5 Common Firewire Cable Problems

firewire cable connectors

The term firewire cable is actually a brand name that was coined by Apple for the IEEE 1394 data communications interface. It is also known as i.LINK and Lynx. A firewire cable provides a connection for high speed data exchange.

Although the USB has become more popular for the purpose of connecting computer peripherals, the truth of the matter is that firewire vastly outperforms USB when it comes to data transfer speeds. In addition to computers, firewire is also widely used in digital video cameras to transfer data.

However, in spite of their reliability and data transfer capabilities, sometimes firewire cables may not work. What do you do when you plug in your external hard disk drive or video camera into your computer’s firewire port and it is not detected? Here's an overview of some of the most common firewire cable problems.

1 - Bad Cables

This is the most common problem that plagues both firewire cables and USB cables. If there is a break in the cable, your computer will fail to detect the connected peripheral device. Sometimes, there may be an intermittent break, in which case, the device will keep appearing and disappearing in the device manager.

The best way to avoid this problem is to buy good quality firewire cables. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the cable and the thicker the cable, the better it is. This is one of the few areas where an increased cost actually means that the product is of a higher quality.

Cheaper firewire cables will also do the job, but they won’t last for as long as their more expensive counterparts.

2 - Static Electricity

Static electricity is the bane of most computer components and this applies to firewire cables as well. Faulty design and abnormally dry atmospheric conditions can both contribute to this problem.

Certain models of notebook computers are known to have a design flaw that renders their firewire port susceptible to damage due to static electricity. If your firewire port has been damaged due to static electricity, your computer will not detect the port itself.

3 - Faulty Bus Design

The bus is what transfers data between the various components inside your computer. If your firewire cable is transmitting power, i.e., your peripheral equipment is detected, but it is unable to transfer data, then it could be due to an overload in your computer’s internal circuits as a result of faulty bus design.

4 - Operating System Updates

If your firewire cable is detected, but the transfer of data is taking place at reduced speeds, perhaps your operating system may need an update in order to allow the firewire cable to perform at its maximum capacity.

Windows XP and Vista are two examples of operating systems that may require an update to be installed in order to harness the full capability of the firewire protocol.

5 - Wrongly Plugged Cables

Most firewire cables carry both power and data. If a firewire cable is incorrectly plugged into a firewire port, the part of the cable that supplies the power may come into contact with the part of the computer that transfers the data.

This could lead to a short circuit and damage your computer or peripheral device. To avoid this problem, always ensure that you plug the firewire cables properly.