What Is Firewire? [Definition & Working Principle & Differences Between USB]

Larissa updated on Oct 20, 2022 to Knowledge Center


1. What is Firewire?
2. How Does Firewire Work?
3. Differences Between Firewire and USB
4. How to Convert Firewire to USB

What is Firewire?

Firewire, also called IEEE 1394, is a type of connection(connector, cable, port) for external electronic devices, like digital cameras, scanners, printers, external hard drives, etc. Firewire is a brand name that Apple uses to call IEEE 1394, and it is also known as i.LINK by Sony and Lynx by Texas Instruments.

Firwire(IEEE 1394)

(image source: https://www.shutterstock.com/)

How Does Firewire Work?

Compatible with comprehensive systems, Firewire(IEEE 1394) can work on most Windows, macOS, and Linux systems. The device is hot-swappable and supports plug-and-play, which means you can use it directly without shutting down devices, and the operating system will find the device automatically when it is plugged in. 

Another distinguishing feature of Firewire is that it can work and communicate without a computer, which is very helpful if you want to transfer data from one electronic device to another.

Differences Between Firewire and USB

Firewire and USB are both standard connection types that can be used to connect external devices for transferring data. But they differ greatly in transferring speed, extensive use, and other aspects.
As for speed, Firewire supports 800 Mbps, but USB 3.1 now can reach up to 10 Gbps, which is much faster than Firewire. 
Regarding usage, Firewire isn't as comprehensive as USB because it is designed for handling data. So most computers aren’t equipped with a Firewire interface. 
Another disadvantage of Firewire is its price. Maybe because of its low frequency of use, it is more expensive than USB. 
Apart from that, there are a lot of differences between Firewire and USB. If you want to know more, please read this pediaa article, which will explain the difference between the two in terms of designer, length, maximum voltage, maximum current, signal lights, etc.

How to Convert Firewire to USB

Because people use USB far more frequently than Firewire, for some devices that need to use Firewire, we need to convert them into USB interfaces to realize data transmission.

Imagine if you have a camera now and want to import photos to the computer, but the computer does not support the Firewire interface. Using a Firewire to USB adapter at this time can help you finish this task efficiently.

Keep reading the article, and we'll introduce the specific solution to convert Firewire to USB.

The easiest way to convert Firewire is using a Firewire to USB adapter. 

Firewire to USB adapter

Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1. Find a Firewire to USB adapter.

Step 2. Connect the Firewire interface to the Firewire-supported device properly.

Step 3. Plug the USB interface into a USB-supported device. The adapter is plug-and-play, so you don't need to install any drives.

Step 4. When the connection is made, you can transfer data.

related articles

What is a USB to HDMI Adapter? What Is It Used for?

This guide explains the concept of USB to HDMI Adapter, what it is used for, the working principle, how to use it in Windows 10, and the difference between USB C and HDMI.

what is a USB to HDMI adapter

Another method is through a hub that is compatible with both interfaces. This kind of hub has two ports, one is for USB, and the other is for Firewire. It plays the role of a transfer station, which allows two devices to work effectively.

Firewire to USB hub

(image source: https://c1.neweggimages.com/)

Wrap Up

With the above guide, we hope you can comprehensively understand what is Firewire, its basic concept, how it works, how it differs from USB, and how to convert Firewire to USB. If you have any problems, we are always here to help.

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