Is FireWire 400 much faster than USB 2.0?

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by zxcvbob, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Guest

    I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge files
    and for backing-up 3 or 4 laptops. $120 for a 1TB 7200 rpm drive with
    USB only, or for $40 more it also comes with 2 Firewire ports and eSATA.
    The main laptop has a 1394 port, the other important one doesn't, and
    I'm not sure about the others. DD has a MAC, which has a FireWire 800
    port; I assume it's compatible with 400, but she won't be connecting to
    it much anyway.

    I'll probably reformat it into 4 primary partitions the same size as the
    laptop drives, plus one big logical partition for everything else.

    I know USB 2.0 is spec'ed faster than FireWire 400 (480 mb/s versus 400
    mb/s), but isn't that just the burst rate? What's the *real* sustained
    difference in throughput?

    I assume a eSATA PC card adapter would be slowed down by the internal
    PCI bus and not really provide enough advantage over USB or 1394 to
    justify the cost of the card and cable. What do you think?

    Bob
     
    zxcvbob, Jun 17, 2009
    #1
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  2. zxcvbob

    why? Guest

    On Wed, 17 Jun 2009 11:04:55 -0500, zxcvbob wrote:

    >I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge files
    >and for backing-up 3 or 4 laptops. $120 for a 1TB 7200 rpm drive with
    >USB only, or for $40 more it also comes with 2 Firewire ports and eSATA.
    > The main laptop has a 1394 port, the other important one doesn't, and
    >I'm not sure about the others. DD has a MAC, which has a FireWire 800
    >port; I assume it's compatible with 400, but she won't be connecting to
    >it much anyway.
    >
    >I'll probably reformat it into 4 primary partitions the same size as the
    >laptop drives, plus one big logical partition for everything else.
    >
    >I know USB 2.0 is spec'ed faster than FireWire 400 (480 mb/s versus 400
    >mb/s), but isn't that just the burst rate? What's the *real* sustained
    >difference in throughput?


    See the *real* deal from existing comments
    http://www.google.com/search?q=sustained usb 2.0 speed

    Interesting comment on USB 2 slower,
    http://www.cwol.com/firewire/firewire-vs-usb.htm
    goes with

    http://www.everythingusb.com/usb2/faq.htm
    10. How does a USB hub slow down devices?
    A USB hub has to re-calculate the time left before the next sof (end of
    the uframe); the small extra delay added by the hardware hub could make
    the transaction not handled as fast as a device directly connected to
    the host.

    4. How fast is USB 2.0?
    As far as we know, effective rate reaches at 40MBps or 320Mbps for bulk
    transfer on a USB 2.0 hard drive with no one else is sharing the bus.
    Flash Drives seem to be catching up too with the some hitting 30MB/s
    milestone. For all we know, USB interface could become become the
    bottleneck for flash drives as early as 2008.

    Measurements on an Apple system.
    http://www.barefeats.com/usb2.html

    Maybe search newsgroups,
    alt.comp.hardware


    >I assume a eSATA PC card adapter would be slowed down by the internal


    Not saying if it's a PCI, PCIe it may well be a bottle neck, after all
    you have only 1 external device and are generally using it
    unidirectionally.

    Well it's 150 & 300MB/s as the specs, although someone at work claimed
    they were measuring 480MB/s this was higher the manufacturer datasheet
    for the drive.

    >PCI bus and not really provide enough advantage over USB or 1394 to


    The other end was a complaint about the built in motherboard NIC, 1Gbps
    but only getting 250 PCIe x1, i.e. it's going at 25%. Bought them a PCIe
    x4 1Gbps Intel NIC and they were happier. They thought a 1Gbps NIC ran
    at that speed by default so instead of 1 day to transfer the files they
    expected around 2 hours.

    Saying that when we did multiple transfers to/from eSATA drive, via PC
    to filer the data transfer rates went up as expected.

