external hard drive question

mmapples

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 5, 2006
49
0
how important is it to have firewire on an external hard drive? i'm planning on buying one but the one i want only has usb 2.0.
 

baleensavage

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2005
622
0
On an island in Maine
I have both types of drives on my computer and I can say that I by far prefer Firewire, but USB2 works fine for most uses.

Here are the differences that I know of:
1. PowerPC Macs can't boot from a USB drive. That is the bigest difference. I believe Intel Macs can, though I may be wrong.
2. Many older Macs don't have USB2 and using regular USB for a drive is slower than death (or even slower than that).
3. Firewire is a much better technology. When you have a USB drive and you try to access a file there is a 1 or 2 second wait while the connection is established. Firewire drives are always there and respond initially much faster. Once the drive is spun up though, they both are roughly as fast as each other.
4. The relationship between Macs and USB has always been a shady one. USB devices like to conflict with each other and mysteriously need to be replugged in. I personally have not had these problems with hard drives, but I generally don't trust USB if I can help it.
 

dpaanlka

macrumors 601
Nov 16, 2004
4,868
6
Illinois
As far as trasnfer speeds goes, FW400 is still faster than even USB2. FW800 is twice as fast.

Originally, USB was never intended for such uses. USB was fine for mice and keybaords and printers, and USB2 is just a beefed up USB to try and make it a good option for external drives as well, but it really isn't designed for that. Best to go with the technology that was designed from the beginning with external drive purpose in mind.
 

abysstare

macrumors newbie
Mar 15, 2004
6
0
Portable Hard Drives

Along the lines of this subject, I want to get a portable hard drive for backup, but I'm not sure which brand/make to go with. Any thoughts?!?! Ideally I'd like it to be able to run off the power from the laptop, be compact, and to be easily synched with a mac (I get the impression some drives are more intended for PCs, but I could be off).

Thanks to anyone who can lend a hand!!!
 

slooksterPSV

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2004
3,281
126
Nowheresville
I heard that firewire doesn't use the CPU when transfering files/data, whereas USB does. That's the main reason I heard was the best influence for getting firewire.
 

Spectrum

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2005
1,468
782
Never quite sure
abysstare said:
Along the lines of this subject, I want to get a portable hard drive for backup, but I'm not sure which brand/make to go with. Any thoughts?!?! Ideally I'd like it to be able to run off the power from the laptop, be compact, and to be easily synched with a mac (I get the impression some drives are more intended for PCs, but I could be off).

Thanks to anyone who can lend a hand!!!
I got one of these (the FW800 160GB) and it works great.

Using FW800 (and probably FW400 with the correct cord) it works fine off laptop bus power, even when laptop is not plugged in.

On this model, USB2 requires extra power - either from the supplied AC adaptor or the FW cord.

It comes with a small carry/storage pouch.

If money is tight, you can save a bit and just get the FW400 version with a 5400rpm drive.