[UPDATED] Certain external hard drives may cause the new MacBook Pro to shut down

Apple / Tech
external hard drives

One of our readers contacted us to let us know that his brand new MacBook Pro shut down and rebooted any time he tried to use his external hard drives.

When it rains it pours and that’s exactly what seems to be happening for Apple’s new MacBook Pro. We already know that users have been complaining about battery issues and GPU problems. Now we have at least one user who is experiencing issues with certain external hard drives. External hard drives are an essential tool for many users and a lot of us have done a Time Machine backup to our external hard drives. One of our readers contacted us to let us know that his brand new MacBook Pro shut down and rebooted any time he tried to use his external hard drives. I have read online that some users have had trouble getting their Time Machine backup to work on their new MacBook Pro and this hard drive issue could be the culprit.

UPDATE (12/08/2016 17:05EST): Apple has addressed this issue in macOS 10.12.2 beta5, please read more here.

UPDATE (12/08/2016 16:50EST): Our original source has gotten back to us to tell us that he has tried a Lacie USB-C drive that has also crashed his MacBook Pro. He also provided us with some excerpts from the Apple support forums showing that the external hard drives issue isn’t just his problem.

Using USB 3.1 storage device causes reboot (Dec 7th)
Tonight, I was copying files to an external drive on my Late 2016, 15″ Macbook Pro. The drive was connected using the Apple USB-C adapter to a USB 3.1 cable attached to the drive. Checking the System Report, I confirmed the external drive was connected to the USB 3.1 Bus at 10 Gbps. Copying large files (video) to the drive caused the laptop to freeze and then reboot. I was able to reproduce this time and time again. I then connected the exact same drive using a USB-C to USB-C 2.0 cable. I confirmed the drive was then connected to the USB 3.0 Bus at 480 Mbps. I was able to copy files to the external drive without issue.

Considering that this seriously cripples the speed I expect from the USB-C ports, this is not acceptable. Has anyone else experienced this? BTW, I was able to reproduce the reboots using two different external drives from different manufacturers
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I have the same issue. Apple Care told me to reinstall OS. Still not working. I’ve used several drives on all ports. Made an appointment @ Apple for Tuesday. The Guy I spoke to at AC recommended to try beta OS. I’ll install and try b/u again. I’ll let you know if this works.
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Still crapped out. Has to be Hardware., albeit Apple insists it’s s/w
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Same issue on TWO brand-new 15″ MBP touch bars. GRRRR! Apple! help! Cannot backup machine!
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Cannot backup machine!
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If you have important data use Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper! or even Disk Utility to make sure you have a copy on an external disk. Time Machine is OK, but one backup is not enough (as this issue is demonstrating).

These new models require Apple to use specialist tools to access the soldered on storage if it fails.
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Thanks Drew; I am for many years using CCC, SD! and TM for backups, successfully with other machines. With these brand new MBPtb’s, almost nothing is working, trying different brands of disks, different cables, etc all through Apple’s own adapters or with drive manufacturer’s USBc-USBc and/or Apple’s cable.
I sure hope Apple provides an answer soon. You spend this much money, and you expect the thing to work properly…
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Other online backup services may keep you ticking over if this one is refusing to work with external devices (Arq, BackBlaze etc).
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I have exactly the same problem with my MBP 2016. I have reinstalled OS, etc… I am also using Apple’s USB-C adapter and a new disk.
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Was using 13″ with i7. Apple could not resolve in store. Gave up and upgraded to 15″ top tier and it works fine.
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Same issue on a 15″ MBP 2016
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Already did a fresh install without backup: simply hope that is SW and not HW

With usb 2.0 (or via wireless on a NAS) no issues: seems related to the higher I/o with USB 3.0
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New 15″ here. My external drive dedicated to Time Machine did not freeze when backing up. However, when I have two external drives (attached via Thunderbolt adaptor as they are not usb-c cables), the computer crashes when transferring files. I use SuperDuper (software) to make an exact duplicate and reached out to them. They said it was a problem with the new computers:

This is a problem with the new MacBook Pros. They crash under heavy I/O on USB/Thunderbolt with a low-level Machine Check. It happens with external Ethernet adapters too, and with Time Machine (to directly connected drives). You’ll need to talk to Apple about the problem…
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Spoke with Apple Support who elevated my call to another agent. They have requested engineers to look into issue which takes a few days. Also, as a follow up, I mounted my two external drives to my 2013 MB Pro and there are no issues in copying files from one drive to another. So, it’s either the adaptors that are the problem or the 2016 computer hardware..
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There are two know issues with Adapters:
Note: The Apple USB-C Digital AV Multi-port Adapter is not compatible with the G-Tech G-DRIVE mobile USB 3.0 Hard Drive (Apple part number HF4F2VC/A).
and the ‘default’ charge cable is not really a ThunderBolt cable at all:
This charge cable — with USB-C connectors on both ends — is ideal for charging USB-C devices, and also supports USB 2 for syncing and data transfer between USB-C devices [at USB-2 speeds maximum].

Original article continued:

One thing that seems to go unmentioned is the problem of certain external hard drives causing the MBP to shut down and restart. I had this happen to me with my brand new 15 inch MBP 2016. After going through Apple support, they had me take it to a Genius Bar. They swapped it out for another new one with same specs (I was disappointed because I had Space Gray and they only had the Silver ones in stock). The problem happened on this new one within about 2 hours of my external drives connected. I was quite dismayed and upset.

I tried a couple of other hard drives to see if they caused the same issue. I found that the 2 Seagate Backup Plus Portable drives for Mac caused the problem every time connected (no matter which adapters or even my thunderbolt dock). I even tried new cables with no difference. But, my OWC SSD and my Glyph 4420 1TB drives work fine and do not cause the laptop to shutdown and restart.

I got back with Apple support for about 1.5 hours yesterday to discuss my findings. Their supervisor finally stepped in and says that it is a software issue and they have Apple engineers working on a fix. Thankfully, not a hardware issue.

There are a number of others who experienced this problem as I read in the Apple Support Community forums. Don’t know what specific make/model of drives they were using.

This is the first we’ve heard that an external hard drive may be a problem, though I have heard about problems with Time Machine backups failing from external hard drives. As far as Apple working on a software fix, we shall see if Apple’s PR gets back to me with the same answer. Please email me if you guys are having similar issues with your MacBook Pro. Or just comment below or hit us up on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

  Source: Apple Support Forums   Source: Apple Support Forums   Source: Apple Support Forums   Source: Apple Support Forums
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