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Is USB jack compatible with portable hard drive?

tg2063tg2063 Member Posts: 8
edited August 2014 in Lexus
I really like the USB outlet in my 2010 RX 350. I could plug in my thumb drive and it plays music just as if it is an mp3 player; unfortunately my thumb drive is only 8 gb.

Has anyone tried to connect a portable hard drive? if it works, I might as well load all my music into that, and dump it in to the "deep black hole" in the center console!

Thanks in advance!


  • sdittmarsdittmar Member Posts: 6
    Yes it will work. :)
    I have a 60GB laptop HDD in an external USB enclosure in my 2010 and I love it. My HDD/enclosure requires two USB ports to power it, though, so I have the USB plug for Data and Power plugged into the car's USB jack, and the second USB plug, just for power, is plugged into a DC adapter that I bought which extends the DC jack and also provides a USB power jack. The adapters are quite cheap...I got this one . (EDIT: For whatever it's worth, some reviewers claim this adapter doesn't charge their motorola phone...I can charge my HTC just fine, and it obviously works for my HDD) Not every HDD/enclosure requires two USB connections, and certainly a USB thumbdrive will not require two USB connections for power.
    I can move through the folders and the individual songs (only through the songs from the steering wheel buttons, folders and songs from the radio buttons). I would suggest you use a laptop HDD if you're going to use a real HDD because they are smaller and fit better in the center console, and also because they often are built with shock absorption to some level since they are expected to be moving around in a laptop, where as regular 3.5" HDD are generally stationary in a desktop.
    Also worth noting is that when I turn the car off, the HDD turns off because those ports are not powered when the car is off (turning accessory mode on will turn it on again though). And when I turn my car back on, it turns right back on and the music starts playing again from the same spot that it was at when I turned it off.
  • tg2063tg2063 Member Posts: 8
    Thanks for the detailed info.
    I tried a portable HD (WD 500GB) last week and it did not recognize the device-I am planning to return it. (the usb icon did not light up)- I am sure that thing only required 1 usb cord. I am quite surprised that your system is recognizing the hard drive with enclosure!

    What was the cost of the total setup you have?

    Thanks in advance.
  • sdittmarsdittmar Member Posts: 6
    Is yours a WD My Passport or a WD My Book? If it's the My Passport then I would have expected it to work like my setup. If it's the MyBook, then you would additionally need a DC to AC adapter and to plug in the My Books AC adapter to power the HDD, the USB cable itself won't power it.
    If the USB icon on the enclosure isn't lighting up and you expected it to, then it's not getting the power it needs to turn on or is broken. Amazon has a handful of reviews that complained about the MyPassport's reliability (or lack there of), eventhough the majority of people do seem to be happy with it. Some even say that the single USB power cord wasnt enough and it would dissapear from their computer intermittantly. - 4/ref=pd_bxgy_e_text_b

    As for the cost of my setup, I already had the HDD and the enclosure from years ago, but if I had to put it together again it would cost about $55 and look something like this:

    80GB 2.5" Laptop HDD: $35 (this was the cheapest laptop HDD they have, cheaper even than the 60GB ones, but you can get 160GB for $50 etc if you need more space) D-_-22-116-027R-_-Product

    2.5" Laptop HDD External USB Enclosure: around $10 - losure-_-17-155-704-_-Product

    DC to USB Adapter: $10

    The only other things that come to mind, given that you don't even see the USB light coming on, might be:
    a) maybe something is wrong/poorly implemented in your enclosure's hardware causing it to fail to interface correctly with the car? Or, because it's not a generic enclosure, maybe it has some special software on it that it's trying to start instead of acting like a generic mass storage device?

    b) Do you have a password on the drive that you would normally have to enter when it's plugged in on a regular computer? My HDD's password was enabled in the BIOS of the laptop I took it from and nothing could read/recognize it while in the enclosure until I disabled it

    d) Maybe 500GB is too big of a drive for the Lexus to handle? I really don't know why it would be, but it's a possibility since we can't make any assumptions about what kind of software they are using and what that software would support. I don't have a laptop HDD that big to test with myself unfortunately.

    e) I just got my RX this Tuesday...maybe mine was built more recently and with a newer version of the software or system that handles the USB?
  • tg2063tg2063 Member Posts: 8
    Thanks again. Mine is a MyPassport, and there is no password etc. I think the issue is support by the vehicle.. i tried the usb adapter on the cigarette lighter outlet but the portable drive still didnt work. I think I will get a 32 gb usb drive which is about 60-70$ currently, and would work fine for my music collection,
  • sdittmarsdittmar Member Posts: 6
    If your next enclosure has two USB plugs, just keep in mind that only one of them actually transmits data and the data one has to be the one to be plugged into the car's USB jack. So if it doesn't work at first make sure you didn't accidentally plug the data one into the cigarette lighter.
    Mine has two separate cables and its obvious which is for just power and which is for data by looking at where they plug into the enclosure. Other enclosures have a USB Y-cable that plugs into a single usb jack on the enclosure and splits out to two USB heads. In that case, the plug that is only for power is often the one with a thinner wire going into it (like the right most USB head in this pic 2-270-226-S01%2c12-270-226-S02&S7ImageFlag=2&Item=N82E16812270226&Depa=0&WaterMa- rk=1&Description=BYTECC%203%20ft.%20USB%202.0%20Y%20cable%2c%20A%20male%20x%202%- 20to%20Mini%20B%20male%20x1%2c%20for%202.5%22%20Enclosure%20or%20USB2.0%20Hub%20- Model%20USB2-HD201)

