External as Primary Boot Disk for MacBook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Fahrwahr, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. Fahrwahr macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Location:
    Southeastern U.S.
    #1
    I've become a bit frustrated lately at the speed of my MacBook (this may have something to do with the 10.4.10 update, but I haven't wanted to go to the trouble of reinstalling 10.4.6 from the DVD and then bringing it back to 10.4.9). The hard disk in my MacBook is a Toshiba 80 GB drive at 5400 RPM. It was actually a replacement for the original drive -- Apple changed it out when they replaced my battery for a charging issue.

    I know that tight enclosures make for significant heat buildup, and the price per GB of laptop hard disks isn't that great, so I was thinking that getting an external FireWire hard disk would be a better bet. Does anyone have any experience using an external hard disk (say, 7200 RPM) over FireWire as a primary boot disk? How is the performance? Does the MacBook run any cooler?

    I'm also curious as to where to get a good quality drive at a decent price. The specials at Staples, Circuit City, CompUSA, and the like tend to be USB 2.0 drives -- not the best for regular booting. Would it be wise to buy a good FireWire enclosure online and then buy an internal drive on special?
     
  2. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    #2
    An external firewire drive won't be any faster, but my wife did that during the week we were waiting for the local Apple store to get a replacement HDD. For what she uses it for (surfing, email, Word/Powerpoint) we didn't notice any difference in speed (that's not to say there wasn't, but we didn't notice any).

    But an internal 5400 drive is still going to be faster than a firewire drive for raw data reading/writing, and if you're noticing slow downs compared to an earlier version of OS X, it's not likely to be an issue with the drive.

    Where are you noticing a slow down? In application launching? How much free HDD space do you have? How much RAM do you have? Is it all recognized by the OS? What's the RAM/CPU usage like, ie. when you notice slowdowns, what's the most active processes? Have you done basic housekeeping tasks like verifying/repairing the HDD, repairing permissions etc?

    As for an external drive, it's always a really good idea to have one for backups. And getting a firewire enclosure and an external 3.5" drive is the most cost effective way of doing it. And running your MB off it will indeed keep it cooler. But not by much, since most of the heat comes from the CPUs.
     
  3. Fahrwahr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Location:
    Southeastern U.S.
    #3
    Application launching is one place it's shown up, along with occasional beach balls on loading pages (I'm using Camino 1.5). I've got over 50 GB of space free, 1 GB of RAM (all recognized according to "About This Mac"). It seems that the computer takes longer to get to a reasonably-performing state upon startup -- whereas I can see the desktop relatively quickly, application launches are taking a good long time (I have Stickies set up to start at the beginning, but other than that, it's manual). I did repair permissions once after installing 10.4.10, but I was booted from the drive itself -- perhaps I should try from the DVD?

    UPDATE: There were a few additional permissions issues that Disk Utility found from the DVD, but the reboot didn't make much of a difference. I got the beachball clicking a link in Mail to create a new message. Stickies still seems to take longer to launch than it used to. Perhaps going back to 10.4.9 is worth the work?

    Also, any recommendations on good brands for external enclosures? My parents had one external FireWire drive that seemed to have gone bad, but it turned out that it was the enclosure that it came in, not the drive, so I definitely want to get one that's durable. OWC seems like it might be a good source.
     
  4. Fahrwahr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Location:
    Southeastern U.S.
    #4
    A few hours of downloading, installing, and updating, and I'm back at 10.4.9. Going back to 10.4.9 is a marked improvement over 10.4.10 -- the desktop appears more quickly, and programs launch in less time. It's nice to have my fast MacBook back again. :)
     

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