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(e)SATA Hot-Swap?

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October 30, 2006 2:17:34 PM

Right, I can't seem to find a clear answer on this so here's the question.

Can I use a 150MB/sec SATA drive in an eSATA enclosure and plug/unplug it without turning off my PC?

I've seen some conflicting info saying that this can be done only with SATA II drives and/or SATA II capable mobos. Essentially all I want to do is use an external drive for backups utilising a fast data transfer method (so I figure eSATA is the best option).

Here's the hardware I have and/or plan to use:

Abit IS7-G Mobo
WD Raptor WD740GD HD (doesn't have to be this drive but I'll probably try it with one of my existing Raptors)
AKASA P2 3.5" E-SATA SATA/IDE Encl.

More about : sata hot swap

October 30, 2006 2:37:48 PM

There is no such thing as "SATA I" or "SATA II".

SATA is a standard where many parts of it can be optionally implemented by the manufacturer of the hard drive or controller. Manufacturer's can choose whether they want to implement a 150MB/sec or 300MB/sec transfer rate, whether they want to implement NCQ, hot swap, or eSATA compatibility all independently.

You will be able to hot swap any SATA drive in an external enclosure if the eSATA controller you're using supports hot swap. Many (but not all) eSATA controllers do. The support for hot swap is independent of the support for a 150MB/sec or 300MB/sec transfer rate.

A very good eSATA controller that fully supports hot swap is the Promise SATA300 TX4302.
October 31, 2006 10:16:46 AM

Ok I see.

Therefore I assume it won't be possible with my existing hardware (see below). Neither controller I have seems to indicate hot-swap, so I should therefore assume that it is not supported, right?

Abit IS7-G Mobo

Highpoint RocketRAID 1820A

Damn, I really didn't want to have to shell out for a new controller just to do this :( 
Related resources
October 31, 2006 8:12:55 PM

Quote:
Neither controller I have seems to indicate hot-swap, so I should therefore assume that it is not supported, right?


If it doesn't say specifically, then the only ways to find out are to either call the manufacturer of the controller/motherboard and see if you can get the correct tech person on the phone, or hook a drive up to it, format it, and see if the Safely Remove Hardware icon comes up in the system tray to allow removal.
May 11, 2008 8:59:32 PM

It really pisses me off when people pretend to know something when they are completely messed up.

example

"There is no such thing as "SATA I" or "SATA II". "

This is totally false. Sata I is the original 150 mbps drive standard.
Sata II that recently was adopted is 300 mbps.

Both standards are compatable with each other but the device or controller will adopt to the transfer rate.

May 12, 2008 4:25:11 PM

toddbailey said:
It really pisses me off when people pretend to know something when they are completely messed up.


Sure does, doesn't it? Except in this case the person who is pretending to know something is you.

Dude, before you mouth off in here, you need to get your facts straight.

See Dispelling the Confusion: SATA II does not mean 3Gb/s. That's straight off the Serial ATA International Organization's (SATA-IO) web site. SATA is one standard. There are not two standards. There is NO "SATA II". 300 MB/sec is an optional feature of the specification, NOT a new standard.
July 3, 2008 3:11:34 AM

SomeJoe7777 said:
Quote:
Neither controller I have seems to indicate hot-swap, so I should therefore assume that it is not supported, right?


If it doesn't say specifically, then the only ways to find out are to either call the manufacturer of the controller/motherboard and see if you can get the correct tech person on the phone, or hook a drive up to it, format it, and see if the Safely Remove Hardware icon comes up in the system tray to allow removal.


Thanks, this is the first place I've found some concrete info about this. I'm assuming this means my Dell's motherboard (to which I have attached an eSATA-to-SATA cable) doesn't support hot-swap, because there isn't any Safely Remove Hardware entry.

So that's the Windows XP answer, but what's the Linux equivalent? Also, I have a Win2003 server that I want to try the same trick on -- will it be the same as XP (I'm not a Windows expert)? I did actually buy an eSATA board (Addonics) but it has such an awful documentation and driver set that I managed to permanently munge my XP system trying to install it (and had to revert to a backup despite sysadmins trying to fix the damage). If anyone has a nice solid alternative board they could suggest I'd appreciate it (cost is not a factor, this is for business use where quality is preferred).
a b G Storage
July 3, 2008 3:36:56 AM

Go into your bios and see if there is a SATA setting. If so, check if it has an option for AHCI. AHCI is what will allow hot swapping, as well as native command queuing, and some extra power saving states.
July 3, 2008 3:02:30 PM

Andrew_0xDEADBEEF said:
Thanks, this is the first place I've found some concrete info about this. I'm assuming this means my Dell's motherboard (to which I have attached an eSATA-to-SATA cable) doesn't support hot-swap, because there isn't any Safely Remove Hardware entry.


