external Kanguru drive off manually with its power button obviously caused the warning about having unplugged a FireWire drive without unmounting it first to appear — but it also brought the Finder back to life.

Turning the Kanguru drive back on didn’t work. The drive powered up, but its volumes never appeared. Yet when I turned it off again, I got the warning again about having unplugged the device without unmounting it first. So obviously some part of Mac OS X thought the volumes were mounted, even though they didn’t appear in the Finder or in any other application.

I then unplugged the FireWire cable from the Kanguru drive and turned the drive on this way (i.e. as a stand-alone device, not connected to the FireWire chain). Once it had powered up, I plugged the FireWire cable back into it, and the volumes mounted properly on my desktop.

The moral of the story?

  1. This drive is defective, it’s under warranty, and it is going back to its manufacturer.
  2. FireWire failures are really not handled very gracefully by Mac OS X. Instead of warning that the drive has suddenly become unresponsive, the Finder just freezes, and you cannot make it work again until you actually unplug the drive, even though this goes against all Apple recommendations.
  3. There is still a certain amount of FireWire flakiness involved, which causes the drive to mount properly “internally” in Mac OS X but the volumes never appear on the desktop.

Oh well. That’s one mystery sorted out.

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