connecting a USB-C drive to an older Thunderbolt 2 MacBook Pro

Just purchased a USB-C ext. drive that I want to use for my Time Machine B/U with an older MBP 15 that uses TB2. The new drive will connect to my USB-2 port but I want the faster TB2 speed. What adapter can I buy that will connect the USB-C to the TB2 port on my mac?

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2 Answers from the Community

  • I bought this to enable connecting my old Thunderbolt 1 backup drive to my new 2017 iMac. It will probably work for that, but I have not yet received the new iMac, so I don't know for sure.

    I DID already receive my new backup drive, a 4TB LaCie Porsche Design portable drive, powered by the USB C cable, so I figured I'd try the adapter to connect that to my old 2010 iMac's Thunderbolt 1 port. No go. The adapter does not provide power, so the drive remained off. It probably WOULD work to plug the adapter's Thunderbolt 1/2 end into the old Mac, plug the USB C end into a USB C dock, and then use a standard USB C to USB C cable to connect the dock to the drive, but I don't yet have a USB C dock with which to test that.

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  • You did not specify the model of your USB-C external drive, so I can't determine if it's USB 2.0 (480 Mbps), USB 3.1 gen 1 (5 Gbps), USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps), or Thunderbolt 3 (20 or 40 Gbps), or what connections it allows.

    If you're drive is Thunderbolt 3, then use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. This will work only if your drive has a female Thunderbolt 3 connector. If it does not, then you also need to use a Thunderbolt 3 dock or other Thunderbolt 3 device with a second Thunderbolt 3 port. Then your drive would be at the end of the Thunderbolt chain.

    The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter only works with Thunderbolt devices and computers. A Thunderbolt device may then provide USB ports and DisplayPort ports or HDMI ports and all kinds of other ports (Ethernet, FireWire, eSATA, SD Card, Audio, etc)

    The MacBookPro 2015 has USB 3.0 ports that work up to 5 Gbps.

    There are simple USB-C female to USB-A male adapters available, but they all do not NOT comply with the USB Type-C specification version 1.1. So you take your chances if you try one of those.

    If your drive has a USB-C female connector, then use a USB-C male to USB-A male cable.

    If your drive supports USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps) and can actually go faster than 5 Gbps (for example, it is a raid with 2 SSDs or 4 or more HDDs), then it might be possible to get 10 Gbps USB if you use a Thunderbolt 3 dock with the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. You could then connect your USB-C drive to the Thunderbolt 3 dock's second Thunderbolt 3 port which should also support USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps), but I would check with the manufacture of the Thunderbolt 3 dock to confirm that the second Thunderbolt 3 port also supports USB. I don't know of any Thunderbolt docks that support USB 3.1 gen 2 otherwise. They usually have USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 gen 1 USB-A ports.

    Note: female = receptacle, male = plug

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