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Properly ejecting an external SATA hard drive

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October 13, 2011 12:36:23 AM

My computer has an eSATA port, and I've just recently gotten myself a pretty nice external hard drive setup to work with it. I had to do some research because it's not an eSATAp, the kind that allows you to pop in small passport drives that don't need to be plugged into the wall. This one needs to be plugged into the wall. On the plus side I got a nice case that can use 3.5 inch SATA drives because of that, and it supports up to 3 TB (I just got 2 TB though). I figure it's better than those little 2.5 inch ones because I should (in theory) be able to switch it with other internal hard drives in my actual computer.

So yeah. It comes with a power cord and even a power switch. I plug everything in and then I flick it on and my comptuer sees it. Strange thing is... when I leave it plugged in and I start doing other stuff (iTunes and Chrome for example) spontaneous lags starts to happen on my computer. I thought it might be because I got a drive that spins to fast (7200 RPM) but the clerks at the store doesn't think that's likely. He told me it was just a "Quirk of Windows", and that I should just "unplug it when not using it". But I was wondering, can I just flick it off? I know that with most USB peripherals I usually have to do a proper eject. But I don't know about SATA plugs, do I have to eject it every time, and can I?

Also, I wasn't used to keeping my external hard drives plugged into the wall socket and I kinda... let it slip off the side of my desk. It fell about 2 and a half feet high (75 centimeters) onto a pile of wires. I'm quite sure my heart skipped a beat when it fell, but it still runs. In fact (and here's the odd part), since it had it's little crash, it doesn't cause my computer to lag anymore... I have it transfering 60 GB of music from my internal drive out to the external right now and I'm typing this up in Chrome, and... no lag or skips. Even so, I would like to know how to properly eject it if I need to for some reason.

a c 289 G Storage
October 13, 2011 2:03:02 PM

I didn't see what OS you are running. This is easiest in Win7.

In theory, the drive should show up in the "Safely Remove Hardware" list the same way that USB drives do. It may show as a SCSI device for some reason; I just ignore that. If it does show up there, then do that before powering down or disconnecting the cable - it doesn't matter which of those you do first.

If the drive does not show up on that list, the problem is that you may have cached writes that never get to the drive because the drive is removed with the writes still waiting to be flushed. There are multiple approaches.
1) The gross one. Shut down the machine, remove the drive, boot the machine.
2) Set the advanced properties of the drive (Properties - Hardware - Properties - Policies) and disable "Enable write cacheing on the disk." Then the disk can be removed at any time.
3) Use Windows Drive Manager to mark the disk as removable. I've never done this, so I can't give you a hand.

Good luck. 18
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October 13, 2011 4:15:22 PM

Yes, I'm on Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.

And I'm sorry to say the lag issue isn't entirely solved. It had been working so well last night transferring all those files that I left it plugged in and turned on all night. I put my computer to sleep and did the same. Up till now every time I wanted to remove him I've been using suggestion number 1. Shut down everything, unplug or switch off, then turn the computer back on.

So I wake up this morning, and I realized the little Zalman (that's the drive's name) had been on all night, he was warm to the touch. Not dangerously warm, but notably warm. I wake the computer up and decide to do a simple test, opening My Computer and opening the Zalman drive. While I did that I started browsing on Chrome and within ten seconds I hit some serious lag. It was like if the hard drive was trying to spin up and was taking all of my computer's power to do it. Finally I tried to close everything, but My Computer stopped responding. I had to do a hard reboot by holding down the Desktop's power button.

During the reboot, I saw that Windows had been trying to install updates, I don't if that could have exasperated the problem.

EDIT:
So I just turned the Zalman back on, and it is not listed under the "Safely Remove Hardware" list, I am going to try some of your other suggestions.

EDIT2:
I'm having trouble locating the "Policies" in the hard drive's properties. Also, there are a lot of drives listed (I own more than one Western Digital), and I'm not sure how to identify the one I'm currently using from all the others. Here's a screen-grab.
http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc42/Edward_Wolf/Ref...

EDIT3:
AHA! Found it, it was in the "Safely Remove List", then under "Open devices and printers", and finally under "Device Manager".
http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc42/Edward_Wolf/Ref...
So... turning this off won't have any adverse side-effects will it? And it means I can shut her down when not in obvious use and it won't cause any data corruption?
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