Problems with disks, printers connected to AirPort Extreme USB port

Disks, printers not functioning properly; fixes

[Tuesday, February 5th]

Several users have reported issues with devices connected to the AirPort Extreme's via USB. These include an inability to recognize printers and disks, or sudden lapses in device functionality. Take, for instance, this report from MIchael Rosenthal:

"I've had HP Color Laserjet 2600n and HP Photosmart printers connected to a new Airport Extreme for a couple of months. The Laserjet was connected via USB cable and the Photosmart via Ethernet. They were accessed via Bonjour without a problem until 2 days ago. In the middle of a print job the 2600n paused the printing and it could not be resumed. [...] It was possible to complete the printing by connecting the 2600n directly to the MBP with the USB cable."

or this report from Peter Anderson:

"I am having problems with losing connections to my USB disk on my Airport Extreme (AE) router (even from machines connected to the AE through wire!). And attempts to reconnect gives a stupid error message. Only workaround seems to be a restart of the AE. This has happened a number of times in the past, but after the latest AE firmware upgrade (7.2.1 I believe) it happens several times daily. Even when there is no activity with the disk (e.g. can happen when the machine is idle, but not asleep)."

Drives not mounting/appearing If drives connected to the AirPort Extreme are not appearing in the Finder, first navigate to the Finder > Preferences > General and select the option to show connected servers on the Desktop. Failing this, there are a number of more tedious workarounds:

  • Connect via SMB Try Go > Connect to Server in the Finder, then typing smb:// and pressing return.
  • Quit and re-launch the Finder While holding the option key, click and hold on the Finder's icon in the Dock and select "Relaunch." This may trigger the appearance of USB-connected disks.
  • Downgrade firmware on Base station (For AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Stations) In AirPort Utility, select your Base Station, then select "Base Station" from the menubar, and choose "Upload Firmware." From the "Upload Firmware" menu, select "7.1.1" then press "OK." Some users have experienced success with this older iteration.
  • Reformat disks using Leopard Disk Utility If you are having problems with AirPort-connected disks after upgrading to Leopard, try reformatting them (after backing up your data) with the version of Disk Utility included with Leopard.
  • Restart Base Station In some cases, powering of then back on the Base Station can result in disks appearing.

Power issues In some cases, the problem is a lack of power delivery. This case is typified by printers that only print portions of pages or disks that routinely drop from access. The solution is generally to connect an externally powered USB hub to the AirPort Extreme.

Supported printers The site iFelix has an unofficial list of printers that are support by the AirPort Extreme via USB.


  • unofficial list
  • More from Late-Breakers