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Old 02-03-2008, 12:43 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 612
Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

I've got a GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard

And I'm getting these:

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
VANTEC NST-360SU-BK 3.5" eSATA + USB2.0 Aluminum External Enclosure

The DS3R doesn't actually have any "real" eSATA ports. What it has is a little bracket that you can put in a PCI slot on your case, and inside your case it has two SATA wires that run and connect to two actual SATA ports on the mobo.

Does this mean I have to have my computer off when I connect/disconnect my upcoming external drive? Or can I just connect/disconnect any time I feel like it while the PC is on?
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Old 02-03-2008, 03:42 PM   #2
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Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

Does this mean I have to have my computer off when I connect/disconnect my upcoming external drive
Yes, unless AHCI is enabled. I believe Vista loads the AHCI driver, but it must be enabled in the BIOS.
I have heard you can plug the drive in, do a scan for hardware changes, and it will enable the drive to show as removable device.

You Get What You Pay For!
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:25 PM   #3
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Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

What you have to worry about re. connecting/disconnecting eSATA is the drive power. Drive must be self-powered (and powered up first), or a SATA power connector (or other specially designed connector) must be used to connect to live power (called hot-plugging) as they connect the ground lines solidly before the voltage lines connect - if the power is OFF prior to connecting then the connector doesn't matter. All the SATA data connectors do the same - ground lines are always connected first. That is mainly why PATA drives aren't suited for hot-plugging. But some mobile drive racks equip them for it.

Then you have the problem of true eSATA and regular SATA connectors. True eSATA connectors have a straight tongue inside the male connection while regular SATA connector tongues have a hook on the end. True eSATA supporting controllers also support higher signal currents to allow for longer cabling. So, if your controller does not truly support eSATA, keep your total cable length (mobo to drive) within spec for standard SATA.

I don't have a lot of experience with eSATA, but I do have a notebook drive enclosure that can work with both normal SATA (internally in a drive adapter bracket) and eSATA externally (it's the Silverstone MS05) with an Hitachi 5k160 in it. But I have thought about and researched SATA and eSATA quite a bit. I finally got it partitioned as an internally connected drive using the Ranish partitioning software which has a confusing interface until you figure it out, but works better than the commercial partitioner I tried to use (Partition Commander 9) earlier. The latest version of the Ultimate Boot CD for DOS- http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/ -makes it easy to have a lot of tools handy - and should be in everyone's software tool kit. But your drive may have come pre-partitioned and formatted - its documentation should tell you. AFAIK, the other tips offered above should hold true as well.

Lots of stuff to consider, eh? Good luck.

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Old 02-03-2008, 08:05 PM   #4
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Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

Ooh, thanks for the replies. I didn't know it would end up that complicated heh.

As far as the power goes, I'm not sure how that Vantec enclosure supplies power. That little PCI adaptor I spoke of has a 4-pin (molex I believe it is called) power connector between the two eSATA ports, that is running to my PSU.

Also, I checked the back, the connector tongues are straight, so I guess it is true eSATA.

EDIT: Oh, oops. I just read the description to the Vantec enclosure, to see if I could find any information about how it supplies power. While reading that, it said: "The drive is hot swappable, letting you plug and unplug the unit without needing to reboot. An attractive blue LED lets you know you have power and when the hard drive is actively working."

So I guess everything's taken care of. Appreciate the things to consider though.
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Old 03-09-2008, 01:13 AM   #5
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Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

I was trying to get my NST-360SU to work with Vista 64 on a GA-P35-DS3L just now and cannot seem to do to. I believe I had AHCI enabled in the BIOS prior to loading Vista and my HDD is a Seagate 7200.10 jumpered in SATA I mode.

When connected through USB 2.0, Vista prompts me for a "USB to Serial ATA bridge" driver that apparently is not on the Vantec drivers disk. After this failed attempt with USB 2.0, I went ahead and installed the eSATA bracket and plugged it into a SATA slot on my mobo. I then plugged the enclosure into the bracket via the eSATA cables; however, Vista did not recognize the HDD.

From what I've read, the NST-360SU is supposed to be hot-swappable without rebooting Vista. Is this true in practice? What do I have to do to get this enclosure to work?
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:25 PM   #6
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Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

I actually have the same enclosure with a Seagate 7200.10 running on the same MB and Vista x64.
First i plugged the bracket into the Intel SATA ports and did not get the "Safely remove hardware"option in Vista. So I shutdown my computer and plugged the bracket into the Gigabyte SATA ports and installed the RAID driver. Once I did that I got the "Safely remove hardware" option in the system tray.

I'm not sure if that's exactly what you're looking for, but hope that helps.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:25 PM   #7
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Default Can I just "plug n play" an eSATA drive?

i've got a 750 GB drive in a vantec enclosure. i'm using the esata connected to a gigabyte P65 DS3 rev 3.3 using the adapter that comes and plugs into a sata port on the MB and the esata port is mounted to a pci slot on the case. I don't have any trouble turning it on. If it doesn't see it a restart takes care of it.
It is pretty fast although I don't have any benchmarks from my use.
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