FireWire is also known by the term IEEE 1394 and by the brand name Sony i.Link; it's a technology used to transfer data quickly from one digital device to another, particularly audio and video devices. FireWire cables are constantly improving their capabilities, increasing the speed with which they relay information. A FireWire bus can connect dozens of devices at the same time, and both Windows and Mac operation systems work well with FireWire.

FireWire was first developed by Apple and it was standardized in 1995; it was given the name IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus. It works much like a Universal Serial Bus, commonly called a USB. FireWire was created to quickly relay information in an easy-to-use manner and to allow many devices to use the same bus. It's an inexpensive tool both to purchase and to implement. FireWire can also be used to provide a device with power. The main difference between FireWire and USB is that FireWire is made to work with more data than USB. It's best for camcorders, DVD players and digital audio equipment.

To understand FireWire better, consider your home computer. When you turn it on, it checks to see what devices are connected to its FireWire bus and gives each one an address. This process is known as enumeration. When you plug an additional device into the computer, FireWire's plug-and-play property allows your computer to detect the new device and check whether its drivers have already been installed. If you've installed it already, it starts working right away. Otherwise, you have to install the drivers before your computer can communicate with it. An advantage to FireWire devices is that they're hot pluggable, meaning they can be plugged in and unplugged at any time, even if the computer's already on.