External Hard Drive too sluggish


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#1
Hi,

I bought a USB2 156gig external hard drive for image storage and back-up. Whenever I work on the images stored in there, it's very very slow lah. I know working from external hard disk is slow not that super slow leh.

How come hah? What should I look for next time I buy another external drive?

Thanks.
 

Amekaze

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#3
Make sure the external HDD is using USB2.0 Hi-Speed or Firewire (480MBits/s and 400MBit/s respectively). Do not confuse Full-Speed USB 2.0 (12MBits/s) with Hi-Speed.

I'm not too sure if RPM plays a part in external HDDs. Most of the people I know actually buy laptop HDDs (2.5") and fit them into a casing. They usually have about 5200RPM. Slim, small and easy to carry around.

Yeah... and make sure the computer you working on supports USB2.0 Hi Speed too.
 

StreetShooter

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#4
A better solution is to get a slot-in hard drive casing. You need to be able to install the drive bay into the CPU tower, though. Uses the EIDE interface, much faster that USB2. Can buy whatever hard drive you want and just pop it into the casing. Very easy to swop hard drives and make backups. Cost is about twenty to thirty bucks per casing (comes with fan and all that) and hard disk is 100 plus.
 

ST1100

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#5
USB has very poor sustained transfer rate. Although it claims 480mbits/s vs firewire's 400 mbits/s, in practice, FW leaves USB in the dust, esp for large volume transfers. For large volumes, USB can take 10 times as long, or worse.

If you intend to use external drives, get a firewire PCI card. About $30. FW casings costs more though.
 

erwinx

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#6
ST1100 said:
USB has very poor sustained transfer rate. Although it claims 480mbits/s vs firewire's 400 mbits/s, in practice, FW leaves USB in the dust, esp for large volume transfers. For large volumes, USB can take 10 times as long, or worse.

If you intend to use external drives, get a firewire PCI card. About $30. FW casings costs more though.
care to show where you got the '10 times as long' statistic from?

PCmag has done a usb 2.0 vs FW test and the detailed results are found here:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,848818,00.asp The article concludes that firewire has a 14% speed advantage.
 

#7
erwinx said:
care to show where you got the '10 times as long' statistic from?

PCmag has done a usb 2.0 vs FW test and the detailed results are found here:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,848818,00.asp The article concludes that firewire has a 14% speed advantage.

I believe USB 2 has speed advantage over Firewire... but I think this is only when all your USB ports are unconnected, except the external harddisk.

If you have other stuffs like webcams, USB ADSL modems, etc... connected at the same time (and transfering data), there is no way the USB transfer rate will be fast...
 

StreetShooter

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#8
I seem to remember reading that firewire is a dedicated i/o port that gives you the same throughput regardless of processor speed or cpu load. USB, on ther other hand is processor-dependent, so that if you have many processes running or you have a slow CPU, your throughput will be affected.

Can someone tell me whether this is accurate or complete balderdash?
 

ortega

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#9
Why not install the big HDD into the computer and use the smaller one as the external unit, then work from the internal HDD, problem solved.

Just my 2¢ worth
 

Dennis

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#10
Not sure if the comparision is fair but I have both Firewire harddisk and USB 2.0 device (Archos 420 80Gb and iRiver H340). The USB 2.0 device seems to be faster. BTW I am talking about 15-20 Gb transfer.

ST1100 said:
USB has very poor sustained transfer rate. Although it claims 480mbits/s vs firewire's 400 mbits/s, in practice, FW leaves USB in the dust, esp for large volume transfers. For large volumes, USB can take 10 times as long, or worse.

If you intend to use external drives, get a firewire PCI card. About $30. FW casings costs more though.
 

erwinx

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#11
StreetShooter said:
I seem to remember reading that firewire is a dedicated i/o port that gives you the same throughput regardless of processor speed or cpu load. USB, on ther other hand is processor-dependent, so that if you have many processes running or you have a slow CPU, your throughput will be affected.

Can someone tell me whether this is accurate or complete balderdash?
You could be describing Macs which were designed from ground up with firewire integration. FW may be much faster on Macs than on PCs relative to usb 2.0 but you have to ask the Mac experts.

