Requesting an introduction to FireWire

  buckland 01:40 20 Jun 2007

In October 2002 I purchased a (Desktop) Dell Dimension 4500 Intel Pentium 4 Processor 2.53Ghz, it now has an upgraded RAM of 1Gb. The Hard Drive is 80Gb and a 64Mb GeForce 4 MX420 Video Card which I believe runs on a 250 Watt PSU. I have Windows XP (Home). After over 4 years and the intention of transferring many old photos and videos I have become adventurous and purchased a Western Digital 500 Gb My Book Premium Edition WDG1C5000 – External Hard Drive with FireWire (IEEE 1394/Hi-Speed USB. The data transfer rate is (FireWire)400 Mbps / (High Speed USB) 480Mbps, Spindle Speed 7200 with Buffer Size 16 MB. I know that I have USB 2.0 Ports on my PC and can plug in the WD Hard Drive on one of those (also with a Belkin 4-Port Hub (USB 2.0). My problem is with the FireWire since the HDrive comes with the FireWire connecting wire where do I plug it into on the PC ? Does my PC have any FireWire Port and if so where would I find it as there are many sockets behind the PC and a couple in front. Tracking around the Internet it would seem that my PC may have one FireWire Port which would avoid the need to buy a FireWire Card connection but then also does it have a PCI Slot or a spare? Regretfully my tech. knowledge is just about zero but I am trying to get some idea about this great leap into the dark which I have just made. By the way my PC System is NTFS and not FAT32 which I believe is a bonus. Any advice would be very welcome and thanks. Buckland.

  ambra4 02:55 20 Jun 2007

The Dell Dimension 4500 do not have a firewire port

Installed on the usb port there is no need to use the firewire port on the drive

FireWire 400 Mbps/USB 2.0 480Mbps

  €dstowe 07:39 20 Jun 2007

If you don't have any other, specific, uses for a Firewire port, forget it.

If you are short of ports to plug your drive into, you would be much better getting more USB2 (in the form of a PCI card) than Firewire - most likely cheaper as well. USB is far more popular as a connection system for external hardware.

  FatboySlim71 08:11 20 Jun 2007

I disagree with USB 2 been faster than firewire, the thing with firewire is that it has a faster sustained speed than USB 2, which basically means that after the first few seconds of reading/writing to the external hard drive, the initial speed drops, once it has dropped (this is the sustained rate), firewire has a faster sustained rate than USB 2. The transfer rates on paper firewire 400mbps & USB 2 480 mbps can be quite misleading. I have done some real world test's and I have found that firewire was actually the faster of the two.

I had a similar question a few months back on this forum, I will provide the link to it below. I know that when I purchased my external hard drive, the external hard drive that I purchased which had firewire & USB connections, was actually around £10 cheaper than the version that just had USB connections. I purchased a firewire card for my PC for around £23, but previous to this I did not have firewire on my PC and I thought it would be a useful addition to my PC, as I had thought about getting a digital camcorder on several occasions. On the link that I have provided, towards the bottom of the page I have done a test, you will get an idea from this that there was quite a bit of speed difference between USB 2 & firewire.

click here

  Bagsey 08:25 20 Jun 2007

If you are capturing video from a video camera the chances are that you will need a firewire connection uinless you camera is a very modern one which may have usb2. If you are just transfering photos then use usb2.
When digital video first came out the companies were looking for a faster card than usb1 so came up with Firewire which because of the difference in speed between usb1 and firewire , fire wire became the de-facto standard for video capture. Some manufactures are going away from it now and using usb2 but most have not yet migrated.
So at the end of the day most video cameras leave you no choice in the you will use firewire.

  buckland 14:53 21 Jun 2007

Thanks to everyone. I intend initially to use the USB 2.0 Port as Ambra4 and Edstowe pointed out and advised. However FatboySlim71 and Bagsey emphasise the virtues of using the FireWire connection particularly if I intend, as I eventually do, to store a load of videos. I am still ignorant about FireWire but as my Dell Dimension 4500 has no connection, do I have to purchase some sort of a FireWire Card and does the PC have to be opened up to fit it? I see that Belkin offer some sort of FireWire Adapter and I wondered if this were something which can be plugged into a USB 2.0 to avoid the hassle (for me) of opening the PC. I have looked at "My Computer Information" and have noted the following:- "Net Work Card - Model Realtek RTL 8139 Family PCI Fast Ethernet NIC - Packet Scheduler Miniport. Driver: rtl 8139.sys 11 October 2004 Supported". Under "USB Controller" I see that one of a number of USB references reads as follows:- "Manufacturer INTEL Model INTEL PCI to USB Enhanced Host Controller. Drive usbehci.sys 11 October 2004 Supported". These references mean nothing to me (although PCI seems familiar) and they must have been added 2 years after I purchased the PC in 2002. Do they have any bearing on this FireWire connection business or offer a chance to avoid calling in a PC Surgeon to put a knife into the PC on the Operating Table? Many thanks for your patience and advice. Regards. Buckland

  €dstowe 15:12 21 Jun 2007

I have a business which does video work but we only have one machine (out of 22) which has Firewire (which we seldom use). As has been pointed out, most modern camcorders and the like are fitted with USB2 so there is no need to use Firewire.

No need to make any changes, USB2 is quite suitable and fast enough for transferring video to an external drive (or anywhere else).

  FatboySlim71 21:59 21 Jun 2007

This is the firewire card that I purchased click here

But this needs the pc to be opened, but this is a quick and easy job. Basically you switch the pc off, then before you touch anything inside the pc, you first need to get rid of any static electric that you may have in your body (you can touch a central heating radiator as this is grounded)

Next its a simple matter of removing the cover off of the pc and pushing the PCI Firewire card into the PCI socket, after you have put the cover back on the pc you then switch the pc on, at some point during the Windows load, you will see a message at the bottom right of the screen saying "NEW HARDWARE FOUND BLAH BLAH BLAH" after it comes up saying that your hardware is ready for use then thats it, you are free to use the Firewire ports.

  €dstowe 22:07 21 Jun 2007

My point is that if you don't have a specific need for a Firewire card, don't bother installing one.

The performance of Firewire vs USB2 for your uses, buckland, will be effectively identical.

  buckland 20:30 22 Jun 2007

The Western Digital 500 Gb Hard Drive arrived today. All easily plugged in and working fine. I am using the USB 2.0 and shall stick with that for the time being anyway. I am afraid I have got myself twisted up in attempting to download the "Back Up" and have an idea that I may have only partially done the job. I have a Back Up Icon showing on the Desk Top and also on the right hand of the Task Bar but reckon I did not finish the instalation job so "Back Up" is in limbo. It could be perhaps better if I uninstalled what I have done and start again but am scared of eliminating some vital part like C Drive or what have you. I have not yet had a chance to get on to WD's Technical assistance but will have go next week. I am assuming that the "Back Up" is complementary to just adding stuff into the extended Hard Drive at any time. Many thanks to everyone for their help and Edstowe whose business experience was persuasive. Regards, Buckland.

  woodchip 21:10 22 Jun 2007

USB should be fast enough for anybody. That's what I use although I have two firewire ports

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