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Troubleshooting the iSight: FireWire drive conflicts

Troubleshooting the iSight: FireWire drive conflicts

We previously noted problems with the iSight interfering with the operation of other FireWire devices. One of the devices most susceptible to this problem is the iPod. For some users, when the iSight is connected and capturing video, their iPod disappears from the Desktop and from the iTunes playlist, while the iPod status screen cycles from the Apple logo to a "Do not Disconnect" message over and over.

The issue has now resurfaced, with several MacFixIt readers and Apple Discussion board posters noting a variety of problems when the iSight is connected and active, potentially including drive corruption.

MacFixIt reader David Jarsky writes "There's some ongoing talk about iSight cameras interfering with external FW hard drives. Specifically, 1) ext. drives not showing up and 2) drive directory corruption. I normally try to keep the iSight disconnected when I'm using my OWC FW hard drive, but forgot last week and corrupted my drive. I ended up losing 2 files from the drive but DiskWarrior repair most of the damage. I absolutely won't use them together now. It's a real shame."

Ian Parkinson is one of the many readers who has written in with an example that seems to involve some sort of power disruption when a FireWire drive and iSight are simultaneously active.

In his case, the external drive had its own power supply, but still displayed odd behavior when the iSight was connected and active. "I have an iMac Flat Panel 800 and a 60GB Ice Warrior drive with it's own power supply. Everything has been working fine for over a year, but when I added an iSight camera things when haywire. It seems that if I try to access the drive for a large transfer of data when it camera is connected (either on of off), the drive dismounts (improperly) and cannot be remounted unless it is powered off and then on."

One suggestion we offered previously was the addition a new FireWire interface PCI card, which allows the user to connect the iSight to its own separate bridge, but there is no indication that this measure will eliminate the data loss problems.

Some users have also had success attaching an externally powered FireWire hub, reinforcing the notion that the iSight/FireWire 400 drive conflict is somehow power (lack thereof) related.

If you are experiencing a problem with FireWire drives while your iSight is connected, please drop us a line at late-breakers@macfixit.com.

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