Imac running on external drive?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mocman, May 8, 2009.

  1. mocman macrumors regular

    May 8, 2004
    I have a older white 24" imac. The question I have is will it make a diff if I run the whole thing on the external drive. I have heard of some good things about it. I was thinking of some sort of firewire 800 drive. I only have a 250 gig in it now. Would it be in my best interest to have the internal drive replaced with a speedier one or a fast external. Or is it even possible to run all on the external drive. Thanks MC
  2. yippy macrumors 68020


    Mar 14, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    An internal disk will almost always be faster than an external.

    That said it is quite possible to run it off of an external.
  3. CrArC macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2009
    By using an external drive you are adding extra overhead to the data fetch/send processes. Internal drives will not have that overhead as they connect directly to the inbuilt disk controller which has much faster communication with the system.

    That being said, yes you can run external, and Firewire 800 probably is the way to go (far less overhead than alternatives). The absolute best way would be eSata. Don't think iMacs have eSata, though.
  4. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    The first choice is always to run off an internal drive.

    Although, running off an external drive, especially one connected via FW800 is *perfectly fine*. It will appear no slower to the average user. In fact it might be faster considering any external drive will most certainly newer than the 250gig you have in there now.

    Heck, I've booted Leopard off my iPod Classic via USB and while it isn't stellar, for doing basic things like Documents and iTunes and Web, you probably never notice.
  5. littleb2005 macrumors member

    May 27, 2007
    should'n't the last word be External
  6. deneenco macrumors member


    Dec 14, 2007
    A2, MI
    did this for a friend of mine when the 320gb internal drive was dying.

    He ran of a Lacie Rugged 7200rpm, FW800 drive for about a week until a new internal drive could be installed.

    It worked flawlessly.
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    If your internal drive is getting full (say 70% capacity), then you can get better performance from an external FW800 drive, provided it's not as full, has a higher platter density (may or may not) and larger cache (probably will, if you get a current or larger drive). Also, if your iMac has a Calistoga chipset it will only have a 1.5 gbps SATA interface (as opposed to Santa Rosa's 3 gbps) and the FW800 drive becomes even more attractive.

    Look for 1TB or more with 32 mb cache 7200 rpm drive and put it in a FW 800 enclosure. You'll need to initialize the drive with Disk Utility and give it a GUID partition table (from the Partition tab, Options button of DU), then just use Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to make a bootable clone.

    Not much of an issue with FW800 as those come with their own controllers (unlike USB). Again, other variables involved, but probably not an issue under most circumstances.
  8. mocman thread starter macrumors regular

    May 8, 2004
    any suggest on a name-brand for the drive?? Thanks for the Input so far
  9. mocman thread starter macrumors regular

    May 8, 2004
    #10 that only a firewire 400? Is there not much diff in the 800 firewire connection??
  10. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    From the specs:

    External Interface:
    eSATA x 1 port
    FireWire 800 (1394b) x 2 port
    FireWire 400(1394a) x 1 port
    USB 2.0 & USB 1.1 x 1 port

    FW800 is (not surprisingly) twice as fast as FW400.
  11. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    If you'll read the specs, it' has all 4 of the major connectors. FW800 is twice as fast as FW400, and eSATA is even faster, as long as the drive inside is that fast.

    OWC at has just about everything storage-wise. Some items can be found elsewhere for cheaper, but it gives you a good overview.
  12. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

    Nov 7, 2007
    New Sanfrakota
    Keep in mind that getting a faster drive when the FW800 is already saturated won't make it faster.

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