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Question: External hard drive isn't showing up on my Mac

I was listening to music in iTunes when iTunes decided to crash after I had clicked on a song to play. I waited a few minutes hoping that iTunes would return back to normal but it did not, so I then decided to go to activity monitor and force quit iTunes (which was unresponsive) and re-open it. When I clicked on the iTunes icon in my dock it just bounced up and down and never opened up. I went to activity monitor again and saw that it said iTunes was unresponsive. Next, I just decided that I would just restart my Mac, hoping that it would fix this issue. I then proceeded to open iTunes and see if it worked but this time a iTunes pop-up appeared stating that my library could not be found. All my music is stored on a Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive which I have connected when I am listening to music so I went to check if the drive was showing on my desktop and it was not there nor was it in disk utility or finder; however it was making its normal fan noise and its light was on.

Since I could not see the drive, I wasn't able to eject it so I just decided to unplug it. When I unplugged the drive, the cautionary pop-up that states that you should eject your drive instead of unplugging it appeared which was weird since I couldn't find the drive anywhere else. I decided to plug it back in hoping perhaps it would show up and after a while it showed under storage and on the side panel in Finder. While my drive was plugged in I experienced that Finder was prone to crashing and it would take a long time to load applications (constant beach ball on screen) or they wouldn't open at all such as disk utility or to look at about this mac however if I unplugged the drive these would open up immediately.

I tried the drive on my sisters Mac and it took a few minutes but it appeared on her desktop. I was able to access the content within however it was really slow to open. All my files and folders seemed to be in place and I was able to access them but once again it was extremely slow to navigate and open them and the beach ball would frequently appear. I decided to move around about 6-7 pictures and it took around 20-25 minutes to transfer these. If I were to move larger files such as music and movies it would take a ridiculously long time. I'm not sure why I'm not able to access the files on my Mac.

I'm not sure where to go from here. I haven't plugged in my drive into a device in around 2 days because I've heard that can further damage and worsen the condition of the drive. So my questions are:

  • Why is the external so slow and why is Finder the only application that crashes?
  • Why can I see the external and its contents on my sisters Mac and not mine?
  • What are some ways that I can transfer/backup the important files from the external?

I have a MacBook Pro 2017.


MacBook Pro, macOS High Sierra (10.13.4)

Posted on


May 27, 2018 6:34 PM in response to JJBNNG In response to JJBNNG

It sounds like your drive may be developing some Bad Blocks.

This produces slowdowns because the drive controller tries really hard to re-read the block and get good data 'the next time around', that is, the next time the data spins under the read-write head. That only takes about 8.3 milliseconds for a 7200RPM desktop drive, but if it does not come clean the next time, it does it again, as many as 1,000 times, (that could take as long as 8.3 seconds worst case).

If you have several blocks going bad in a busy area of the drive, everything slows way down.

The way you make a backup (which you should have been doing all along) is to attach yet another external drive and turn on Time Machine.

Take steps to acquire an external drive as soon as possible. If you buy one, a drive 2 to 3 times or larger than 'what you want to back up' is preferable for long term trouble-free operation. Do not pay extra for a drive that is fast. (You can get by for a while with a "found" smaller drive if necessary, but it will eventually become annoying).

Attach your external drive and use

System preferences > Time machine ...

... to turn on Time Machine. It may ask to initialize the new drive, and that is as expected.

Time Machine will then spend all afternoon making your first full backup. You can continue to do your regular work while it does this. The first Full Backup is by far the biggest backup. After that, it will work quietly and automatically in the background, without interrupting your regular work, and only save the incremental changes.

Time machine's "claim to fame" is that it is the backup that gets done, because it does not ruin performance of the rest of the computer while doing its backup operations. You do not have to set aside a "Special Time" when you only do backups. When you need it, it is much more likely to be there.

May 27, 2018 6:34 PM

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Question: External hard drive isn't showing up on my Mac