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Fsatsil 1st July 2010 05:08 PM

Firewire 400 -vs- USB2.0 external harddrive
Firewire 400 or USB 2.0 what do you guys prefer for an external hard drive? The drive would be used strictly for storage of my audio and video files.

planet10 1st July 2010 07:34 PM

Firewire. No contest.


doug20 1st July 2010 07:42 PM

Why is it a no contest? USB 2.0 is the standard connection. Firewire is not a universal standard.

There is no real speed difference here so what specs do you look?

Personally, i would go with a Sata array storage.

planet10 1st July 2010 07:56 PM

There is a real speed difference. Firewire has its own controller hardware & is specifically designed for media. USB 2 uses CPU for control.

As to standard, every single one of my computers has Firewire.

Sata is defintly more direct route, but not as common for external devices.


doug20 1st July 2010 10:56 PM


I assuming CPUs have more then enough powerand I have done the tests between all 3 connection types. None of the connection types are "Too slow" to be used. The data speed of standard firewire and USB 2.0

I have 3 TBs of movies, 40Gig of music. I have a 2 HTPC and a music server that I distribute throughout my house (7 rooms).

USB had no issues at all with music or movie playback but obviously I can not do RAID with it.

I would simply comment that all proper storage/backup designs are important here and I would pick eSata.

The OP only wants storage and if the firewire choice costs more then he shouldn't bother with it.

Fsatsil 2nd July 2010 05:07 PM

How does ethernet compare to firewire, usb, esata...etc?

BrianVG 3rd July 2010 11:32 PM

USB 3.0>Firewire 3200>Firewire 800> USB 2.0>Firewire 400> USB 1.1
Firewire can deliver up to 70Watts of power for your devices so you won't need an external power supply in most cases. USB 2.0 will be replaced by 3.0 VERY SOON. The only problem is that 3.0 is so fast that your harddrives read/writes slower then the dataflow so at this stage 3.0 is only a littlebit faster than Firewire 800.

USB 1.0 1,5 Mbit/s 0,19 MB/s
USB 1.1 12 Mbit/s 1,5 MB/s
USB 2.0 480 Mbit/s 60 MB/s
USB 3.0 4,8 Gbit/s 600 MB/s
FireWire 400 400 Mbit/s 50 MB/s
FireWire 800 800 Mbit/s 100 MB/s
FireWire 3200 3,2 Gbit/s 400 MB/s

Got this table from wikipedia

planet10 4th July 2010 02:11 AM


Originally Posted by BrianVG (
Firewire 800> USB 2.0>Firewire 400

In real world tests done by the tech guy around here, FireWire 400 was ~25-30% faster than USB 2.

As in everything one needs to understand the gotchas.


infinia 4th July 2010 02:31 AM

Either OR Why not get an ext HDD with both. Very common maybe $10 more, then you can decide for yourself.

BrianVG 6th July 2010 09:39 PM

I prefer also prefer Firewire(800). The fact that it's able to give power to my drives is was the key for me.

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