Just wondering why my FW800 is acting unstable and slow?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ncdasa, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. ncdasa macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #1
    I recently got the mid range 15in MBP. The firewire 800 port is a particular interest of mine which I am expecting to be able to depend on and take advantage of. But much to my dismay it is very irregular, and many times drops down average USB2 speeds or even slightly less.

    Now dont get me wrong, the FW 800 port has done almost double the the fastest I have seen USB do, but what I cant figure out is why this is only happening sometimes and sometimes this same FW is performing worse :mad:

    I have three different FW 800 drives now and have tried all sorts of things like switch cables, verify, repair, or check disks/permissions, and basically anything else i thought might help. Still, sometimes its really fast and other times, not.

    I would say for the most part FW800 is transferring a little above USB speeds, which is better than nothing, but actually still disappointing.

    Anyway, if some one has any experience or advice about this, let me know.
    I dont see why a drive will act one way once and another the next time. What might be effecting or causing this? Is this normal?
     
  2. m85476585 macrumors 65816

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    Feb 26, 2008
    #2
    What kind of disks do you have? Both of my fast disks can consistently max out FW800, and I see ~70-77MB/sec in activity monitor.
     
  3. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #3
    I have three FW800 enclosures. Two are 2.5 Rosewill enclosures. And one is a 3.5 Oyen Digital "DataTale" enclosure.

    As far as the drives that go inside, they usually alternate. I have three 3.5 drives that go in the DataTale. All are 7200rpm drives. WD 1tb Caviar Green, Seagate 750gb Barracuda, and 2tb Hitachi (Deskstar I assume).
    I only have one 2.5 drive installed now and it is Toshiba I believe (the stock drive that came my MBP from :apple: ). I eventually switched it out for a 640 WD ScorpioBlue (which was in a 2.5 enclosure before). Both are 5400rpm.

    Anyway, the thing that is weird is that all of them have performed at high levels (60-70 MB/s) on some occasions, and all have performed at lower levels (30-50 MB/s) on some occasions. All this leads me to wonder if it is the actual FW port in my computer which is unstable. If these drives can get near there max speed, which they all have at some point, I tend to think that the drives and enclosures are able to play their part. Unfortunately I havent had a chance to test them on any friends computers yet. Then I can know more clearly where the variable lies.

    I will have to wait another week or so to find out though. I would say for the most part I see speeds ranging between 30 and 50 MB/s, which isnt really satisfying, especially knowing that FW800 should be able to do more, be more stable, and be more dependable than USB, and at least my USB drives will transfer at 40MB/s everytime. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Thiol macrumors 6502a

    Thiol

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    #4
    Silly question, but are you starting to fill up your hard drives?
     
  5. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #5
    Iam not exactly sure what you mean by this. But do you mean are they new and getting filled with information for the first time? If this is the question, then answer is yes (for the most part).

    Most of the drives are fairly new and are still being filled up for the first time. Some of them have been used as temp. back up drives so they were mostly filled, but then erased and reformatted again.

    Does this effect anything?
     
  6. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #6
    interesting topic.

    i would suggest defragmenting the drives and see if that gives you an increase in speeds.

    just to make sure: you are copying from the HDD TO another drive that ISNT on the firewire bus? e.g. copying from fw800 to your internal drive.. or are you copying from one fw drive to another fw drive?

    also, what speed if your mbp hdd? 5400rpm? 7200rpm?
     
  7. Thiol macrumors 6502a

    Thiol

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    #7
    Hard drives get slower as they become more full. I just want to eliminate the possibility that you're comparing speeds between an empty and a full disk...
     
  8. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #8
    Well the other day I went in with my brother to the "genius Bar" and as we were leaving I mentioned to the guy about my FW experience. He made a similar point that a full drive will have to lift the needle more and find free space which can slow down transfers. He also recommended defragmenting.

    But what I have experienced, has happened on new or empty drives also. Still although they did vary in their speeds, i believe they averaged out a bit higher then usual (probably around 60-65MB/s, although still not their max speed)
    For the most part yes (FW800 to internal drive), although i did daisy chain once or twice, and as far as I remember those were some of the times the speeds were higher then usual. Maybe around 60MB/s or so. Not a 100% on that though. I shoud try again.

    Anyway, iam wondering, is this normal? I expected more from FW. My last computer had FW400 and it was always faster then USB and more dependable, although I didnt get to use it much. I had higher expectations and am wondering is this is common or an isolated incident.
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #9
    so many possible problems and questions i need to ask haha.

    when you copied the data across the daisy chain, was there a fw400 drive being written/read from, or even on the chain? because i believe a fw400 drive will slow the rest down to fw400 speeds.