    >justify the cost of the card and cable. What do you think?
    >
    >Bob


    Me
     
    why?, Jun 17, 2009
    #2
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  3. zxcvbob

    Mike Easter Guest

    zxcvbob wrote:
    > I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge

    files

    eSATA is way way way faster than USB2.

    Even Firewire 400 performs better than USB2, to say nothing of how much
    better Firewire 800 performs than usb2.

    USB3 is going to perform better than Firewire 800, which firewire also
    has specs developing to compete with usb3, but the future doesn't solve
    the now.

    From a practical point of view, it seems 'wasteful' to plan in a usb2
    bottleneck unless it is unavoidable in terms of cost or other
    considerations.

    You haven't outlined all of the players completely adequately yet. How
    big are the hdd/s on all the LTs? How many have firewire 800 and how
    many 400. As a general rule, it is hard to upgrade most LTs, you also
    have to define the upgradability of those which would 'need' to be
    upgraded depending on the decision tree.


    --
    Mike Easter
     
    Mike Easter, Jun 17, 2009
    #3
  4. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Guest

    Mike Easter wrote:
    > zxcvbob wrote:
    >> I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge

    > files
    >
    > eSATA is way way way faster than USB2.
    >
    > Even Firewire 400 performs better than USB2, to say nothing of how much
    > better Firewire 800 performs than usb2.
    >
    > USB3 is going to perform better than Firewire 800, which firewire also
    > has specs developing to compete with usb3, but the future doesn't solve
    > the now.
    >
    > From a practical point of view, it seems 'wasteful' to plan in a usb2
    > bottleneck unless it is unavoidable in terms of cost or other
    > considerations.
    >
    > You haven't outlined all of the players completely adequately yet. How
    > big are the hdd/s on all the LTs? How many have firewire 800 and how
    > many 400. As a general rule, it is hard to upgrade most LTs, you also
    > have to define the upgradability of those which would 'need' to be
    > upgraded depending on the decision tree.
    >
    >



    One has 80GB hdd and firewire 400, the other important one has 60GB hdd
    and only USB 2/1.1. There is a firewire 800 laptop, but it barely
    enters the equation because it will not be backed-up on this drive (DD
    has her own external drive back at college) but she may want to hook up
    to it occasionally to transfer a few big files. I'm not sure what the
    other laptops have, I think one of them may also have a firewire 400 port.

    None of them have eSATA connectors, but all have PC card slots, and some
    also have an ExpressCard slot.

    I think I'm going to go with the drive that has all three interfaces and
    see how it goes. I can compare USB and Firewire on the laptop that has
    both interfaces. (might be worth $40 for the experience. Why do I have
    to be a cheapskate *all* the time) That leaves an unused eSATA
    connection as an option for later.

    I don't want this attached to the local network as a server, even though
    that would be handy sometimes. Too much of a security risk -- although
    (I just thought of this) I wonder if gigabit Ethernet might be a good
    connection for an external drive, using a simple CAT 6 crossover
    cable... Probably wouldn't work without a switch or hub.

    Bob
     
    zxcvbob, Jun 17, 2009
    #4
  5. zxcvbob

    Mike Easter Guest

    zxcvbob wrote:
    > Mike Easter wrote:


    >> From a practical point of view, it seems 'wasteful' to plan in a usb2
    >> bottleneck unless it is unavoidable in terms of cost or other
    >> considerations.
    >>
    >> You haven't outlined all of the players completely adequately yet.

    How
    >> big are the hdd/s on all the LTs? How many have firewire 800 and how
    >> many 400. As a general rule, it is hard to upgrade most LTs, you also
    >> have to define the upgradability of those which would 'need' to be
    >> upgraded depending on the decision tree.


    > One has 80GB hdd and firewire 400, the other important one has 60GB hdd
    > and only USB 2/1.1.


    Being slow is less important for some fraction of 60G than for some
    fraction of 1000G

    > There is a firewire 800 laptop, but it barely
    > enters the equation because it will not be backed-up on this drive (DD
    > has her own external drive back at college) but she may want to hook up
    > to it occasionally to transfer a few big files.


