Apple recently released OS X Mavericks, the latest version of its long-running operating system for Macs. Mavericks has been marketed as a subtle yet substantial update that leaves intact most of the user interface elements from OS X, while adding several new bundled applications and improving system power management capabilities.

However, there was at least one under-the-hood change that users have found unwelcome. Mavericks has serious issues interacting with external hard disk drives, as well as peripherals that utilize the eSATA and Thunderbolt ports on Macs.

Users may want to take the occasion to reconsider their backup strategies. Storing data on HDDs is risky because magnetic storage is prone to mechanical failure and has a relatively short shelf life. The Mavericks incident merely brings this issue to light and provides the impetus for professionals to consider more stable media such as Blu-ray Disc.

DIGISTOR REWIND is an easy-to-use data archiving solution that can migrate data from a Mac to BD via a Blu-ray burner. Compatible with OS X 10.6 and later, including Mavericks (which is 10.9), REWIND ensures the integrity of vital assets over the long term.

Western Digital reveals issue with Mavericks and external HDDs
Reporting for InfoWorld, Woody Leonhard observed that the issue was first identified in October 2013 by users of Western Digital’s WDD MyBook Studio II external hard drives. Since that time, similar problems have been observed with the FirmTek eSATA ExpressCard and the Promise Thunderbolt Pegasus R4.

The issue appears linked to faulty interaction between Mavericks and the software utilities that manage external storage, such as Western Digital’s SmartWare, Raid Manager and Drive Manager applications. The Accelerate Your Mac Blog highlighted the trouble with eSATA, clarifying that Macs running Mavericks do not recognize any mounted hard drives after a card is inserted. The 17-inch MacBook Pro from mid-2010 appears to be have particular difficulty with eSATA on Mavericks.

PC​ Pro’s Nicole Kobie provided extra insight into the seriousness and extent of the external hard drive issue with Mavericks. Western Digital appears to have simply been the first manufacturer to observe problems with its products, but users have observed data loss on other vendors’ drives.

I have just lost 10 TB of data,” stated a support forum user, according to PC​ Pro. “All the contents of a 6 TB [Western Digital] and a 4 TB Seagate drives have been wiped out. Both HDs have been renamed ‘MyBook.'”

How users can keep their data safe
Western Digital recommended that users either forego updating to Mavericks altogether or uninstall the company’s software utilities until Apple releases a fix. Given the noticeable improvements from Mountain Lion to Mavericks, this may be an unappealing option for many professionals, plus it is difficult to know if and when this particular issue will be patched.

Rather than rely on HDDs, users can keep data safe for the long-term using DIGISTOR’s Blu-Ray solutions. REWIND, paired with high-capacity recordable Blu-Ray media (up to 100 GB on a BD-R XL), enables the archiving of critical photos, files and applications to stable, durable discs. With a simple setup, all digital assets can be kept safe for life.


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