I have an external hard drive that on these hot days suffers of overheating. So I thought that I could bypass the problem by slowing down the speed of the transfer of the files, it will take longer, but at least it won't switch off after about twenty minutes from the start.

  • 1
    What is it connected over? USB2 or 3? What type of drive is it? Have you tried elevating it, or using a cooler pad?
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 17:08
  • USB 3 (don't know if x.1), it's an HHD, for this reason it heat. I have no cooler, he works better during the night and when has to transfer more fragmented files. So the solution it's probably to slow down the transferring. But is so difficult finding a simple setting for doing this
    – rikicecchi
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 17:38
  • If you can set up a simple fan to blow air directly on the drive that might help. Placing the drive on edge, instead of flat on the desk surface, might also provide more surface area to dissipate heat.
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 17:44
  • @Tetsujin i think that over all in Mac context is not importat the device itself neither the type of connection but how to impose the speed setting to a serial port. Outside this, I could try to create a program that write the file more slowely. It could work but I guess that it could be an off topic solution for ask different (?)
    – rikicecchi
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 17:48
  • 2
    You just don't have that granularity of control over a USB port. You need to cool the drive not try to slow it down. Shuck it from its case & get a fan on it. You perhaps ought to check the drive's SMART status too. idk how hot it is where you are, but I've never had a drive shut down due to overheating in 40 years of using them.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 17:50

3 Answers 3


You're going after the wrong solution!

Just keep the drive cool. You can possibly improve air circulation, or you can make sure the airflow around the drive isn't blocked. Or perhaps it was just poorly designed, and you should consider a drive with better cooling.

Or your fan may not be working properly. Open things up and see if there is a lot of dust restricting air flow, or perhaps some hair got caught up in the fan.

  • 1
    I'm trying with a Little USB fan. Anyway it's a hd not removable from its metallic case. I would not waste 10 tb of hd for design issues...
    – rikicecchi
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 23:30
  • 3
    @rikicecchi Perhaps you should consider it anyway. A normal performing device should not overheat and turn itself off. There is a possibility of damage occurring to the HDD or controller, and one day it might just not work anymore.
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 1:03
  • 1
    Yes, I think that at this point this question should be removed, because this HD is evidently a poor product. Or better yet, pretty a scam. I'm so sorry, I thought that it could be a solution for who has a similar problem.
    – rikicecchi
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 1:58
  • 1
    @SnakeDoc I've broken the case and I found an (ironically) Foxconn hard drive. I wired it with another SATA controller and effectively its capacity seems real. I formatted it and seems to work properly. I have again restarted the transfer e for the moment the overheating seems resolved, so was the old case bad designed, even if it's a unit that tends to get hot. I have just one USB SATA controller, but seems that I have an additional HD for my desktop! Thank you
    – rikicecchi
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 2:39
  • 1
    @JanSteinman here we are, sorry for the delay. I'm didn't know if at this point I have to request the removal of the question. For a particular case like this, so "device issue focused", a solution can be found programming an ad hoc tool, but is not OS related. Because even if you slow down the serial transfer speed the it wouldn't solve the speed how the hd use to retrieve and write data
    – rikicecchi
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 17:43

Connect the drive to the Mac through a powered USB 2 hub. This will force the drive to use USB 2 transfer speeds.

For example, here is an image taken from System Information after connecting an USB HDD connected directly to the USB port on a 2013 iMac. This image shows the transfer speed is up to 5 Gb/s.


After connecting the drive through a powered USB 2 hub, the image shown below shows the transfer speed is now up to 480 Mb/s. Also, the current being used is less, which should result in less heat generated.



I have a couple SanDisk UltraFit USB 3.0 drives; the ones that are only slightly larger than the USB plug. I was trying to transfer five 20GB files onto a 128GB drive and it kept shutting down from overheating. It quickly got too hot to touch and eventually just shut down. I tried the files one at a time, and even then it was hit or miss whether a copy would finish before it shut down.

In frustration I grabbed a ziplock and a handful of ice cubes and piled them over the drive. It worked great! Stayed cool the whole time and the file transfer completed without incident. I'm more efficient now and just rest a single cube on top of the drive. Do make sure to use a high quality bag, as getting water in your USB port might be a Bad Thing.

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