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What is the advantage of having "hot swappable hard drives"

Please excuse this newbie question, but what is the advantage to having hot swappable hard drives. I am thinking of building a computer and some cases have one or more drives that are "hot swappable."

Second question, can SSD hard drives also be hot swappable?

Third question, do SSD drives fail catastrophically like disk hard drives? Is it necessary for the same backup protection for SSD drives as disk hard drives?

Thanks in advance for explaining these issues to a new computer builder. I have read several forums on these issues but it is still not clear to me.
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More about what advantage swappable hard drives
  1. hot swappable means you can remove the drive without shutting down the computer. It requires special trays for that. Usually done on 3.5in HDDs. I don't think you can do with SSD, but I am not sure. Also don't think there is a special trays for SSDs anyway.

    SSD has no moving parts so the chances of drive failure compared to regular HDD is small. The only thing that can go wrong is the electronic components on the PCB board. In any case getting a habit of doing backup us a good thing.
  2. Thanks for the answer. I understand what they are but I don't know what they are used for. What is the practical use that hot swappable bays are used for? Why does a person need to swap out a hard drive or SSD while the computer is running? What is the advantage of having this feature? What do you advanced computer users use hot swappable drives for?
  3. Best answer
    flong, welcome to the Forum!

    "Hot swappable" drives are used primarily in industry. For example, a business may have a dedicated HDD for customers in the Tampa Bay area. This HDD is duplicated and the duplicate is kept ready and available in case the HDD in use fails. In case of HDD failure, the spare HDD containing identical information is "hot swapped" and there is negligible down-time on the computer system. Immediately, a new spare HDD is created and kept ready for future use.

    Similarly, this computer system may have other HDDs for other geographic areas or based on any other aspect that may be relevant to the business. All ready to be hot swapped.

    The average home computer user does not need this hot swap feature and the associated costs (identical disks), and the accompanying headaches.

    The typical life of an SSD is about 5 years. This is because data is constantly being written and deleted from cells in the SSD. Eventually some of these cells will fail. SSD technology includes "wear-leveling controllers" which even out the number of times each cell is used, thus spreading out the wear among all the cells. The same cells are not used over and over.

    Do not defrag an SSD. This is detrimental to the SSD (unlike 3.5" HDDs) - It doesn't matter where files are located on the SSD. There are no moving parts to slow things down. Reading files from multiple locations takes no extra time.
  4. Thanks, that answers my question. I did not understand why I would need to hot-swap an HD.

    If SSDs last only five years even with the TRIM function, is the data lost when they fail? I plan to use a 1 TB HD in raid 1 for my data to provide a backup. Do SSDs give warning of failure - how do they fail?
  5. SSDs are built around flash memory. Flash memory is made up of billions of cells. Writing information changes the contents of the cell. Unfortunately, each cell can only be changed so many times (similar to a re-writable DVD). After that, it won't change anymore. Eventually, your SSD loses all its storage space.

    SSDs from reputable manufacturers should last at least 5 years; thanks to wear-leveling controllers.

    These controllers monitor how often each cell is used. They make sure data is spread evenly throughout the drive. This keeps cells from being worn out too quickly.

    SSD manufacturers also put in more cells than what is listed in the specs - this compensates for a certain amount of cell failure while keeping the SSD still within specs.

    The mode of failure will be in the form of reduced capacity as time goes by. The speed will be unaffected. When the capacity degrades to a limit that you will not tolerate (70% ?) it is time to replace the SSD. This mode of failure will not result in any loss of data.

    For your information, I too have my data stored on RAID1 (two 1TB HDDs totaling 1TB in RAID1). The HDDs are Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 1TB. In daily use for just over 1 year.
  6. Thanks, those are great answers and it helps my understanding. I had the same exact HDs in Raid 1 but my computer was stolen. the Seagate drives worked well but were a little noisy. I may try the Samsung F3 spinpoint - they are supposed to be the best HD for the buck right now but I'm sure things are changing.
  7. This is also a great drive - Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
  8. Hey, another question: do gamers and computer professionals use swappable drives to transfer large amounts of data from one computer to another like a USB drive? Can swappable drives be used in that manner.

    I have an old pentium computer with a hard drive and I was wondering if I could plug in the hard drive into the hot swappable drive to get some of the files off of it? I have purchased the Cooler Master HAF 942 which has two hot swappable drives.
  9. One more question: I have never used a hot swappable drive before and the Cooler Master instruction have no information about how to use the two that came with my case. Can one of the experts on this site explain to me hot swappable drives 101 - explain the basics to me?

    I really don't understand how the connection works for swappable drives in my case. Are there some things to be careful of that I need to know about?

    Thanks for your help in advance.
  10. Here is some info on the subject:

    To move from computer to computer, both must be equipped with the right controllers and hardware.

    To transfer large amounts of data, you can use an eSATA External drive and move that from computer to computer.

    Why add levels of complexity by utilizing hot swapping when most people don't need it?

    I watched the video on the HAF 942 case - the hot-swap front bays are great. However, every time the drives are swapped out, ant-static wrist bands should be worn. The hot-swap feature is convenient for those who really need it.
  11. Thanks - I didn't buy the HAF 942 for this feature, however since I have it I am trying to educate myself about it. It seems to be a hot feature among gamers and computer experts and there must be a reason. For me, I want to arrange my HDs in Raid 1. Having two HDs in hot-swappable bays may be an advantage. If one goes bad it could be replaced more conveniently than taking the case apart. I guess that's the value, it is just convenient to slide a bay out, screw in a new one and slide it back in. That may be the main attraction. I don't think that I would use it to transfer data.

    Thanks for the Wikipedia link, it was very informative. I have done some research on this before but I did not find this link.
  12. Yes, RAID1 is a great way to go. And since you already have the HAF 942, go ahead and use the hot-swap feature. Just remember to use anti-static protection and to handle the drives by the edges.

    You may also use the drive in the hot-swap bay as a back-up drive, thereby avoiding the cost of an external enclosure for the back-up drive.

    Enjoy the HAF 942!
  13. Best answer selected by flong.
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