Making Sense out of External Harddrives

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ender land, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    #1
    I have been spending a fair bit of time looking at external harddrives recently as it would be a good idea to back my computer up somewhere. Throughout the process I have read a lot but am still not sure of a few things and have not really been able to find good answers. For reference, I have a late 2010 13" mbp.

    A few questions I have had:

    Is there any point in getting a firewire 800 vs firewire 400 enabled device? Unless I am connecting to a SSD external it seems that any optical external drive is going to have significantly slower speeds than even firewire 400.

    Is there a good place to get firewire drives? Is there a noticeable enough difference between usb 2.0 and firewire? Enough to justify trying to get a firewire external?

    Should I get a harddrive and external enclosure? Is this a worthwhile idea? It seems I can get a firewire external enclosure for ~30$ on Newegg, this would then let me put whatever internal drive I wanted in the enclosure right?

    Thanks in advance guys and gals.
     
  2. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Apr 27, 2010
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    Aarhus, Denmark
    #2
    - I think there is a point. And no, you don't need an SSD to notice the difference. Perhaps you are getting confused because of the units: SSD performance is typically listed in MB/second, while FireWire/USB performance typically is listed in MBit/second. 1 MB/sec is eight times as fast as 1 MBit/sec. Therefore, the theoretical maximum transfer rate of FireWire 800 is 100 MB/sec. FireWire 400 would be 50 MB/sec, which any hard drive will max out.

    - Well, it depends on your needs. I use FireWire drives not because of the higher speed (though it's nice), but because of the ability to daisy chain several drives together and thereby only having one of my computer's ports occupied.

    I hope this was helpful. :)
     
  3. ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 26, 2010
    #3
    Definitely. How much of a speed difference is there? I keep seeing subjective things like "blazing fast" but speed differences are relatively small percentage wise between FW 800 and usb2.0 (something like 20% for the majority of them).
     
  4. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #4
    FireWire 800 is 66 % faster than USB 2.0 (800 Mbit/sec vs. 480 Mbit/sec). Now, both of those numbers are theoretical - neither will reach its maximum in real life.
    Once again, I do not know what your use is, but if you do a lot of video editing and a lot of large transfers you would definitely benefit from the FireWire 800 connection. If you are only going to be transferring small amounts of data and only accessing it once in a while (i.e. using it for photo storage or music storage), you will probably not notice a difference between USB 2.0 and FireWire 800.
     
  5. ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 26, 2010
    #5
    Ok, thats what I thought too, a lot of reviews were making it seem like FW was a zillion times better than usb, but the numbers didn't add up.

    This means I'll just get myself a large, and signicantly cheaper, external usb 2.0 harddrive :) There are plenty of those to choose from too lol.
     
  6. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    #6
    Def do one of the DIY hard drive kits. You can get a USB 2 kit from OWC for under $20, and buying an internal hard drive yourself (as opposed to a pre-assembled HDD) saves money and allows you to use a better drive. IMO most common external hard drives suck, especially many of the common ones from Western Digital. Oddly enough, my favorite hard disk drive, the Scorpio Black, is also made by Western Digital.

    I would get a $20 USB kit and then get a nicer enclosure once one comes out that also has Thunderbolt and/or USB3 in addition to USB2 and/or FW. If you are just using this for back-up, the difference between USB2 and FW800 is minimal simply because back-ups, once initially done with Time Machine, are usually less than 1GB, and speed for a back-up drive is not that important if you aren't working massive files.

    You can get something like this:
    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/USB2/OWC_Express

    And then get a nice HDD like this:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136692

    And then you not only have one of the best rated HDDs (and one of the faster), but you also have a 2.5 inch HDD that you can use internally if your existing HD were to ever get lost/stolen/damaged/etc.

    Now I am assuming you have a SSD in your MBP already. If you don't and don't want a SSD, then take the above 2 and use the Scorpio as your main hard drive and your factory as your backup.
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    "Should I get a harddrive and external enclosure? Is this a worthwhile idea? It seems I can get a firewire external enclosure for ~30$ on Newegg, this would then let me put whatever internal drive I wanted in the enclosure rig"

    If portability isn't going to be that much of an issue, you might also consider one of these:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=usb+sata+dock&x=0&y=0
    (many items shown, they all function the same way)

    You can get a dock starting around $20. Then add one (or more) "bare" drives from the vendor of your choice (I like newegg.com).

