Transfering FireWire data to a new MacBook?
February 6, 2009 2:56 PM   Subscribe

My white MacBook is in its death throes, and it's time to upgrade. Unfortunately, all my data is backed up to a FireWire drive, which the new MacBook doesn't support. What are my data transfer options, other than buying a MacBook Pro?
posted by jed to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you using an Airport? We have an Airport Extreme and two hard drives are hung off it as shared network drives. I can see them through the wifi network. Large data transfers are slow, but you could certainly plug it in and get your backed-up data overnight.
posted by immlass at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2009

Personally, I'd take the hard drive out of the enclosure and put it into a barebones USB enclosure. That way you can use it not only for this one-time data transfer, but as a time machine backup in the future. Newegg has lots of barebones enclosures. Just find out if the internal drive is IDE or SATA.
posted by sharkfu at 3:07 PM on February 6, 2009

Best answer: Many ways.

(1) An Apple Store will do this for you. Or...

(2) You could buy a cheap USB hard drive case ($20?) of the same type (IDE or SATA?) and swap the actual HD out of your Firewire enclosure and into the USB one... which the newer MacBook will support fine. That way might sound scary if you are not comfortable taking things apart... but these parts are such commodities that the odds are high it would be one screwdriver, four screws, and about 10 minutes to pop the drive out of one and into the other. The internal connectors are probably even the same. There are likely step by step photo and/or video guides on the web to doing this, even.

(2a) In between those two options, anyone who owns a USB hard drive case and has ever thrown a drive inside could do it for you, too. It's pretty hard to damage anything, since the entire drive itself is sealed inside anyway. The case just provides power, lights, cable-connectors, and some pretty plastic.

(3), if you have both computers at once, network them by ethernet cable or wifi. Mount the Firewire drive on the old dying MacBook and copy across your tiny network to the new MacBook. Your new MacBook will need a big enough drive, of course, either internal or a second attached external (this time, USB).

(3a) Use some other intermediate computer as your copy-to, then copy-from host. It should really be a Mac if you want to avoid weird data loss/corruption issues with Mac files, but it's not absolutely essential.

... and there are probably more. :)
posted by rokusan at 3:10 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure there is such as thing as a Firewrire-USb 2 adapter.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:10 PM on February 6, 2009

As far as swapping the drive into a new enclosure, all my external drives certainly look like they'd be difficult to take apart. It would at least involve prying them apart with something and probably destroying the original case. If your drive looks like it can be popped open by just unscrewing some screws, that's what I'd do, but you may not be that lucky.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:13 PM on February 6, 2009

actually I guess I'm wrong. nevermind.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:14 PM on February 6, 2009

I'm pretty sure there is such as thing as a Firewrire-USb 2 adapter.

The only ones I've seen are for iPods only, and all they do is reroute the charging circuitry so you can charge/power newer iPods with older car stereo iPod cradles.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:15 PM on February 6, 2009

You can still buy white MacBooks with FireWire through Apple resellers. You can buy one model of white MacBook from Apple too, and I think that may still have FireWire, but if you want a faster processor you have to go through a reseller (or perhaps an Apple Store that has old stock). I'm typing this on a white MacBook purchased from the company linked above. I'm happy with that and all my other purchases through them.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:38 PM on February 6, 2009

Apple still sells the base white Macbook with Firewire.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:52 PM on February 6, 2009

It would at least involve prying them apart with something and probably destroying the original case.

I've never seen anything very challenging. If there are no screws obvious, they're hidden under some rubber feet or something, or there are some of those "push both of these at the same time" tabs that make the whole thing slide apart. I have some that are 2-screws, some 3, some 4... and some that are screwless, pop-and-slide.
posted by rokusan at 4:06 PM on February 6, 2009

1) Spend $30 on this drive dock adapter.
2) Pull the HD from your MacBook[PDF]. Very very easy; it's right inside the battery bay.
3) Plug MacBook HD into adapter.
4) Plug Adapter USB cable into new MacBook.
5) HD--via the drive dock--will mount as external USB HD on new MacBook.
6) Run Migration Assistant (in /Applications/Utilities) which will help you migrate your User profile and installed Applications and settings to new MacBook.
7) When migration is done, unmount the old HD. Detach USB drive dock. Put old HD back in the MacBook.
8) Send broken or failing MacBook to me; I'll recondition it and sell it, or part it out for parts. You can MeMail me and we can talk prices.
posted by at 4:25 PM on February 6, 2009

The new Macbooks support Target Disk Mode over ethernet using the Migration assistant.
posted by Gungho at 4:29 PM on February 6, 2009

How much data is it? And, how dead is your white Macbook?

I recommend purchasing a new USB backup drive (you'll need one anyways), and transferring the stuff from your FireWire drive to the USB drive through your dying white Macbook. Unless your white Macbook is so dead it can't even manage a file transfer. If that's the case, I'm sure if you look around, you'll find somebody that has a computer with a firewire port that you can borrow in order to do the file transfer.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:09 PM on February 6, 2009

Buy an external hdd with usb2 and firewire. I have one sitting right next to me.
posted by majortom1981 at 7:32 AM on February 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, MeFites. Immlass, unfortunately the current AirPort base stations don't have Firewire ports; otherwise, that would be a perfect solution.

Looks like I'll be going the friend with a desktop Mac route.
posted by jed at 12:50 PM on February 7, 2009

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