Leveraging External Drive with my MBA

automan98

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 25, 2005
112
28
I'm out of space on my MBA and would like to use an external drive. The primary need for space is for iMovie content. Has anyone run iMovie content over a USB connection? How's the performance? Thank.
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,317
118
I'm out of space on my MBA and would like to use an external drive. The primary need for space is for iMovie content. Has anyone run iMovie content over a USB connection? How's the performance? Thank.
If it's a hard drive over a USB 3.0 connection, the bottleneck will be the hard drive speed. No worries.
 

automan98

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 25, 2005
112
28
MBA from 2011. Only USB 2.0. How's the 2.0 performance since that's what I'm "stuck with" for now?
 

Kajje

macrumors 6502a
Dec 6, 2012
718
946
Asia
I guess it's possible, but you're going to get frustrated when it's time to write.

I can see 3 other options in your case:

1) Replace your internal SSD with a bigger one. The older MBA models do have aftermarket (non-Apple) drives available.

2) Buy a Thunderbold harddrive - The new WD Passport Pro has both USB3 and TB. It's pricey but affordable. It'll survive for a long time.

3) Move as much non-critical files onto the USB drive and use your internal SSD for iMovie data.
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,317
118
MBA from 2011. Only USB 2.0. How's the 2.0 performance since that's what I'm "stuck with" for now?
USB 2.0 will max out around 30 MB/s, or a little under half of what a spinning 2.5" drive is capable of.

I don't know about iMovie in particular but I would recommend finding somebody (friend, relative) with a 2.5" drive that you can try out, copy some files onto it, and try working with those. Should be fairly easy to do.
 

Kajje

macrumors 6502a
Dec 6, 2012
718
946
Asia
I would recommend finding somebody (friend, relative) with a 2.5" drive that you can try out, copy some files onto it, and try working with those.
Do mind that there might be a huge difference between different drives, different connection cables and formatting types (DOS, MAC, MAC-encrypted)

I have seen drives formated with Journaled/encrypted running on USB3 which perform worse than a cheap drive under USB2 FAT. On the other hand I have USB3 journaled/Encrypted ones which perform great.

I have after market USB3-cables who perform less than half the speed compared with the original supplied USB3-cable.

This is obviously on USB3 equiped machines, but it might be helpful for you while searching for your best choice.
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,317
118
Do mind that there might be a huge difference between different drives, different connection cables and formatting types (DOS, MAC, MAC-encrypted)

I have seen drives formated with Journaled/encrypted running on USB3 which perform worse than a cheap drive under USB2 FAT. On the other hand I have USB3 journaled/Encrypted ones which perform great.

I have after market USB3-cables who perform less than half the speed compared with the original supplied USB3-cable.

This is obviously on USB3 equiped machines, but it might be helpful for you while searching for your best choice.
I've had 6-7 different external drives, both USB 2 and 3, and I've never seen huge differences between performance.

USB 2 drives all max out at around 30 MB/s because that's the limit of the standard.

USB 3 drives should all run at the drive's speed. USB 3 is capable of 400+ MB/s, so even if you have a s***** controller or a s***** cable you're going to be able to get ~100 MB/s which is basically the maximum that a spinning 2.5" disk will give you.

I wonder if something is wrong with how you're testing performance?