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How to daisy-chain external drives with MacBook Pro?

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Vic Noseworthy
How to daisy-chain external drives with MacBook Pro?
on Jan 9, 2014 at 2:08:22 am

Hi, folks:
I have been using several external drives with my MacBook Pro for a few years. Until now, I've simply used one drive at a time, plugging each one in as I needed to use it. I am aware that the drives (all have FireWire) can be connected in a daisy-chain configuration. However, I don't know what's involved in setting it up this way.
My question is: How do I daisy-chain the drives (three, maybe, four drives, as of right now), and does it matter that one of the drives is being used as back-up for TimeMachine?
Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much,
Vic


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Eric Hansen
Re: How to daisy-chain external drives with MacBook Pro?
on Feb 3, 2014 at 4:55:43 pm

Hey Vic

I'm guessing no one has responded because none of us really like Firewire anymore or daisy-chaining in general. One of the worst I've ever seen was one editing client that had 8 Lacie external drives daisy-chained by his feet. He had to turn all of them on even if he was only accessing files on 2 of the drives. It was very flaky - drives would randomly unmount themselves. If you touched any of the cables, they would eject. Firewire 800 doesn't have much bandwidth compared to other current technologies. Your Time Machine drive will take bandwidth away from the other drives during a backup.

It will certainly work, as Firewire was designed to be daisy-chained, but I wouldn't recommend it. You're much better off having everything in a single enclosure.

As far as how, just run a Firewire cable from drive to drive, assuming they have 2 firewire ports. If any of them are Firewire 400, then everything will slow down to that speed. You will need to turn every drive on, even if you're not accessing them all.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: How to daisy-chain external drives with MacBook Pro?
on Feb 4, 2014 at 1:30:04 am

Hey, Eric.
Thanks very much for your response and expertise. I wondered why I hadn't received a response to my question. I didn't realize that daisy-chaining was all that old a concept. Ha, sure, I'm just getting into it. My system is old, but it works great. Personally, I don't find that the technology is the bottleneck in my workflow; rather, the bottleneck is my head, in terms of edit decisions. So, my old technology is fine.
I think it's easy to get swept up in the latest and greatest hardware. But, maybe that's just me.
I'd gone ahead and looked up elsewhere how to daisy-chain drives. I set them up as per instructions, and it seemed to work just fine; however, your assertion that daisy-chained drives can unmount themselves is something I experienced soon after I hooked things up. I re-configured my settings so that all my captured footage sits on the closest (and largest) drive, and purchased clips and audio files are on drives further down the chain; so, all seems good again (i.e. no dismounting drives!). And. my workflow is improved.
I like the idea of daisy-chaining, simply for the ease of access to all the files I've accumulated. I used to disconnect and re-connect drives as I needed them, and it was getting a bit crazy.
I was surprised at your comment that not many use Firewire anymore. I guess it's USB3 now? Or, perhaps, wireless? Or RAID drives?
In any case, as I mentioned, I like my current system, old as it may be. It works great (and, as stated, I'm the bottleneck!).
Anyways, your response has been very helpful in my realizing my experience (in drives dismounting by themselves) is "normal". Makes me realize I'm not so dumb after all. :^)
Thank you again!
Vic


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