    You might be surprised at how useful the firewire is. I'll bet her hdd
    is significantly bigger too.

    > I think I'm going to go with the drive that has all three interfaces

    and
    > see how it goes.


    That sounds like a plan, plus I have another qx....

    > I can compare USB and Firewire on the laptop that has
    > both interfaces. (might be worth $40 for the experience.


    .... my qx is, how come 'we' are paying $40 more for those extra
    interfaces? Maybe you should be shopping for enclosures. Where I live,
    it is very very common to find big SATA drives on sale for cheap. It is
    a little bit harder to find enclosures on sale, but it is common to find
    external hdd/s on sale. So, I'm saying you should do your shopping
    separately. Shop for an enclosure that has all of the interfaces and
    shop for a big sata drive.

    > Why do I have
    > to be a cheapskate *all* the time)


    Ha!

    > That leaves an unused eSATA
    > connection as an option for later.
    >
    > I don't want this attached to the local network as a server, even

    though
    > that would be handy sometimes. Too much of a security risk -- although
    > (I just thought of this) I wonder if gigabit Ethernet might be a good
    > connection for an external drive, using a simple CAT 6 crossover
    > cable... Probably wouldn't work without a switch or hub.


    That ethernet is a whole different kettle of fish in terms of affecting
    the shopping possibilities. That is, it will severely limit how many
    shopping choices we get.



    --
    Mike Easter
     
    Mike Easter, Jun 17, 2009
    #5
  6. zxcvbob

    Jordon Guest

    zxcvbob wrote:

    > I assume a eSATA PC card adapter would be slowed down by the internal
    > PCI bus and not really provide enough advantage over USB or 1394 to
    > justify the cost of the card and cable. What do you think?


    Just a hunch, but I'd think that a PC card eSata adapter
    would perform head and shoulders above USB or Firewire.

    If you search for the throughput of PC cards keep in mind
    that USB is measured in megabits and I think you'll find
    that PC cards are measured in megabytes.

    --
    Jordon
     
    Jordon, Jun 17, 2009
    #6
  7. zxcvbob

    chuckcar Guest

    zxcvbob <> wrote in
    news::

    > I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge files
    > and for backing-up 3 or 4 laptops.


    Don't. The reason for backuping up a computer is *because* hard drives
    fail - external ones quicker than internal due to their being moved
    putting strain of their internal parts. Therefore backing up to an
    external hard drive is just defeating the original purpose. Backup to
    either CD R/W's or DVD R/W's as *closed* session CD's and *only* your
    documents. Applications are installed with the original disks. Any other
    method is subject to error and failure.


    --
    (setq (chuck nil) car(chuck) )
     
    chuckcar, Jun 17, 2009
    #7
  8. zxcvbob

    Jordon Guest

    chuckcar wrote:
    > zxcvbob wrote in
    >> I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge files
    >> and for backing-up 3 or 4 laptops.

    >
    > Don't. The reason for backuping up a computer is *because* hard drives
    > fail - external ones quicker than internal due to their being moved
    > putting strain of their internal parts. Therefore backing up to an
    > external hard drive is just defeating the original purpose. Backup to
    > either CD R/W's or DVD R/W's as *closed* session CD's and *only* your
    > documents. Applications are installed with the original disks. Any other
    > method is subject to error and failure.


    Don't listen to this guy. I had a girlfriend hurl an
    external hard drive across the room and hit a wall hard
    enough that it stuck. That was two years ago and it still
    works fine.

    While CD and DVD's are a good option, if you have a huge
    amount of data you'll be sitting in front of the burner for
    a long long time. The chances of your backup hard drive
    failing at the same time your computer hard drive fails is
    practically zero. If you're really worried about it, use
    two. It's what I do but I also copy data to the drives of
    other computers via scripts in the middle of the night and
    I have copies of everything in 4 places and I don't have to
    lift a finger with the exception of unplugging a drive. I
    also have incremental copies that go back for three months,
    all on hard drives.

