FireWire Strangeness

I have a My Book Home Edition that I have been using on my Snow Leopard iMac for quite some time.  The drive supports both USB and FireWire but has always been connected via USB.  I have had no problems with it at all.  I would now like to add a second newer My Book, one that only supports USB.  Because I am running out of USB ports, I thought I would switch the older My Book to FireWire.  This is where the strangeness comes in.

If I connect just the FireWire My Book (i.e., no new USB My Book yet) to the iMac, the drive does not mount nor does it show up in Disk Utilities.  Checking the FireWire bus with System Profiler I get a warning about it being unable to list FireWire devices.  I saw in the system Console, that the FireWire bus was unstable, and lots of resets.  This was with the cable plugged into the My Book’s bottom port.  I then tried the top port and checked System Profiler.  Instead of the warning, it simply said “Unknown Device”.  Swapped back and got the warnings again.  Swapped back to top and got “Unknown Device”.

Searching the web, I found that other people have FireWire issues and that there are many things I could try, e.g., turn the cable around, try a different cable, sacrifice a chicken, reset SMC.  Tried all but still doesn’t work.  Thinking that there might be something wrong with the drive’s FireWire interface, I plugged it into an old Mac Mini running Leopard instead of Snow Leopard.  The drive mounted without errors.

I actually have another older FireWire drive (not a My Book) that I am replacing so I reconnected it in order to test the cables and iMac’s FireWire port.  It mounted just fine.  On a hunch, I tried daisy-chaining the My Book through the old FireWire drive.  To my surprise, it worked and the drive mounted.  So plugging the My Book directly to the iMac doesn’t work, but daisy-chaining through this other drive does.  Hmmm.

I saw that there may be a firmware upgrade for the drive.  I’ve always had the mindset that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when it comes to firmware upgrades.  But I guess it’s broke, so it needs fixing.  I just wish there were release notes available so I would know if the upgrade fixes FireWire issues.  This is my backup drive and I don’t want to take a chance on it getting corrupted.

I am planning on trying a 9 pin <-> 6 pin cable and connect the My Book to the 800 port just to see what happens.  I prefer to use FireWire, but I’ll probably end up getting a USB hub and connecting both My Books through it.

Could it be that the drive is just to old to work on firewire on your newer computer? o.o

Im having a similar problem with the Mybook Studio II . Details are    Here .  Hope a solution can be found.