Worst component ever

SunFone's hissing ACU057A-0512

Pretty much every one of these I’ve owned has failed.

Almost all of my failed power supplies were connected to one of our otherwise awesome Other World Computing Mercury Elite-AL enclosures. Generally, the power adapters last about a year, then go hissy and fail. All of them have been plugged into power conditioning UPSes.

The model number is ACU057A-512. They’re manufactured by SunFone who also supply power adapters for LaCie. These fail so dependably, I’ve taken to keeping spares on hand to make sure I can keep our server’s backup drives online.

Lacie has a photo identifying their power adapters (original). I have a few very old versions of these which explicitly list SunFone as the manufacturer — amazingly they’re still working.

If you’re lucky, the power supply will just fail and the drive will no longer mount. If you’re unlucky, the power supply will gradually fail and some data on the drive will be corrupted. Often the drives will be heard faintly clicking, and if they mount at all, they’ll report all sorts of errors. After at least 8-10 failures, I can only remember one instance where data was compromised. Thankfully that drive was part of a redundant backup strategy, so nothing was lost.

When these fail, they emit a hissing sound. Sometimes it can be heard from across a noisy room, other times I had to hold the brick up to my ear. Sounds like this:

Bob Friesenhahn’s report on MacFixit also mirrors my experience.

I have four D-series LaCie drives here. All of them have experienced power failure. In fact, in the past couple of years I have replaced six failed power supplies. The power supply model number is ACU057A-0512.

The failed supplies were all plugged into a high grade UPS and see an average temperature of 75 degrees. Average time to fail seems to be six months. No supply has lasted more than one year.

Now I purchase these supplies in bulk and keep three of them on hand at all times.

As of September 2009, it looks like OWC has finally switched to a completely different power adapter. Also, a their replacement part number for the doomed SunFone adapters now shows Jentec model JTA0707-Y. OWC has been really good to me over the years, so I’m hoping this change will be the end of this story.

Update January 2011: All of the replacement Jentec power supplies have been working smoothly for over a year.

43 Responses to “Worst component ever” Comments Feed for Worst component ever

  • I had the same problem. I ended hanging the power supply from my desk and putting it in a box about the size that the lazy came in. This greatly reduced the noise, but the supply got very hot, and I was worried about the fire hazzard. I eventually bought a new power supply.

    • Dim chass
      Lacie is a very bad company they are stillers i lost 5 hard drives of them never bey again they sell only design…far from them

  • I just bought a new external from OWC. I noticed that the adapter was from a company (I believe) called Asian Power Supplies. Can’t remember for sure (at work now), but that’s what I thought it was.

  • 3 of the 6 power supplies I have, have failed too, so I’m going to try this replacement from OWC. I have LaCie drives, but it takes the identical power supply, so I’m hoping that this replacement will work.

  • Thanks so much for reporting this. My OWC drive wouldn’t mount and I’m terrified that data have been corrupted. I have done some troubleshooting, and have discovered that this power supply is not providing the correct voltages. The 5V terminal reads 5.6 V and the 12 V terminal reads 10.6 V. So, your diligence has given me probable cause and some hope that that is the only issue. I have contacted OWC – the drive is just over a year old and I’m hoping that they’ll replace the PS for free. This might be wishful thinking, but the high failure rate seems to be a known issue.

    Thanks again,

  • I ordered from the macsales owc website and am happy to say that the Jentec power adapter works with my lacie 2tb bigger disk extreme. I’m crossing my fingers hoping this will be the last power adapter I have buy for this hard drive.

    Thanks again!

  • I’m experiencing the same problem. My drive doesn’t appear to be mounting now and I hope the data is not corrupted. It started hissing very loudly about two days ago. It started to make a pulsing hiss sound. I started to investigate and I see that my drive isn’t working now. I’ve had it plugged into a power conditioner so I don’t think bad power is the cause. I’m going to replace it and see what I find.

  • Just had a tech try to make one good OWC power supply out of 5 of these that failed. Still in progress, but so far found that 3 of them had all 5 capacitors blown, one had 3 blown and one had 4 blown. So still not enough to make one good brick. Two or three of these were older supplies and two or three were replacements ordered in the past year (didn’t mark them for purchase date).

    Maybe the different number of capacitors blown explains the sometimes gradual onset of problems. In any event, I will replace the power supplies in the future at the first sign of trouble. Overall, if it weren’t for this issue, the OWC drives have been great and the support has been very good. With this problem I would not buy another drive with this style power supply.

    • OWC switched to a newer model enclosure which uses a completely different Jentek power supply. I’ve started migrating to the these and haven’t had any trouble with them so far. The new enclosures look similar, but are slightly shorter and assemble differently.

  • I have the same power supply on a MGB Raid Pro (3500MGB-R Pro).
    I’ve had good luck with the NAS device itself, but the SunFone power supply failed just as you described about a week ago.