    60-65MB/s is not near the limits, but very close. you wouldnt see any faster then 80MB/s.

    your internal HDD @5400rpm can read at around 35MB/s, 7200rpm might hit 50MB/s max - this interal drive would be a factor WRT to transferring internally.
     
  10. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #10
    No, there wasnt any FW400 drives connected at the time.

    I dont know, I cant figure out. but anyway i want to ask, do you get the same speeds when you use your FW 800 port? If so what are they.

    I want to try my drives on a friends computer and see what happens.

    By the way thanks for the feedback. If there is any other advice or things you think I should try, let me know. Or if you have any more questions about the details of my set up, etc. let me know.
     
  11. Thiol macrumors 6502a

    Thiol

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    #11
    OK, I'm copying from an internal Intel X-25M G1 SSD (so we know that's not my bottleneck) to an external 7200 rpm 320 GB hard drive (I forgot which brand, it has about 60 GB on it). Below are my XBench speeds. Note that I'm not saturating the firewire 800 connection either. It all depends on your hard drive size/capacity, size of files, and even how you're getting your benchmarks.
     

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  12. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    #12
    Please forgive my ignorance of the subject, and i understand if you dont want to try to explain all of the things to me in detail, but i have to ask a few questions to understand what you are saying.

    I guess my first question is, what does it mean to "saturate the FW connection". Also how do i read XBench chart you posted (or what does it mean in laymen's terms)?

    I use the "ACT" icon on my menu bar (from istat menus) to get an idea what kind of speeds my drives are reading and writing at. I dont know how accurate this is but it is easiest thing I am acquainted with.

    Thank for all the help and feedback so far.
     
  13. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #13
    argh! wrote a nice long reply and then safari froze on me and i had to write it again! sorry if im vague.
    ok thanks for clarifying.

    i just tested on mine, i got 60.8MB/s max and an average of about 55MB/s. so im not exactly sure if there is a problem with yours here.

    worth a try your results might be around the same as they are currently.

    yup will let you know.

    ask away!

    saturate the connection means to physically transfer data as fast as possible across the transfer medium e.g. across FW800. i believe that you are indeed saturating it.

    dont worry about that test, its synthetic and not all that credible.

    iStat is fine and accurate, but to save having to click on the window i use the built-in OSX application "activity monitor". find it through Spotlight or /Applications/Utilities. ive attached a screen shot.

    no problems :)
     

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  14. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #14
    Wow, thanks a lot for the help.

    I guess I was just hoping for max speeds everytime :eek: ...actually :D

    Anyway yeah, even 55 MB/s in all fairness is pretty decent and I dont mind seeing that as an average. But i am still curious about why mine drops down sometimes to 30MB/s and then may again transfer the same files 5 mins later at almost twice that speed :confused: anyway...

    I guess I will wait and see what happens on my friends computer.

    again thanks for the help
     
  15. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #15
    yea thats where they get you. its supposed to be 100MB/s throughput theoretically (800mb/s = 100MB/s). but then the practical side of thing comes into it, error checking and all the rest of it, latency etc.

    still decent rates compared to the 20MB/s from USB2.0 or 30MB/s from fw400! and there is no CPU usage from FW so no complaints :)

    gooduck with it.
     
  16. ncdasa thread starter macrumors member

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    May 11, 2009
    #16
    Its interesting that you mentioned the general speeds of USB2 and FW400. I actually wasnt aware of what speeds these systems were generally associated with. Actually until getting my new MBP about a month ago, I never even knew to check istat or activity monitor to see what speeds were going through.

    Anyway the reason it is interesting is because since i have been checking up on this I have seen that all my USB drives consistantly average at about 35-40 MB/s. Now I never actually checked what the technical speeds were on my previous Macbook, but just estimating by the time it took to transfer large files, I can say that the same USB drives on my present MBP are noticeably faster.

    I had previously counted the time it took to transfer a gig on my MB and it was around 40sec. now it is around 30. Anyway I dont actually know what I am getting at. But it is nice to see that there is this consistent improvement. I guess the only explanation is that some hardware in this MPB was upgraded and takes better advantage of USB, which works for me.
     
  17. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #17
    i sort of generalised a bit i guess. USB is more around 30MB/s, FW400 around 40MB/s - thats from my 3 year old MBP, so any increases to CPU power would increase the USB throughput.

    those speeds are basically maxing (saturating) the USB2.0 bus. 35MB/s-40MB/s is great! i wouldnt worry about that drive.

    the fw400 doesnt seem to be slow or anything either from what i can tell...
     

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