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MacBook Pro Retina With Touch Bar Late-2016 Wouldn’t Connect to Wifi [Solved]

The new Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is pretty cool. It’s fast, the retina display is gorgeous and I like the convenience of being able to log in with my finger thanks to Touch ID.

I’m yet to explore all the possibilities of the Touch Bar as I’m still busy installing apps I need on the new laptop as well as transferring files from the old MacBook.

I rely on a Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Slim portable hard drive to transfer files between computers. Because it’s a USB 3 drive I connect it to the new MacBook Pro through a USB 3.1 Type C to USB adapter.

For some reason when the external drive is plugged in, the new MacBook would not connect to our wifi router. It’s a pretty recent 2.4 Ghz 802.11n router that has worked fine with my old MacBook Pro Retina.

I tried almost everything including deleting the network, rebooting the laptop, rebooting the router, re-entering the passwords, etc. The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar would not connect to the wifi router.

As last resort I unplugged the Seagate external hard drive and rebooted the MacBook. After logging in the wifi symbol turns black and the Dropbox icon starts to spin again. Hooray! The MacBook is connected to the internet.

I conclude the issue was caused by the external hard drive.

After some researching I found this message on Apple forums:

https://discussions.apple.com/message/23821368#message23821368

The explanation was radio frequency interference created by the hard drive can cause disruption to wifi and bluetooth devices.

A solution I found was to connect the hard drive to the MacBook but keep it as far of the laptop as possible (limited by the length of the cable). I now have access to the internet via wifi at the same time as the external hard drive is connected.

Keeping the external drive as far as possible from the new MacBook Pro Late-2016 reduced interferences with a weak Wifi signal. I used a USB-C to USB-A adaptor to connect a Seagate Slim Backup drive to the MacBook Pro.

 

Configuration

  • MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Late 2016, 4 Thunderbolt ports
  • macOS Sierra, Version 10.12.1
  • Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Slim portable hard drive
  • USB 3.1 Type C male to USB adapter

 

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6 thoughts on “MacBook Pro Retina With Touch Bar Late-2016 Wouldn’t Connect to Wifi [Solved]”

  1. Thanks for this. I have exactly the same problem and I have a Seagate drive too.

    Do you know if it’s limited to Seagate drives as, if it is, I’m tempted to return the drive for a different brand.

    1. Hi Jamie,

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you found this article helpful.

      Unfortunately I don’t have another brand to test. What I have noticed though is when I plugged my SanDisk 64GB thumbdrive to the MacBook I also lost Wifi connection.

      I have the impression this issue happens when the Wifi signal between the MacBook and the router is not as strong, for instance due to distance and other equipments around. When I’m closer to the router or use a more powerful router the problem disappears.

      Cheers,
      Vincent

  2. My problem is almost identical, only no Seagate but Samsung T3 SSD Drive and I suspect it isn’t the drive but the adapter i have attached to it, as using the adapter with other devices seems to cause issues from time to time as well.

    1. Hi Louis,

      Thanks for sharing your experience about the adaptor. Now that you mention it I suspect the adaptor I use could be the cause too.

      I have now purchased Unitek adaptors and wanted to try again with these to see if I can replicate the issue but we also replaced the router with a more powerful one.

      1. I had the same problem too. USB 3 and an SSD hard drive, it’s not because of interference. I changed from the left to the right USB port and it worked.

  3. I have had the same problem but no drive, just using an ANKER 4 port usb-a to usb-c adaptor. I don’t think it’s the drive, I think it’s the use of the adaptor. From all the comments, I’m beginning to suspect it is actually an issue with the usb-c hardware on the Mac…

    I found that if I even touch the adaptor where it is touching the computer, my wifi returns. This reminds me of the issue way back in 2010 with the iphone 4 where if you touched the side of the phone in a certain place, it would loose connection.

    We will see!

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