USB vs FW: Space or Speed of External Drive?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SpaceJello, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. SpaceJello macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2006
    I am looking to get an external drive.

    Question: Which is a better deal? I am looking to get a drive to put music, files, media etc. more of a storage but I don't want to take an hour to move like 12 G of info.

    $180 (with tax etc) for WD mybook 500G with FW400/800/USB
    $250 (with tax etc) for WD mybook 750G with FW400/USB

    The ratio of cost per G are similar. They are still cheaper than amazon unless there are other options out there? It really comes down to the FW800 (which I only use on my other drives).

    I am NOT getting a lacie drive though the quadra has eSATA/FW/USB which is tempting. I have had very bad luck with lacie.

    I still don't get why eSATA enclosures are cheaper than FW 400 and 800. I am not considering USB at all. I had one eons ago and it is dreadfully slow. Can't understand why they even make them still.
  2. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    I would say get the FW800 one, purely because having the 800mb/s connection would be less frustrating than a 400mb one.

    You can always upgrade the hard drive at a later date if it's not large enough for your storage needs.
  3. Jasonbot macrumors 68020


    Aug 15, 2006
    The Rainbow Nation RSA
    USB 2.0 Isn't that bad. AFAIK it runs at 480mb/s which is faster than firewire 400. You must be thinking of USB 1.0/1
  4. Samwise592 macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    USB is designed for burst transfers of 480mbps, FW on the other hand is designed for SUSTAINED 400mbps transfers, therefore firewire is faster in the real world.

    there are countless threads/wikipedia articles supporting this, if you dont believe me you can go look them up.
  5. ~J~ macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2007
    3rd Rock from the sun
    That would depend on how you intend on using it. I have a 750GB Seagate FreeAgent drive that is connected to my Airport Extreme via USB2. Usually, I prefer FW (even 400 - my backup drive is a 500GB CMS FW400 drive) - but I stream music, movies and TV shows via the wireless media drive without problem. For reference, I have my AP set to 2.4GHz -n, b/g compatible, which is a 130Mb connection speed to my MBP.

    So, if you are going to have the drive always connected to your computer, I would say go with a FW enclosure... if you want to do wireless, get a combo drive FW & USB2. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me - I am glad to help.
  6. volvoben macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2007
    nowhere fast
    Indeed, FW400 is faster than USB 2.0 in nearly every imaginable case. It’s not a lot faster though, in my tests a few years ago it was around 25%. 800 will definitely improve that speed as well, but for general use by a moderately patient person it’s not really necessary.

    eSATA is cheaper because it’s literally just a case and wire, no controller as I understand it; the SATA controller in the host computer does the work. I like the idea of eSATA since you can get full speed out of your drives, I rather hope the next gen mac pro will come with it.
  7. ~J~ macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2007
    3rd Rock from the sun
    I should have mentioned before, my 750GB drive is an eSATA & USB2 combo drive... I used the eSATA (via an expresscard for my MBP) to do the initial tranfer of 210GB of music, movies & TV shows... now its hooked up to my AP via USB2 and I just do a push over night if I have a lot of data to move up to it. So that may also be an option for you... like I said before, it all depends on how you intend on using it.
  8. SpaceJello thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2006
    Thanks for all the advice, I haven't thought about hooking it up to wireless. I know FW800 is faster but would it hurt to go FW 400/USB on the wireless?
    i.e. streaming a video/movie?
  9. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
  10. 2ndPath macrumors 6502

    Feb 21, 2006
    I think eSATA enclosures are so cheap, because the connection of the hard drive is usually SATA, which is very similar to eSATA. So the case doesn't need much electronics. For a Firewire case a chip is needed to convert the Firewire signal to IDE or SATA, whatever the drive is.

    I also experienced that USB drives were very slow on my Mac. Compared to Firewire400 it seemed to be a factor of about three when using OSX. On Windows though on the same machine the performance seemed to be much better. I read somewhere that there is a known performance problem with USB on OSX, but I don't know whether that is really the case.
  11. SpaceJello thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2006

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