Lion Spotlight Doesn’t Like External Hard Drives

I think I’ve narrowed down the external hard drive problem that I wrote about yesterday in my post about Mac OS X Lion.  There’s something failing in the Spotlight indexing process that’s causing the external hard drive to unmount.  When I tell Spotlight to ignore the external hard drive partitions, then the OS will keep the hard drive mounted normally.

SpotlightChecking the system.log through Console, I’m seeing these errors:

Jul 22 13:39:06 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in store_stream_init:store_stream_init err:2
Jul 22 13:39:06 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in indexPrepareForSyncBulk:indexPrepareForSync error: 2, 0.
Jul 22 13:39:06 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in _CISyncContextSync:indexPrepareForSyncBulk error:2
Jul 22 13:49:02 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Warning) IndexGeneral in _SIOpenIndex:datastore clean, reverse store dirty
Jul 22 13:53:59 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in indexPrepareForSyncBulk:indexPrepareForSync error: -1, 0.
Jul 22 13:53:59 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in _CISyncContextSync:indexPrepareForSyncBulk error:-1
Jul 22 14:08:59 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Warning) IndexGeneral in _SIOpenIndex:datastore clean, reverse store dirty

Not sure what else I should do to debug this, other than just leave Spotlight ignoring the external drives.  Any suggestions, Mac experts?


  1. If you use any third party software that might interfere with I/O — not only with hard disk drives, also with networked devices — consider uninstalling that software.

    iStat Menus, Little Snitch, HardwareGrowler, and so on … anything non-Apple, with a GUI, that is intended for monitoring purposes.

    Also, think beyond the GUI. What other things — soft, firm and hard — might interfere with I/O?

    Might Apple’s honing of the OS — not forgetting the new default to 64-bit kernel and extensions for some models — cause a previously latent issue to become more noticeable?

    Most of what I detail will be posted to Apple Support Communities — if you post there (recommended), please leave a cross-reference here. Thanks!

    1. iStat Menus is running on this computer… do you think a full uninstall is necessary for testing? I actually am not using the menus for disk usage/activity, only the ones for CPU and Network. Dropbox is the only other 3rd-party process that I can think of that’s doing any serious I/O, but even that is going against a different disk than the one that was getting ejected.

  2. Hi, managed to find this article via your link from the OS X Lion first impressions. At first I thought I had an issue with my external WD HD (connected via TimeCapsule as a NAS). My entire media library is stored on the drive. In the last couple of days I have been watching Apple TV and it keeps disconnecting, saying it can’t find a Home Sharing account.

    Realised that the problems had started since Lion install – so googled and viola. Here I am.

    Have attempted your suggestion to disable spotlight, see if it helps.

    1. Joe, was your external drive being ejected unexpectedly? Or was it staying mounted?

      I’d seen similar behavior with my iTunes library on my MacBook Air, when being accessed by my Apple TV, but that was BEFORE the upgrade to Lion… and it wasn’t causing the disk to eject. What I wound up doing with my home network setup was change the way my AirPort Express was configured. I had configured the AirPort Express to “Extend a wireless network”, but after switching the wireless mode to “Join a wireless network”, I saw marked improvement in the Apple TV. Little-to-no buffering time now, no disconnects from the iTunes Library, etc. Your mileage may vary.

      1. Hi Jason,

        Yes, the external drive (post upgrade to Lion) would constantly unmount and remount itself.

        Have had absolutely zero issues prior to Lion upgrade – and I heavily use Apple TV to enjoy my media library on the main TV in the living room (MacBook is upstairs in the study).

        After limited testing (about 5 hours last night) – I am happy with the fix outlined above. I was able to browse my library, listen to music, watch a couple of long TV shows (1 hour plus) with no issues at all. Previously the drive would disconnect within minutes.

        Will keep an eye on performance and report back.


  3. Hello,

    I think I am having the same issue as you mentioned… but it says that my WD external HD cannot be ejected, although I didn’t try to eject it

    Many times I can’t even eject it and I notice the computer gets very slow and crashes almost any program.. And it happens while spotlight is indexing the external HD

    On top of that, spotlight says that the indexing will take weeks, sometimes months..

    I dont know exactly why is it happening, but the external HD is surely making the computer unusable.. I haven’t tried unninstalling third party software, as i have the WD Smartware, i guess i’ll try that when I get home.

    1. Definitely sounds related, even though the behavior is different. In my case, the contents of that external drive is almost exclusively my iTunes media, so I don’t mind shutting off Spotlight for that drive.

  4. Thanks for the note about shutting down Spotlight. I was having problems with my iMac crashing as it continually spontaneously ejected my networked Drobo drive via iSCSI. This problem only developed after I upgraded to Lion.

    After turning off Spotlight for the Drobo drive, my computer has been crash-free x 24 hours now. Thanks!

  5. I just thought I’d add I’ve been having issues with Lion which I think I have tracked down to problems with spotlight indexing an internal drive on my MBP with partitions on it. Trying to backup and remove partitions to solve the issue (have already disabled spotlight for the two partitions other than mac HD and that made things a little more stable) However, when backing up the partitions using SuperDuper, I struck an NTFS error on the .Spotlight-V100/Store-V2 folder

  6. I’m so thankful for you and this blog. My EHD has been ejecting improperly ever since I upgraded to Lion and it was really upsetting me. This happened to me earlier in the year with another update and it fried my drive, resulting in the loss of thousands of photographs I had taken. I’m going to follow your directions on modifying the indexing with Spotlight and hopefully that will avert yet another fried drive. Thank you for posting this!!!!

  7. I, like many have found this page looking for answers to this problem. But unlike some, I’ve tried disabling spotlight for the external drives and it’ made no difference. It’s really annoying me! I’m awaiting a fix for this problem.

  8. I disabled spotlight on my EHD and it is still doing the same darn thing. In addition, my computer is so freaking slow now that I hate to use it. I am really wishing I hadn’t “upgraded” to Lion.

  9. I to am having problems since upgrading to Lion. My MacBook Pro cannot seem to mount the WD MyBook. All my music is stored here. I am not sure how to disable Spotlight on this external hard drive, although I am not even sure that is the issue. I just keep getting an error that says NTFS-3G could not mount/dev/disk1s1 at Volumes/My Book becasue the following problem occurred: /Library/Filesystems.fusefs.fs/Support/fusefs.kext failed to load – (libkern/kext) link error; check the system/kernel logs for errors or try kextutil(8). The MacFUSE file system is not available (71)

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