FW/Gbit - Migrating From older MBP to MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by arkmannj, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. arkmannj macrumors 65832


    Oct 1, 2003
    I'll be migrating my moms older Macbook Pro (no thunderbolt) to a new Macbook Air. what would be faster?

    * Firewire 800 on MBP to Firewire 800 Thunderbolt Adapter on MBA
    * Gigabit Ethernet (Cat6) on MBP to Gigabit Thunderbolt Adapter on MBA

    I'll be using Migration Assistant, both machines are running OS X 10.8

  2. GHDpro macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2012
    Gigabit ethernet has a theoretical throughput of 1000 Mbps (100MB/sec).
    Firewire 800, as the name suggests, has a theoretical throughput of 800 Mbps (80MB/sec).

    I don't know which of the two would be faster in practice though. Also keep the speed of the HDD in the MBP in mind, as that might be a limiting factor.

    One thing: if you don't own any other Firewire (800) devices and don't plan to get any, the Gigabit adapter might be more useful in the future.
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    1000 Mb/s (Mbps) = 1 Gb/s = 125 MB/s (8 bit = 1 Byte)

    Anyway, Gigabit Ethernet is faster than Firewire 800, but it is limited to the correct Ethernet cable (Cat5e or Cat6) and the speed of the HDD (70 to 90 MB/s), Firewire 800 is limited to 65 to 75 MB/s (800 Mb/s = 100 MB/s).

    I agree, the Ethernet adapter might be more useful in the future, unless your mother has important Firewire devices.
  4. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    My general experience is that I've gotten a lot closer to theoretical speeds using FW than using ethernet, including GB ethernet.
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    OP>> I think you will see zero difference between the two. They are both very close in max capacity and the bottleneck will be the drives on both machines thrashing around with Migration Assist setting up and moving thousands and thousands of non-sequential small files.

    If you were just connecting two machines to move a couple 5GB video files, then you might hit top speeds of the transfer medium... but with Migration Assist this is not as much a factor.

    I would go with whichever is cheaper or whichever parts you could reuse.
  6. arkmannj thread starter macrumors 65832


    Oct 1, 2003
    Thanks everyone.

    She already has a Gigabit adapter, but I will need to do the transfer over about a 9 hour period so I was just thinking if one would really be that much faster than the other then I'd suck it up and buy a FireWire adapter, which I could possibly use on my Mac Mini some time anyways. (she doesn't really have much in the way of FW devices but I have loads of external drives, and an extra port wouldn't hurt on occasion.)

    So to me it sounds like the difference would be minimal, and possibly not worth the difference.

    Just out of curiosity, I called an Apple store and asked one of the geniuses over the phone and he claims that the FireWire ends up being faster for migration.

    The only reason I could think of that being true is if the OS on the source computer isn't as good at keeping the ethernet pipe full as Target Disk mode is ? (so more overhead on the ethernet maybe?)

    Thanks again!

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