    --
    Jordon
     
    Jordon, Jun 18, 2009
    #8
  9. zxcvbob

    Aardvark Guest

    On Wed, 17 Jun 2009 16:28:05 -0700, Jordon wrote:

    > I had a girlfriend hurl an external hard drive across the room and hit a
    > wall hard enough that it stuck. That was two years ago and it still
    > works fine.


    Did she always get over-hormonal once a month or was that an isolated pre-
    menstrual incident?

    Either way, it's a good thing you ducked.
     
    Aardvark, Jun 18, 2009
    #9
  10. zxcvbob

    Jordon Guest

    Aardvark wrote:
    > On Wed, 17 Jun 2009 16:28:05 -0700, Jordon wrote:


    >> I had a girlfriend hurl an external hard drive across the room and hit a
    >> wall hard enough that it stuck. That was two years ago and it still
    >> works fine.


    > Did she always get over-hormonal once a month or was that an isolated pre-
    > menstrual incident?


    Heh... not going there.

    > Either way, it's a good thing you ducked.


    I didn't have to. Her aim was bad.

    --
    Jordon
     
    Jordon, Jun 18, 2009
    #10
  11. zxcvbob

    chuckcar Guest

    Jordon <> wrote in
    news:h1bu3v$rpq$-september.org:

    > chuckcar wrote:
    >> zxcvbob wrote in
    >>> I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge
    >>> files and for backing-up 3 or 4 laptops.

    >>
    >> Don't. The reason for backuping up a computer is *because* hard drives
    >> fail - external ones quicker than internal due to their being moved
    >> putting strain of their internal parts. Therefore backing up to an
    >> external hard drive is just defeating the original purpose. Backup to
    >> either CD R/W's or DVD R/W's as *closed* session CD's and *only* your
    >> documents. Applications are installed with the original disks. Any
    >> other method is subject to error and failure.

    >
    > Don't listen to this guy. I had a girlfriend hurl an
    > external hard drive across the room and hit a wall hard
    > enough that it stuck. That was two years ago and it still
    > works fine.
    >

    Pure bullshit. Not going to happen. Even with the heads parked. A term I'm
    sure you have no clue as to the meaning of.

    > While CD and DVD's are a good option, if you have a huge
    > amount of data you'll be sitting in front of the burner for
    > a long long time. The chances of your backup hard drive
    > failing at the same time your computer hard drive fails is
    > practically zero.


    The point *was* and is that it will happen *before* the internal.

    > If you're really worried about it, use
    > two. It's what I do but I also copy data to the drives of
    > other computers via scripts in the middle of the night and
    > I have copies of everything in 4 places and I don't have to
    > lift a finger with the exception of unplugging a drive. I
    > also have incremental copies that go back for three months,
    > all on hard drives.
    >

    And you're going to lose it all. *Real* soon.


    --
    (setq (chuck nil) car(chuck) )
     
    chuckcar, Jun 18, 2009
    #11
  12. zxcvbob

    Evan Platt Guest

    On Thu, 18 Jun 2009 22:50:33 +0000 (UTC), chuckcar <>
    wrote:

    >Pure bullshit. Not going to happen. Even with the heads parked. A term I'm
    >sure you have no clue as to the meaning of.


    Yes, everyone lies but you, chucktard.
    --
    To reply via e-mail, remove The Obvious from my e-mail address.
     
    Evan Platt, Jun 19, 2009
    #12
  13. zxcvbob

    Jordon Guest

    chuckcar wrote:
    > Jordon wrote in
    >> chuckcar wrote:


    >> Don't listen to this guy. I had a girlfriend hurl an
    >> external hard drive across the room and hit a wall hard
    >> enough that it stuck. That was two years ago and it still
    >> works fine.


    > Pure bullshit. Not going to happen. Even with the heads parked.
    > A term I'm sure you have no clue as to the meaning of.


    Really? It's sitting right next to me, and with the exception
    of a dented corner it works just fine. And when I bought my
    first PC it was a 286 with 640 k of RAM (not upgradeable without
    inserting more chips on the mainboard)and it cost me 2 grand.
    DOS version 3. In those days (with MFM drives)you had to park
    the heads from the command line. Chucktard, you're going to
    have to suck a few more eggs before you teach me anything.

