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Repair a broken FireWire interface System
Sorry for the delay in getting today's hints online -- at some point this morning, my Mac decided to stop recognizing any FireWire devices that were connected. It didn't matter if I used the front-panel port, the back-panel port, or the FireWire2 port -- nothing worked. Scary, to say the least. So I took some time to troubleshoot and (thankfully) fix the problem, and thought I'd document it here, in case this happens to someone else.

I didn't do anything odd to cause the problem, as far as I can tell. I just plugged in my iPod, noticed it didn't show up in iTunes, and then quickly discovered that nothing at all that used FireWire was functional.

I tried shutting down and booting, restarting, logging in as another user, even resetting PRAM and NVRAM. Nothing worked; my devices were simply gone. I knew the ports were generally OK, though, as my iPod dock was charging the iPod, and my iSight's green light would flash when it was plugged in. It's just that the machine didn't want to admit that it knew anything at all about FireWire.

I then opened Console, in Applications -> Utilities, and opened to the system log. There I found tons and tons of these entries (line breaks added for narrower display):
Nov 29 05:17:21 gargantua5 kernel[0]: FireWire (OHCI) Apple ID 42 built-in:
  no valid selfIDs for more than 2 minutes after bus reset.
Nov 29 05:20:33 gargantua5 kernel[0]: FireWire (OHCI) Apple ID 42 built-in:
  no valid selfIDs for more than 2 minutes after bus reset.
Nov 29 05:23:45 gargantua5 kernel[0]: FireWire (OHCI) Apple ID 42 built-in:
 no valid selfIDs for more than 2 minutes after bus reset.
etc...
These repeat about every three minutes for as long as the machine was powered up. Not encouraging, to say the least. But this at least gave me something to Google on, which in turn led me to this Knowledge Base document. There they describe the standard FireWire troubleshooting tips (most of which I had already tried). Down at the bottom, though, they provided a solution that did work:
  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Disconnect all FireWire devices and all other cables, except the keyboard and mouse cable(s).
  3. Disconnect the computer from the power outlet and wait for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Plug the computer back in and turn it on.
  5. Reconnect the FireWire device(s) (one at a time if there is more than one) and test. Test with each FireWire port if you have more than one.
Being the lazy sort, I shortcutted it just a bit, and only pulled the FireWire and power cables. I let it sit for about 10 minutes, rebooted, and all was once again fine in FireWire land.
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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: foilpan on Nov 29, '05 08:15:47AM

this firewire issue sucks if you have a device connected to a server, like an Xserve, that needs to be available to users all the time.

i had similar problems with a tape backup unit flaking out and seemingly disappearing at inopportune times.

is there any better way to deal with this than to reboot? are there any useful firewire bus troubleshooting tools out there, much like the old scsi tools -- or even usb bus prober?

hmmm...



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firewire debugging utils
Authored by: hayne on Nov 29, '05 09:01:20AM

I have no experience in using these, but I note that there are several example projects provided with Apple's developer tools, under the Examples/IOKit folder.
In particular, one of these is "FWUtil" which is a command-line utility. Running it and typing "help" shows that one of its commands allows you to reset the firewire bus.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: TrumpetPower! on Nov 29, '05 11:00:27AM

I don’t mean this to sound snippy…but, if you can’t afford downtime, then you can afford sufficient redundancy so that something like this is an inconvenience to you and unnoticeable to anybody else.

It’s really a management / finance decision. Hardware will fail; software will need to be upgraded; servers will need to be rebooted. If you’re on a tight budget, then it’s been decided (knowledgeably and intelligently or otherwise) that the resulting downtime is cheaper than the equipment necessary to avoid the downtime. If that’s not actually the case, then whoever makes those kinds of budget concerns needs to re-evaluate the situation.

Cheers,

b&



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: klktrk on Nov 29, '05 02:35:33PM
TrumpetPower writes:
I don't mean this to sound snippy…but, if you can't afford downtime, then you can afford sufficient redundancy so that something like this is an inconvenience to you and unnoticeable to anybody else.

TrumpetPower, you are absolutely in the right. But gosh you sound snippy.

If I find myself typing "I don't mean to sound..." it's a warning: Walk away from the keyboard!



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"Snippy"
Authored by: MJCube on Nov 30, '05 07:48:43AM

I dunno, it didn't sound snippy to me, just factual. Nature is cruel; business is unforgiving. The old adage "The show must go on!" is about Broadway being not art but business. And downtime happens: My online banking site suddenly stopped supporting Safari a few days ago, and they're still "working on it."



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circumstances beyond my control
Authored by: foilpan on Nov 30, '05 03:45:43PM

well, i agree redundancy is a great idea -- even necessary -- to keep businesses afloat.

