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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

PowerBook - G4 USB power problems

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Member Since: Sep 22, 2007
Posts: 13
Albal is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: PowerBook G4 17inch 1.67Ghz

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Earlier today I did the sensible thing and bought an external hard drive to back up my all of my very valuable music content.

I got a 2.5" portable drive that is powered by the USB cable. Requires no other power, although a power cable can be bought at extra cost later on.

I didn't think much of this seeing as I know little about anything (to be honest) and thought that having the (then) top of the line G4 17" PB 1.67 Ghz wasn't going to be an issue.

Well I plugged it in and the little light came on and it started to tick. Like a clock. I've never heard anything electronic make sounds like that but gave it a few mins to see what it was up to. Nothing came up on the desktop so I naturally assumed that the HD was to blame.

I thought I would try another computer, a PC laptop to see if it would work. Low and behold it did.

Gave it a second try on the PB and nothing. Just more time ticking.

A little research (and now onto the point of this thread) allowed me to discover that 500mA is the about of power that a USB 2.0 port delivers to the device it is plugged into. Not much. But that is the USB regulation requirement or something. Anyway...

... A little more research and I found out that the PowerBook G4 Aluminium (seems to be of all ages, and configurations) has an issue being that they only deliver the 500mA standard power. Whereas other manufacturers don't see this as a strict requirement and allow the power to waver a little.

Now what this means to people like me (idiots, newbies, people who aren't tech heads, geeks, whatev.) is that things like these HD wont be powered by the PB and have to have an external power sorce to make them work.

This was just a little heads up to the aforementioned people like me.


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Member Since: Jan 16, 2008
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Would a firewire connection work better?
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Member Since: Nov 28, 2007
Location: Nambucca Heads Australia
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USB even USB2 does not work so good on macs. Firewire is the go alas connected to mains power using say SuperDuper for the fastest of backups.
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Member Since: Mar 06, 2006
Location: Blogging about good deals on apple stuff. Come visit me --->
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Yeah, this has been my experience too. My hubby's MB had trouble running three things on two ports (one is a pass-though plug). Based on his experience, I gave up and got a powered USB hub for my MBP before I even opened the box.
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