    When I removed the power from the drives, the system boots up. So it seems the power supply is having trouble providing enough power to bring up the drives.

    I’ve just ordered a Jentec from OWC. I have high hopes everything will work again once I get the replacement PS.

    Thank you for publishing this information. You’ve saved me from a really big headache.

  • My Sunfone device just failed too, powering an “ICY BOX” RAID enclosure. It went down gradually, and luckily I managed to copy all data in a moment when it was still working.

    So thanks a lot for this information.
    Any suggestions for a reliable replacement?

    • All of my Jentec replacement power supplies are working flawlessly. Try contacting MacSales.

  • and another victim here!
    iomega ultramax for mac
    trying to get some psu from a lacie then will backup and dump the iomega which is about 30% dead by now :(

  • Also had the PS fail on my LaCie- though it wasn’t SunFone, just the same PN.
    However, LaCie did ship out a replacement within 5 days of my 1st requesting support – and the unit was 6 months out of warranty.

  • Mine just quit on me too. I could hear the wine and the drives attempted to turn on, but they would just cycle. I had another power adapter to test the drives for corruption, but they appear to be okay. I guess I’ll order another one from OWC and hope it’s one of the Jentek ones.

  • I’m experiencing the same problem. My drive doesn’t appear to be mounting now and I hope the data is not corrupted. For me this is the second time it hapend and LaCie does not want te sent me a new one. Now Iam looking for a good PS.

  • Don’t feel alone… I’m experiencing the same issue on two Lacie Ethernet 500GB disk (one own by me and another own by my brother), both power supply failed after about 2 years of sporadic use.
    In Italy the original PS costs 40 euro. I don’t know if it is better to buy another ethernet disk (not lacie) or to buy a short-term working PS.

  • thanks so much for publishing this information and linking to a better replacement model — you’re a lifesaver. i had a lacie drive die a couple of months ago, and yesterday an iomega ultramax. with the lacie it didn’t even occur to me that it might be the power adapter; with the iomega it was obvious, and i searched the web and found many people with the same problem. this site actually made the connection. thanks again!

    as to those fearing corruption — yes, that’s likely going to happen if the power fails gradually. i recommend disk warrior, which can take a decent crack at the resultant problems if the mac’s disk utility fails.

  • I was about to throw away my OWC Mercury Elite Pro thinking that the chipset went bad because the hard drives kept spinning up and shutting down repeatedly. After testing both hard drives in another external enclosure and determined that they were fine, I E-mailed tech support at MacSales and they asked if the power supply was making a hissing sound. Sure enough, just plugging in the power supply alone created a crackling, hissing sound. Looks like they’ve been through this a bunch of times. Hopefully I can get a better replacement.

    Has anyone had problems with the Jentek power supply so far or know of another 4-pin circular AC adaptor replacement?

    Here is the pin configuration:
    Pin 1: 5V DC 4.2A
    Pin 2: 12V DC 3A
    Pin 3: Ground
    Pin 4: Ground

    Pin arrangement:

       |    <--(notch)
    2    1
    4    3
    • My replacement power supplies have been up for over a year. Get the Jentec from OWC.

  • YES!!! I have had 2 fail now on my Iomega USB drives…..first time I didn’t realize it was supply, thought drive itself was bad…..wasted taking it apart. Now just yesterday my other USB drive starts un doing and doing USB, drive clacks a bit, swapped power supply with my other working one, problem solved. Yeah, these Sun Fone supplys blow I’ve had too many failures, horrible in this day and age, my laptop bricks last forever, these bricks, suck. And they ain’t that cheap to buy a replacement model of the ones I use. Chinese junk, the guy causing teh problem…SUM TING WONG.

  • Hello, I have a lacie disk and my power supply is the ACU057A-0512 as shown in here

    Can I use the JTA0202Y? Or which OWC do you recommend?

    • I don’t know that part number, but as I said above, I’ve got at least a half-dozen of the OWC adapters (OWCELITE4SAUS) and they’ve all worked perfectly for the past year.

      • Thanks for the reply, but it seems we cannot find them in Europe, can we?

        • Sorry, I should have checked to see that you were referring to a Jentec model number. I googled a little and that looks like it has a different plug than the JTA0707Y model.

          The JTA0707Y uses the KPPX-4P connector, which is also known as a Power Mini-DIN or Power DIN connector (4-pin). I found the power supply for sale on several EU sites, try Googling from different languages, the results vary quite a bit.

          I wish I offer some more specific advice, but I don’t have any experience with international purchases. I think OWC will ship to Europe, but I could see the costs being a problem.

          • Thank you for the reply.

            I have been told the WATTAC BA0572ZI could do the job. I am investigating now how good it is.

  • My 2nd SunFone adapter just failed and shows the same model #. Crossing my fingers OWC will replace it free of charge, as it’s been a while since the first one died.

