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I have a WD Passport external hard drive with ethernet and Firewire 800 ports only. Having just purchased a new MacBook Pro (2019), I'd like to continue using this drive as my backup. As ethernet is faster than FW800, I want to connect using the ethernet port, however it seems that I have to buy both a TB3 to ethernet adapter and a separate ethernet cable of some length. (Actually, I may need a TB3 to TB2 dongle + a TB2 to ethernet dongle + the ethernet cable). I'm looking for the simplest solution hopefully without a 6ft. ethernet cable coiled on my desk.

Is there not a single male to male adapter cable that can accomplish this connection?

I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks!

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    You're putting a lot of faith into an HDD which uses a firewire port. I hope you don't put anything important on there as I would be worried about disk failure after this many years. – MonkeyZeus Dec 7 '20 at 18:08
  • I have new drives with FireWire, the existence of the port doesn't say much about it's age. Even if the enclosure is old the drive inside could be new. – MacGuffin Dec 10 '20 at 6:40
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I doubt that such an adapter exists.

You can get TB3 to Ethernet dongles from many different companies - there's no need to buy a TB2 dongle and TB2 ethernet adapter.

You can also get very short ethernet cables. There's no need for a 6ft ethernet cable - you can get a 1ft one (or even shorter). They're available at a low price (few dollars).

Remember to take a close look at the specs of your drive before purchasing adapters (you did not include any identifying information). There's a good chance that the FW800 port is actually going to be faster in practice than connecting over Ethernet.

Also if the drive is already several years old (which I gather it is, as I do not think any current Passport product has the FW800/Ethernet combo) - then it is might be more economical to buy a new drive with USB-C. Remember that old drives will fail at some point.

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  • I need to clarify, initially my thought was to use the ethernet port on my 2008 MacBook Pro to transfer items to the new one (due to software incompatibility, I need to use the old one for some things and will be transferring files). I thought my WD passport also had the ethernet port, but I am mistaken, it only has FW800 and USB 2.0. My question holds for the MBP transfer needs, but it looks like I'll probably get a new backup drive per your suggestion. – Loutro Dec 7 '20 at 15:49
  • Also, my understanding was that ethernet is faster than FW800, when is this not the case? None-the-less, the single dongle vs. the double needed to complete FW800 connection is preferable. – Loutro Dec 7 '20 at 16:02
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    @Loutro a drive with Ethernet would basically be a NAS. Depending on how old it is, it could very well only have 100 Mbit/s Ethernet rather than the faster Gigabit Ethernet. The former is much slower than FW800. The latter is faster on paper, but probably adds a lot more overhead (though it's definitely more practical if you can just have it on your network rather than having to connect it physically to your Mac). – jcaron Dec 7 '20 at 16:35
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Even if this exists, you don’t want it. Thunderbolt 3 can run this gigabit Ethernet adapter cheaper on USB-C 3.x and faster than the network can handle.

Now, I’m skeptical your ethernet controller is actually faster in practice than FireWire 800 but the power efficiencies are better and cabling and parts are much cheaper if you tunnel the storage traffic of point to point ethernet. You’ll want faster ethernet on both ends and a modern storage controller to get faster response than FireWire 800 which was ridiculously fast for it’s time. WD doesn’t have this class storage AFAIK even in the tail end of 2020.

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