    Hope that helps and good luck, curious to hear how you make out!
  • tg2063tg2063 Member Posts: 8
    So, a few days ago I tried one of my external hard drives powered from the AC outlet in the garage and connected to the USB connection in the car. It didnt recognize it. So, I am not sure if the laptop drive with enclosure will work, unless it is an issue with the amount of memory like you had suggested. I think this issue could be specific for my car.Anyway, I have stopped experimenting and I plan to get a 32 GB USB drive in the future, which should be more than enough for my collection. The prices are close to 70$ in amazon. Currently I am using a pair of 8GB drives.

    Thanks again to all the input.
  • sdittmarsdittmar Member Posts: 6
    Any luck with your 32GB drive?

    If not, another thought occurred to me. In regards to the second external drive you you had plugged into the wall, do you know what file system that hard drive was formatted with? I'm pretty sure it has to be FAT32 if it's going to be readable by the Lexus system.
    If you are using Windows, I don't think you can format a large (ie >32GB) HDD in an external USB enclosure to FAT32. You can check the drive type in Windows by right clicking on the drive in Windows Explorer or My Computer, then clicking on Properties. It should show "Drive Type" and say either FAT32 or NTFS.
    If you think that could be the problem, you will need to download an app that can format your external USB drive to FAT32. !!Keep in mind that formatting will erase all data on that drive, so back up anything you want to save to a different drive, like your computers internal hard drive, until the format is complete then copy the data back to the USB drive!! You can always re-format it back to NTFS if this doesnt work still if you don't want to leave it as FAT32.
    I used this app recently for just such a purpose and it was quick and pretty straight forward (the page gives you the one command you need to know to run it):

    It is a command line program, ie no graphical interface, so if that's confusing or you're not used to that let me know and I can break it down for you into a few simple steps.
  • tg2063tg2063 Member Posts: 8
    I have been using the 32 G flash drive. The only issue is that the system seems to take a long time to read all the data and to scroll through all the folders in it. So, I have to wait a few minutes. However it seems OK otherwise, and I still have some space left for any new music I get in future.

    Thanks though for the info re. the file system. It was FAT 32 in the ext drive.

    I think I will just use the flashdrive for the time being,
  • sdittmarsdittmar Member Posts: 6
    Cool, well at least you've got something working. :)
    I'm surprised about the speed issue since mine is pretty snappy...I only wait seconds, never minute. But if you have nav, which I don't, then maybe it takes it more time to look ahead at the file tag info to put it in a list for your nav screen or something.
    Anyway, you're welcome, glad to help.
  • ttiernttiern Member Posts: 17
    My 2011 Sonata has a USB port that I've gotten to work with flash-drives up to 2GB so far. A larger drive will follow, but the question is what's the best program to organize and configure a music library onto the flash-drive? The dealer, and Hyundai have been little help in understanding or dealing with this issue, and it's not addressed in the manual.

    I have both a Mac and a PC. I don't believe iTunes will sync to a flash drive so that may not be an option. Windows Media Player really mucks up the organization of music so it's not at the top of the list. WinAmp is available; and I'm open to trying other apps/ programs.

    Input on what's worked best for others using flash-drives would be very helpful to me, and I'm sure to others watching this discussion.
  • kittylover1kittylover1 Member Posts: 6
    edited May 2010
    By far the best music player / organizer is Media Monkey free... although I like the paid version, the free version has 90% of the paid version's features. Go to

    I also tried an 8GB MicroSDHC formatted FAT32 - DOES NOT WORK. The Lexus RX350 USB port does not like SDHC (HC stands for High Capacity) cards. I tried a 2GB SD Card Non-HC (with USB Adapter) and it works fine.
  • ttiernttiern Member Posts: 17
    Thanks for your feedback. :)

    Regarding the SDHC cards, they DO WORK in my 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Perhaps the Lexus is a different manufacturer or model. Was your USB adaptor specifically for SDHC cards, or could it be for only the older technology SD cards (which wouldn't work.) It should state SDHC specifically on the adaptor.

    I just checked my Sonata and successfully tested both SD and SDHC (8GB) cards with both SD and SDHC USB adaptors on my radio. Of course SDHC adaptors are required with SDHC cards, although the SDHC adaptors are backwardly compatible with SD. They are "mass storage devices" and should work the same as a USB flash-drive. I've even tried a Sansa Clip MP3 player connected to the USB port and it works like a flash-drive.

    I've tried Media-Monkey since my initial post and found that it puts playlists, files, etc. on my 8GB USB drive. Although it plays music fine, it still only lets me access music by the folders that have been created. Playlists don't seem to work, as they do with an iPod - which is disappointing. Have you had a different experience that I can learn from?

  • adenbxadenbx Member Posts: 4

    Thanks for the information. I bought a 120GB portable HD and had initial problems hooking it up through the USB connection on my vehicle. Once I formatted the drive to FAT32, the vehicle recognized my drive and I was able to play music.
    You are correct, Windows would not format an external drive that is more tham 32GB so you have to use an application that would do that.
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