  • Thanks for this info! I have an Iomega Ultramax 1TB that has all of the same issues. Weird “clicking” noises from drives, *really* weird screeching sounds when it is spinning up and a “hissing” noise – even when turned off! (Turns out the “”hissing noise” was coming from the crappy SunFon PS)

    Recently the Iomega Ultramax 1TB would no longer stay running for more than 5 minutes when plugged into my iMac. I unplugged the PS from power strip it was on, moved the USB connection to a laptop and AC to a different outlet and it started working again – but I don’t trust it! I’m buying a replacement PS ASAP. Even when the PS is NOT plugged into drive, but is plugged into AC, it hisses. It sounds as if it has a PC fan inside it that is going bad! Once I get my replacement PS, I’m going to crack the SunFone open to take a look inside…

    By way of rant – it is very interesting that after the purchase I would get tons of unwanted sales spam from Iomega – but never an email related to a recall or any sort of support info about the crappy PS. I’ll never buy one of their products again. Sadly, after almost 15 years in IT, this (expensive electronics failing *way* before reason – on a large scale of customers) is becoming all to common place. Don’t even gt me started about HP…

  • I had same problem same noise I lost my all datas on HDD. I was unlucky. I did not know that the problem was the power supply. I put a new HD in the box. After a year  the power supply (the killer of my hdd) stopped with hissing. :-(

  • THANK YOU for writing this up.

    This power adapter came with a LaCie drive I bought back in 2007. It’s lasted until now, which I suppose is better than average.

    If it weren’t for this post I may have well lost my mind.

    I ordered the alternative from OWC, I’m a big fan of them. Now let’s just hope the drive wasn’t damaged! :s

  • This page is not on the first page of google search results for “lacie acu057a-0512 power supply”.  Thanks for the info.  My first one failed under warrantee and my 2nd one out of warrantee.  I’m going to order the OWC replacement.  Great that this is on the web now.

    • That was a typo, “this page is now the first page….”

  • Dear Joe,

    writing from south america. two of the three LaCie power adapters failed to work the way you described (giving the hissing sound) and I need to run these disks urgently. I was using the power supplyACU057A-0512. Question: Is LaCie taking responsibility of these power adapters failures? or Do I have to buy a new power supply? If the second question is the option, whre can I purchase the newer model (Jentec model JTA0707-Y?)? thank you in advanced!

  • Joe,  one more question. is the power adapter the  OWC Mercury Elite/Neptune

    4.2Amp 4-Pin Style Power Adapter? Also, will the power cord provided with the LaCie adapter work on this one or I have to purchase the power cord as well?

    • The end of the power cord that connects to the brick is universal, but you’ll probably end up with a new one if you replace the brick.

  • Thank you for an early Christmas (2011) present. This post has saved a perfectly good component. A few years back I ordered a Iomega Ultramax 1TB drive and used it to back up a lot of music and video. It has been sitting at my parents house for a long while since then, and I would occasionally back things up when visiting them.
    I noticed the clicking and ridiculously long boot times and thought the hdd was going to be a goner. After having a scare with a 1.5 TB Seagate Freeagent Xtreme I pulled out the Ultramax to do a “last ditched” backup. I was worried that it too would finally fail and scoured the internet for more info. I came upon this post and ordered the OWC part. Problem frickin solved. I am running a Techtools Surface scan to make sure the data is all good. With the price of HDDs these days I am glad I have a whole TB to work with.

    PS… to answer David’s question, yes the old power cable still works. Before ordering the part I made sure with the OWC guys over the phone and everything went well. When HDD prices come down I am going to be ordering at least another TB drive from them,

  • Thanks for the tip. Ordered a JTA0707-Y today. Hopefully it works as well as yours did!

  • hi there everybody…i’m looking for an unused ultramax 1TB usb unit so as to extract its internal control board…anyone know of anyone that has one…i’m willing to pay for it.

    • Are you still looking for a 1TB ultramax unit?

      • Hi Krystion..sort of…i fixed the one i was refering to above by replacing its original processor with a microchip PIC. But i might still be interested in the PCB so as to compare the two.

  • I have 2 LaCie drives and each has had 2 power supplies under warranty (had a 3 year warranty on these) but they have failed again. Once one of the hard drives sounded like a coffee grinder and I was sure it was finished but it was only the supply. I was lucky I have 2 units so I can borrow supplies from one to the other to troubleshoot.

  • Thank you for this information. I was having intermittent problems with my Maxximus. Sometimes one hard drive wouldn’t power up… then eventually both hard drives wouldn’t power-up & the PS was hissing. The adapter can be purchased for without the figure 8 power cable for a few dollars less :

    It’s best to keep these types of external adapters on a power strip w/ an on & off button so they aren’t running / being worked even when the connected device may not be powered on.

  • I wanted to thank you for this old discussion. I have an Iomega UltraMax Pro RAID drive with several years of data on it, which I had pretty much given up on as dead. I bought the OWC replacement power supply, and it’s as good as new again. Cheers!

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