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Old December 24th, 2004, 11:18 AM   #1
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I'm saying goodbye to IEEE 1394

I'm posting this here since I edit on a PC but I it applies to Macs well.

After investing a few thousand dollars over a period of years on "firewire" external hard rives, I've come to the conclusion that 1394, Firewire, iLink - whatever you call it - really stinks! What you gain in portability and simplicity, you lose in dependability. It's just a flaky interface no matter how you look at it - the connectors are flimsy, the software interface leaves a lot to be desired - drive dissappear, camera ports stop working, etc. How such a badly designed and implemented standard could have found its way to top of the line hardware is betond me.

For my Avid NLEs I've started a migration to SATA drives which are by far more reliable. We've had one of our systems on SATA (Serial ATA) for six months with out a hitch. In the meantime our 1394 system has lost one drive (a drum head gone bad), and the other is MIA - shows up but blank. I know not all these problems stem from 1394, but it just happens that tghe only problems we've had has been with 1394.

Now, if there was an alternate way to get DV information from cameras and decks, I'm willing to listen and purchase.

Sorry for the tone of the rant - I just lost days of work ($$$$) thanks to 1394.

Merry Christmas to all!
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Old December 24th, 2004, 11:26 AM   #2
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Re: I'm saying goodbye to IEEE 1394

Quote:
and the other is MIA - shows up but blank.
Same thing happened to me with a 250gig firewire drive. I also use SATA drives for video... and my replacement firewire drive for backup exclusively.

Wouldn't even think about putting footage on there that isn't in backup form.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 11:39 AM   #3
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Ozzie,

Sorry you're having so much trouble with Firewire.

It would be helpful to know what hardware you are using:

1. Brand/model/size of Firewire HDD
2. Computer Brand/model
3. Brand/model of Firewire adapter card

Also, what is your operating system?
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Old December 24th, 2004, 12:21 PM   #4
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I'm sorry you've been having problems but the critical problems you describe really have nothing to do with 1394 and everything to do with the "drive" itself. I have lost 6 hard drives so far, they were all IBM "Deathstars". I had 2 in a RAID and 2 were the backup of the RAID. Talk about furious! I lost EVERYTHING in one day and these were internal drives! The other 2 were a boot drive and it's backup, same deal. I have since stuck to Maxtor's and haven't had any problems (knock on wood). I also have a VST Smartdisk Firewire drive that has never given me problems.
It sounds like you have bigger hardware and driver problems because this standard wasn't adopted by all these companies based on it being "flakey".

I hope you get it figured out.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 03:13 PM   #5
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I concur - there's no reason in the world that the interface should be the problem - it's always the hardware.

HOWEVER, that said, you are correct in making your way into the SATA environment, as your needs grow. It is indeed a faster, more reliable, and more "RAID-able" scenario and is more conducive to a professional, industrial environment.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 09:40 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Pete Wilie :

It would be helpful to know what hardware you are using:

1. Brand/model/size of Firewire HDD.

All external 1394 drives are ProMax - the 2 that have died are 200 GB. But before the current problems I've had two other, again ProMax, where the bridge went bad on the drives. That is not the current case - one just got a bad center drum and the other one is just coming up as blank (but it's not.)

2. Computer Brand/model

Dell Dimension 620 with 2GB RAM.

3. Brand/model of Firewire adapter card

Don't recall off-hand but I bought the better models that were recommended. No cheapies.

Also, what is your operating system? -->>> Windows XP Pro SP2.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 09:49 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Imran Zaidi : I concur - there's no reason in the world that the interface should be the problem - it's always the hardware.>>>

Well, let's just split hairs here and say it's the hardware side of the interface? The connectors are very prone to going bad; this is true of the 6 pin as well as the four pin connectors. In fact I have a four pin connector on my laptop that works intermittently. What's even more annoying is Windows (?) often inability to recognize a 1394 connection. Supposedly 1394 is a plug and play interface but often it is not. I may require a reboot, or a little bit of voodoo for the 1394 device to be recognized. This is so common that I almost expect it to happen regardless of system being used. Jiggling of cables, turning equipment on and off, plugging and unplugging, as well as rebooting are common operations when working with 1394. Because of all this (and I'm not even counting disastrous disappearances of media) I can't accept the interface is free of blame.

My opinion is that 1394 was oversold and release before its time. Today it is mandatory with any DV hardware - deck or camera. I'm aware there is a new, more robust 1394 (1394b?) with better connections, but that requires an entire re-tooling and there is no way to re-tool a camera or most decks.

