Slow Transfer Speeds
Edward Walters wrote "Has anyone experienced slow transfer speeds with a 40 GB 3G iPod while using an external Firewire drive?"
Definitely. This is almost certainly the same bug as this: "Syncing iPod over Firewire with iSight can cause your Mac to "freeze"".
It's still not fixed yet in 10.3.5. Unfortunately, this KB article leaves one with the impression that the problem is specific to the iSight when in fact the problem appears entirely generic. Having anything at all hooked up to Firewire at the same time as an iPod often results in extremely slow transfer speeds to the iPod. I've experienced this with scanners, external drives, and especially the iSight. I've only seen kernel panics and system freezes with the iSight, but the basic problem occurs with almost anything.
Also, the problem occurs with all incarnations of the iPod, and is not related to iSight firmware updates. I can only assume it's a generic Firewire driver bug.
When I bought my G5 earlier this year, I ended up using a pair of drives to shuffle content around between that, my iBook and the Sawtooth that was being sold off. I noticed that if I had the drives chained to each other, transfers between them were blazingly fast, but if I had them both plugged directly into the G5 it was so slow that it was actually faster to copy from one of them to the internal SATA drive and then copy again to the other external.
Until recently I had an extremely similar problem. Here was my setup:
-Stock G4/500 Cube
-bargain Firewire hub (powered...)
-160 GB drive in a bargain Firewire enclosure (also powered...)
-15GB 3G iPod
If I connected the iPod (or an iPod Mini) to this setup and tried to transfer data between it and the Firewire harddrive, the transfer would go along fast enough for about 30 MB, and then slow to a glacial pace that was almost too slow to measure. Searching online forums pointed to a lack of sufficient power on the Firewire bus, so the first component I tried replacing was the hub. No difference.
So I returned the hub and exchanged it for a new (Macally-branded) Firewire enclosure for that 160GB drive, and that made all the difference in the world! The problem is definitely gone.
Sigh. Yet another OS X firewire problem. Sounds like hubs don't work, but chains might. I do get the feeling Firewire may be on teh way out.