I've never used an external USB or Firewire hard drive. How does the USB or firewire interface compare to the onboard IDE ports of motherboards in terms of speed? Assuming the hard disk is the same, for example a Maxtor 200 GB 7200rpm drive, will it be faster if its connected in an IDE port or through a USB or firewire port?
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It will be faster if a hard disk is connected to IDE than to USB/fireware. Theoretically, the data transfer rate for IDE interface can reach 133MB/s (for ATA133 mode) while the transfer rate for USB and fireware are at most 60MB/s and 50MB/s respectively.
Firewire IS faster! Trust me! I used my old hard drive as a firewire external drive. Ran Great! UNtil the IBM drive died anyway. Burning from a cd-rw at 12x i tried too and that runs very good on firewire. I would never use USB. It's not as efficient as Firewire is. Firewire is also great if your recording videos over to that drive. You will have problems with USB. Even 2.0 you will have problems. Problems like losing frames.
And yes IDE would infact be faster because now your connecting it to a 133MB/s Bus compared to firewire which is only about ~20MB/s (this ='s 400Mb/s). and USB 2.0 which i think is ~22MB/s. Please note the difference between 'B' and 'b'. One is Bytes and the other is bits. it takes 8 bits to make a Byte. so take 400Mb/s and divide by 8 and thats your Megabytes per second. Much slower then 133MB/s of the Hard drive.