I’ve been suffering from SFDS lately… if it sounds like a nasty medical condition, that’s because it may well be. I’m talking about Spontaneous FireWire Dismount Syndrome. It’s nasty, it’s annoying, and it’s an itch that no matter how much I scratch it or treat it, I can’t get the damn thing to go away.

It started over a year ago. It might have been when I got my iMac 27” 2.8Ghz Intel Core i7, but I’m actually fairly certain it started before that, on my 15” MacBook Pro. FireWire drives would simply disappear from my desktop, usually with the idiot warning, “you really should unmount your drives before unplugging them, because you could suffer data and hair loss if you don’t”. I blamed my Drobo for this because it appeared to be the one causing the problems.

I’ve changed out just about everything you can change out, including the FW drives themselves. Ages ago I’d looked for a FW hub to buy but came up empty (you’d be surprised how many product manufacturers recommend their device be at the end of the FW chain, or be the only thing on the chain). The iMac has only one FW800 port, so everything had to be daisy-chained. Finally about a month ago I found and purchased the Nitro AV FireWire 800 8 port Hub/Repeater. At $149.85 it ain’t cheap, but I confirmed with their support that I could return it for a full refund (minus shipping) if it didn’t do what I needed. Great.

NitroAV FireWire800 8 Port Hub/Repeater… lots of FW port goodnessI did some initial speed tests of copying files off CF cards, daisy-chained and plugged directly into the Hub, and saw tremendous speed-ups. Fantastic!

But sadly that’s not the end of the story… I still have TWO of my FOUR FW drives that just disappear. No longer do they provide an idiot warning, they’re just… gone. Never while I’m working on them, but usually overnight. I wonder if they are going to sleep and not coming back (note: gotta try turning off the drive spin down in Energy Savers)? I can’t see them in Disk Utility, nor does a reboot or even a shut-down/startup bring them back. I have to power the drives off and on. But it’s always the same two drives; my two G-Tech 1TB G-Drives.

Just before I bought this, I read a post by Thomas Boyd over on MacCreate expressing he had the same issues. We chatted and he decided to buy the same thing. Then I chatted with another friend, with a Mac Pro, and SHE had the same issues. Suddenly this started to smell like a wide spread issue, not an isolated condition!!

I’m still seeing this problem. What I want to know is… are you seeing it too? Is this an OS level bug, perhaps? A hardware problem with the FW800 chipset? What is causing this?

Please… discuss below. Let’s get some light on this issue. Have you found a solution? Have you never seen the problem? What’s the condition of your FireWire setup?