Backup Hard Disk Problems

I recently bought a new pair of hard disks to act as Time Machine backup drives. They are 12TB Seagate IronWolf NAS internal HDDs. I put them in Unitek Y-3035 USB3.1 HDD enclosures, so I can plug them directly into my Mac. My plan was to configure them both in Time Machine, and simply swap drives every week or so.

For a while, all was well. But lately, I find that every so often, whichever drive is plugged in will suddenly dismount. Worse, when it does so, my bluetooth mouse suddenly stops working as well. So does the Magic Trackpad that’s plugged in via USB. Weirdly, my keyboard (also plugged in via USB) keeps working.

When this happens, about the only thing I can do is restart. (I can do this via keyboard alone, fortunately, so I don’t have to do a hard power-off restart.)

I’m on a 2017 iMac running Ventura 13.6. Does anyone have any thought as to what might be going wrong? It seems unlikely that both new HDDs would be failing in the same way, so soon after purchase.

Do your enclosures have cooling fans?

I have found (the hard way) that high capacity/high performance HDDs tend to get hot when powered on 24x7 (as will be the case for Time Machine). This can cause performance problems due to thermal throttling and may also cause the drive controller to shutdown and restart itself (causing random disconnects).

I’m not sure why it is causing other USB devices to also fail, but if a USB bridge board is acting flaky (e.g. due to overheating), that could manifest in all kinds of ways.

Your enclosure (link), doesn’t appear to have a fan. You might want to replace it with one that does and see if that helps.

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Another option I used on a “toaster-enclosure” was a small USB-powered fan found on Amazon, quiet and effective. And occasionally, I lined it up so I was downwind too… :-)

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