    These can be _very_ handy devices to have around, particularly if you have more than one drive you need to work with. There are even a few "dual" enclosures (with docks for TWO drives instead of just one), but I'm not sure how well they work with the Mac OS.

    Drives "docked" via USB are also bootable when used with OS X. You can use CarbonCopyCloner to make a full, bootable "dupe" of your main drive.

    Going to the "docked drive" paradigm also makes it easier to diagnose problems with either a dock or a drive. If you discover a drive to be failing, just get another bare drive for the dock. If you suspect the dock itself has problems, just get another dock and keep using the older drive....
     
  8. ender land, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011

    ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 26, 2010
    #8
    Hm, ok, this has been really valuable information.

    I currently have the stock 250GB 5400 rpm drive which came with my computer. I am actually getting reasonably close to filling it with only about 40 gb remaining so a new drive with higher capacity would actually be good. My bootcamp partition is also too small but I do not have the drive space to worry about that unfortunately.

    That scorpio drive seems to be fairly highly reviewed on newegg and solid. Is $75 a good price for it? I probably will end up getting that. A 500GB drive will be plenty large and if I need to, I can simply get another and use the 500GB for another external storage drive.

    Hopefully the process to basically copy my OS:X partition is easy. I probably will reinstall my bootcamp partition since I foolishly made it only 30GB and win7 takes up a huge percentage of it.

    Hm, might as well pick up 8 gb of RAM too while at it... :)
     
  9. analogkid macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Savannah
    #9
    Maybe you could get the Scorpio Black 500gb for the internal and put OSX on it and use the current 250gb drive in an external enclosure with Windows on it. With a NTFS driver you can still read and write to it like an external. I personally like keeping my operating systems on separate drives.
     
  10. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    #10
    $70 for a 500GB is a pretty decent price. I would def swap the Scorpio into the internal and use it for your main drive. It is all around better than the Apple HDDs, especially if you have the 250GB Fujitsu, which is IMO a sub-par hard drive.
     
  11. ender land, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011

    ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 26, 2010
    #11
    That's not a bad idea, but unfortunately I need to be able to have windows on the portable drive as well as have some sort of backup.

    The more I think about it the more I realize how scary it is to not have things on here backed up :) Lots of hours of work...

    edit: I think, I'm going to go with a 750 WD scorpio black drive, move the 250GB stock drive as a time machine backup, and eventually get optibay and a SSD drive (once prices on those come down more). The 750GB will be a bit more future proof in the event I significantly expand my music library or rip some of my DVDs to disk for travel purposes.
     
  12. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #12
    - So you want to backup the contents of a 750GB drive to a 250GB drive? That's only going to work if you use less than 33% of the capacity of your 750GB.

    One's backup drive ought always to be at least the same size as the drive one intends to backup, and preferably 2 times bigger.
     
  13. cube Suspended

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #13
    USB 2.0 and FW400 are not enough for the newer Blu-Ray drives at full speed.
     
  14. Al Coholic macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
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    Under the I-470 Freeway
    #14
    FW is significantly faster than USB. If you do a lot of archiving you'll notice it. It ties up one less port to. May as well use it. They're nice to boot from as well if you play with multiple OS's.

    I got a 1TB drive from NewEgg and a a cheap-assed FW enclosure off e-bay.

    Don't quibble over a few bucks for something you'll be using for years to come.
     
  15. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Aarhus, Denmark
    #15
    - And how is that relevant?
     
  16. cube Suspended

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    May 10, 2004
    #16
    Read the OP.
     
  17. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #17
    - Oh, you mean this?
    I believe he meant magnetic external drive (a hard disk drive), since that was the storage medium he had been talking about earlier in the post.
    The sentence didn't really make sense, since neither SSDs nor HDDs are optical, but I presumed he meant that the only disk drive capable of taking advantage of a FireWire 400 connection is an SSD. And that is, as I pointed out, not the case.

    To "ender land": Did you really mean optical external drive (CD, DVD, HDDVD and Blu-ray)?
     
  18. ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    #18
    Yeah, I was referring to external harddrives. Not sure why I said optical :)

    This is what I thought after reading some. Thank you for the information btw.

    Also, I guess I probably should consider getting an additional external drive too for use as a backup. That is a good point...
     

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