What happened to FW800 HDD enclosures?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DrDoug, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. DrDoug macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    A year ago I had no trouble finding a FW800 enclosure for a 3.5" HDD. Have a great twin drive G-Max enclosure, but am now looking for another and cant find any.

    Is everyone making sATA3 and USB3 stuff, at the expense of FW?
    I tried getting a Macally one, but everywhere seems sold out.

    Any tips?

  2. SolitaryTiger macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Other World Computing is probably your best bet (Macsales.com).

    They sell custom enclosures and raid boxes, I can't vouch for the quality personally, but I've read good things in other posts.
  3. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    OK, I should have mentioned. I am in the UK.

    (macsales looks great though. Just too expensive to ship across the pond)
  4. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    There's a US company called Oyen Digital that has good FW800 enclosures. I have a couple of them.


    They both redistribute and (I think) re-brand Onnto products -- and I believe Onnto is an Asian manufacturer. Onnto might well have a UK distribution network.

    I have the DataTale 2 bay enclosure and it's excellent except with Snow Leopard it will not sleep. I went back and forth with Tech Support, in 2010, and they say that it's a chipset problem and can't be put right. I haven't tested it with Lion yet.
  5. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    FW is losing ground. You'll find something, but you better hurry. It is still an excellent protocol.
  6. gr8tfly macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2006
    ~119W 34N
    NewEgg, though I don't know about service to UK.

    Amazon has had some from time to time. I bought one not too long ago: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002AKKDD2. It has a removable tray, so you can get additional trays to swap drives.
  7. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    Thats what I figured. My iMac is 2009, but with 12GB and i5 Quad is not going to get upgraded for some while. Dont want to run out of space in the interim.

    The enclosure I had previously was less than £30, all of the ones that I can see now are nearer to £100. Supply vs Demand I guess in a ever diminishing market?
  8. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    It's tough to say why the prices are higher. FW800 is usually included in a feature packed device. Maybe the cost is a reflection of all those features bundled together. It's usually FW800, USB, and eSATA all together now.
  9. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    and I am assuming correctly that there will be no way that a 2009 iMac will ever be able to interface with SATA3 or thunderbolt drives?
  10. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I couple of years ago, I gave up on FW800 and used USB 2. I figured I might as well not fight it anymore. The problem is when backing up USB 2.0 drives it is so much slower. About 2 month ago, I switched out everything back to Firewire 800 and it is night and day. 1 hour of copying is now about 17 minutes.

    For HD enclosures, I suggest trying plug & play drive that looks like a toaster and you plug in your SATA drive from the top. If you have a lot of drives, it is a huge savings and the drive stays cooler when it is exposed. A company called NewerTechnology (newertech.com) sells one.
  11. PhatHo macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2011

    Unless you don't mind buying an enclosure/drive combo I can recommend G-Technology. Great connectivity options (USB, FW, eSATA) in a sleek design. I have a few of these and never had a problem. A bit pricy maybe, depending on what you are looking for. You should find them in the Apple stores. Supposedly, they will be releasing enclosures with TB in the near future.
  12. jazzzzdude macrumors newbie

    Sep 5, 2010
    UK, South
    I too am looking for a FW HDD. I have a 2009 Intel Macbook which I am using to run Logic but I am writing all my files to the internal HDD. Sometimes Logic stops playing because it can't read the data fast enough with large projects. My 2 USB ports are taken by the keyboard and the audio interface and I'm not sure a USB drive would be fast enough anyway(?) So I need a fast, externally powered FW HDD. I've been advised that I need at least a 7200 rpm drive. Does anyone have any similar experience? My local Apple store probably has what I need but just looking for opinions.

    P.S. I'm in the UK
  13. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    This UK company sells a good range of FW800 enclosures:


    Mostly dual-bay and bigger, unfortunately. FW drive options do seem to be reducing in number.
  14. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    Yes, that's the place in the UK where I saw the Macpower/inXtron quad interface. No problem, they have the newer single-bay model.
  15. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    FW800 drives are great. Really to be recommended and in my experience much quicker than any USB drive I have used.

    I have 2x 750GB setup in an external enclosure, configured as RAID-0. This means that the access and write speeds are quicker than with a single volume drive.

    As the external FW enclosures are now few and far between, getting a pre-made setup is probably the way to go, as there is minimal cost-saving over doing it yourself.

