external hard drive q's-- SATA and such

I don’t feel like this is urgent or general enough to stick in GQ so we’ll see how we do here.
I have in my possession: a 320 G SATA drive, 3.5". I got it for free; it’s the mandatory starting point for this project.
With it I wish to: stick all of our music on it and play it through a Mac and/or another particular device that will take a DAAP share.
So a few questions:
SATA is not ATA, right? And ATA is the same as IDE or something? This has confused me (predictable-- I’m a humanities instructor!) and I first got the wrong enclosure for the thing. I need a SATA enclosure, right? Would this work?

Will USB2 be fast enough for my needs (music storage)? Any recommendations? Firewire would be nice, too, as one of my machines only has USB 1. Anything I should know about enclosures?
Once I get the right enclosure how should I set the drive up to do what I wish? I can’t really stick iTunes on there, can I? Is there a particular way I should organize directories and such? Has someone else here done a project like this?
Thanks for whatever wisdom you can impart. . .

Oh, and the other particular device, aside from DAAP, also will take UPnP media servers, SMB network share, and such, not that I know what any of these things mean, really.

Correct: SATA is not ATA. SATA is “Serial ATA” and uses a different, much smaller connection. The advantage of SATA is that it is hot-pluggable and expandable, like USB and Firewire, though it has a faster transfer rate.

Yes, that enclosure will do just fine. And yes, USB 2.0 is plenty fast enough for streaming just about anything; music really doesn’t take up much bandwidth. Even uncompressed, raw WAV files are only ~10MB/min. By contrast, USB 2.0 is capable of delivering up to 55mb/sec (that’s megabits, or 6.875 megabytes, per second). Of course that bandwidth is shared by any other devices on the same USB channel, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m not a Mac user so I can’t speak to formatting/sharing it, but it should behave more or less like any other storage device connected to your computer.

For those new to SATA, this might seem a touch odd - who cares if your internal hard drives are hot-pluggable? You probably don’t want to mess around in there much with the power on, anyway.

But very new (last six months or so) computers now have an external SATA slot. It’s a long, thin, slightly “L-shaped” female connector on the outside of the box, usually in back for some reason. Your current computer might or might not have one, but there’s a good chance your next one will.

Macs don’t have external SATA ports (yet, anyway), but the pro models have been SATA inside for at least a couple years now.

Internally consumer hard drives are 95% + ATA or serial ATA IO setups with some SCSI variants. USB2 and firewire are simply the external connection IO methodologies if an ATA or SATA drive is used in an external box. Any ATA or SATA drive directly connected to the motherboard is going to generally be faster than external SATA or ATA drive in a USB2 or firewire external boxes. Comparing the SATA and ATA interface vs USB2 or firewire in terms of speed is utterly apples and oranges.

Shoulda mentioned that, but yes, it’s still pretty new. The system I built at the beginning of this year had a board (Asus A8N32 Premium) with 8 internal and 3 “external” SATA ports, and the case I put it in (Thermaltake Shark) has both room for two SATA connections on the rear and one on the side. I just found it handy because it eliminates the need to use USB or Firewire enclosures with external SATA drives; you can just hot-plug 'em and you’re set, which is really a godsend when you’re doing service work on newer SATA-based machines.

I wasn’t actually comparing the two interfaces as being similar to one another – I was just drawing a comparison to their expandability and hot-pluggability, since in that regard they do resemble Firewire and USB. They are still two completely different technologies though.