Firewire 800 (For running OS?)


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 19, 2007
Is it possible to install OS X on a Firewire 800 external drive and use that to boot an iMac and work off of it? Also, is there any slowdown because of this?

I am considering this because it's easy to bring your "drive" between jobs and keep the computer data the same. Let me know if anyone has tried this.


Administrator emeritus
Jan 15, 2006
The Kop
I have done it with USB 2 and Firewire 400, so i don't see why 800 can't do it. There is a noticeable slow down when doing it over USB2, the firewire 400 was pretty decent so i'd imagine that over 800 you'd hardly notice any slow down.


macrumors 6502a
May 15, 2007
ive done it over USB 2 and it was real slow. i think with firewire 800 you would either have a little slow down, or just the same


macrumors G3
May 28, 2005
Firewire 400 is usable. Apps started up slower, but once they were open it wasn't too bad. I'd say FW800 should be fine if you're not one of those people who constantly needs the latest greatest and fastest gizmo available.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2004
I've run Tiger off my 120Gb LaCie FW800 drive through the FW800 port on my 1.5GHz PB before.

Startup was a little sluggish, but apart from that, things seemed to work pretty well. It was slightly slower than running it off the internal HD though. But not much really.

Scarlet Fever

macrumors 68040
Jul 22, 2005
i've done it through FireWire from my iPod, and it wasn't setting any new computing speed records, but it was useable. FireWire 800 should be pretty good.

TimJim; FireWire 400 is about the same speed as USB 2.0, or even faster for extended data transfers. FireWire 800 is much faster than USB 2.0.

USB is great for burst data transfers, such as documents from a memory stick, or a few songs to an iPod, but it chokes as soon as you transfer anything with some beef to it, such as video files, or OS information. It is also CPU reliant, meaning if you are already doing something else with the CPU (which is likely if you are running an OS), the speed will decrease even more.

FireWire, on the other hand, is a broadband connection; data can simultaneously come in and out of devices. It also has its own hardware controller, so you could be folding, and still get maximum speed out of it. FW400 has better sustained transfer rates than USB (about 10 MB/s faster), and thus is more appropriate for large data transfers, such as video from a camera, or digital audio from a studio mixer. This is one of the reasons Apple are claimed to be better for any kind of media or digital art; because for almost 10 years, Apple have had this in all their computers.

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