USB vs. Firewire

When chosing an external hard drive, Western Digital-MyBook, which interface is better? USB or Firewire? It will not be a boot drive. Mostly backup and videos. I mentioned WD because I’ve had great success with them in the past. I appreciate any advice.

firewire will be faster

eSATA :slight_smile:

In theory, USB2 is faster than FireWire 400. FireWire 800
is faster than USB2. Like nekrosoft13 says, even the slower
FireWire is probably faster than USB2 in practice.

I have a WD 250GB PATA drive in an external USB2 enclosure.
This setup reads at about 22MB/s and writes at about 25-30MB/s
The same drive shifts about 57MB/s when it connected to the
internal IDE controller.

with firewire you will get pretty much constant 40mb/s

with usb2 you will get about 32mb/s

I either read, or was told SATA was slower than FireWire/USB? Any truth to this?

Hi :slight_smile:
In theory the rates achievable are : -
USB 1.1 12 Mbits/sec
USB 2.0 480 Mbits/sec
1394a 400 Mbits/sec
1394b 800 Mbits/sec
UltraATA 100 100 Mbytes/sec
SATA 1.5 Gbits/sec

In practice these figures are unlikely to be reached. But it shows how much there is to gain by going up to SATA.
As far as USB vs Firewire, it’s not just the transfer rates. But the differences in the way they operate. Firewire is more consitant in its delivery of data. This is why many use this for video etc.

Hi :slight_smile:
The only way this could happen is if the SATA interface has to be converted via the caddy in order to connect to the PC. Even then it would have to be exceptionally poor. (I’ve never seen anything that bad). :bigsmile:

None. SATA is much faster, currently 3Gb/s.

I would go for FireWire (but that’s a personal preference 'cos my USB controller’s crap ;)).


Agreed. :iagree:

This difference can make a huge difference when doing something more than just reading from the disk, e.g. burning from an external harddrive to a DVD a high speed. Using FireWire usually works at much higher speeds in such a scenario compared to using USB 2.0.

Unfortunately, these numbers mean nothing. These are [B]burst rates[/B], not transfer rates.

Firewire is always faster than USB2, no exceptions, for sustained transfers. So the real choice comes down to being more about which interface one prefers for things like stability and portability. If you have firewire ports everywhere you need them, I’d use them. It’s often more stable and reliable than USB also. If USB ports are more convenient for you, there’s no reason not to use that either. A dual link external drive gives you the best of both worlds, but can be pricey.

3GB/s don’t make any difference.

SATA could be 900000000000000000000000000000GB/s and still would not matter.

when HDDs can only go around max 80MB/s

comparing firewire to sata(for use with HDD), sata will be about twice as fast.

Hi :slight_smile:

SATA is still 1.5GBs.
SATA II is 3GBs.

I state this is in theory. Of course this is peak or burst rates, but it’s still relative.
It also doesn’t show the differences in the way they all operate. Which is of far more consequence here.
As for cost these days (USB only or Firewire or a combination) is minimal. Especially if you do it yourself.

I’d like to thank all the members that replied to my question. I realy have some things to think about and research. I appreciate all your expert input, useful information, statistics and making my head spin.

SATA 1.5Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s

Edit: Note b=bits and not B (Bytes). It is fast, but not that fast :slight_smile:

The important question is by when eSATA external cases are going to cost just as much as IEEE 1394a and USB 2.0 ones. Currently, most eSATA cases cost at least US$30 here in South Korea, far higher than USB cases that have nearly monopolized the consumer market for years.

We can only dream about such technology here in Ireland.
The cheapest USB2 enclosures are more than $30 here :sad:

I would love to visit Korea. I could buy some computer bits
and the kids could learn a few words of the language to
impress their taekwon-do instructor :slight_smile:

It’s amazing to me Taekwon-do is known even in Ireland.

Most external cases for 3.5-inch and 5.25-inch drives are overpriced compared to dekstop chassis. HDD manufacturers should someday make affordable HDD’s that do not absolutely require external casing for protection and cabling.

Slightly off-topic :o

Hi :slight_smile:
OK… just mistyping on the capitols. But SATA II is marginally quicker/more stable use of NCQ etc. So there’s still a difference. Which all I’m saying.
It’s all a bit pedantic & too much for the OP anyway, something I wanted to aviod. But by being brief it seems to have stirred you up. :bigsmile: