Synthesis : Scott Becker

Solid Waste of Time

So, over the weekend, I ordered a solid state drive (SSD) and a hard drive enclosure from OWC – Other World Computing.  (This might be very uninteresting to others, and that’s fine, but I’m going to rant about it because I’m annoyed.) I ordered it 2 day air, assuming it would arrive on Tuesday. It arrived today, Thursday. 4 day air. Ok fine, whatever. When it arrived, I excitedly dug into the package, like the nerd that I am.

The purpose of this SSD is to extend the life of my Late 2008 model MacBook Pro, because although I’d love a retina display MBP, I’d rather wait for the 13-inch model, or a MacBook Air with a retina. So for now, I can squeeze some extra speed out of this old puppy by dropping an SSD into it. The purpose of the enclosure is to simply transfer the data from my old hard drive to the new one. The enclosure (OWC Express) was only $15. And it worked for about 5 minutes. You get what you pay for. With Mac OS X Lion you can’t use Disk Utility to restore from the boot partition while its running in normal mode. You have to go into “safe” mode. To do that, you must reboot. So after rebooting, the enclosure became defective, because I now consistently get a message from the machine that says “Because a USB device was drawing too much power from your computer, one or more of your USB devices has been enabled.”

If you do some searching around the internet, like I thoroughly did, you’ll get various suggestions like resetting the Mac’s SMC or PRAM. I did this repeatedly, to no effect. No amount of reboots will revive this enclosure. The iPhone still works when plugged in, so I know it’s not the ports on the machine. And apparently these enclosures are known for this. I just don’t understand why a company would sell a known-to-be-defective product as part of a “kit” to upgrade hard drives.

I contacted OWC’s chat-based tech support, and after receiving being greeted by a support technician, I gave a very detailed description of the problem and asked for help. The person I was chatting with never said another word for 10 minutes. I assumed our connection had been lost and ended chat, tried to reconnect, but never got reconnected with another support technician. So much for support!

I went to the local Best Buy and found a powered enclosure for $50. I decided to try to save money and find a cheaper one elsewhere. I went to Staples and found a nice employee there who actually lent me a cable for free that he thought would fix it – a split USB cable that draws power from one USB port and transfers data over another. Drove home, and the cable doesn’t work, of course. I was sure it wouldn’t, but decided to try it anyway. I also tried plugging it into a powered USB hub, no luck there either. I’m thinking the error message is erroneous and that either the enclosure and/or the drive itself is fried. Long story short, a waste of a Thursday night! Rest assured I’ll be returning the defective junk. Better luck tomorrow.


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