BUT... i work for an IT consulting company that deals with many charter schools. among these clients are some rather financially strapped organizations that have serious budget problems on their hands.

in the example i listed in the original reply to this post, the school itself occupied an old manufacturing building of some sort. the previous tenants had actually cut the ethernet cables at both ends, so most in-wall ports -- if rooms had them at all -- didn't even work.

their lone Xserve was used as a file server and not much more. unfortunately, it had problems with retrospect, an exabyte firewire tape drive, and frequent firewire bus dropouts.

yes, they could afford the downtime, since they had relatively few staff. but they definitely couldn't afford redundancy.

for situations like this, wherein i don't hold the purse strings and only have a relatively new relationship with the client, i can't always recommend they go out and double their hardware to provide redundancy. it just doesn't work like that.

on top of that, many companies don't understand, can't afford, or really don't need redundant servers. there are far too many factors involved here.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: cferron@gmail.co on Nov 29, '05 09:30:21AM

I had an issue similar to this with my flash card reader. What I usually do is:
1) Unplug the device
2) Go in Apple System Profiler under Hardware>FireWire and refresh the screen with APPLE+R key.
3) Plug device back in and refresh the screen with APPLE+R key.
4) Put my compact flash card back in the device and it normally comes back on the desktop...

I don't know if it would work with an iPod or Harddrive, but it worth the try.

Claude



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: allanmarcus on Nov 29, '05 11:28:57AM

The same problem started to happen to me recently, and the only change was the addition of a $10 lexar (purple) firewire compact flash card reader.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: jessifer on Oct 14, '08 08:17:24AM

WOW! This worked for me.

From time to time, many of my system apps will lock up (beachball) after what I know to be an attempt at accessing one of my many firewire drives, which have a tendency to overheat and become unresponsive until I flip the switch of the offending drive off then on. Guessing is easy enough using touch (which one inspires "ouch!"). Once I address the right drive, the beachball becomes pointer and the Finder lodges its usually complaint.

please note: I'm not a total dope… this system is non-critical—a convenient personal file-server—and all the data is redundantly backed up. I use a fan in the summer but these failures are rare enough and more would be overkill.

The overheating inspired beachball just struck a few minutes ago, and after resetting the two "ouch?", faced with 5 more drives and no likely pending IO tasks on the bus, I unplugged the lot at the computer…
After plugging the FW cable back in, no drives. I've seen this more than once before…
Googling with expectations of a non-Restart resolution involving kext[un]load, I tried this seemingly unlikely but quick-enough suggestion and, to my delight it worked!

So cferron, thanks for the contribution! Your instructions were clear and spot on.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: mcroft on Nov 29, '05 12:53:23PM

I ran into Firewire problems on a G3 B&W. Thing is, it recognized things in 10.2.8 on another partition. Solution for me was to install the 10.4.3 combined updater instead of the incremental updater.

Very likely there was another fix involving tweaking settings that I could have done, but the 10.4.3 combo was the easy solution.



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I Wonder
Authored by: bedouin on Nov 29, '05 01:22:09PM

If this could be the answer to many people who believe they have fried firewire ports? Maybe this is all that needs done.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: JackSloth on Nov 29, '05 03:29:22PM

I have had similar FireWire problems that were caused by iSight. Or, maybe I should say were solved by disconnecting iSight.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: mrbiiggy on Nov 29, '05 09:41:53PM

there's also a pmu reset button on the logic board to accomplish the same thing.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: spalmer47 on Nov 29, '05 10:03:15PM

Same thing happened to my PB last week. I followed the reboot, reset the PRAM, steps, etc. Finally, I shut down, unplugged from the wall, and removed my battery for a few minutes. That did the trick.

---
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. - Lisa Grossman



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[OT] Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: meh on Dec 01, '05 02:59:46AM

This has nothing to do with the thread, but wasn't it Groucho Marx who had the line about fruit and time flies?



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... and nothing flies like a penguin.
Authored by: dzurn on Dec 01, '05 03:00:29PM

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/26.html

---
Madness takes its toll.
Please have exact change.



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: Auricchio on Nov 30, '05 10:17:57PM

I forget what machine you have, Rob. It's a G5 of some sort because you mention a front FireWire port.

On some of the newer systems, unplugging from AC resets the System Management Unit (SMU), which is analogous to the Power Management Unit (PMU) on older systems.

Resetting the PMU or SMU was something you hadn't been able to do before the unplugging business.

---
EMOJO: mojo no longer workin'



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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: fubbi on Mar 07, '06 09:00:26AM
I too have this problem, and my gut feeling tells me there is nothing wrong with the hardware. In console on my 1.67ghz powerbook i see the:
FireWire (OHCI) Apple ID 31 built-in: no valid selfIDs for more than 2 minutes after bus reset.
Then after resetting the pmu etc a cuple of times, for a brief moment I saw:
 FireWire (OHCI) Apple ID 31 built-in now active, GUID 001124ff fe87edea; max speed s800.
and then it went back to chewing about the first one. This feels like an important issue, as someone mentioned, solving this could spare many people from sending off their computer into the black hole that is apples repair program. does anyone else have any successstories or news on this? I really need my firewire back :-(

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Repair a broken FireWire interface
Authored by: aggtime on Nov 12, '07 11:44:54PM

Thank you for your prescription. I had a couple of surges in the house pwer and my firewire bus disappeared. I tried restart, changed partitions, changed OS to 10.4.8 (from 10.4.10), shut down, restarted, etc all to no avail. I followed your suggestions: shut down, unplug the firewire device, unplug the power cord (867 G4), unplug the wall power cord for the whole system, waited 5 minutes, plugged in the wall socket, connected the Firewire device, then plugged the power cord into the system, et voila! Firewire back. Confirmed it fucntions as usual. (I thought it had been fried) Also revived was a port on an Ethernet hub.



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