Some of the different types of FireWire® enclosures are those made for 2.5 inch (6 cm) hard drives and 3.5 inch (9 cm) hard drives, both of which may be made with compatibility for serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) or integrated drive electronics (IDE) computer bus interfaces. 2.5 inch (6 cm) hard drives are typically made for use with laptop computers, and 3.5 inch (9 cm) hard drives are generally used in desktop computers. One should take care to note whether the interface of the hard drive he or she is planning to use is SATA, IDE, or something else because FireWire® enclosures are typically only compatible with one or the other. These enclosures are often used as convenient storage devices for computer users who may have multiple drives to "swap" into the enclosure because of the comparatively high speeds FireWire® can offer.
Individuals considering the purchase of one of the many FireWire® enclosures available should note that, in most cases, the enclosure does not come with a hard drive, instead, a hard drive must either be provided by the user. The size of FireWire® enclosures varies, but they are typically small enough to be easily handled or transported. Enclosures may have transfer options other than FireWire®, for example universal serial bus (USB) 2.0 or external serial advanced technology attachment (eSATA).
FireWire® enclosures are manufactured by many different companies and are generally made out of aluminum for heat dissipation purposes. They may also include a fan that is built into the unit for further cooling. Enclosures are often made for use with a single hard drive, but FireWire® enclosures with multiple hard drive bays are available as well. Prices range from very affordable models to more expensive, particularly in the case of enclosures with multiple hard drive bays.
The primary use of FireWire® enclosures is for storage and transfer of data. FireWire® is generally used for its transfer speeds, which can be superior or comparable to the maximum burst speeds of USB 2.0 or eSATA. A FireWire® enclosure can be a popular storage option for individuals who need to store large amounts of data and transport it easily to home from work, for example. The transfer speeds are also useful for working directly with files on the hard drive within the enclosure without having to transfer them to a local machine.