I've actually done some further research into this lately, because more and more people are wanting to hot swap external drives. What I've found out is kind of interesting.

Apparently, there are many SATA controllers out there where the controller itself (i.e. the hardware chip) does indeed support hot swap, but the manufacturer-provided Windows drivers do not tie in to the Safely Remove Hardware API in Windows. The result is that even though the SATA controller and drive support hot swap at the hardware level, there is no way to actually hot-swap the drive because the drivers aren't supporting it at the software level.

Enter a very nice piece of 3rd-party software to fix these drivers: HotSwap.

This is a 3rd-party application that presents a second Safely Remove Hardware icon in the system tray that supports hot-swapping on the following controllers where the hardware supports hot-swap but the driver doesn't:

- Silicon Image 3112A, 3114, 3132
- Silicon Image 3611 (SATA-PATA Bridge)
- SunPlus 3611 (SATA-PATA Bridge)
- All AHCI-compatible SATA controllers (JMicron JMB363, Intel ICH6/6R/7/7R/8/8R/9/9R)

I'm currently using this on several Intel ICHx based machines, and it works flawlessly.
July 16, 2008 5:44:55 AM

Thanks for the info. I checked and my BIOS is set for AHCI, so that didn't help. I'll try HotSwap when I get a chance and hopefully the controller is among the supported ones.
a b G Storage
July 16, 2008 3:42:26 PM

If AHCI is on, you should just be able to hot swap already.
July 18, 2008 3:59:39 AM

cjl said:
If AHCI is on, you should just be able to hot swap already.


Well, I wish that was true, but it doesn't seem to be... are you suggesting some way other to do the swap than "remove hardware safely" (which is not appearing on my machine)? I happened to find out today that if I power off the drive (wasn't intentional) then it does disappear from the available drives, but switching back on does not bring it back (had to reboot).
a b G Storage
July 18, 2008 4:34:43 AM

I've never bothered with safely remove hardware, but on the only machine I've used with E-sata (and AHCI), I could just unplug the drive, it would vanish from the list, and then I could re plug it in, and it would reappear on the list (just like if you plugged in a USB flash drive).
July 18, 2008 8:00:29 PM

cjl said:
I've never bothered with safely remove hardware, but on the only machine I've used with E-sata (and AHCI), I could just unplug the drive, it would vanish from the list, and then I could re plug it in, and it would reappear on the list (just like if you plugged in a USB flash drive).


The problem with that is that Windows may have open files or unwritten directory data that hasn't gone to the drive yet. Safely Remove Hardware tells Windows to flush all pending writes and close all files before cleanly unmounting the volume. This doesn't happen if you just unplug it, which risks file system corruption.

The HotSwap utility I mentioned above works very well - we're very pleased with it in our environment (video editing studio, all editing workstations have a dock/sled removable hard drive system -- we can HotSwap all sleds at will).
August 26, 2008 4:21:34 PM

Two of three SATA hard drives I have used in external enclosures have been hot swappable using the e-SATA port on my Asus PW5 DH Deluxe motherboard (port provided by a JMICRON JMB363 controller). My Samsung HD103UK (1000 GB) hard drive is not recognised unless the computer is re-booted, when it appears in Explorer as another volume on the system. However, it can be hot swapped with no problems when using USB2 connection, and then appears in the "can be safely removed" list.

I have tried downloading the HotSwap! facility. The file is downloaded as HotSwap! 4.1.1.0.zip, size 85.7kB, but when unzipped to the two versions (32bit or 64bit), I double click on the 32 bit version and from that HotSwap!.EXE appears, but the HotSwap!.EXE file does nothing when I try to open it.

Any advice on what I am doing wrong.
August 27, 2008 12:12:00 AM

Thanks for the info Somejoe7777, this will help me out with resolving this on my fileserver (going to use another of your articles to enable AHCI on it first)
August 27, 2008 12:37:40 AM

kingpeter said:
I have tried downloading the HotSwap! facility. The file is downloaded as HotSwap! 4.1.1.0.zip, size 85.7kB, but when unzipped to the two versions (32bit or 64bit), I double click on the 32 bit version and from that HotSwap!.EXE appears, but the HotSwap!.EXE file does nothing when I try to open it.

