Random drive spinning with LaCie 2big Quadra

As I’m a geek, I take great pride in my home server – a 2012 Mac Mini. As I was fortunate enough to have built my own house, during the pre-build stage I painstakingly planned out my Cat6 cabling and had everything meet up in a dedicated ‘comms’ area. Over the last couple of years I’ve been gradually adding, tweaking and improving the comms area which now has a 5U cabinet containing the Mac Mini, a Draytek Vigor modem, Apple Airport Extreme base station and a 16 port switch.

The server itself is mainly used for file sharing and as a media server but the Mini’s achilles heel is it’s lack of internal storage. Although I’ve installed two WD Blue 1TB drives, one acts as a mirror of the other so I only have 1TB of storage.

Enter the LaCie 2big Quadra with it’s two 3TB drives arranged as a RAID 1 array. Storage sorted for the foresable future. However, the LaCie proved to be a serious headache in terms of configuration. With the drive setup and LaCie Desktop Manager installed I set about copying my data on to the new disk in readiness for attaching it to the server. During the process though, the drive would frequently spin down while not is use. Then, when you click back onto the drive it needs to respin the disks. This continued even with the OS X Energy Saver system pref set to NOT Put hard disks to sleep when possible. Thinking it may be caused by Apple’s gradual slackening of support for Firewire (a technology they invented) I swapped to USB. As my iMac is getting a bit elderly now, it only has USB 2 but the 2big (like almost all USB devices) is backward compatible so no probs there. Not so. The drive still spun down at out times and then would spin up while the Mac was asleep!

I wondered if Apple was slackening support for USB 2 as well as Firewire so I tried the drive on the Mac Mini server that the LaCie drive had been bought for complete with its USB 3 ports. Same issue. Random spin downs while awake and spin ups when asleep.

After contacting LaCie support, I tried the drive on a 2012 iMac at work. On this Mac, the LaCie worked fine. Absolutely faultless. Weird. So, I tried it on a 2008 Mac Pro that we use at work as a fire server (and, like my 2009 iMac, only has USB 2). Again, it was perfect. I was starting to suspect that the drive just didn’t like my house! So, with one more Mac available, my 2013 MacBook Pro, I tried again. Faultless operation and this time in my house!

I started to wonder what the link between my 2009 iMac and my 2012 Mac Mini could be. The Mini was running Mountain Lion and the iMac Yosemite so it wasn’t an OS X issue (so I apologise Apple – maybe you’re support for Firewire and USB 2 isn’t as flaky as I thought). I wasn’t an interface issue as the thing had been proven to work on USB 3, Firewire 800 and USB 2 on the Macs at work so what was it?

Finally, I made the connection. I had installed LaCie Desktop Manager on both the 2009 iMac and the 2012 Mac Mini. Call ┬áme stupid, but if software is bundled with a device, I kinda assume it’s going to work with the device! Apparently, with LaCie drives, installing the software essentially stops the hardware working correctly.

Once LDM was uninstalled the drive started working fine on both Macs. FWIW I went all out and trashed the app, a couple of plist files and a kernel extension (LaCieScsiType00.kext).

So far all seems well. I have just made another minor tweak. As per this article:


I’ve just stopped Spotlight indexing the drive as I was getting sporadic drive ejections. Hopefully this will fix the issue completely. I’ll keep you posted.

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