USB 3.0 or FireWire 800 external hard drive?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ravenvii, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    I am looking to buy an external hard drive for Time Machine and such.

    But I'm not sure whether I should get a FireWire or a USB 3.0 one. Clearly, in my present situation, FireWire would be much faster - and easier, as well, because it won't take up a much-needed USB port.

    However, when I upgrade next year, Apple will (hopefully) finally put USB 3.0 in their machines.

    And with Thunderbolt on the scene, it seems FireWire is on it's way out. I don't want to be forced to use USB 2.0 because FireWire is no longer available.

    Which one do you guys think makes sense - a USB 3.0 hard drive or a USB 2.0/FireWire 400/FireWire 800 hard drive? The latter is $50 more, by the way.
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
  3. ravenvii thread starter macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    And why not? Intel's Ivy Bridge platform will have USB 3.0 support built directly into the chipset. Apple will actually have to pay *more* to continue to use USB 2.0 rather than moving to USB 3.0.
  4. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Since Time Machine is basically for restoring files or a complete backup on the exact same apple computer, I would go for a fast firewire drive.

    But if the purpose is to copy files, and or backups without time machine, I would go with usb 3 or usb 2. It's far more versatile and will work with computers that are basically 10 years old and will continue working with computers 10 years into the future.
  5. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2007
    Just buy a drive that has USB3/FW on it? That's what mine is, a Seagate FreeAgent Go. You can buy the connector from Seagate, which is pretty damn slick in my opinion. So even if Thunderbolt comes out they can make an adapter for that.

    If it's only for TM though, I agree, FW by itself is fine. Hell, I was using a USB2 drive for TM and it's fine - the updates are incremental anyway.
  6. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    If you are mainly using it for backups and playback of movies or music, rather than editing large files that reside on it, I'd go for USB 3.

    While I do have a lot of FW drives and definitely notice a speed difference, they cost a lot more. When Intel integrates USB 3 in some of their chipsets next year, Apple will most likely adopt them. Therefore a USB 3 drive will see a speed increase.

    I'll never buy a USB 2 HD ever again, unless it is a 2.5" drive which won't achieve itself, much over USB 2 speeds for standard uses.

    While thunderbolt has potential, USB 3 will be more widely adopted and won't have the price premium of FireWire and Thundbolt.

    Last year I bought 6 2TB WD USB 2 drives for a little less than 3 2TB FW400 variants. Since they are for backups, it was an obvious choice.
  7. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    When USB3.0 and Firewire are compared, I think that USB3.0 wins since Firewire will become (if not already) obsolete with the birth of USB3.0 and Thunderbolt. Therefore, USB3.0 is definitely the choice in your case. As time goes by, the choice will probably be between US3.0 and Thunderbolt.
  8. awer25 macrumors 65816


    Apr 30, 2011
    Go Firewire 800 - it's much faster today. If a year or two from now Macbooks get USB 3, then buy another drive then. You'll already have to buy a new computer anyway. Plus, that's assuming that there aren't Thunderbolt enclosures for cheap.

Share This Page