"Cannot allocate memory" while formatting a hard drive Mac OS X

Posted on 2013-06-27
Last Modified: 2013-06-28
Hello, I just bought a WD My Passport 1 TB external hard drive to plug into my MacBook OS X (10.6.8).  When I try to format it I get the error POSIX reports: The operation couldn't be completed. Cannot allocate memory.  This happens if I try to erase it or partition it.  Currently there is no partition on the hard drive as it did erase.  I'm trying to format for Mac OS Extended (journaled) as I was instructed.

Anyone have any ideas what I can do to format this drive?


Question by:jayligda
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 39282623

Author Comment

ID: 39282748
Thanks for the article:

"You can use terminal commands as alternatives to initially format the drive and hopefully allow it to be accessible via Disk Utility again."

This did not work for me.  From what I read it seems to be an issue with the OS.  I'll take it to the Genius Bar and see if they can help.

Author Comment

ID: 39283253
I took it to the Genius Bar at the Apple store.  The intake tach instructed me to set up my computer to show me the issue so he'll know which genius could best help me.  I plugged everything in and started the format.  It formatted without an issue.  I thanked him and left.

I believe the issue was that I had the hard drive plugged in through a USB hub.  I mentioned that to the tech (I really didn't leave right away).  he said that definitely could have confused things.
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LVL 47

Accepted Solution

noxcho earned 500 total points
ID: 39283905
Your problem was seemingly in the USB Hub not getting enough energy. So the drive was not fully functional. As soon as you connected it in a different hardware it worked for you.
This happens often with External USB enclosures or even external HDDs. So sometimes the drive have two USB connectors to get more power for successful work.
LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 39284003
I agree. You need a powered USB hub.

Author Comment

ID: 39284683
I was going to comment that it is a powered USB hub, but then realized it was not plugged in :-)

I plugged it in and tried reformatting.  It worked!
LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 39284706
Ha Ha!

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