FireWire Sucks And You Shouldn’t Use It
// October 20th, 2008 // Computers
I’m not fond of anyone using FireWire on Windows computers for routine data transfer (e.g. copying files to/from an external hard drive). IEEE1394a/b drivers (a.k.a. FireWire 400/800) for Windows (Vista back to 98SE) are mediocre at best, and dangerously unreliable far too frequently. Why do you think Apple (the inventors of FireWire) stopped using it with the iPod (and never with the iPhone)? You see, I had professional involvement in the beginning years of the iPod, and I interacted with many people struggling to transfer songs over an unreliable FireWire connection in Windows (a.k.a. “Write-behind CRC error”). Lots of lost music. Not cool.
Sadly, it’s not just an iPod thing. On multiple occasions, I have fallen prey to the inability to reliably perform a basic file transfer with Windows Server 2003 and an external FireWire hard drive. That kind of time sink can be extra frustrating when you’re working after hours to bring a mission-critical server back online.
Take a nickels worth of advice for free; steer clear of FireWire in Windows. Need further convincing? Read this article about the sun-setting of FireWire.
Addendum (March 6, 2010): Windows 7 has implemented a new driver for IEEE1394 Host Controllers, but I have little experience using it with NTFS or FAT32 disks. The experience I have with HFS+ disks in Windows 7 indicates a major improvement. The new driver has not been back-ported to older versions of Windows, and as such I still think FireWire file transfers should be avoided on anything but Windows 7.