But you can also buy a Firewire 800 Adapter for $24 which lets you connect the drive through Firewire or USB. Since I have a MacBook Pro (with a Firewire 800 port) I thought it might be worth checking out to see if it improved the performance of the drive.
Switching a drive from one adapter to another is very easy; it simply unplugs from the bottom of the drive. Just make sure you dismount and power down the drive before you switch adapters.
As an experiment, I rendered a Final Cut Pro project on the drive while connected through Firewire 800, and then switched it to USB and repeated the test. I was a little surprised by the results:
Firewire 800 : 7:03With a seven minute render, only 2 seconds were saved; and that 2 seconds are probably illusory because I was using my iPhone to time the process.
USB 2.0: 7:05
If you want to be able to connect a drive through the Firewire port, then get this adapter, but if you think it's going to improve performance you'll be disappointed.
Oh, one final thing, if you're shopping for these adapters make sure you get the right one; don't confuse the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk Desktop Adapter - Firewire 800/USB 2.0 STAE105, which works with the desktop drives, with the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable FireWire 800 which works with portable GoFlex drives.
Amazon: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk 2 TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive $109.99
Amazon: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk Desktop Adapter - Firewire 800/USB 2.0 $23.49
Update 7:00 PM
A couple of readers have suggested that the render test wasn't a very good way to test the drive. While I agree it's not a good way to test the flat-out performance of the drive, I was trying to see if it would impact my day-to-day use of Final Cut Pro, rather than just seeing if one drive was faster than another.
However, to be fair, it's probably a good idea to see if there's a difference in other situations, so I did another test:
- Copying a 3.75GB file from the internal drive to the external drive
- Duplicating the same file on the drive using the Finder duplicate command
USB copy 1:45So it does make a difference; I'm just trying to figure out if it would make a noticeable difference in my day to day work. Copying to another drive - unless it's also a Firewire drive - won't be improved. Also, Log & Transfer will probably not improve because I'll be importing through USB.
Firewire copy: 1:10
USB Duplicate: 3:21
Firewire Duplicate: 3:07
The one area where it might improve things is playing back multiple streams. The only problem is; how do I test and quantify that? If anyone has any suggestions on how to do so, let me know and I'll try some more tests!