Any advice on what I am doing wrong.


The HotSwap! .exe doesn't have an installer or anything with it, so what you have to do is copy it to a folder that's tucked away somewhere where nothing will mess with it (I put it in C:\Program Files\HotSwap). Then double-click it, this will do two things:

1. It puts a second "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the system tray (next to the clock). The normal Windows Safely Remove Hardware icon has a green arrow on it. The HotSwap Safely Remove Hardware icon looks just like the Windows one, but the arrow is red.

2. HotSwap automatically configures itself to run when Windows is started.

All functionality is accessed by clicking on the HotSwap icon in the system tray. If you left-click, I believe you get a list of drives you can hot swap. If you right-click, you get a context menu of other options. See the HotSwap web site for additional documentation.

One thing that is kind of strange is that when HotSwap is run for the first time, it configures itself to start with Windows, but only for that particular user account. If you log on to the machine as a different user, HotSwap will not run, you will have to go double-click on it the first time to configure it to run automatically under that user account also.
August 27, 2008 1:36:39 AM

Yes the program is called HotSwap 4.1.1.0 http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/OS-Enhancements/Hot...

use it to hotswap your non-OS drive. Works with IDE and SATA. I use it at work all the time. Works just like the "Safely remove hardware" for usb drives. to add a drive plug it in and use "scan for hardware changes".

Make sure you read the directions on how to use it.

arkus said:
Right, I can't seem to find a clear answer on this so here's the question.

Can I use a 150MB/sec SATA drive in an eSATA enclosure and plug/unplug it without turning off my PC?

I've seen some conflicting info saying that this can be done only with SATA II drives and/or SATA II capable mobos. Essentially all I want to do is use an external drive for backups utilising a fast data transfer method (so I figure eSATA is the best option).

Here's the hardware I have and/or plan to use:

Abit IS7-G Mobo
WD Raptor WD740GD HD (doesn't have to be this drive but I'll probably try it with one of my existing Raptors)
AKASA P2 3.5" E-SATA SATA/IDE Encl.

August 27, 2008 2:12:14 AM

Hotswap simply adds itself to the registry under HKCU\... unfortunately i did not memorize the location in the registry.

That is why it only shows up for one user as "current user" registry is only for the current user logged in. Simply change it from there to HKLM - same locations. Look for the "Run" key.

That should make it run for everyone because now its located for the local machine instead of the current user.

SomeJoe7777 said:
The HotSwap! .exe doesn't have an installer or anything with it, so what you have to do is copy it to a folder that's tucked away somewhere where nothing will mess with it (I put it in C:\Program Files\HotSwap). Then double-click it, this will do two things:

1. It puts a second "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the system tray (next to the clock). The normal Windows Safely Remove Hardware icon has a green arrow on it. The HotSwap Safely Remove Hardware icon looks just like the Windows one, but the arrow is red.

2. HotSwap automatically configures itself to run when Windows is started.

All functionality is accessed by clicking on the HotSwap icon in the system tray. If you left-click, I believe you get a list of drives you can hot swap. If you right-click, you get a context menu of other options. See the HotSwap web site for additional documentation.

One thing that is kind of strange is that when HotSwap is run for the first time, it configures itself to start with Windows, but only for that particular user account. If you log on to the machine as a different user, HotSwap will not run, you will have to go double-click on it the first time to configure it to run automatically under that user account also.

August 27, 2008 11:49:42 AM

OK, I now have the HotSwap! "Safely Remove Hardware" icon on my toolbar. However, when connected via e-SATA, my Samsung 1GB drive does not appear in the list of hot swappable drives when left clicking the HotSwap!, icon even after right clicking and ticking the "scan for new hardware" option. Nor does it appear in the list when clicking the Windows"Safely Remove Hardware" icon. In fact, it is not detected at all by my system. All that happens when the drive is switched on is that the cursor freezes for around 8 seconds, as the drive spins up. but it is not accessible.

However, when connected by USB2, the drive is recognised when clicking on either icon, and it appears in Windows Explorer as another volume. Another factor indicating that there is no fault with the drive, is that it is always recognised by the system as a fixed drive, when rebooting, and connected by e-SATA. It is then fully functional as another volume. This defeats the object of e-SATA, of course.

