Compatability for iMacs with Thunderbolt 1 and USB-C hard drives

I have an iMac with Thunderbolt 1 and wanting to connect to an external hard drive with a USB-C port. If I connected the adaptor via the USB-C port of the external hard drive and then used a Thunderbolt 1 to Thunderbolt 1 cable, would I be able to use the drive on this iMac?

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2 Answers from the Community

  • I have this exact same scenario, and same problem. I too spoke with Apple support who were not able to clarify the issue further. The obvious next test for me is trying the Thunderbolt 3 drive on a Thunderbolt 2 computer via the adapter and cable and see if the incompatibility is just with Thunderbolt 1.

    The product description page specifically says "As a bidirectional adapter, it can also connect new Thunderbolt 3 devices to a Mac with a Thunderbolt [1] or Thunderbolt 2 port and macOS Sierra." But since when is Apple ever trustworthy about these things?

    Very frustrating.

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  • I had this exact same issue this week. I have a late 2013 iMac with Thunderbolt 1 ports. My old LaCie Thunderbolt external drive died, and I discovered that Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 port external drives have essentially all been phased out in favor of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. I bought the USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, along with a new USB-C external drive. I connected the adapter to the drive and then a new Thunderbolt cable to the T1 port(s) on my iMac. The computer didn't recognize the connection - it was as if it wasn't there. Tried on two other Macs of similar vintage (with T1 ports) - same issue. When I connected with a USB-C to USB 3 cable, the drive was recognized in all cases.

    When I spoke to a senior engineer via AppleCare, he stated, and verified, that the male end of this USB-C to T2 adapter is not designed to be plugged into anything other than a Mac. It is designed for using new Macs with old drives, not for using old Macs with new drives. So I'm back to using USB 3 (much slower than Thunderbolt) until I can upgrade my iMac to a newer model.

    I'd be highly skeptical about purchasing this adapter with the hope it will allow a new drive to work with an old Mac.

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