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How to store data on my 3 HDDs: USB or SATA?

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October 21, 2011 8:56:01 AM

I have three 7200rpm HDDs that are used for data storage and currently connected via SATA II, USB 2.0 and eSATA, respectively. Once in very rare blue moon, I may reorganize them and transfer data from and to each other. Other than that, I'm content with speed I'm getting from them and there's no urgent need to upgrade to SATA II or SATA III for this particular application.

I did consider getting a PCI SATA II card but those have their own set of compatibility/reliability issues.

Now, I'm wondering if USB 2.0 is good enough for my 3 HDD storage needs as is or should I ditch the USB 2.0 connection and upgrade my mobo, which has 2 SATA II ports, to a new mobo with more SATA II/III ports?
a c 377 G Storage
October 21, 2011 12:13:02 PM

Do you have any internal sata ports available and don't plan on using? If so, you can just buy an ESata bracket that fits in an empty slot and connects to the internal sata ports. Voila! Instant ESata.

Here's one, and they sell them with two ports also.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a c 353 G Storage
October 21, 2011 1:00:36 PM

Can only provide differences, choice is yours.

esata vs USB 3 - For HDDs esata is slightly faster as esata use a native inerface.
SataII vs SATA III - For HDDs very little difference. Very little diff for a good Sata II HDD on a sata vs a SATA III HDD on SATA III - II for Real life usage. Sata III HDDs on SATA III interface only provides Higher Burst speed. This is more a marketing tool.

USB2 vs USB 3 Yes, higher performance for HDDs. Note for Thumbdrives, a High end USB2 drive may perform better than a Low end USB 3 thumb drive

You will not see much improvement in HDD performance by moving to a new MB over current configuration.

Two Points that tend to favor a New MB.
(1) If you plan on getting an SSD, Yes Sata III is an advantage.
(2) Overall system performance will Improve as you would undoughtly get a Newer, faster CPU to go with that shiney new MB.
(3) However, I would wait for the New IB release, It may drive the price of SB down. IB I think, if going with an unlocked CPU, could be several hundred $$$s more than a SB.
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a c 300 G Storage
October 21, 2011 1:04:31 PM

As with most interesting questions, the answer is "it depends."

If you are satisfied with the transfer speeds to the drive that's attached via USB, then your needs are met and there is no reason to change. If you want more speed from this drive, then you do need more SATA ports.

I cheat: I have two bays in my machine that take bare SATA drives. So I just keep ten of them in a static-proof case (and the other four on my desk) and slot them in as needed. Instant SATA speeds.

Hawkeye22, I disagree with you. Yes, even my Asus motherboard (and I have high respect for Asus) came with an SATA to eSATA dongle. But the voltage specs for SATA and eSATA are different. They overlap, so this lashup will usually work, but it will fail sometimes. True eSATA external cases or docking stations have a buffer that translates the signals from SATA on the drive side to eSATA on the cable side. It's a risk that most people are willing to take, and I am not.

EDIT: perhaps purchase one bigger SATA drive that will hold what all of these drives do?
I always favor getting a more recent motherboard as a solution; it gives me an excuse to do another build.
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a c 377 G Storage
October 21, 2011 3:28:12 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Hawkeye22, I disagree with you. Yes, even my Asus motherboard (and I have high respect for Asus) came with an SATA to eSATA dongle. But the voltage specs for SATA and eSATA are different. They overlap, so this lashup will usually work, but it will fail sometimes. True eSATA external cases or docking stations have a buffer that translates the signals from SATA on the drive side to eSATA on the cable side. It's a risk that most people are willing to take, and I am not.


I understand the differences...signaling, RFI/EMI shielding, cable lengths, and all, but I've found as long as you keep the cable fairly short (which most are) there doesn't seem to be a problem. Of course, I'd never do this on a work machine, but for home use it's not typically a problem.

I do appreciate the info on the buffering. I was not aware of this.
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