How to retrieve a non-responsive USB drive on MacBook Pro

non responsive usb drive macbook pro

Universal Serial Bus drive connected to your MacBook Pro may sometimes turn non-responsive due to varied reasons. This unresponsiveness is quite vexing as you may be stuck in your data transfer task from the external drive to your Mac. And, what if the USB drive fails to respond any longer with all your critical files stored on it—you’ll end up losing your vital data forever if you don’t have a backup. Bummer!

Solace, in this post we’ll share several established methods to retrieve a non-responsive USB drive be it a USB flash drive or an external SSD/HDD on your MacBook Pro. We’ll also share how to recover the data stored in it effectively, safely.

But, first off, you must know why on earth your USB drive turns non-responsive. Here are the common grounds:

  • The USB drive may be disconnecting erratically.
  • The USB port may not be providing the right power required to access the USB drive.
  • The USB port may have a glitch that results in inadvertent disconnection.
  • The USB driver may be corrupt, outdated, or idling.
  • The USB drive may have suffered logical failure, e.g., file system corruption.
  • The USB drive may have bad blocks or sectors.

Salvage a Non-Responsive USB Drive

Reviving the use of a non-responding USB drive on Mac is indispensable if it contains your valuable documents, videos, photos, audio, etc. whose backup isn’t taken.

Check System Information

  1. Click Apple menu then press and hold the Option “About This Mac” will replace with “System Information.” Select System Information.
  2. Alternatively, go to Applications > Utilities > System Information. Otherwise, search it directly from Spotlight.
  3. On the System Information window, click USB from the left pane.
  4. On the right pane, check the USB drive. If the drive is not listed, then it has lost connection.

Fix USB Drive Connection Issue

  1. Reconnect the USB storage drive to your MacBook Pro snugly to regain connection.
  2. Connect the USB drive to a different but compatible USB port present on the Mac.
  3. If you have another Mac or PC, connect the USB drive to its compatible USB port.

Reset System Management Controller

MacBook Pro without T2 Chip

  1. Shut down your MacBook Pro. Wait till it shuts down completely.
  2. Hold Shift + Option + Control keys on the left side of the keyboard and the Power button for 10 seconds. Release all the keys and the Power button. This operation will reset SMC.
  3. Press the Power button again to turn on your MacBook Pro usually.

MacBook Pro with T2 Chip

  1. Shut down your MacBook Pro, and wait till it shuts down entirely.
  2. Hold the right Shift key + left Option key + left Control key for 7 seconds. You might see your Mac tuning on and displaying Apple logo.
  3. Keep holding those keys and press the Power button for another 7 seconds. In case your Mac turned on, it will now turn off.
  4. Release all the keys and the Power button. This operation will reset SMC.
  5. Press the Power button again on your MacBook Pro to open as usual.

Reset Non-Volatile RAM and Parameter RAM

MacBook Pro without T2 Chip

  1. If your MacBook Pro has Firmware password, then turn it off.
  2. Shut down your system and wait till it switches off completely.
  3. Start your Mac then immediately hold Option + Command + P + R
  4. Release all the keys when you hear the second startup sound. This operation resets NVRAM/PRAM.

MacBook Pro with T2 Chip

  1. Turn off Firmware password if any. Then shut down your Mac.
  2. Power on your Mac then straight away hold Option + Command + P + R
  3. Release the keys when the Apple logo shows and vanishes for the second time. Your MacBook Pro’s NVRAM and PRAM are reset.

Update USB Driver

  1. Connect the non-responsive USB drive to your MacBook Pro.
  2. Go to the manufacturer website of the USB drive.
  3. Browse the Support page then the Downloads
  4. Search the compatible USB driver then download it on your system.
  5. Install the driver to resolve any USB driver issue.
  6. Safe eject the external USB drive then reconnect it after some time.
  7. Restart your Mac.

Use First Aid of Disk Utility

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. From the View menu, select Show All Devices.
  3. From the sidebar, select the external USB drive.
  4. Click the First Aid
  5. On the message box, click Run. Disk Utility attempts to verify and repair the non-responsive USB drive.

Leverage USB Drive Recovery Software on Mac

  1. Download and install Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac.
  2. Launch it to scan the non-responsive external USB drive.
  3. Preview and select all the required photos, videos, etc.
  4. Recover the inaccessible data from the drive.

Watch the Video Tutorial of Stellar Data Recovery

Erase the USB Drive on Mac

  1. Open Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. From the sidebar of Disk Utility, select the USB drive then click the Erase
  3. Provide a name, format, and partition map. Click the Erase
  4. Quit Disk Utility once the erase operation is complete.
  5. Restore the recovered files to the external USB drive.
  6. Back up all your critical data to avoid future data loss.

Conclusion

This post shared a variety of methods to retrieve a non-responsive USB drive on MacBook Pro. It also shared plausible reasons for USB drive not responding on Mac. The first troubleshooting method would be to know whether your MacBook Pro detects the drive—the USB drive may be loosely connected, disconnected, or damaged.  This testing can be done from System Information if it is present there on the USB section, or from Disk Utility wherein you find the drive listed be it greyed out. If the drive is not detected and you tried fixing the connection issue, then it might have physical damage and needs replacement.

In case the drive is detected, you can set SMC to fix non-responsiveness due to inappropriate power supply from the USB port. Even try resetting NVRAM and PRAM. Further, update USB driver to ensure no driver issue is making the USB drive not to show up on Mac. You can also perform USB drive repair on Mac by using First Aid of Disk Utility. If nothing works, use a Mac data recovery software to recover data from the detected but not responding USB drive. And, when the data recovery is over, format the drive to make it functional once again.

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