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Thunderbolt Cabling Reliability: Check the Fit and Tension

OWC offers high quality Thunderbolt cables in red/green/blue/black colors from 0.5 to 3.0 meters, as well as Thunderbolt optical cables from 10.0 to 30.0 meters in length.

Stephen B writes:

I’ve been using the ThunderBay 4 for about two months now. I have been having intermittent disconnects and I have been wondering if you’ve also experienced this as well. Typically this happens when the thunderbay is connected but not actively being used. The disconnects often cause my MBP to hang eventually and I can’t reconnect the drive without rebooting.

I haven’t been able to track down the cause. I’m running a 3-disk raid0 and 1 separate volume.

MPG: MPG had an issue one day and investigated. MPG ovviously cannot rule out other different issues with particular systems (bad drives, bad cables, bad device whatever), but what follows turned out to be the root cause for MPG.

First, the MPG experience NOT related to the Thunderbay. Tracking down the cause one day, it turned out to be loose (sloppy fit) Thunderbolt ports on the 2013 Mac Pro (and MacBook Pro) that had tension / torque on the cable.

Examining and testing both Apple and OWC brand Thunderbolt cables, MPG found that both brands fit very snugly into the OWC Thunderbay ports, but are slightly sloppy fit on the 2013 Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. So any torque / tension on the cable as it enters the Mac can cause a bad connection. Care should be taken to have all cables enter straight-on, so as to avoid any tension on the cable as it enters the port.

MPG doesn’t know if tjhe slightly loose fit on Macs is by design (e.g., a design specification) or poor quality control at Apple. But it is surely a flaw. All five of the MPG OWC Thunderbay units have very nice snug-fitting Thunderbolt ports, and the Apple Mac Pro and Macbook Pro and iMac 5K have slop.

Barry M writes:

Yup, I had this very problem with a Lacie 2Big drive, which kept ejecting itself. Drove me nuts, I assumed it was a faulty Lacie unit, and surely not the overpriced Apple Thunderbolt cable. I then was fastidious about making sure the cable had no tension and a straight path to the ports at either end. This did seem to help a little, but the drive would still eject without warning albeit not as frequently.

I was about to return the Lacie drive when I used a free bundled Belkin Thunderbolt cable and voila !! Everything worked perfectly !! Not one false eject since, I also used the Lacie TB cable with the same results, perfect reliable connection every time.

So check your cables, and have another brand on hand just to rule it out.

MPG: Swapping cables is often a best first step for any type of device.

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