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Hardware:

  • Airport Extreme 802.11ac
  • Transcend StoreJet 250GB HDD
  • Belkin 4-port, powered USB hub

Configuration:

  • HDD formatted as MS-DOS (FAT32) via Disk Utility
  • HDD connected to USB hub
  • Airport Extreme connected to USB hub

Problem:
I cannot see the drive from the Airport Utility -> Disks tab. I want to be able to do this to setup backups over the wireless network. When I connect the HDD directly to my MBP, it auto-mounts and I can utilize it without any problems.


Solution:
I ended up calling Apple support and they advised that the Airport should have sufficient power for the drive. They had me switch to a normal USB 2.0 cable instead of the Y adapter. Further, they had me reformat (again) to Mac OS Extended (case-insensitive). Magically, this combination works.

  • I do not like your configuration. Why did you do it that way? why not connecting the HDD to the Airport Extreme? – Ruskes Sep 29 '13 at 17:03
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    I don't like it either. But, it's not a self-powered drive. According to this and other threads, the power provided by the USB port is insufficient for HDDs: discussions.apple.com/thread/3694392?start=0&tstart=0 – AJ. Sep 30 '13 at 0:43
  • FWIW, I've connected the HDD directly to the Airport Extreme and it doesn't work that way either. – AJ. Sep 30 '13 at 0:44
  • Have you tried formatting as HSF+ instead of FAT32? – Frizlab Nov 24 '13 at 18:23
  • I'll give it a shot. I think that's what it was BEFORE I formatted FAT32, but I'll give it another try. – AJ. Nov 24 '13 at 18:44
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If the HDD is a 2.5' (laptop drive) that draws power from nothing else but the USB port it will never work with a USB Hub. They all share the same power source on the Airport that has a limit of 500mA. That would work with the hdd directly in the Airport but connecting an unpowered USB Hub draws around 80-100mA and the hdd is left with 400mA to start... which is too low.

I can only imagine, but i think you are using this setup to connect more than one drive to the Airport and having multiple disks shared by it. That's ok but...

For this to work you need a special USB hub known as a Powered USB hub that you can connect to the wall socket separately. This separate power adapter draws 2-2.5A of power from the wall socket to power each USB Hub port with its own 500mA thus being able to give enough current to the hdd to operate correctly.

Check this out. Notice the wall socket power adaptor. http://www.ebay.co.uk/bhp/powered-usb-hub Also try to get a decent brand so it lasts... and doesn't cause a fire or fry your hdd in the long run.

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    But the OP describes the hub hardware as "Belkin 4-port, powered USB hub"? – Ashley Nov 26 '13 at 9:11
  • Yes, it is a powered hub. No, I'm not trying to chain multiple drives. The only reason I added the hub was because I believed that the Airport was not providing sufficient power on its own. – AJ. Nov 26 '13 at 17:23

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