Zit Seng's Blog

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Problems With OS X El Capitan

Alright, so it seems my initial excitement with El Capitan has waned a little bit, after hitting a few bumps. Nothing major, just some glitches that you’d expect with an early beta. I had hoped Apple had put out a public beta that was pretty much at RC (i.e. release candidate) quality, but I suppose if they are at RC quality now, then the final OS X 10.11 should be expected to arrive much sooner than fall.

WD My Passport Ultra with Retina MacBook Pro

The first glitch I encountered was with how El Capitan failed to recognise my external USB portable drive as a removable media. I had plugged in a standard, perhaps two year old, USB portable drive to my notebook, and I could use it as per normal.

Then I noticed something was amiss when I wanted to disconnect the USB portable drive. I use this application called CleanMyDrive, which installs itself and is accessed from the Mac’s menu bar. It’s a convenient step for me to clean up and eject any and all removable drives. The problem is, this USB portable drive was shown with an internal hard disk icon, exactly like the default “Machintosh HD” drive. I could not eject it.

Looking at the sidebar in a Finder window, you’d normally find an eject icon next to any removable drive. There was none next to this USB portable drive. Uh huh. El Capitan somehow thought this is an internal hard disk. Fortunately, right-click on the device in Finder revealed an Eject action, and I could safely eject the USB portable drive after all.

Thinking that this might be a transient glitch, I rebooted my Mac, and could repeat the same anomaly again. So it isn’t a temporary problem.

Oddly enough, when I used another USB portable drive at home, there was no problem. The USB portable drive was properly treated as a removable storage. CleanMyDrive and Finder behaved as I expected. That previous USB portable drive is in office, so I’ve not had a chance to try that again, but I’ll do that next week.

Now, while at home, I tried another USB portable drive. It’s a WD My Passport Ultra with encryption turned on. Sadly El Capitan wouldn’t work with it. The WD Unlocker program that normally launches automatically did not launch. I can find the program, which resides on an unencrypted virtual partition of the My Passport Ultra, and launch it. However, it pops up a window saying I have to run it from the drive to be unlocked. I already am. So it must be confused.

I also noticed WD Drive Utilities doesn’t work. It hangs when I try to run it. It seems to me that Western Digital may have some work cut out for them updating their software to work in El Capitan.

Apple has already released a quick update, to fix crashing 32-bit applications, but this update didn’t make a difference with these problems I’m experiencing.

Despite these hiccups, El Capitan is on the whole working well enough to be a daily driver for your Mac. The problems I’ve mentioned above, well, it’s not too difficult to workaround them for now, so they pretty much aren’t a serious issue either. Of course I’d expect that they must be fixed in the final release. Are you using the El Capitan public beta, and have you discovered any hiccups?

Update (2015-07-13): The USB portable disk at work is still being detected as a non-removable hard disk. Some how this disk, a Hitachi Touro USB 3.0 portable hard disk drive is treated differently by El Capitan, compared with several other Western Digital USB portable drives I have.

10 thoughts on “Problems With OS X El Capitan

  1. Hi,

    I am going crazy over not being able to access my passport ultra drive because its giving me the error, ” You must run the WD Drive Unlock application from the WD Drive Unlock CD associated with the drive you want to unlock. Click Exit, locate and open the related WD Drive Unlock CD, and then run WD Drive Unlock to unlock the desired drive.” Is there anyone around this? I have a password on my hard drive. Would it work if I used someone else’s macbook? Thank you. I’m not computer savvy and I knew the dangers of installing a beta OS but I wanted to play around with it…I regret it now.

    1. I resolved this by unlocking the disk on another Mac, then using the disk “unlocked” for now. At the same time, I’ve turned to Mac’s own FileVault to encrypt the external drive. Perhaps this could be my long term solution. I had actually loved WD drives for this hardware encryption feature. 🙂

  2. I had the same issue on my Macbook Pro and an external SSD with a generic USB 3.0 adapter. This drive has three partitions. It has worked flawlessly for several months where it was mounted and unmounted daily as I switch computers or locations. Suddenly last night it showed up as an internal drive rather than the normal external status. I run Windows on Parallels and the first indication of a problem was that Parallels could not see the shared drives. On the Mac side I noticed that the eject icons were missing before I noticed the icon change. Get Info confirmed that it was being recognized as three separate internal drives. I say three separate drives because if one was ejected I would not get the “Eject All” option you normally do when ejecting a single partition on a removable drive.

    I traced the problem to a bad USB3 socket on my powered USB hub. If I plug into that socket the drive comes up as internal. Any other socket or directly into the mac and it has the normal external\removable status. I tried both USB3 and USB2 cables with the same result. I suspect there is a bad pin connection in that socket but they all look intact visually. I also checked performance and it drops from 1500Mbs down to about 200Mbs when connected through the faulty socket.

    FYI, the reason I found your post was because I was searching for this as an El Capitan issue. The first time this problem surfaced for me was immediately after an upgrade to El Capitan. It may be they changed something in the driver and so it didn’t show up on Yosemite but it sure seems like a pure hardware problem.

  3. Concurring with David, this issue affects my WD My Passport Ultra disks WHEN connected through a USB 3.0 adapter. Connecting them directly to the Mac results in the usual Eject Icon appearing next to the drive name in Finder’s sidebar.

    When connected through the USB 3.0 4-port adapter, Disk Utility’s Info window for that drive shows “Ejectable” as “No”. Before, is Yosemite, this was “Yes”.

    There is no fault with the USB 3.0 adapter.
    My WD drives have not changed in any way since use on Yosemite.
    I have not changed how I connected my drives to my Mac.
    Installing El Capitan (from upgrade) has made this issue appear (whether by design, or not).

    Now we just need to find a way to be able to manually configure/set that “Ejectable” flag for specific drives/devices.

  4. I have a WD my passport Ultra, and every since I updated my Mac Book Pro to El Capitan my unlocker comes on and I put in my password and afterwards the file folder does not appear. Does anyone else have this problem or has resolved it?

  5. I had the same problem with both bus-powered and plug-powered WD drives after upgrading to El Capitan … The issue turned out to be one USB port on my monitor didn’t like either of them and they both came up as ‘Internal’ drives. Plugging both of them into the other USB port on the monitor saw the problem solved. Strangely enough, a 7-port Belkin USB hub plugged into the ‘faulty’ USB port still saw each of the drives come up on the desktop as Internal!!

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