From its inception in 2006 until late 2009 Apple's MacBook line of laptop computer's have all featured FireWire with the exception of the aluminum unibody models that arrived on the market late 2008, easily distinguishable from the white and black plastic counterparts. At the end of 2009 Apple revamped the MacBook line. Among the revisions was the removal of the FireWire port on all MacBooks. As of 2011, the line still does not support FireWire. This makes the MacBook the only Apple laptop that includes models with and without the port, as MacBook Pros all have it and no MacBook Air ever has.
There are two types of FireWire port. The first is FireWire 400, introduced by Apple in 1995 and included in MacBooks from 2006 to early 2009. This standard transfers data at rates up to 400 megabits per second. All Macbooks that have FireWire have FireWire 400. In late 2006 Apple began outfitting its MacBook Pros with FireWire 800. This standard doubled the transfer rate to 800 Mb per second.
Prior to FireWire the Universal Serial Bus 1.1 port was the standard data transfer interface. This allowed users to transfer data at rates up to 12 Mb per second, significantly slower than FireWire 400's 400 Mb/s. Thus, FireWire became the standard for transferring many files at once and for transferring the notoriously large files associated with high-resolution images and high-definition video. However, as of 2011 new generations of USB are available that can transfer information at speeds up to 4,800 Mb per second.
In order to use the FireWire ports included on MacBooks, users must have a FireWire-compatible device. These are generally not as easy to find as USB devices. While USB-to-FireWire adapters are available, they will not enable data to travel at the maximum speeds FireWire otherwise allows.
If your MacBook does not have a FireWire cable, it may have a USB 2.0 port. This allows data transfers up to 480 Mb per second, 80 Mb per second faster than FireWire 400. To see if you have a USB 2.0 port click the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. Select "About this Mac" and click on "More Info." This opens your system profiler window. Select "USB" from the left-hand menu, and look under "Speed." If it reads "Up to 480 Mb/sec" you have USB 2.0.
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