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Bye Bye Tape, Hello 5.3 TB eSATA

The Disk/Disk Cartridge Package

The disk cartridge package includes seven 750 GB hard disk drives each of which is enclosed in a High-Rely easy-remove disk cartridge.

For the test, I was sent seven 3.5 inch Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750 GB disk drives. The pre-formatted drives came enclosed in High-Rely drive cartridges designed to slide into the chassis' drive slots. The cartridges are made of metal and provide a sturdy enclosure for the drives. The Highly Reliable website even has video footage of an encased hard drive still booting to Windows after being dropped from the top of a roof onto an asphalt floor.

High-Rely eSATA drive cartridges use Seagate Barracuda drives available in nine different capacities.

The face plate on the disk cartridge is plastic with an LCD display built into it. Each of the eSATA drive enclosures has a blue backlit display that provides a temperature reading for the drive as well as other useful details. Built within the plastic face is also a small alarm that will go off if a pre-set temperature threshold is surpassed. The drives cartridges are held in place inside the chassis by a levered locking mechanism that lets you slide the drive enclosure into the open slot and lock the drive in by lifting the face plates' large black/blue handles. Once the larger handles are locked in place, smaller silver handles then lock in, covering the metal locks designed to prevent accidental removal of drive media.

The ESATA Interface Card

The PCI-Express eSATA interface card package includes the card and a driver/software CD.

Lastly, I received a High-Rely PCI-Express eSATA interface card. The card comes with two eSATA ports and is multi-drive compatible with SATA Native Command Queuing (NCQ) support. The card uses the Silicone Image Sil 3132 SATALink Controller driver compatible with Windows 2000, XP and 2003. Support from Highly Reliable is not available for Linux, Netware and OSX and the company's website FAQ tells customers that they should refer to the operating system vendor regarding support and compatibility issues. If you really need to, you can find OSX and Linux drivers at the Silicon Image website (

You can get a High-Rely eSATA card in cardbus, PCI, PCI-X and PCI architectures. This card is for the PCI-Express bus.

Initially, along with the eSATA card drivers, I received the High Rely Drive Management Software. It's the piece that keeps your drives in order and prevents Windows from jumbling your drive letters around when you need to remove or replace your disk drives. At first I was going to use the High Rely Drive Management (HDRM) v1.2 application, but I opted to use a pre-release copy of HDRM v2. Unlike version 1.2, the newer version runs as a Windows service allowing the HDRM app to run in the background and be managed by the Windows Service Control Manager.

Unlike version 1.2, version 2 of the High Rely Drive Manager will run as a Windows Service.

In contrast, HRDM v1.2 ran as a minimized foreground application that could be restarted at Windows startup or manually by digging through the program groups via the Windows "Start" button. As of April 15, 2007 HRDM v2.0 was not available for download from the Highly Reliable website.