Firewire Hard Drive Enclosures: Building An External Firewire Drive From Scratch
For many years USB was to the PC as Firewire was to the Macintosh. Today it is very common to find both kinds of ports built in to most name brand computers, and for those that do not Firewire adapters can be purchased very cheaply to add a Firewire port to almost any computer running almost any operating system. Firewire hard hard drive enclosures are an excellent example of how this technology can be used to extend the life of old components as well as to expand the capabilities of the computers they are attached to.
What Is A Hard Drive Enclosure?
Hard drive enclosures are small boxes into which a typical computer hard drive can be installed. Once secured inside the enclosure and connected to a PC or Mac the new Firewire or external USB hard drive can be mounted and used on the computer exactly as if it was mounted inside the actual computer case.
Hard drive enclosures make almost any drive portable and allow users to move hundreds of gigabytes of data from place to place simply by moving the drive from PC to PC. Most hard drive enclosures come with Firewire and/or USB connections and most require their own power source.
What Is Firewire?
Firewire (also known as IEEE 1394) is one of many different protocols that computers may use for transferring data to and from the motherboard and processor. In the beginning stages Firewire was an incredibly fast, efficient way to move data. For many years the maximum throughput of the Firewire standard made it superior to USB (recent changes to the USB standard have made the two protocols almost equal).
The original 1394 standard moved data at up to 400 megabits per second while the most popular current version called 1394b doubles the available bandwidth to 800. At this speed Firewire800 has the potential to blow USB away in terms of throughput however few products are able to utilize the full 800 mb/s bandwidth.
Why Use A Firewire Hard Drive Enclosure?
At one time Macintosh owners were almost specifically limited to using Firewire based external hard drives due to the Mac being built around the Firewire standard. Now that Apple has moved to an Intel architecture for the Macintosh line of computers, USB or Firewire hard drives work equally well.
Another convergence of a sort is the fact that now almost any kind of hard drive can be placed in a Firewire enclosure such as SATA, PATA, SCSI, etc. Always check the specifications of any enclosure prior to making the purchase to make sure it will work with a specific drive style.
Author: Chad Criswell