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Firewire 400/800/USB = confusing


Established Member
I was going to buy an 1TB hard drive. I was confusing about firewire 400 and 800. I'm not sure that which one is compatible with my laptop. Normally, I use my laptop's firewire with my comcorder. I dont even know that they are different. I tried to seach it first but I am getting more confused. Then, I had a look at this site and I found this.


I thought that firewire is much faster than USB2.0 but I am not sure about it now.

I'm planning to buy WESTERN DIGITAL My Book Premium 1.0TB 7200rpm 16MB


Will it be compatible with my laptop?



Distinguished Member
Firewire 800 is relatively new , if your laptop is new then it may support it , otherwise it should just work at firewire 400 or just firewire as it used to be called , speeds.

Firewire works at 400mb/s , USB 2.0 is theoretically 480mb/s , however , USB is a shared interface , and that bandwidth is usually split , so the likelihood of any single device actually getting to work at that speed is slim.

So that makes firewire better than USB 2.0 , usually.

That WD drive should work with just about any computer , you have all the options there , so just pick the interface that works best for you. As far as I know all the cable types you need are included in the package.


Distinguished Member
I've had a Firewire 800 drive since 2005 so they've been around for about 3 years or so now, but I don't remember seeing 800 ports on a laptop. You can buy Firewire 800 ports for a laptop though if your machine can take a cardbus card (PCMCIA). The hard drive will be backwardly compatible with Firewire 400 though as it will have a different port for this.

Paul Shirley

Established Member
I thought that firewire is much faster than USB2.0 but I am not sure about it now.
USB2 rarely achieves more than 50% of its headline bandwidth, external drives top out at around 30mb/s - well below the drives maximum. In practice Firewire400 is much faster, around 2x on my dual interface WD Media drive for general use. Still slower than the fastest zone on a drive but not by much.

The other issue is USB uses more CPU power than firewire, which is also why USB runs slower - less hardware support in the interface. Perhaps important on a laptop.

Go with Firewire, either version.

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