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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > External hard drive won't initialize

External hard drive won't initialize
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Jan 9, 2011, 11:36 AM
I have an old external hard drive that I used to use as a clone boot drive (over Firewire) of a 10.4 PowerPC machine. I'm trying to repurpose the drive for another use. In its past life it had been partitioned. When I hooked it up to my current machine (MacBook Pro i7) over USB, it mounted fine. When I opened Disc Utility, went to the "Partition" tab, and attempted to reformat to a single partition, it gave me the usual message about needing to erase all data. I proceeded, but it resulted in an error saying "POSIX reports: The operation couldn’t be completed. Cannot allocate memory." Now it won't mount at all. When I reconnect it to the computer, it displays "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer. Initialize..." When I click "Initialize" nothing happens. The disk appears in the left pane of Disk Utility as "ST330063 1A Media" but not in the finder, and when I try to Erase it gives me the same "Cannot allocate memory" error.

I'd try to connect it by Firewire but I lack the 6-pin to 9-pin connector needed for my MacBook Pro (although that's now on my shopping list).

Can anyone tell me what is going on? Is the drive completely borked? Disk Utility log below.

2011-01-09 10:06:41 -0500:
Name : ST330063 1A Media
Type : Disk

Partition Map Scheme : Unformatted
Disk Identifier : disk2
Media Name : ST330063 1A Media
Media Type : Generic
Connection Bus : USB
USB Serial Number : 9C0177
Device Tree : IODeviceTree:/[email protected]/[email protected],7
Writable : Yes
Ejectable : Yes
Location : External
Total Capacity : 300.07 GB (300,069,052,928 Bytes)
S.M.A.R.T. Status : Not Supported
Disk Number : 2
Partition Number : 0

2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: Preparing to erase : “Untitled”
2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: Partition Scheme: GUID Partition Table
2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: 1 volume will be created
2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: Name : “Untitled”
2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: Size : 300.07 GB
2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: Filesystem : Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

2011-01-09 10:09:37 -0500: Unmounting disk
2011-01-09 10:09:39 -0500: Disk Erase failed with the error:

POSIX reports: The operation couldn’t be completed. Cannot allocate memory
2011-01-09 10:09:39 -0500: Erase complete.
2011-01-09 10:09:39 -0500:
( Last edited by SpaceMonkey; Jan 9, 2011 at 01:16 PM. )

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Join Date: Jun 2000
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Jan 9, 2011, 03:13 PM
You're most likely switching from Apple Partition Map to GUID. So do it via the Partition tab, using the Options button to specify GUID as the partition type.

If that doesn't work, I'd call it a glitch in the enclosure's USB chipset or the drive. You might check for a firmware update for the enclosure. And if it is the enclosure, accessing it via FW is likely to work around the problem.
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