External HDD - USB or FireWire?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by phased, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. phased macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2009
    alright, just bought a 1tb WD my book for 17" macbook pro. didn't look too closely and realised when i got home that it's usb2.0 and not firewire.

    is this a problem? does anyone actually run files (say, music or videos) off their HD (and seamlessly, at that?)? i imagine if i only use it for back up, i'd get away w/ usb, but if i wanted to do the former.. ?

  2. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    Lots of people run everything off of USB 2.0. Obviously firewire would be more desirable for applications with high i/o (video capture) or complex disk configurations (raid externals). I have plenty o firewire enclosures, not necessarily because I need high speed (except for maybe one or two disks) but daisy chaining is great.
  3. phased thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2009
    ^ thanks for the input. i've been searching the forums for a good couple hours now trying to find the answers i need.

    seems if i wanted to upgrade to firewire i'd have to exchange for the my book STUDIO. will set me back an additional ~50USD where i am. worth the investment?

    currently i've only used about 40gb of my 500gb internal hd. the computer is quite new so i obviously see this increasing when i get back to school, etc.

    after the initial (full?) backup - say i was to backup my hd daily - what sort of time difference would i be looking at between the USB and firewire hd? significant?

    i've never really used an external hd before - how applicable might running, say movies, from the external hd be? i think i'll generally keep all my documents on my internal, and merely use the external for backup.

    any input is appreciated!
  4. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    A USB drive will more than suffice to play videos, as those have a maximum bit rate of 2MB/s anyway, and USB can sustain that.
  5. phased thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2009
    ^ music is in the same boat then, i guess?

    how about just general backup performance? ie. hourly/daily backups?

    by sticking with the USB2.0 am i going to have an obsolete product very soon? Firewire seems like it might future-proof the hdd for a little while...

    thanks again, guys.
  6. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    As much as I like Firewire, USB is more common on many computers and appropriate devices, so you will not find yourself with an obsolete product in the next two to five years. USB 3 is around the corner, but you can still use USB 2 devices.

    USB 2.0 offers up to 35MB/s (in bursts, 25-30MB/s is the more constant speed) so it will suffice for backups unless you have hundreds of GB, then Firewire 800 (55-70MB/S) might be a better suit.

    I have several external HDDs, almost all with Firewire, but my 2.5" HDDs only have USB, but that still is enough for my needs with those drives (copying up to 50GB on a more than weekly basis).
  7. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    While I prefer the overall speed of the Firewire, you will not have issues using the USB

    I wouldn't worry about it now, just plug it in and go
    Too many other important things in life to be concerned with

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
  8. phased thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2009
    ^ alright, sounds like i should be sweet then? many thanks for the input, guys.

    if anyone wants to add anything, please do!

    edit: actually, the more i think about it, the more i feel i should go with the my book studio (w/ the firewire 800).

    to futureproof the ehd, if nothing else.. (i'm sure the usb2.0 would cover my typical performance needs.) i'd like this thing to last a good few years.

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