Firewire external HDD vs USB2 external HDD

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by zen, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. zen macrumors 65816

    zen

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    #1
    I've got a 200GB external HDD that I hook up to my PowerBook using Firewire. The drive enclosure also has USB.

    Which is better to use? Firewire or USB?

    I'm asking because I've found Firewire to be a bit unreliable. When the drive is plugged in and powered up, sometimes it will mount, sometimes it won't. To force it to mount, I either need to reconnect the Firewire cable, or boot the drive again. Sometimes, when it doesn't mount, I can see it in Disk Utility, but the Mount button is greyed out.

    The biggest problem is when the PowerBook wakes from sleep. If the drive is mounted via Firewire and the Book goes to sleep, when the Book wakes, the drive can't be accessed - the Finder locks up with a beachball of death, and if I open Disk Utility, it also crashes and burns. The external drive is still - apparently - mounted, because the icon is still on the desktop. If I yank the Firewire cable, suddenly Disk Utility and the Finder respond, and I get a warning about disconnecting the drive without ejecting.

    When connected via USB, this wake from sleep isn't a problem - the drive is accessible and it's business as usual.

    So firstly, are these issues with Firewire, or it is my drive? Is there anything I can do to improve the Firewire performance and get rid of these issues? Or should I switch to using USB?
     
  2. The Stig macrumors 6502a

    The Stig

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Location:
    On the track
    #2
    really? I don't know why you are having problems. Try another cable. I have a firewire & USB drive and it works fine with both firewire and USB. BUT firewire is MUCH BETTER, it is 15 MB/s faster! It is only a couple of MBs slower than my built in drive. Just great! Love it.

    Maybe, I'd try another cable, maybe there is something wrong with your firewire cable. Try another one and see if that helps because firewire is the way to go. Also switch to USB for a while and see if you still have problems. If not, maybe there is something wrong at one end (or both) and just stick with USB if you can put up with the slowness.

    The Stig
     
  3. zen thread starter macrumors 65816

    zen

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    #3
    I've tried two Firewire cables - exactly the same problem. It is a cheap drive - I think it's a Seagate or a Maxtor (not sure which) inside an enclosure.
     
  4. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #4
    The problem you have stems from the enclosure itself rather than the drive inside.

    What make is the enclosure? If you buy a high quality (expensive) one then you won't have this problem. The hard drive itself is not at fault so it doesn't matter who makes it.
     
  5. zen thread starter macrumors 65816

    zen

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    #5
    Hmm, I'm not sure - the make is "Orange" or something (it's not with me at the moment). It was a cheap generic enclosure.

    Can someone point me to a good place to get a better enclosure from in the UK?
     
  6. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #6
    I don't know really but your best bet is to either look for reviews or buy something with a reputable brand name.

    There will always be someone else in the world who bought what you bought. You just need to find them. Usually the easier it is to find them (especially if it's on a forum) then the more likely it'll have problems. People complain more than they praise, myself included.
     
  7. Qianlong macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2004
    Location:
    .BE
    #7
  8. ender78 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    #8
    The Oxford chipset is what you want to see in your enclosures. The problem that you speak of is at times related to poor compatibility with certain cheaper chipsets. I have a few Oxford based enclosures and have no problem with those.
     
  9. kolax macrumors G3

    kolax

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #9
    I found Iomega a very good brand to use.

    I got a 320GB ex.HDD with FW/800/400 and USB2.0 for £130 (~$260). The FireWire 800 is really damn fast - copied just under 30GB's in a space of 12 minuites.
     

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