Connecting 2 external WD drives to my iMac

tgodding

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 5, 2019
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Hove
Hi there,
I have 2 external WD drives. I have one connected to my iMac with USB (the only alternative it seems) and connected the second WD drive to the first using Firewire but my iMac doesn't recognise it. Is there any way of daisychaining them so I can back-up the first external drive to the second drive please? I record music to the first hard drive and need to back it up if possible.
I've attached a photo of the back of the 2 drives (left is the first connected to the iMac) and also of the available ports at the rear of my iMac.
 

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mikey8811

macrumors member
Mar 23, 2019
80
12
You cannot daisy chain using firewire if your first drive is connected to your Mac by USB.

You will need to connect the second drive via USB too and just copy the files across.

You can only utilise the firewire connection if you get a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 converter and a Thunderbolt 2 to Firewire converter. These adapter cables aren't cheap so really, your firewire is as good as redundant.

I have 6 of these My Book Studios and was in the same boat until I returned my iMac.

Apple has that way of making the hardware you own redundant.
 

jagolden

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2002
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You can buy small (1”) USB C to USB A adapters from Amazon for about $8 US for a pair. Work fine. I was using them until I bought two new drives with USB C connections.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,209
5,554
Looking at the pic above of the 2 drives...

The one on the right has a USB port -- you can use that drive with 2017/2019 iMac

The one on the left looks like it has only firewire800 and perhaps an eSATA port?
NO USB ports at all.

To connect this second drive to an iMac with only USBc and USBa ports, you would need TWO adapters:
Mac --> thunderbolt3 to thunderbolt2 --> thunderbolt2 to firewire800
(this way "goes in" through the tbolt3 port)

There's no guarantee it would work, and those two cables will run you about $90 new. Is it worth it?

Another Fishrrman off-the-wall alternative:
Again, is that an "eSATA" port on the drive on the left? (can't tell)

If it IS an eSATA port...
I see that there are "USB3 to eSATA adapters, like this:
https://www.newegg.com/p/0S8-019C-000H7?item=9SIA86V3E18514&ignorebbr=1&source=region&nm_mc=knc-googlemkp-pc&cm_mmc=knc-googlemkp-pc-_-pla-srad+tech+ltd-_-cell+phone+-+cables-_-9SIA86V3E18514&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkL36v4qe4wIVDhgMCh2fgQJpEAQYAiABEgKlO_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

I have NO IDEA if this would even work.
Looks like you would need:
Mac --> USBc to USBa adapter/dongle --> USB3 to eSATA bridge/adapter --> eSATA connecting cable --> drive

The parts would be cheap, if it was me I might consider trying this.

Hmmm...
Here's in "all-in-one" cable that might work on its own, but it costs more:
https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-USB-eSATA-Cable-Converter/dp/B07FJ2NVL2
 
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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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The drive on the right.

That other port on that FW drive is USB 1.1/2 but it’s one of the mini or micro connectors. There’s 3 or 4 of them–without having the unit in hand, I don’t know which. WD has phone support—give them a call and ask. Once you know, you’ll find the cable cheep on Amazon. You might have one kicking around that you got with an old cell phone or other device – these are often included as charging cable.

You will not be able to daisy-chain the other FW drive to take advantage of that USB port.

I have a number of eSATA docks. I cannot tell if that other port is eSATA or not. Could be but doesn’t look like it from the angle. Too long and thin but it could be the camera angle.
 
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mikehalloran

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Oct 14, 2018
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The Sillie Con Valley
...
If it IS an eSATA port...
I see that there are "USB3 to eSATA adapters, like this: ...
I had no idea such adapters existed. I may have to pick one up just to see if it works.

I have a number of eSATA docks and drive housings since my 2010 iMac has the OWC eSATA mod. It would be interesting to see if they can be of use anymore — not that I really have a use for them but...

Otherwise, it’s the Apple FW to TB adapter, a Thunderbolt 1/2 cable then into the Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter. Good luck doing that for $90 unless you have the space to do without the cable. Cost me more than that to see if my FW audio interface would work with my iMac Pro (it does).

As far as redundancy, Intel doesn’t support FireWire—never did. Apple stopped with the 2012 iMac. The 2011 has a FW port but it’s a builtin adapter that does not support the full FW spec—it can’t since TB doesn’t support it.

If the drives are important, lose the housings (yes, you can remove the drives) and install them into USB 3 housings or docks like these, This one includes a USB 3 cable.
https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Docking-Station-Support/dp/B0099TX7O4/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=3.5+usb+dock&qid=1562350125&s=gateway&sr=8-6

eSATA, USB 3 or 3.1 over USB-C makes no difference. The drive is the speed bottleneck, HDD or SSD. USB 2 is a lot slower. With a 7200 rpm HDD, a 50G file transfer takes about 9 minutes over USB 2; 4 minutes over any of the other 3 protocols. SSDs are a lot faster, of course except USB 2 where they’re not. I tested all of this recently.
 

dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
652
238
Key West FL
Several points:

 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,600
390
The Sillie Con Valley
IDE? Yikes! It’s possible, though—hadn’t considered that.

If that’s an IDE drive in there, get the data off and toss it into recycling. I would be very surprised if a housing with FW800 port has a PATA/IDE/EIDE/ATA drive inside. Those HDDs are no longer being made. Every now and then, I hunt through mine looking for a good one to install into my G4. I’m about to throw in the towel and have bought adapters to convert it to SATA. Looking for time to get it done.

At least it’s not a SCSI port. I still have a few of those kicking around.

Have you used one of those “hydra” adapters with a newer Mac? I have one — good luck with that. Mine works fine connected to my G4 via USB. It was useful once.
 

Coconutcreampie

Suspended
Aug 31, 2016
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NY America
You cannot daisy chain using firewire if your first drive is connected to your Mac by USB.

You will need to connect the second drive via USB too and just copy the files across.

You can only utilise the firewire connection if you get a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 converter and a Thunderbolt 2 to Firewire converter. These adapter cables aren't cheap so really, your firewire is as good as redundant.

I have 6 of these My Book Studios and was in the same boat until I returned my iMac.

Apple has that way of making the hardware you own redundant.
You returned your iMac (I’m assuming a recent one) because Apple years ago dropped the old FireWire interface?
 

mikey8811

macrumors member
Mar 23, 2019
80
12
You returned your iMac (I’m assuming a recent one) because Apple years ago dropped the old FireWire interface?
No, I returned it because file sharing on Mojave sucks and is broken. Major issues that are posted elsewhere, that Apple weren't able to fix other than a wipeout and clean install.
 

dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
652
238
Key West FL
...
Have you used one of those “hydra” adapters with a newer Mac? I have one — good luck with that. Mine works fine connected to my G4 via USB. It was useful once.
Yes, a few years ago with an iMac late-2015, though I don't remember which OS version I was running at the time. It is CRITICAL that you use the external power supply when adapting anything other than recent 2.5" SATA drives. Older 2.5" SATA and 3.5" drives require more power for the USB connection to the computer can provide.