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External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Old 02-03-09, 06:39 PM
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External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Hi,
So my old iMac gave out on me a few months ago and I sold it for parts (minus the 80gb 3.5" 7200rpm HD because I still had data on there). I'm now thinking I'd like to use it as an external HD with my new iMac (particularly for Time Machine backup of my user folder and some others since my user folder is like 18gb).

So my question is, given that 80gb isn't very much these days (my new machine has a 250gb drive) does it make sense to shell out 30-40 bucks (best prices I could find on New Egg)for a external Firewire/USB 2.0 case to put the old HD in or to spend more and get a Firewire HD? Any ideas what a small to average sized Firewire HD goes for these days?

If I end up getting an entire new drive I have a W2K machine in my basement that I use as a glorified jukebox/internet machine which only has a 40gb drive so I could always add it to that (maybe do a dual boot setup with Linux or something or just use it for storage).

At any rate I'd be interesting in hearing your thoughts.
Old 02-03-09, 10:40 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

You can get cases on ebay a lot cheaper than you can on newegg.
Old 02-04-09, 02:20 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Time Machine backs up the entire system drive, so you'll want an external that has at least as much capacity as the system drive, and perhaps bigger, so that you can store multiple restore points.

You also don't necessarily need a Firewire enclosure if you're using it for backup. USB 2.0 only drives typically offer more storage for less.

What's the connection type for the HD, IDE or SATA?
Old 02-04-09, 03:48 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Jay G. View Post
Time Machine backs up the entire system drive, so you'll want an external that has at least as much capacity as the system drive, and perhaps bigger, so that you can store multiple restore points.

You also don't necessarily need a Firewire enclosure if you're using it for backup. USB 2.0 only drives typically offer more storage for less.

What's the connection type for the HD, IDE or SATA?
If I use the existing HD I'll specify what folders for time machine to backup (which you can do). I'd probably just do my user folder and Applications folder since I have the system restore disc with everything else on it.

I tend to go for firewire because a firewire drive is bootable while a USB one isn't. Granted if I devote the whole thing to time machine I'm not sure it'd be bootable but you get where I'm going with it. The drive from the old iMac is IDE.
Old 02-04-09, 04:03 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Michael Corvin View Post
You can get cases on ebay a lot cheaper than you can on newegg.
USB maybe but I couldn't find a usb/firewire case on ebay that was less including shipping. Even if it was a bit less I'd rather buy from a place like Newegg than ebay I think unless there was a big price difference.
Old 02-04-09, 04:04 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

You can boot off USB hard drives (it may depend on your BIOS). However Firewire is substantially faster than USB 2.0 and worth the increased cost.
Old 02-04-09, 04:09 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Cardiff Giant View Post
If I use the existing HD I'll specify what folders for time machine to backup (which you can do).
Actually, it looks like the inverse is true: You can specify which folders to not backup.
http://www.ryanblock.com/2008/05/goo...chine-backups/

I tend to go for firewire because a firewire drive is bootable while a USB one isn't. Granted if I devote the whole thing to time machine I'm not sure it'd be bootable...
Time Machine reformats the external drive to a non-bootable volume anyway.

The drive from the old iMac is IDE.
Make sure the internal interface for the external enclosure is IDE. A lot of the newer enclosures have SATA for an internal interface.
Old 02-04-09, 05:32 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Jay G. View Post
Actually, it looks like the inverse is true: You can specify which folders to not backup.
http://www.ryanblock.com/2008/05/goo...chine-backups/


Time Machine reformats the external drive to a non-bootable volume anyway.


Make sure the internal interface for the external enclosure is IDE. A lot of the newer enclosures have SATA for an internal interface.
Gotcha I know you could somehow specify what it should or shouldn't backup. yeah I was thinking if I ever get a second external drive I could format this one back to a bootable volume so firewire would be a plus for that. I'll check on the interface, I hadn't even thought of that I figured they were all still IDE.
Old 02-04-09, 05:33 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by X View Post
You can boot off USB hard drives (it may depend on your BIOS). However Firewire is substantially faster than USB 2.0 and worth the increased cost.
I've got a Mac and you can't boot a Mac from a USB drive. Even though I at least at first won't use it for a bootable drive (as Jay indicated you can't boot a time machine volume) I may want to do that in the future so I think having Firewire is the way to go along with the possibly faster transfer speed.
Old 02-04-09, 06:18 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

If you're thinking about long term use for the drive, make sure it has USB in addition to the firewire. The new macbooks don't offer firewire at all, and while nobody knows for sure (this being Apple and all) it's days on consumer level macs might be numbered.
Old 02-04-09, 07:46 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Cardiff Giant View Post
I've got a Mac and you can't boot a Mac from a USB drive.
You can boot from USB if you have an Intel-based Mac:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1948

Last edited by Jay G.; 02-04-09 at 10:22 PM.
Old 02-07-09, 01:52 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Jay G. View Post
You can boot from USB if you have an Intel-based Mac:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1948
wow didn't know that, maybe i don't need firewire after all. I'm so used to my old G4 iMac that only had USB 1.1 so I keep thinking Firewire is a must but maybe i can get by without it.
Old 02-07-09, 02:44 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

My personal preference is build...I do that all the time at work.

However, there are great deals out there if you look for them.

Also, you might want to look into build an external drive from laptop hard drives. I did that too...fits in my pocket when I am working on client machines.
Old 02-07-09, 03:57 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Cardiff Giant View Post
wow didn't know that, maybe i don't need firewire after all. I'm so used to my old G4 iMac that only had USB 1.1 so I keep thinking Firewire is a must but maybe i can get by without it.
USB 2.0 is substantially faster than 1.1, with 40 times the bandwidth. It's still slower than Firewire 400, but is usable in most cases.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of....28external.29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Univers..._with_FireWire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FireWire#Comparison_to_USB
http://www.cwol.com/firewire/firewire-vs-usb.htm
Old 02-07-09, 03:59 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by macnorton View Post
Also, you might want to look into build an external drive from laptop hard drives. I did that too...fits in my pocket when I am working on client machines.
They have pre-built externals that use laptop-sized drives as well, like WD's Passport series.
Old 02-09-09, 04:38 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Found a 3.5" enclosure on Newegg that had good reviews for 23 bucks shipped so I went ahead and bit the bullet, should be here soon can't wait to finally start doing regular backups without having to burn tons of DVDs.
Old 02-11-09, 02:26 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

Originally Posted by Jay G. View Post
They have pre-built externals that use laptop-sized drives as well, like WD's Passport series.
Yeah the Passports are cool...but I had a lot of drives from work that I converted...and I like doing that.

But the Passport (I have two) are great drives.
Old 02-13-09, 06:44 PM
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Re: External Firewire HD question:Build vs. Buy

got the case yesterday and it was a breeze, popped it in, and plugged it in and time machine did it's thing. Luckily 80gb is more than enough for me as a backup for now (i only have about 40gb of space used on my main HD) so all is well.

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