Thunderbolt to FW/eSATA Options

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Old Muley, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. Old Muley macrumors 6502a

    Old Muley

    Jan 6, 2009
    Titletown USA
    My current set up is a 2009 iMac with two external drives connected via FireWire 800. One of the drives stores all the "home" folders with pictures, music and movies while the other one is a Time Machine back up. This iMac is being replaced with a new one that is expected here in the next two weeks. I really like my external drives (OWC Mercury Elite Pro) and would love to keep them in their current rolls. These drives have a variety of inputs (USB 2.0, FireWire 800, FireWire 400, eSATA) so I've got some options.

    My question is, what is the best way to go from my new iMac's Thunderbolt to these drives? The cheapest solution is probably a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter. Of course my drives also have eSATA ports, so I could do Thunderbolt to a LaCie eSATA hub and then out to my drives. Of course that's more of an expense.

    If all I'm doing is accessing home folder stuff and doing back ups, what's the best bang for my buck?
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    of those choices, eSATA would be the fastest.

    Best bang for the buck? Move the drives into USB 3.0 cases and buy a USB 3.0 hub if needed. (Maybe buy a new USB 3.0 disk fo rthe home folders.)

    Second best choice? Move the "home folders" disk into a USB 3.0 enclosure (or just buy a new USB 3.0 disk0 and get a thunderbolt dock like the Belkin for more connectivity options.

    Third choice? The Sonnet Tech Thunderbolt Dock.
  3. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    What kind of drives are in the external enclusure. If each has one HDD and those HDDs are only capable of doing about 40MB/s on random data access then SATA doesn't really buy anything. FW800's 90+ MB/s of bandwidth is good enough to daisy chain the two drives and get the same throughput.

    In short, SATA isn't going to make the drive any faster than it is. If the drive is slower than FW800 throughput things aren't going to go much faster with SATA.

    The home folders contain application preferences and user specific application data.

    Unless doing doing lots of rapid updates of large files, Time Machine probably doesn't need "maximum" bandwidth. Music/Media if just playing compressed files, again not a huge maxiumum bandwidth usage.

    If there was some plan to later "update" the Elite Pro with some SSD guts then perhaps. However, the new iMacs ( or just about any other new Mac) will have a USB 3.0 socket. Eventually, c

    That is a 3rd option. Update the Elite Pro enclosure(s) to the new one(s) with USB 3.0 sockets on them. Buy them empty and move your drive(s) over. For example:

    new TB -> FW dongle "home directory" drive over.
    new USB 3.0 capable enclure and attach Time machine drive.

    That actually splits the traffic to over two controllers. You could move the TM drive around to back up different Macs or put it into rotation with another backup drive.

    [ External USB with external powered enclosures sometimes have problems with sleep/power saving states with host computers so home may be saver with the FW interface for now. ]

    If your home dir are on a top speed, bleeding edge HDD or a SSD then SATA might be the move, but if talking about two "middle range" performance HDDs then FW or USB 3.0 is more likely a more cost effective solution.
  4. Old Muley thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Old Muley

    Jan 6, 2009
    Titletown USA
    One external is a 4TB JBOD and the other is a regular 2TB drive. All the internal drives are plain ol' 7,200rpm drives; nothing exotic or bleeding edge. Based on what everyone has said, I think I'll stick with the thunderbolt to FireWire adapter for now, but start investigating some external enclosure options to move my disks to.
  5. Warbitrary macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2009
    Montréal, Canada
  6. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
  7. jaxhunter macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2012
  8. faxao macrumors regular

    Feb 20, 2008
    Milano, Italy
    For what it is worth, I am still using an "old" FW800 WD external HDD with an Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter and it works like a charm...

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