Backing up using firewire

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by romanvass, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. romanvass macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2017
    Can anyone please help. I back up on to two separate cloud servers but want the reassurance of using time machine to back up on to an external hard drive. Reasonable wish I think. I have a five year old G-technology 1tb mini external hard drive. This has fire wire ports. The macbook air does not. So I just bought from the apple store a fire wire to thunderbolt adaptor. This does not seem to work with the mackbook air. The external hard drive just makes some worrying clicking sound and then turns off and then attempts to start again. What's going on?
  2. thewap macrumors 6502a


    Jun 19, 2012
    Can you see the drive in disk utilities? Does the drive work in a legacy mac with firewire?
  3. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    The sound you are hearing could be caused by several things, ranging from an insufficient power supply to physical disk failure.

    If it were me, I would try removing the drive from the FireWire enclosure, placing it into a $7 USB 3 enclosure, and seeing if the drive can be read this way*. If not, I would use a program like DriveDX to check on the drive's health to determine if the drive may have physically failed.

    *NOTE - many FireWire drives also had built-in USB 2.0 capability. You could try using a USB cable to the existing enclosure first - if that does not work, then you would need to put the drive in another enclosure to determine if this is the enclosure or the drive that has an issue.
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I have the Apple firewire adapter and have used it on my 2013 MacBook Air with a variety of firewire drives with no problem. Also used it a lot with a Sony professional DV/DVCAM tape deck. So I suspect there is an issue with your old Firewire drive. @ZapNZs has a good idea of swapping the drive to a different enclosure. A couple years ago I pulled all my data off two milk crates full of old firewire drives and found a number of problems. Swapping drives and enclosures allowed me to save almost everything.

    I suppose another explanation could be that the firewire adaptor is defective though.

    But aside from that, isn't it time to finally move beyond firewire? Big USB 3.0 drives are cheap and a lot faster. :)
  5. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68030

    PBG4 Dude

    Jul 6, 2007
    Agree, just picked up a USB3 4TB HDD from Best Buy last month for $109 plus tax.
  6. dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    The Apple FW adapter doesn't meet the full FireWire spec in terms of voltage and current. it will work quite well with FW devices that have their own power supply, but will not always work with devices that rely on the FW host (e.g. your MBa with adapter) for power.

    If your G-Tech "mini" HD doesn't have its own power supply then it will likely not work with any FW<>Thunderbolt adapter unless that adapter has its own power supply to allow it to provide the full FW voltage and current spec. A Thunderbolt port can not provide enough voltage and current. You're best bet is to either repackage the HD into a USB3 case or simply replace the whole thing with a new USB3 external drive.
  7. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Good point, did not even consider that his device might be bus powered. All the drives I mentioned above had external power supplies. Back in the 1990's I had a small firewire drive that was bus powered, don't remember the brand but it was expensive at the time. I recall the instructions cautioned that some firewire ports could adequately power the drive and in fact they also provided an external power brick that could be used in that case.
  8. RedTomato macrumors 601


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Yup. Thunderbolt->Firewire often won't provide enough power.

    Buy a cheap USB 3 empty enclosure from the best rated ones on amazon and put the drive in that. USB3 is far faster than firewire (which was great in its day but is dead now), and also works with almost everything.

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7 September 24, 2017