    >> While CD and DVD's are a good option, if you have a huge
    >> amount of data you'll be sitting in front of the burner for
    >> a long long time. The chances of your backup hard drive
    >> failing at the same time your computer hard drive fails is
    >> practically zero.


    > The point *was* and is that it will happen *before* the internal.


    So your telling me that if I buy a brand new external drive
    today, that it's going to fail before one of the 4 three
    year old drives in my server? BTW, they're RAID 5 and hot
    swappable and within in the last year one of them did fail.
    But that old external hard drive is still working.

    >> If you're really worried about it, use
    >> two. It's what I do but I also copy data to the drives of
    >> other computers via scripts in the middle of the night and
    >> I have copies of everything in 4 places and I don't have to
    >> lift a finger with the exception of unplugging a drive. I
    >> also have incremental copies that go back for three months,
    >> all on hard drives.


    > And you're going to lose it all. *Real* soon.


    Backups in four different places and I'm losing it all real
    soon? Maybe if Seattle is hit by a nuke and the EMP covers
    a 10 mile area. One of those four places is my home. The other
    three places are in two separate buildings.

    I'm surprised you aren't posting from newsguy.com. Oh wait,
    you actually responded. Why don't you go back to the little
    table in the kitchen?

    --
    Jordon
     
    Jordon, Jun 19, 2009
    #13
  14. zxcvbob

    Evan Platt Guest

    On Fri, 19 Jun 2009 08:02:33 -0700, Jordon
    <> wrote:

    >Really? It's sitting right next to me, and with the exception
    >of a dented corner it works just fine.


    Feel free to ignore chucktard. As almost everyone else here can
    attest, he's a pure idiot.
    --
    To reply via e-mail, remove The Obvious from my e-mail address.
     
    Evan Platt, Jun 19, 2009
    #14
  15. zxcvbob

    Jordon Guest

    Evan Platt wrote:

    > Feel free to ignore chucktard. As almost everyone else here can
    > attest, he's a pure idiot.


    Did he grow up with Richard? Twins maybe?

    --
    Jordon
     
    Jordon, Jun 20, 2009
    #15
  16. zxcvbob

    Evan Platt Guest

    On Fri, 19 Jun 2009 16:05:19 -0700, Jordon
    <> wrote:

    >Did he grow up with Richard? Twins maybe?


    I'm convinced him and "richard" () are one and the
    same person.
    --
    To reply via e-mail, remove The Obvious from my e-mail address.
     
    Evan Platt, Jun 20, 2009
    #16
  17. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Guest

    Joe Blogger wrote:
    > zxcvbob wrote:
    >> I'm about to buy a external hard drive for offline storage of huge
    >> files and for backing-up 3 or 4 laptops. $120 for a 1TB 7200 rpm
    >> drive with USB only, or for $40 more it also comes with 2 Firewire
    >> ports and eSATA. The main laptop has a 1394 port, the other important
    >> one doesn't, and I'm not sure about the others. DD has a MAC, which
    >> has a FireWire 800 port; I assume it's compatible with 400, but she
    >> won't be connecting to it much anyway.
    >>
    >> I'll probably reformat it into 4 primary partitions the same size as
    >> the laptop drives, plus one big logical partition for everything else.
    >>
    >> I know USB 2.0 is spec'ed faster than FireWire 400 (480 mb/s versus
    >> 400 mb/s), but isn't that just the burst rate? What's the *real*
    >> sustained difference in throughput?
    >>
    >> I assume a eSATA PC card adapter would be slowed down by the internal
    >> PCI bus and not really provide enough advantage over USB or 1394 to
    >> justify the cost of the card and cable. What do you think?
    >>
    >> Bob