Whereas for PCs, a firewire controller is usually dumped onto the motherboard as an afterthought or 'optional extra', while usb 2.0 is fully integrated. Most PCs are Intel-based and here's one for conspiracy theorists as to why Firewire isn't that much faster on PC systems:

"USB 2.0, marketed as Hi-Speed USB, is a move by hardware makers and vendors -- with Intel as the prime mover -- to create an open-standard, high-speed interface as an alternative to IEEE 1394. Apple Computer created IEEE 1394, branded as FireWire by Apple and iLink by Sony, and charges license fees for its use."
 

yanyewkay

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#12
pethidine said:
I believe USB 2 has speed advantage over Firewire... but I think this is only when all your USB ports are unconnected, except the external harddisk.

If you have other stuffs like webcams, USB ADSL modems, etc... connected at the same time (and transfering data), there is no way the USB transfer rate will be fast...
firewire is faster in data transfers even thought the specs doesn't reflect that. FW uses less data 'overheads' for the same given packet of data as compared to USB.

FW is definitely faster than USB2.0 for large file transfers.

also I've seen some manufacturers cheat in their packaging by using a USB2.0 logo and claiming to be fully compatible with USB2.0, but actually running on USB1.1 "fully compatible" is correct in the sense that it is compatible with USB2.0. But it's not running at USB2.0 speeds. If it appears sluggish.. you may want to swap the hd casing with a known usb2.0 casing from a friend and see if the same happens.
 

Wai

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#14
StreetShooter said:
Come to think of it I DID do a speed test comparing between a firewire and USB 2.0 card reader on my laptop, and the USB 2.0 won by a small margin.
which firewire reader are u using? my lexar firewire reader is very much faster than my USB 2.0 reader on both PC and Mac machine
 

ST1100

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#15
erwinx said:
care to show where you got the '10 times as long' statistic from?

PCmag has done a usb 2.0 vs FW test and the detailed results are found here:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,848818,00.asp The article concludes that firewire has a 14% speed advantage.
Ok, my conclusions may pertain to me only:

i have a 2.5" HDD casing that does FW and USB2.0 (so it claims). Transferring the same file (about 200+ mb) to and fro the PC, the FW connection took about 20+ seconds. The USB one, well, i stopped timing when it went past 2 minutes.

i also have USB2.0 and FW CF card readers. i don't have the figures anymore, but i recall my USB reader taking about 5-10 seconds per image while the FW one copied 2-4 images in the same time or less. i echo Wai's sentiment that the FW reader is much much faster.

Maybe my PC's USB is too busy doing something else. i dunno.
 

marican

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#16
i've got a usb2.0 enclosure with a 200gb hdd. Def fast enuff for me. 15 gig transfers quite quick. no problems.
 

Wai

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#17
marican said:
i've got a usb2.0 enclosure with a 200gb hdd. Def fast enuff for me. 15 gig transfers quite quick. no problems.
wait till you have tried firewire ;p

if you are laptop user, the fastest option will be 32 bit card bus reader (much faster than firewire), tested on powerbook and I was shocked :eek:at how much different a real 32bit card bus reader can make. but then these card bus reader cost $100+ and my ibook does not have PCMCIA slot :(
 

quekky

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#18
ST1100 said:
i also have USB2.0 and FW CF card readers. i don't have the figures anymore, but i recall my USB reader taking about 5-10 seconds per image while the FW one copied 2-4 images in the same time or less. i echo Wai's sentiment that the FW reader is much much faster.
5-10s? that's the same speed as my office P3 computer with USB1.1 ports (i'm using USB2 reader), each picture is 2-3MB
 

yanyewkay

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#19
i believe ST1100's reader is USB2.0 compatible and not full USB2.0. Could have been fooled by dishonest/misleading packaging on manufacturer side.

Doesn't mean branded stuff gets you honesty as well, I've seen big brands slapping on USB2.0 logos but are actually USB1.1 devices. They aren't cheating but you got to read very very much in depth into the product description to fish out the slightest hint of USB1.1 which is fully compatible with USB2.0
 

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#20
Wai said:
which firewire reader are u using? my lexar firewire reader is very much faster than my USB 2.0 reader on both PC and Mac machine
Do you know how much does a Lexar firewire card reader cost?
 

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