    I think I will buy this

  16. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    I'm not sure that that is a wise purchase.

    You're buying a 2TB RAID 0 enclosure for £167, and using it on FW800

    The underlying Hitachi 1TB disks only cost £38 each (G systems use Hitachi exclusively), Hitachi's 2TB equivalent single drive is only £80 (and that's their high speed premium model, the next model down is £53)

    So you're paying £90 or more premium for the box itself - and over Firewire you'll never make use of the RAID 0 speedup, since a single drive by itself can easily saturate FW800 (that box only makes sense for an eSATA setup).

    Furthermore, RAID 0 increases your chances of data loss, since you loose all your data if either of the disks dies.
  17. AngryRedTicTac macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2011

    I picked this up not that long ago, and have been very pleased with it. I ordered mine from Newegg, though I found it for sale in a lot of different countries on assorted sites. It is usable in Raid0 AND independent, and in independent mode it doesn't require identical disks. It's been fine no matter what combo of disks I toss into it. I checked with the company before I bought it, because the info available did not seem to allow for that. It also doesn't have any issues with daisy chaining, some enclosures have been less friendly in that regard.

    It isn't something that I would keep on my desk, as it is a bit noisy, though not that bad considering it has a fairly powerful cooling fan. For a working drive it's great, I was running 2 unmatched Caviar Blacks as hard as they would go over the FW bus, and they stayed very cool.
  18. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    The point of assembling an external yourself is not to save money, but to have something better.
  19. spetznatz macrumors regular


    Jan 5, 2006
  20. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    Nonsense - the point is whatever you want it to be.

    USB/Firewire to SATA chipsets are commodity items. Most commercial external drives are just the same old technology in a pretty box with some marketing story attached to make you feel special for buying them.

    It's easy to save money by buying exactly the same chipset in an off-the-shelf box, selecting the internal drive you actually want and putting them together yourself.

    Even better, if you want lots of hard drive storage for low-use backup purposes, skip the case and use a drive-dock with bare drives. Wiebetech does some great plastic library cases for bare drives which helps in storing them safely. Being able to back up 2TB to a £50 bare drive means that no-one has an excuse for not taking good backups.
  21. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    It is cheaper to buy a sealed enclosure with a disk having a proprietary connector, than buying the same disk in standard version and a reputable case.

    Of course, it's not so cheap when you cannot reuse the case and the disk separately later.

    The cases don't contain just a controller. They also have firmware. You don't get the same level of support from all vendors.
  22. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    When's the last time you had to flash-upgrade a USB2 to SATA controller? I think the last time I had a controller firmware issue was with PowerBooks and early Firewire. Current interfaces are as close as you get to a 'black box'... the firmware is 'burned in'.

    You'll actually get a longer drive warranty buying your drive mechanism as a separate unit, than a packaged external drive.

    Warranty on Western Digital 'My Book' Drive - 36 months
    Warranty of the exact same drive mechanism used in the above - 60 months
  23. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    A handful of case vendors work on the firmware, they don't just use the stock release from the controller manufacturer.

    Many cases that people have now would need a firmware upgrade to support disks larger than 2TB. Only the latest ones come with the firmware already or it can be downloaded for them. The firmwares come in specific installers from the case vendor.

    The extra warranty on separate units reinforces my point that the idea of building your own is to have something better.

    Also, when a ready-made external fails you usually have 2 choices: lose the data or lose the warranty.
  24. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    You are forgetting my OP (and indeed the title), which said that I could not find a decent FW800 enclosure.
    To build one myself is exactly what I wanted to do. Find me that enclosure for less than £90 and you have a point. Otherwise...

    I concede that the speed advantage of RAID-0 over a single drive will be minimal, but it WILL be a little better (and is on my system) at minimal extra cost (approx £20 more expensive than single 2TB drives).

    This I agree with, but my use for external drives is always for backups only, of which there are multiple copies. In over 5 years of RAID-0 setups, I have yet to have a disk failure.

    So let me bring you back to the OP once again. Get me an external drive enclosure with FW800 and I will be happy as Larry, single or RAID - I dont care.


    This does look like a good solution. Not sure that I will need to swap drives over though. I guess that I will be happy with another 2TB for a year or two at least.

    I can imagine staring at that thing sitting on the desk, cursing myself for not shelling out a few more pennies for something shiny, sleek or aluminium.

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