Leveraging External Drive with my MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by automan98, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. automan98 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    #1
    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.
     
  2. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #2
    If it's a hard drive over a USB 3.0 connection, the bottleneck will be the hard drive speed. No worries.
     
  3. automan98 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    #3
    MBA from 2011. Only USB 2.0. How's the 2.0 performance since that's what I'm "stuck with" for now?
     
  4. Kajje macrumors 6502a

    Kajje

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Location:
    Asia
    #4
    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.
     
  5. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #5
    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.
     
  6. Kajje macrumors 6502a

    Kajje

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Location:
    Asia
    #6
    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.
     
  7. automan98 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
  8. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #8
    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?
     

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