Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
FireWire on a Beige G3 Mac
My beige G3 Macintosh contains an OrangeLink PCI card (from OrangeMicro) that adds two FireWire and two USB 1 ports. I purchased an external FireWire drive for backups and storage. I chose an 80 GB drive from Maxtor. The drive came with Maxtor Utilities 3.2 and Maxtor FireWire drivers on a CD-ROM. I installed the software, restarted, connected the drive, and waited. Nothing happened. I launched the Maxtor FireWire Utility and got a message stating “No supported device installed! Please install the Maxtor FireWire Support…”
I looked in Conflict Catcher and discovered numerous FireWire-related files: FireWire Enabler, FireWire Lynx Enabler, and FireWire Support from Apple; FireWire OrangeLink Enabler and FireWire OrangeLink PC Card; and Maxtor FireWire Support. Thinking I might have an extension conflict, I restarted with only FireWire extensions active. The drive still wouldn’t mount.
I used the FireWire features of Hard Disk Toolkit 4.0 (from FWB). HDT installed FWB FireWire Support Lib and FWB>SCMFW-SCSIBridgeP-Disk driver. I restarted but still could not mount the drive. I concluded that the FireWire extensions were conflicting with one another. Through trial and error I found a combination that allowed me to mount the drive!
Unfortunately, Maxtor formats its FireWire drives as PC drives. I used HDT to reformat the drive. I then needed to initialize the drive. Initialization proceeded briefly, and then the cursor spun merrily while the progress bar froze. Twenty minutes later I forced HDT to quit, which resulted in a frozen Mac. I restarted again and the drive did not mount. I unplugged and replugged the FireWire cable, and the Finder saw the drive, but with an unrecognized format. My options were to “eject” it or format it as a Mac drive. I chose the latter option, and the Finder started building the disk directory. The watch cursor displayed for many minutes with no progress. I forced the Finder to quit and restarted. Same scenario as before. I let the Finder work on disk overnight without success. I restarted and went back to HDT 4. Format and initialization seemed to work this time. I went back to the Finder, and it mounted the drive!
I tested the drive by copying a folder containing 21 MB of font files. My Mac locked up when 11.1 MB had been copied. I restarted and relaunched HDT 4. I ran drive tests. The write test locked-up HDT 4. I restarted again. The drive would not mount. I called technical support at Maxtor. After wending my way through multiple menus I got disconnected. I tried again and reached a support tech. We tried numerous things without success. He asked if there was a FireWire-capable PC I could use to see if the drive worked. (No, our PCs at work are too old.) The support tech said he would e-mail version 3.4 of Maxtor utilities which might work better than 3.2. He also said that Maxtor may put out a disclaimer that its drives are only assured to work on Macs with native FireWire connections.
I went to FWB’s Web site to check on HDT upgrades. HDT 4.5 was available with better FireWire support. I bought, downloaded, and installed the upgrade including its FireWire Loader files. This time, HDT also installed “FWB > Maxtor Disk Driver.” I restarted, launched HDT 4.5, and plugged-in my Maxtor drive. HDT saw the drive. I formatted and initialized the drive in just moments. The drive mounted on my desktop. I tested the drive with complete success. I then went to the Finder and began copying files. The new drive worked and was very fast. I breathed a sigh of relief after having spent over five hours troubleshooting my “plug and play” FireWire drive. I thought this only happened to Windows users.
The morals of the story:
1. When a manufacturer claims a FireWire or USB device is PC and Mac compatible, find out if the device has been tested while connected via add-in cards (including your specific model).
2. Before installing a new drive (hard drive, CD-R/RW, or DVD), get the latest version of the best utility: Hard Disk Toolkit for fixed and removable drives and Toast Titanium for CD and DVD burners.
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive