macOS Big Sur external hard drive issue still showing up for some users on stable version 11.2.2 (workaround inside)

It’s fast approaching a year since the Big Sur update was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2020.

Of course, as the name suggests, the initial version was meant for app developers, but there was little to hide as far as the new features in the OS were concerned.

Talk of revamped Messages, Maps, Photos, and Safari apps alongside some improvements to the appearance of widgets, control and notification centers and even the dock icons, just to name but a few.

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macOS Big Sur icons (Click/tap to view)

Overall, many will argue that macOS Big Sur is one massive upgrade compared to what we’ve seen over the years, but that’s not to say everything has changed.

As usual with every OS upgrade, though, there comes some hardware limitations. Apple set the record straight at a virtual event held in November 2020, drawing a list of devices that would be compatible with macOS 11.

At this same event, Cupertino unveiled the first devices to run on macOS Big Sur 11 out of the box. Buying one of these M1-powered devices means you get a smooth experience since Big Sur was optimized to run on them.

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MacBook Air M1

Sure, those on older models ranging from MacBook Air 2013 and later all the way to Mac Mini 2014 and Mac Pro 2013 and later are eligible for the Big Sur update, but since the OS wasn’t exactly built for these devices, there are bound to be some compatibility issues here and there.

One such issue that has been plaguing macOS Big Sur users up to and including the latest stable version 11.2.2 is compatibility with some external hard drives.

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(Source)

I have a question. Just after the software upgrade from Catalina to Big Sur, my mac (Macbook Air 13-inch, Early 2015) stopped mounting any usb external discs. Doesn’t matter, if it’s an usb ssd card reader, usb stick, or external hdd. Does anyone have a similar problem, and any possible solution?
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I recently updated to macOS Big Sur, and I am having trouble with my external hard drive. The hard drive keeps randomly disconnecting from my Mac Pro so I can’t really use the drive at all. Any one else have issues with that? It’s WD Caviar Black 6 TB connected with the Orico USB3 dock. Thanks!
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While some affected Big Sur users say the issue only pops up when using an external hard drive, others are facing it with just about every other external storage device, including USB stick.

Big Sur has been through several iterations since publicly making its debut last November, but even the latest macOS 11.2.2 version hasn’t addressed this issue for those affected.

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(Source)

A bunch of workarounds have been suggested by other forum members, among them taking the Disk Utility route or even downloading the iBoySoft NTSF for Mac software, but none of them worked.

What seemed to work for a few users, however, is as follows:

I had this issue. I brought up Finder, Clicked on Networks under Locations, and my external drive name came up. I clicked on it, it showed my files, and has kept it on my Finder screen.
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Plugged HDD into another MAC also running 11.2.1 and it was not recognized. Plugged HDD into a Windows computer and the drive showed up. I knew at this point it was a Big Sur issue. I figured I had the back ups inside Time Machine so i decided to erase the drive while connected to the Windows computer. Plugged the disk back into my Macbook Pro 16″ 2019, and the drive showed up.
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First, in the menubar for Finder, click Preferences. Make sure “External disks” is checked. This is for removable disks like you mentioned. “Hard disks” is primarily for fixed drives. If it is already checked, does the external drive display within Disk Utility? If it does display, try erasing/reformatting the drive under disk utility.
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It’s worth noting that none of these solutions works for everyone, so it may or may not work for your case, but worth trying it as you wait for the official solution, if it ever gets here.

Speaking of, we will be keeping an eye on this story and let you know if and when Apple fixes the external hard drive issue in Big Sur. Meanwhile, keep an eye on our macOS Big Sur bugs and issues tracker.

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Hillary Keverenge

A techy. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.