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

  • The Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is only for Thunderbolt devices. The Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter allows connecting Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 devices to Thunderbolt 3 computers. It is also bi-directional so it can also connect Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 computers.

    Raymond T and David S, you did not state what kind of USB hard drive you are trying to use. It might be Thunderbolt or it might just be USB.
    Alan H, your drive is obviously not Thunderbolt. It is USB.

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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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