I agree with you that SATA is a way to go, but only after a lot of money and time has been sunk into a deficient interface.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 11:57 PM   #8
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You could pop the drives out an install them as internal PATA drives. Not sure if that helps, and it requires a bit of elbow grease. Re-assembly may be an issue, depending on the drive.
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Old December 25th, 2004, 07:55 PM   #9
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ozzie, how many times have you seen an external sata interface on a computer? sata is usually for internal pc setups that hook directly up to the bare hard drive, while firewire is largely for external hookups... stop trying to lump 'em together!

you are confusing both yourself and other people who might read this thread.

the truth about sata is that it's a lot more expensive... sata drives cost a lot more than the standard ide hard drives that hook up to the inside of your pc, or to the inside of a firewire external box.

wrt external firewire hard drive enclosures, i have found that you really need to turn 'em on before firing up the pc... same thing with some usb external hard drive enclosures as well, tho.

the way to troubleshoot firewire external drives that die is to take 'em out of the enclosure and mount 'em inside the pc, or mount 'em into a usb external box... my experience with usb has been pretty good.
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Old December 25th, 2004, 11:01 PM   #10
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Dan,

My apologies if I've caused confusion. That is not my intention.

Yes, SATA drives ARE by far more expensive than 1394. But we've had an EXTERNAL array of ProMax SATA drives installed and working flawlessly for months. The lack of problems has already made up for the initial extra cost. The external casing is wired directly to a board that comes with the kit. The SATA arrays can be bought in sets of 2 or 4 (or more) 250GB drives, and can be setup as stripped or not. (See http://promax.com/Products/Cat/Storage for details)

Out of necessity I've become a bit of a 1394 expert and as a result I've tried all the tricks, and 1394 is full of tricks. Yes, we routinely turn on the drives before the computer. I can't add any more internal drives to the IDE bus since it's maxed out with two hard drives, a CD-RW, and a DVD player.

Believe me; it took me several years to arrive at my very low opinion of 1394. It's hard to be down on something that is so cheap and flexible. But after so many problems, there is no other conclusion. I am not alone in my opinion. A little research, even at http://www.1394ta.org/ , will show that there are problems. The introduction of 1394b is an attempt to get around some of the weaknesses.

I can always change drive systems, but can't do the same with decks and cameras. In the last two years I've had the iLink port on two of my TRV900s go bad on me (under warranty); the 1394 card on the DSR1500 go also, as well as the 1394 port on a DSR11(also under warranty) that is too high a failure rate to put up with when one is running a business.

If I have anything positive to say about 1394 is that it is cheap and worth what you pay for. If you are doing a little home editing, it is great. Its even great as a backup system. But don't get too upset when the system stops responding to a 1394 device - it WILL happen. In fact, in the laptop I'm using at the moment - a Sony VAIO - the built-in 4 pin 1394 port no longer works. Fortunately I have a 1394 PC card with 4 6 pin connectors that does work. So for now my laptop still has a working 1394 add-on.

By the way, Im not promoting SATA, or PATA, or any kind of drive or manufacturer. Im only raising a red flag as a working professional with three Avid DV Pro, PC based systems that have been going steadily for almost two years. If I had to do it over again, I would never have selected 1394 drives for the systems.

I trust and hope I am not confusing anyone.

Oz
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Old December 26th, 2004, 12:36 AM   #11
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Ozzie,

I haven't heard of this problem with the major hard drive manufactures like Western Digital, Maxtor, and La Cie. Perhaps it could be a problem with ProMax drives?

Have you contacted ProMax about this problem?

When your data is critical, I would buy the most reliable hard disk drives, and stay away from the cheaper "deals". Western Digital is the leader in the PC market, and if you shop around you can find them at competitive prices. And, to be on the safe side, I would buy the EXTERNAL drives made by Western Digital as opposed to using a 3rd party FW enclosure with a WD drive.

Also, be sure to format your PC HDD with NTFS before using.

If you don't want to move to a video server, you could also consider buying some of the higher capacity Firewire HDD, and reducing the number of FW drives you have on a given computer.

I really wonder if this is a Firewire problem, or a HDD problem?

I have friends in film school where all students have their own external FW drive, and each student is doing all NLE work using the school computers with his/her own drive. No real problems with firewire.

Do you have problems connecting your cameras/decks using the firewire?

With all firewire devices (especially HDD), I always use the following procedure to disconnect the device:
1. Using the Windows Task Bar/System Tray icon "Safely Remove Hardware", click on the FW device to remove it from the OS.
2. Power down the device
3. NOW remove the firewire cable

To connect a FW device:
1. Close any apps that may use the FW device
2. Power up the device
3. Connect the FW cable to the device
4. Connect the FW cable to the computer
5. Verify that Windows has added the device
6. Start any apps that need to use the device.

