firewire 800 to thunderbolt port or firewire daisy chain?

I have a Mac Mini (mid 2011) with one firewire 800 and one thunderbolt port. I have 2 G-tech firewire 800 Raid drives.

Should I connect the second drive via a thunderbolt to firewire adapter or a firewire daisy chain with a second AC cord?

Thanks for your help! LK

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2 Answers from the Community

  • Save money and just daisy chain.

    You're not using FireWire for speed, otherwise you would not be using FireWire 800 (85 MB/s). Even mechanical drives (137 MB/s) are faster than FireWire 800. Two mechanical drives using RAID 0 could be 250 MB/s. A single SSD could be 540 MB/s.

    If you need to use FireWire, then a Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter would have a couple benefits:
    1) It would allow you to disconnect a drive without disconnecting the other drive because they would not be chained together.
    2) It would allow up to 170 MB/s accessing both drives simultaneously if you often transfer to both at the same time, or if you software RAID them together.
    3) Redundancy. If your FireWire port fails (very rare or never), then you can use the Thunderbolt port.
    4) This adapter allows up to 7W of power. This might allow a second drive to work without an AC cord, depending on the power requirements of your RAID. I don't know the power requirements of your RAIDs though.

    If you're raid also has USB 3.0, then use that instead to get up to 450 MB/s (depends on the RAID drive and the type and number of drives used). The Mac mini 2011 only has USB 2.0 (40 MB/s), so you would need to get a Thunderbolt 2 dock with USB 3.0 ports. Some docks also have FireWire so you would still get the benefit of a second FireWire port. You could also add this FireWire adapter to a Thunderbolt 2 dock to get another FireWire port (2nd or 3rd, depending on whether the Thunderbolt 2 dock has a FireWire port).

    All speeds mentioned are approximate values from benchmarks.

    Other options:
    1) A Thunderbolt 3 dock provides all the benefits of a Thunderbolt 2 dock, but has more capabilities that can be used when you upgrade to a newer computer. Requires an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to use with your Thunderbolt 2 Mac.
    2) A FireWire hub will allow connecting multiple FireWire devices without daisy chaining. The 5-Port IEEE-1394b Hub allows 4 separate chains of FireWire devices.

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  • Thanks for taking the time to answer, Joseph V.

    The speed of my system is limited by my older computer. My raid is USB 3.0/2.0 and Firewire 800/400. My computer has one Thunderbolt port, which I reserve for video editing. Using the firewire to thunderbolt adapter would give me a faster transfer rate to the raid but that's not my main concern.

    At the moment, I plug and unplug my various drives as needed but worry I will damage the port.

    A daisy chain requires all drives to be on, not a good idea to my mind, as all drives fail with use. My computer has served me well but I don't want to overload it.

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