General Question

jabag11's avatar

What is the interface of an External Hard Drive?

Asked by jabag11 (676points) December 25th, 2010

I’m looking to buy an external hard drive on line and some have interface USB 2.0 and others have USB 3.0, I have a MavBook Pro 10.5.8 Lap Top, Does the difference between the “Interfaces” matter?

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8 Answers

wenn's avatar

Get a USB 2.0 drive

USB 3.0 is only a year old and not widely used on products yet.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Get USB 3. Your mac doesn’t have a USB 3 socket but it’s backwards compatble with USB2 and if you ever use it on a system that does have USB3 you’ll appreciate the speed increase.

Hedaru's avatar

For the best: USB 2.0 [plug-and-play]

I found an interesting product from Seagate:
Upgradeable External HDD: Seagate’s GoFlex™ with up to 500GB capacities.
You can upgrade it to USB 3.0 if it’s the time for it.
Not only that, it has adaptable FireWire and eSATA interface.

cawlin's avatar

The difference between the “Interfaces” is essentially speed. USB 3.0 is newer than USB 2.0 and allows for much greater data transfer speeds.

While your mac doesn’t have a USB 3.0 input it is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 as @Lightlyseared said. USB 3.0 will work fine and work better in the future when more computers support USB 3.0.

rovdog's avatar

Do you have a firewire port? If you have a Macbook Pro I’m sure you do. For the short term that will be faster than USB 2— plus you can daisy chain- I guess you might worry that eventually apple will stop supporting it but that’s probably still a ways off. Looking to the future I try to get drives with an esata port.

jabag11's avatar

i was thinking of getting a firewire but people are saying I would probably want to get USB instead since it’s compatible with more products, what do you guys think about that?

rovdog's avatar

I usually get multiple interface drives like the Lacie Rugged Triple or the OWC mercury On the Go’s- they have USB and Firewire. I use firewire for almost everything but that way if I’m using a computer that only has a USB port I can use it. If it’s a bigger hard drive and I want to make sure I can use it in the future I go with something that has USB, Firewire and Esata and I feel I’m covered. Sure it won’t have USB 3 but I can always hook it up USB 2 and if that isn’t fast enough I can get an Esata card for whatever machine I want to use it with.

rovdog's avatar

Adding this:

I have no way of knowing the accuracy of this article but there are rumors that Apple will adopt Light Peak when it is ready and I think that will probably kill firewire. You can tell Apple wants to kill it as they continue to diminish it’s importance on their new machines despite the fact that to a lot of mac users USB is a total afterthought.

I would still recommend FW for the best day to day use today- but this article does kind of have me leaning towards USB 3 for something that will be supported in the future (since you can’t very well buy a lightpeak drive and esata will really limit your choices)

Here’s an idea- if it’s a big and expensive drive- try to get something that is meant to be or can be easily removed from the enclosure. That way if you ever have to change it- it won’t be so hard. The OWC drives are meant to removed from the enclosure- Lacie’s are a pain.

By the way- that article also talks about killing the optical drive, since Apple did it to the floppy disk, I see no reason why they wouldn’t do it to the optical drive. That is coming too, sooner or later.

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