External HDD, USB 2.0 or Firewire?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by rtalex, Nov 22, 2007.

  1. rtalex macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    #1
    What is the best option to go with? Would firewire only be beneficial if it was firewire 800? I am looking to buy an external drive tommorow, but the deals around seem to only be for USB HDD.
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    Jul 24, 2002
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    London
    #2
    Despite USB2 having a higher theoretical transfer rate all tests always show that Firewire 400 is faster in the real world. Given the choice I'd have Firewire every time.
     
  3. rtalex thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2007
    #3
    There are some decent deals for 500mb USB HDD...for about $80-$100. Would you pay about $70-$90 more for a firewire version?
     
  4. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #4
    I wouldn't buy a pre-assembled external drive at all. I'd pick up an enclosure and drive separately. Normally cheaper and you can choose exactly what you want.
     
  5. Brianstorm91 macrumors 65816

    Brianstorm91

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    #5
    Depends what you're backing up, if it's for time machine maybe not, as the largest backup will be the first time you use it, it is then only small updates which can be easily handled by USB2.0 in most cases, it's not like you're backing up ~100Gigs of data every time.
     
  6. rtalex thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2007
    #6
    Would I be able to use an External USB HDD for Time Machine and also swap it back and forth with a PC to swap files?
     
  7. jhjerlin macrumors newbie

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    Dec 1, 2006
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    Finland
    #7
    No, time machine requires a HFS+ partition. A partition in the same format as your main drive. But as windows can't read HFS+ you won't be able to share it. Unless you do some extra work that is. :)
     
  8. rtalex thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2007
    #8
    So I could create a partition on the external hard drive for Time Machine and then create a partition for swapping files back and forth from my Mac and my PC? would that work on the same external hard drive?
     
  9. jhjerlin macrumors newbie

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    Dec 1, 2006
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    Finland
    #9
    Jupp, that would work a charm. I would recommend a FireWire one over USB. FireWire is faster and most FireWire drives also have a USB port if your windows machine doesn't have FireWire.
    (although I should probably read the entire post before commenting on this. You may already have stated a reason for chosing USB.)
     
  10. anti-microsoft macrumors 68000

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  11. deadpixels macrumors 6502a

    deadpixels

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    Oct 30, 2006
    #11
    Agreed! USB2 is 480Mbps but only for short bursts but FW1 is 400Mbps steady, that's why it's better.
     
  12. TheStu macrumors 65816

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    Carlisle, PA
    #12
    Also, Firewire carries a good deal more power than USB, which is helpful for smaller external drives that don't have an AC adapter.
     
  13. kutrack1 macrumors newbie

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    Nov 23, 2007
    #13
    go firewire if you are doing any sizeable data transfer
     
  14. JML42691 macrumors 68020

    JML42691

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    Oct 24, 2007
    #14
    Can anybody recommend a good external HD that uses a firewire 400 cable. Probably 160-320 GB of disk space and no more than $150-$200
     
  15. amusiccale macrumors 6502

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    PA
    #15
    I have to recommend the lacie d2 quadra 500 Gb (usb, esata, firewire 400/800). I paid ~$179US for it on newegg a little while ago.
     
  16. e12a macrumors 68000

    e12a

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    Oct 28, 2006
    #16
    you've got firewire...use it! tell me, what would you use it for otherwise other than importing video from a camcorder...thats what I thought.

    No point in wasting money on a USB drive when you have firewire capability. As stated earlier FW is faster, FW800 is ridiculously fast, transferring a DL DVD image in minutes.

    pre-built firewire ext. hdds tend to be more expensive, so you can always go buy an external enclosure and put a HD in. I've got a 120 GB in a firewire enclosure, 3 partitions (HFS, FAT, NTFS). FAT for transferring files between partitions.
     
  17. Bobioden macrumors 68000

    Bobioden

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    Sep 23, 2007
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    Denver
    #17
    I have a 320gb USB 2.0 My Book WD External drive and it does exactly what I want. Do I care how fast it does my Time Machine backup? Not in the least. I got it for less than $80, it goes to sleep when my iMac does, and I am content knowing I have my HD completely backed up. Would a FW 400 or 800 do anything better? I don't know how it can.

    Bob
     
  18. /V\acpower macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 31, 2007
    #18
    You will find really good deals on USB drives, for a hundred bucks I got an 320 Gb USB 2.0 external drive.

    Yeah, Firewire 400 is still better (Firewire will have a constant rate, while USB 2.0, who is theorically 480 Mbps, can only do it in small burst, so it became slower the bigger the transfer is), however USB drive are still cheaper.

    It's up to you if you want to spend extra buck on a FireWire drive. In my opinion, if you plan this only as a backup, the difference between FW400 and USB2.0 is not worth the price difference.

    Also, if you plan buying an enclosure apart from the HD, buy the enclosure First and then find a HD that is compatible. The reason I say that is because I have a 100 Gb SATA HD and I wanted to buy a FireWire Enclosure for it. I got to some shop, even Apple specialized one, and they never found a FW enclosure that was SATA.
     
  19. TheStu macrumors 65816

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    Carlisle, PA
    #19
    There are plenty of them available on Newegg. I would also say that 98% of all the enclosures out there will work with OS X, even if they don't say that they do. Finding a 2.5" SATA FW enclosure is a little trickier than finding the 3.5" ones, but definitely not impossible either.
     
  20. amac4me macrumors 65816

    amac4me

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2005
    #20
    I've always purchase Lacie drives with both USB and Firewire. They work like a charm. In fact, I just bought a 500GB LaCie d2 Quadra Hard Drive from Amazon for $187.

    I have it hooked up to a PowerMac G5 using FW 800. The reason I chose this drive was flexibility for the future. It has eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 & Hi-Speed USB 2.0. If Apple ever decides to build an eSATA port on future Mac models I won't have to go out and buy a new drive. For me, the little extra now was worth it.
    http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10869
     
  21. techmonkey macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    #21
    I was looking at a Maxtor One Touch 4, which the Pro model has USB and Firewire. The reviewer below came up with better speeds using USB vs Firewire on the drive. This may be the drives fault. Despite this, I think Firewire is mainly good for people who work with large files and external drives. For the typical user who just needs to backup (like Time Machine), the cost/benefit ratio is not worth it.

    http://techgage.com/article/maxtor_onetouch_4_plus_500gb_external_hard_drive/4
     
  22. iPhil macrumors 68040

    iPhil

    #22
    here's some of that 2.5" sata cases ... going from $26-$100 (£12.63 -48.63) :eek: :eek:
     

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