If you encounter any problems:
1. Shutdown and power off the computer
2. Power off the FW device
3. Disconnect any FW cables from the device
4. Power up the FW device
5. Connect the FW cables from the device to the computer
6. Power up the computer.

Good luck.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 07:38 AM   #12
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well LaCie usually use Western Digitals or Seagates depending on the market value at the time of the build.

On top of that most HDD killings are caused by hardware stripes which not only nuke the one drive, but ALL DATA ON ALL DRIVES, even if one of the drives is still OK.

put it this way, i wouldnt want a terrabyte LaCie with one weak drive... else the whole thing will die and id lose a whole terrabyte of work..

another thing ive noticed is that firewire is slower... much slower that IDE or SATA.

but one thing that hasnt been mentioned, is SCSI.
4x 75gb IBM scsi drives striped, will give u an average of 150MB/sec striped sustained (thats what im getting) . For an Avid system, i would recommend this set up.
Id also be capturing with Component or 1394 only.

with regard to nuking.. in my opinion and from the repairs ive had to do, its usually the motherboard which is overloading which ends up nuking the "auto on" switch killing the stripe, literally sending an excessive pulse voltage to the drives interface (remember, 6 pin 1394 also carries power.. even if the device isnt utilising it or has its own power supply a current is still running through it)

the trick is to run it off a 1394 PCI card if possible.. If u know ur motherboard is prone to killing hard drives, a small investment may save alot of headache..

Im using a LaCie 200gb and leave it on auto and run it from a PCI card, even though my motherboard cas 3 of its own firewire ports..

as for SATA, cost is only about 15 to 30 dollars more

scsi, ur lookin in the hundreds or even thousands

a 1394 pci card is $20

just my 2 cents..
of the lot, scsi is ur best bet
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Old December 26th, 2004, 11:04 AM   #13
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Guys,

I gave this thread a title hard to ignore, now I think I'm beginning to have second thoughts about it.

Just to make it clear - I am NOT criticizing any particular drive manufacturer. ProMax is a top-notch supplier and their customer service is superb. A few of my drives have gone back to them for fast and no questions asked repair or replacement. I switched to ProMax after Maxtor began to give me a lot of problems (I still have 5 or 6 Maxtors hanging around doing nothing.) I only have one LaCie but my colleagues who use them with Macs have reported the same or similar problems.

So, my argument is NOT with the drives, they are fine my argument is with the IEEE 1394 standard just not robust enough for day to day professional use. The new IEEE 1394 800 seems to address the problems speed and better connectors but I have no experience with it.

I hear and appreciate all your suggestions about 1394. Thank you, although I have tried everything. Its only after having tried everything and given it time (a year or two) and met up with frustration sooner or later that I have resorted to starting a thread titled Im saying goodbye to 1394.

If 1394 has given you no problems just give it time.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 05:03 PM   #14
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Ozzie,

It certainly sounds like you've had more than your share of problems with 1394. I retired from broadcasting, and became enamoured with the capabilities of DV camcorders and firewire equipped pc's. My first editor was a 400 MHz 486. Had to really shut down the TSR's on that one. I then bought a 900 MHZ P3 Toshiba laptop with 4-pin firewire built in. Then a 3 GHz P4 for editing, and another 3 GHZ P4 as a home theater PC. I have 3 ADS 1394 boxes with internal IDE connections. Two have hard drives, and the other a Pioneer AO3 DVD burner. Camcorders have been Canon ZR, a compact JVC (lemon), Panasonic, and JVC HD10 Hi-Def. When I was using the laptop for everything, I routinely looped the laptop to hard drive, to DVD burner, to camcorder - and everything worked as expected. I have NEVER had a firewire device "disappear". I had a "Firewire Direct" drive die, but it was the interface, and I was able to re-use the drive.

I also have a Samsung SIR-T165 Hi-Def receiver, JVC and Mitsubishi DVHS VCRs, and of course the home theater PC. These are all connected in various 1394 configurations. I will admit these devices get unhappy when too many are connected, and sometimes get dropped. The PC and the HD tuner both want to be "boss" - not good.

I guess I just wanted to show that all is not "gloom and doom", and that there is hope. I have read that Intel chipsets with Intel processors are the most stable for "high demand" requirements such as editing.

Good luck!
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Old December 26th, 2004, 05:27 PM   #15
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Ozzie,

Dave again - I just noticed you're using XP pro. I can't recall all the details, but I seem to remember some concerns about XP pro and video. I'm using XP home (even on the home theater PC). Maybe the XP pro concern was just for HD??
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