Firewire 800 not running as expected. VERY slow

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by ReverendCharm, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. ReverendCharm macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2011
    Heres my deal:

    I am a musician working with garageband and I have always been recording to my internal drive until recently
    . I was unaware until I read some posts here from the good people like you guys, that that is not a good idea to record to your internal drive. So, I got an external firewire 800 drive ( and this cable ( When I received it, I first used disk utility and reformatted it for Mac OS Extended Journaled. Then I proceeded to move a couple sample libraries and my entire "Garageband" folder (with my saved songs in it) to the external. I instantly knew something was wrong. The files were taking forever to get written over. It took about 15 mins for a 5GB folder to be moved over. I was already discouraged. Anyway, I plugged in the USB cable that came with the external (the drive has hook ups for both USB 2 and firewire 400/800) and tried moving the same files and it was MUCH faster. The same 5GB file was moved over in a matter of minutes.

    I then tried recording to the drive (using firewire again) and it would hardly even PLAY the song without stopping every couple seconds (too many effects error, and yes ALL the tracks were locked). Tried to record as well and i'd get even less time before garageband would stop the song with the same error. So I disconnected firewire and went USB. Thru USB the song didnt stop once, not on playback OR recording. Then I moved the songs back to my internal and played them (and recorded) with no problem either.

    I ran a couple tests on the drive using AJA system test and came back with these results:

    Basic test of read/write speed using firewire 800:

    write - 14/mb sec
    read - 21/mb sec

    then, using usb 2.0

    write - 18/mb sec
    read - 37/mb sec

    both these connections seemed to be running slower then they should ..but at least the USB connection would actually let me play a song and record to it without stopping

    I manually copied over a 2.04GB file and via firewire 800 connection it took 2 mins and 20 secs. Via the USB 2 connection it was 55 seconds! ..also, while i transfered the files i noticed that the USB transfer was nice and steady with tiny increments of the file being transferred. Firewire, however, was speedy then slow, speedy then slow. Very inconsistant transfer speed throughout the process. kind of choppy

    So what gives? I cant figure out if I'm doing something wrong, or if my external HD is bad? Or the cable is bad? Or maybe the firewire port on my mac mini is bad (i've never used it before for anything other than this external drive). Or i'm thinking maybe my processor isnt strong/fast enough to record to the external firewire drive? Im working with a mac mini 120GB internal HD and the 2ghz intel core 2 duo with only 2GB ram (i know thats not ideal for recording and im planning to upgrade at some point, but i have been recording to the internal just fine with the RAM i have now and never had a problem until trying to record to the firewire drive). I was going to go out today and get a new cable and see if that was the cause of it. Anyway sorry for the book-length post! But PLEASE SOMEBODY help me here! i said, im not very computer literate and only just started producing music using computers so please use dummy terms lol ..thanks in advance
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    definitely something wrong, and any of the things you listed could be the culprit. time to start swapping out components...
  3. ReverendCharm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2011
    well i bought a new firewire cable thinking maybe that was the problem but now the dam external drive wont even show up on the desktop (or system profiler).. neither cable is able to bring the drive up on the desktop but it works fine with USB 2 must be either my mac mini firewire port or the port on the drive and since i never used my firewire port on the mini before then my money is on the drive being faulty
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The page you linked to did not have any meaningful specs. They only list the kinds of interface and give no performance numbers. So this could be working just fine but only it's a slow drive.

    Also when people say to record to an external they mean only your data goes there. keep all thos system files on the system drive
  5. ReverendCharm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2011
    I never moved any system files and never would. The only things i put, or tried to put, on the external was 1 sample library for elektrik piano and the saved songs in my garageband folder. thats it.

    I guess this drive is just either faulty or way too slow to meet my needs. I contacted the company about a refund/return ..we'll see

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