External HD: is FW 800 worth $70 more than USB?


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 5, 2007
I'm shopping for a 500 gb external hard drive, to use primarily for backup, storage (and playback) of media. I'm not planning on using it as a scratchpad for photoshop or anything like that, but I don't want to wait an hour every time I backup my 160 gig MBP either.

I've basically decided on a Western Digital My Book. BestBuy has the standard model, USB only, on sale for $130. The Pro model that has firewire 800 goes for $195 at the cheapest. How much gain in speed would FW give, and is it worth the extra price? I'm also considering getting the network (gigabit ethernet) version, but I have no idea where it fits in in terms of speed.


macrumors 604
Jun 27, 2006
Seattle, WA
You will get around 2-3 times faster transfer rates using FireWire 800. I use FireWire 400 for my external hard drive and the difference between it and USB is very noticeable, especially when I'm transferring large files. FireWire 800 will be twice as fast as the FireWire 400 hard drive I'm using.

Although you should consider this Acomdata external hard drive, it has both USB and FireWire 400 and it is very cheap.


macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2004
Utilise the Express Card slot and get an SATA backup solution. That'd be best.

I used FW800 with my old PB and find it much better than using FW400 with my new Mac mini, and if the transfer rates in iTunes are anything to go by, I'd like to keep away from USB for a backup connection.


macrumors 601
Nov 7, 2004
There is little difference between FW800 and eSATA in terms of transfer speed. If you are only going to use the external HD on your Mac, then the FW800 will be fine. I have the same MyBook you are looking at (the $195 model) and I like the fact that the disk spins down when it is not transferring, cutting down on heat and power consumption. Most USB only disks spin constantly. USB transfer speeds are slow if you are transferring Gigs of data and it takes a toll on your CPU.

If you really want to be future proof, LaCie have brought out a Quadra HD with all four interfaces, but I could not recommend a LaCie disk in all honesty.


macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2003
Not sure if this is something you'd like, but there's another MyBook drive line, Premium, that offers dual interface (FW400 and USB). You won't be able to get the FW800 speeds, but it'll be better than just USB, and cheaper than the Pro drives.


macrumors 65816
Dec 5, 2005
I have some experience with this matter. I used to Backup my MacPro via a USB 2.0 cable, a normal backup would take around 4 hours. Using firewire 400 it takes a little less time, something like 3.5 hours or so. With Firewire 800 it take 1 hour.

It comes down to if you need large files fast then go with the firewire 800, if you are like me and normally backup before you go to bed it does not matter as much. The only time the extra speed will help is when you are transferring large files (over 20GB) and you need them fast.

Note that not all Windows machines comes with firewire 800 thou i am noticing more and more come with firewire 400.


macrumors P6
Jun 11, 2007
FW800 FTW!!!!! it clearly floggs USB by a looooot. its good. another good thing is you can cloverleaf (or summin) FW drives, piggy backing so to speak.

im currently deicidng whether to by an esata card, an IceCube II esata,FW800,FW400(x2)and USB2.0 enclosure, and a 500gb harddrive. problem is its about AUD$550... boo!!!


macrumors 68000
Apr 18, 2003



I just ordered the 320GB model but I love the fact that it is able to connect via USB2.0, FW400, and FW800.

Edit: The d2's seem to be met with mixed reviews; one customer can be totally in love with it while another has had nothing but problems. I have a Lacie 250GB FA Porsche that went with me to Iraq and back that still functions and I just purchased the 500GB model not too long ago and haven't encountered any problems. I have to wonder whether the people that have had the drives die on them had them powered on for long periods of times. I had used my Lacie FA Porsche drive as a mere backup drive for my Powerbook so it was never on for hours on end so that could be a possibility why it's gone 3 years without a hitch. The 320GB d2 that I had just purchased will serve as a scratch disk for FCP projects so I do hope for the best.


macrumors 6502
Oct 2, 2003
I'm considering one of those Lacie drives but I'm now concerned with all of those poor customer reviews on Amazon. The good reviews are well in the minority.