Hard Drive Questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by muflyer, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. muflyer macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #1
    I have come to the realization that I need to get an external HD to back up my main HD on my iMac. I am thinking the best bang for the buck is to get an internal Seagate HD and use an external case. My machine will accomodate up to FWire 400 and I am thinking of 250 GB or 320GB. O will use it for both backup and storing videos, photos, etc. My question is this: What is the difference between SATA, PATA and IDE? Will the performance matter for my 3 year old iMac? Will the difference between 8MB and 16MB cache be a factor? Also I would like a case with both USB 2.0 and Firewire 400. What else do I need to look for in an external HD case? Is a fan a requirement? Will one case handle all SATA, PATA and IDE? Finally, what do I need to know about the chip set? Sorry...those are multiple questions, but I would be extremely grateful for any insight. Thanks everyone. Chris
     
  2. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #2
    ok first off sata is a newer and supposedly faster interface than IDE/PATA(Parrellel ATA) IDE is what you would find on a DVD drive to connect to the mother board, SATA kinda looks like a USB connection. Second no the performance wouldnt matter at all on your iMac. I think the only difference between the two Cache's seek and write times 8mb is fine and the 16mb would be better, they both are fine for what you want to do and you wont find any real big differences in performance. I would look at Vantec enclosures they make good sturdy well built products here is a link to a good enclosure that uses both USB 2.0 and Firewire 400.

    As for HDD interface unless your using it for booting a OS I would just use a IDE enclosure. but if you need a good SATA enclosure then heres one but its only USB 2.0. and most external enclosures have fans and its on powersupply. Depending on your need for storage space that is up to you, I found that 250 to 500gig of storage for an external is pretty good I have a 500gig extern. I have just halfway filled up last week and still have alot of space with videos and my music Library on it.
     
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #3
    Go with a quality Firewire 400/USB combo case like the aforementioned or the MacAlly aluminum case, and an IDE (Parallel ATA) drive. I like Seagate drives for their 5 year warranty. Make sure you are buying a new drive with full warranty, not a recertified, pull or OEM drive with zero - 1 year.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  4. muflyer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #4
    Thanks for the fabulous feedback. If I go with a SATA drive (they seem to cost about the same), will that work with a IDE case? I know I won't get SATA performance, but just curious if a SATA drive would be compatible with an IDE case?
     
  5. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #5
    no if you get a SATA case then you must use a SATA drive I also like seagate I have two seagates and one maxtor drives both brands work perfectly.
     
  6. muflyer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #6
    Quick question: If the IDE drives max out at 100Mbps, does it matter whether you are using Firewire 400 (400Mbps) USB 2.0 (480Mbps) or Firewire 800 since the drive would limit the data to be accessed to 100Mbps?:confused:
     
  7. crees! macrumors 68000

    crees!

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    MD/VA/DC
    #7
    Don't you need a SATA interface to connect it to the computer? Like if it was on a laptop you'd need a SATA express card or something? I don't know, just asking.
     
  8. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816

    SmurfBoxMasta

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    Location:
    I'm only really here at night.
    #8
    the OP stated he has an iMac, so he has USB & Firewire interfaces to choose from. Doesnt matter if the drive is SATA or not, since he will be putting it into an external case, which have either one or both of the same connection options:p
     
  9. crees! macrumors 68000

    crees!

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    MD/VA/DC
    #9
    Yes I'm aware he has an iMac. So the internal connection of a SATA drive is different from IDE but you can still utilize FW/USB without a performance hit (assuming SATA read/write is slower than FW/USB)?
     
  10. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #10
    this is correct the only things that need to match up is the HDD connectors (IDE/SATA) to the external HDD enclosure (IDE/SATA). after that it wont matter really which yuo choose USB or FW they will work, some poeple like the FW better for file transfer but I dont really think it matters unless you are booting with the drive if all you are going to use it for is external storage and backup then USB will work fine.
     
  11. tuartboy macrumors 6502a

    tuartboy

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    #11
    USB does work fine, but Firewire actually *is* better. The main difference between FW and USB is that USB uses the system CPU to handle I/O operations whereas FW has a built in controller. Depending on your CPU, this can be an issue. On my 1.5Ghz G4, a USB drive uses about 20% CPU during file transfers whereas FW uses 0%. This would be a problem if, for example, you were encoding video where the source was located on the USB drive. Your encode would be 20% slower.

    Another way to improve CPU utilization and mount times is to format it for HFS+ instead of FAT32. FAT32 works on both windows and os x, but has a 4gb file limitation and prevents you from using other nifty features (hard/soft links, journaling, etc...).

    As for Hard Drive types: any differences between 3.5" drive types are moot. The real limitation will be your FW 400 interface as it will saturate long before your drive will. Any good, modern drive should easily saturate a FW 400 connection.
     
  12. Reaver macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #12
    ok I stand corrected FW is better but for just a simple file storage and system back up USB would do fine unless you are going to use a FW drive to boot OSx then I would just get a USB external drive and use my FW for something better like camera(S).
     

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