External Hard Drives Advice and USB vs FW800

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by gazfocus, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    #1
    I have been using a MBP for a few months now and I am making a total conversion from PC user to Mac user in January when I buy a nice new 24" iMac but to go with it, I want to buy a couple of new external hard drives.

    I have currently got a Seagate FreeAgent 500GB USB Drive which is Windows Formatted and I will be keeping that to use with my work laptop (a Dell), and I have been really pleased with its reliability.

    Anyway, I have been looking around and there are some fab drives on the market but I have a couple of questions.

    If I get an iMac with a 500GB Internal Hard Drive, how big an External hard drive will I need to use Time Machine without having to delete backups all the time?

    Also, I have been primarily looking at the new Seagate FreeAgent drives and the do a PC version (USB) and a Mac version (USB/FW400/FW800), but the 640GB USB version costs £76 whereas the 500GB FW version costs £100. Would you go for the bigger size or the added benefits of FW800?

    Will I notice much speed difference between USB and FW800?

    Thank you very much in advance
     
  2. gsahli macrumors 6502a

    gsahli

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Location:
    Chicago
    #2
    I'm replying only because no one else did - I don't have a FW800 drive.
    If you use a USB drive for backups, you will notice it's slow on the first full backup, after that you won't.
    General rule is to use a FW drive for anything that will require constant data flow, like video and iTunes streaming. Although "rated" higher that FW400 (which I do have experience with), USB 2 is not good at continuous flow - it repeatedly stumbles and recovers - if that's a good way to describe it going to peak and then down to 1/10th.

    HTH
     
  3. sammich macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #3
    The thing about drives with FW ports is that they generally cost about $30 more (Aussie currencies here :D) and FW800 go about $40 more. It depends on what you use it for. Time Machine...USB does fine for me. In fact I picked up a 1TB WD Mybook today, the old 500gig never skips a beat. Heck, I even have a backup Leopard boot partition on by USB drive.

    Regarding gsahli's comment, USB does not stutter. You might have problems if you're working with large high bit rate files (in which case definitely get a FW400/800) in the range of 20 megabytes per second onwards.

    If it's just for extra storage, TM backups and junk, USB is the way to go. If you're a photo/video editing pro, FW/eSATA no question about it.
     
  4. gazfocus thread starter macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    #4
    Thanks. I mainly do web development which does involve some Photoshop use but never of any files with a considerable size, however I do ocassionally design CD covers for my church and they can be 80MB-100MB but then I'd be working with those off the internal drive and transfer them to the external when I'm finished.

    But as I say, 1 will be used purely for Time Machine and the other will be used to store all my 'finished jobs' on that I may need to access every now and again.

    Any thoughts on the capacity of the Time Machine drive?
     
  5. sammich macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #5
    Iirc Apple recommend a drive about 2x the drive you are backing up. It's not such a bad idea, you can get away with a same size or a 1.5x drive. If you read the notes in the TM preference pane, you'll get some idea of what gets backed up.

    You don't need to back up everything either, you can set to ignore directories as well. My advice is to go for a 1.5x drive, you'll prob never use up all that space (remember only the changed files get saved, so you'll need to go through 250gig of changed files to fill it up).


    As an extra note about the 2nd post: technically USB does 'stutter' but in ordinary usage it not really a problem.
     
  6. itou macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
  7. MacStew macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    #7
    One advantage of FW is that you can daisy chain up to 64 devices! Obviously you will hit a sensible limit at some point (like running out of desk space). Daisy chaining FW800 HDD is a very scalable storage solution, especially if you use drives that are individually fault tolerant (like WD MyBook Studio 2TB in mirror mode).
     

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