    > I believe that the differences in use between the two are rather small,
    > Firewire may be slightly faster due to USB 2.0 having some extra
    > overhead. The way to maximise write performance (this much more
    > important than your choice of interface) for external drives is to
    > ensure that write caching is enabled.
    >
    > If you use Windows, for external drives, this is usually disabled by
    > default when you connect the drive. The reason for this is so that you
    > don't have to go through the safely remove hardware procedure before
    > disconnecting an idle drive. You can gain back this extra performance by
    > right clicking my computer, selecting manage, then storage, then disk
    > management. Here, each of your physical drives is labelled disk 0, disk
    > 1, disk 2 etc... . Right click on this drive label and select
    > properties. You can setup write caching from the policies tab.
    >
    > You must of course start using safely remove hardware to avoid data loss.
    >
    > You'll probably find that Firewire, esata and NAS drive
    > enclosures/external HDD packages command a price premium over USB 2.0
    > drives, for that reason, I would buy a USB drive.




    Thanks for the tip about write caching.

    I just got a Firewire cable today and compared the thru-put, copying a
    8GB folder that has a couple of small files and one huge file to the
    external drive using both USB and Firewire. USB took about 5 1/2
    minutes, or approximately 195 megabits per second sustained rate.
    Firewire took over 9 minutes; barely 100 megabits per second. With
    Firewire, the PC was acting like it was getting lots of errors and
    having to retransmit (the "Minutes remaining" in the copying window was
    jumping all over the place) No, I didn't have both plugged in at the
    same time.

    Firewire sucks. Or maybe just this cable (which has good-looking
    connectors, seems to be shielded, and says "IEEE-1394 COMPLIANT" on the
    jacket) sucks.

    To be fair, I was using a 6' USB cable and a 10' Firewire cable. But
    that shouldn't make any difference.

    Bob
     
    zxcvbob, Jun 30, 2009
    #17
  18. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Guest

    Any one wrote:
    > zxcvbob wrote on 29-Jun-09 17:52 :
    > [...]
    >> Thanks for the tip about write caching.
    >>
    >> I just got a Firewire cable today and compared the thru-put, copying a
    >> 8GB folder that has a couple of small files and one huge file to the
    >> external drive using both USB and Firewire. USB took about 5 1/2
    >> minutes, or approximately 195 megabits per second sustained rate.
    >> Firewire took over 9 minutes; barely 100 megabits per second. With
    >> Firewire, the PC was acting like it was getting lots of errors and
    >> having to retransmit (the "Minutes remaining" in the copying window
    >> was jumping all over the place) No, I didn't have both plugged in at
    >> the same time.
    >>
    >> Firewire sucks. Or maybe just this cable (which has good-looking
    >> connectors, seems to be shielded, and says "IEEE-1394 COMPLIANT" on
    >> the jacket) sucks.
    >>
    >> To be fair, I was using a 6' USB cable and a 10' Firewire cable. But
    >> that shouldn't make any difference.

    >
    > good point, and 'bad guess' -- your transmission line was 67% longer;
    > you didn't indicate anything about chipsets, but no surprise that FW and
    > USB came from different vendors. was the machine otherwise idle during
    > each test, or was there other background activity during one test? did
    > you buy USB and FW cables from the same or different vendors?
    >
    > 400Mbps is not a "burst rate", it's the best you can expect under ideal
    > conditions -- short reach, standards-compliant medium, matched
    > termination, best SNR, and so on. also, that is the line rate, not the
    > payload rate. you should decide which one you want when you calculate
    > file transfer time.
    >
    > your description suggests the added length of the FW line was a strong
    > contributor to low line rate with FW. maybe you should re-think your
    > experiment.


    Computer was otherwise idle during the test.

    I have a 6' Firewire cable from the same vendor as the USB cable, but it
    has 6-pin connectors at each end. I've ordered a 6-to-4 converter for
    one end, but I'm still waiting for it to get here. It will be
    interesting to see what difference that makes.

    It's possible that the 10' cable didn't match the conductors properly --
    they may have mixed the clock and data lines on the same twisted pairs.
    I can't tell that without cutting off one end.

    Bob
     
    zxcvbob, Jun 30, 2009
    #18
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