The other drives I have tried, have been successfully detected when connected by e-SATA, and appear in the list of drives that are hot swappable under the HotSwap! icon, but only after scanning for hardware changes.

I can only guess that there maybe some problem of compatibility with the 1 terrabyte drive, but really am at a loss.
August 27, 2008 4:42:06 PM

kingpeter said:
In fact, it is not detected at all by my system. All that happens when the drive is switched on is that the cursor freezes for around 8 seconds, as the drive spins up. but it is not accessible.


If the drive is not detected at all by your system, why would you expect it to appear under the list of hot swappable devices?

This is not a hot swap problem, this is a drive problem. If the drive isn't recognized when plugged in on eSATA, you have a hardware problem with the drive, the enclosure, or the controller.
August 27, 2008 5:03:27 PM

The issue is with the e-SATA connection, but only when the Samsung 1000GB drive is connected using either of two different enclosures I am using. When using the alternative USB connection with either enclosure, the drive is detected, and listed as hot swappable. Slow, but at least it works.

Furthermore the 1000GB will work perfectly if switched on at boot up, but is not hot swappable. From this I assume the drive must be OK.

As I have said, two other drives, (one is another Samsung Spinpoint, but 500GB) in the same enclosures, are detected and work as hot swappable drives, using the same enclosures. So, I guess the enclosures and controller are OK

The only difference seems to be in the capacity of the offending drive.

November 17, 2010 9:46:01 PM

Thanks a lot for such a comprehensive guide to esata external conections... Now at last i know what to look for to see if i could conect a sata drive externally...

I have a related question about it, though... The motherboard i bought some months ago, an Asus P5K/EPU, doesn't have an external sata connector, like my previous motherboard... What do you use to connect a sata drive externally ??? I know there are some options, i don't anything too profesional, it's only for home, not for a heavy production environment...

Thanks a lot in advance.

March 8, 2011 1:01:24 AM

SomeJoe7777 said:
Sure does, doesn't it? Except in this case the person who is pretending to know something is you.

Dude, before you mouth off in here, you need to get your facts straight.

See Dispelling the Confusion: SATA II does not mean 3Gb/s. That's straight off the Serial ATA International Organization's (SATA-IO) web site. SATA is one standard. There are not two standards. There is NO "SATA II". 300 MB/sec is an optional feature of the specification, NOT a new standard.


First Generation Sata drives are called sata 1 and Second generation sata drives are called sata 2 and then there is the Third Generation sata which is sata 3. No company uses the first generation standards any more, but all drives and controllers are backwards compatible. when we talk about sata 1, 2 or 3 standards we are just refering to the generation of drive.

Yes sata is just sata just like an ipod is an ipod, but there is some difference in speed and functionality which came later on with the advancement of technology. All generations of sata drives are just sata drives, the only difference is the technology used to make them work.

also note that if you plug in sata 2 drive in a motherboard with sata 1 controller your drive will function at a lower speed or sata 1 same as plugging in USB 2 thumbdrive in USB 1 Port. Once again USB 1 refers to first generation of USB technology and USB 2 refers to second generation of USB technology and the third generation of USB is USB 3.
November 18, 2011 1:13:19 PM

SomeJoe,

First-generation SATA interfaces, now known as SATA 1.5 Gbit/s, communicate at a rate of 1.5 Gbit/s, and do not support NCQ. Taking 8b/10b encoding overhead into account, they have an actual uncoded transfer rate of 1.2 Gbit/s (150 MB/s). The theoretical burst throughput of SATA 1.5 Gbit/s is similar to that of PATA/133, but newer SATA devices offer enhancements such as NCQ, which improve performance in a multitasking environment.
During the initial period after SATA 1.5 Gbit/s finalization, adapter and drive manufacturers used a "bridge chip" to convert existing PATA designs for use with the SATA interface. Bridged drives have a SATA connector, may include either or both kinds of power connectors, and, in general, perform identically to their PATA equivalents. Most lack support for some SATA-specific features such as NCQ. Native SATA products quickly eclipsed bridged products with the introduction of the second generation of SATA drives.
As of April 2010 the fastest 10,000 rpm SATA mechanical hard disk drives could transfer data at maximum (not average) rates of up to 157 MB/s, which is beyond the capabilities of the older PATA/133 specification and also exceeds a SATA 1.5 Gbit/s link.

