Firewire 400 vs Firewire 800 Need Advice!!!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by AverageGuy, May 21, 2010.

  1. AverageGuy macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2010
    I have a few macs running Tiger and Leopard and do not have a hard drive
    that is filled to more than 20GB of the capacity. Looking for external
    hard drive solutions. I have found a couple of very good drives that
    only have FW 400 and USB 2.0, one in particular is a older model G-Drive 500GB for $50 that is supposed to be quite reliable. These drives are being blown out due to newer ones have esata and fw 800. Would I see a difference in speed cloning or backing up to a a fw 400 drive even if I get a newer mac that only has fw 800 ports and I use a 400-800 adaptor? The better drives are faster 7200 RM vs the slower 5400 drives, mostly portable that I have been looking at. I have been reading posts that for applications such as mine I would not see a difference. For the most part I use the computers for office related tasks including Word, Excel etc with not much else, although I have some different utility programs. I just want a bootable drive should my hard drive fail. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my drives. My main comp has two drives where the primary is cloned to a secondary, but want a external that I can easily plug into a new mac and clone the hard drive in that Mac to my external drive!!! Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    First, in case you weren't clear on this, FW400 will run at exactly the same speed whether connected to a FW400 or FW800 port.

    Second, with most modern hard drives FW800 will definitely transfer data faster than FW400--you probably would see pretty close to twice the speed with most drives.

    Third, with FW400 5400RPM vs. 7200RPM will make almost no difference. The latency will be a hair higher, but it's going to make a negligible difference. Even with FW800 the difference probably won't be dramatic in a lot of cases.

    Finally, what you've heard is correct--while FW800 is faster, for a backup drive it honestly shouldn't make the slightest bit of difference. Yes, a backup or clone might take somewhat longer, but honestly since it's not something you're actively waiting for (or shouldn't be, otherwise you're doing it wrong) it doesn't matter--start the clone, ignore it or walk away and come back later when it's finished. Heck, if you're using the computer while backing up it might actually be MORE responsive with FW400, since the internal drive will be reading less data to keep up with the external drive, leaving more overhead for you to work with.

    Answer: If it's just for backup, get FW400 (or, heck, even USB2 only), it'll be fine.
  3. gatepc macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA
    I can backup your claim of FW 800 being almost twice as fast. The same drive tested using firewire 800 and 400
    on USB I get a read speed of about 27MB/s
    on FW 400 I get a read speed of about 36MB/s
    on FW 800 I get a read speed of about 75MB/s

    all test were done on the same HDD, I don't have eSATA so unfortunately I can't test that.

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