i am looking to pick up a 30ish dollar HDD enclosure and a decent sized HDD(read: 250-320GB) to put in it. i was wondering if the USB connection can keep up with the SATA transfer speeds or even ATA100+ speeds. is there any advice anyone has using an external drive enclosure? what one would you recommend? thanks in advance
there's only few chipset and bios setting also operating system which support the hot plug, make sure to read the motherboard and hdd manuals before doing the hotplug thing. and don;t forget for doing hotplug, don't use the molex ide power connector, hotplug is supported only by using the 15pin sata power cable.
it's a risky thing as i have this experience when hotplugging my 2nd hdd, the 1st, 2nd, & couple afterward were easy and successfull, the system still running, they were all like plugin-off a usb. but the latest try failed when some sparkling light comes out near the molex power cable converter to sata power cable. the idiot thing i did was i insist to do the hotplug again and there were sparkles again.
i was lucky not to fry my hdds (checked with scandisk, no badsectors at all & smart indicated both fitness and performance still above 90%).
USB will not keep up with eSATA or Firewire... it has a lot of theoretical bandwith but uses it poorly. I'd advise either of the other two connections over USB for speed. Oh... and USB won't top ATA100. eSATA should give you the same speed as an internal SATA drive.
eSata > Firewire > USB for sustained reads/writes.
whichever interface you go with, if you plan to have your external drive connected and running for extended periods of time make sure you get an enclosure with a built in fan, I had a fanless enclosure die on me. fortunately the drive survived and I'm still using it in an enclosure that has a built in fan.
With USB you get about 35 MBps tops bit more or less depending on the interface.
SATA = eSATA same signal. eSATA just sends a stronger signal and accepts a weaker one to allow for 6ft of cabling.
Heat might kill the drive, but it shouldn't kill the enclosure.
I had to rewire it twice due to excessive abuse swapping in drives for repair purposes. Now I use an enclosure-less adapter for that. Hard to find short IDE cables, but they are out there.
My Aluminum fan less enclosure works great. The aluminum does a good job with the heat. I have had it running for 3 days at a time without it getting hotter than when the drive is running outside an enclosure.
I just bought an internal to external adapter so I dont' have to open my case to connect to a SATA port. That plus a 39" SATA cable still has the drive benchmarking and performing perfectly even though the total cable lenght exceeds 3 ft.
Via USB I can chain two 6 ft extensions to the same enclosusre for about 14.5 feet. Adding another 6ft extention cause the drive to fail western digital diagnostics.
Having both on the same drive is nice. Few PCs have external SATA ports.
I'm currently using two of those enclosures for external storage (due to video editing projects), they're working great for me (IMHO). You can "daisy chain" them as long as you don't run out of places to plug the power supplies in.