SATA revision 2.0 (SATA 3Gb/s)
Second generation SATA interfaces running at 3.0 Gbit/s shipped in high volume by 2010, and were prevalent in all SATA disk drives and most PC and server chipsets. With a native transfer rate of 3.0 Gbit/s, and taking 8b/10b encoding into account, the maximum uncoded transfer rate is 2.4 Gbit/s (300 MB/s). The theoretical burst throughput of SATA 3.0 Gbit/s is roughly double that of SATA revision 1.
All SATA data cables meeting the SATA spec are rated for 3.0 Gbit/s and will handle current mechanical drives without any loss of sustained and burst data transfer performance. However, high-performance flash drives are approaching the SATA 3 Gbit/s transfer rate; this is addressed with the SATA 6 Gbit/s interoperability standard.

SATA revision 3.0 (SATA 6 Gb/s)
Serial ATA International Organization presented the draft specification of SATA 6 Gbit/s physical layer in July 2008, and ratified its physical layer specification on August 18, 2008. The full 3.0 standard was released on May 27, 2009. It provides peak throughput of about 600 MB/s (Megabytes per second) including the protocol overhead (10b/8b coding with 8 bits to one byte). Solid-state drives have already saturated SATA 3 Gbit/s with 285/275 MB/s max read/write speed and 250 MB/s sustained with the Sandforce 1200 and 1500 controller. SandForce SSD controllers released in 2011 have delivered 500 MB/s read/write rates, and ten channels of fast flash can reach well over 500 MB/s with ONFI drives – a move from SATA 3 Gbit/s to SATA 6 Gbit/s allows such devices to work at their full speed. Full performance from Crucial's C300 SSD similarly require SATA 3.0. Standard hard disks cannot transfer data fast enough to require more than 3 Gbit/s; but they can nevertheless benefit from the later standard as reads from their built-in DRAM cache will be faster across the later interface. According to Seagate "Cache-efficient desktop applications such as gaming, graphics design and digital video editing can experience immediate incremental performance using a SATA 6Gb/s interface". Drives with bigger, faster caches were introduced to benefit from the faster interface.
The 3.0 specification contains the following changes:
6 Gbit/s for scalable performance
Continued compatibility with SAS, including SAS 6 Gbit/s. "A SAS domain may support attachment to and control of unmodified SATA devices connected directly into the SAS domain using the Serial ATA Tunneled Protocol (STP)" from the SATA_Revision_3_0_Gold specification.
Isochronous Native Command Queuing (NCQ) streaming command to enable isochronous quality of service data transfers for streaming digital content applications.
An NCQ Management feature that helps optimize performance by enabling host processing and management of outstanding NCQ commands.
Improved power management capabilities.
A small low insertion force (LIF) connector for more compact 1.8-inch storage devices.
A connector designed to accommodate 7 mm optical disk drives for thinner and lighter notebooks.
Alignment with the INCITS ATA8-ACS standard.
In general, the enhancements are aimed at improving quality of service for video streaming and high-priority interrupts. In addition, the standard continues to support distances up to one meter. The newer speeds may require higher power consumption for supporting chips, although improved process technologies and power management techniques may mitigate this. The later specification can use existing SATA cables and connectors, although it was reported in 2008 that some OEMs were expected to upgrade host connectors for the higher speeds. The later standard is backwards compatible with SATA 3 Gbit/s.

SATA revision 3.1
New:
mSATA, SATA for solid-state drives in mobile computing devices, a PCI Express Mini Card-like connector which is electrically SATA
Zero-power optical disk drive, idle SATA optical drive draws no power
Queued TRIM Command, improves solid-state drive performance
Required Link Power Management, reduces overall system power demand of several SATA devices
Hardware Control Features, enable host identification of device capabilities
Universal Storage Module, a new standard for cableless plug-in (slot) powered storage for consumer electronics devices
November 18, 2011 1:25:32 PM

"There is NO "SATA II". 300 MB/sec is an optional feature of the specification, NOT a new standard. "

SomeJoe,

Having posted the above info, i beg to disagree, although the semantics were not quite proper.
He should have worded it as "SATA Revision 2", etc. But his meaning was clear, these are indeed different specifications, all part of the same SATA protocol.
a c 371 G Storage
November 18, 2011 3:21:47 PM

You guys are replying to posts from 2006.
July 19, 2012 3:36:38 PM

Can we stretch this to 2050?
April 1, 2014 9:04:17 PM

Just to let you guys know , we NOW have SATA III. Woohoo
!