View Full Version : eSATA hot-swap?

bk T
18-12-2011, 12:19 PM
I've a external HDD with a eSATA connection and my new MB has got a eSATA port at the rear panel. Can I plug in (with eSATA cable) this external HDD while my PC is ON? Couldn't find any absolute clear answer with google.

Could some experts here share his/her views on the above?


Speedy Gonzales
18-12-2011, 12:34 PM
I think you need drivers as well to support hot swap. They should be on the mobo site, if the mobo has e-sata onboard. Ive got e-sata on the front of this case (the mobo doesnt have esata at the back. I'm using one of the sata ports). But, I cant use it, I dont have an external cable (the front esata is connected to a port. and connected to power / with a molex adapter).

18-12-2011, 01:08 PM
I've a external HDD with a eSATA connection and my new MB has got a eSATA port at the rear panel. Can I plug in (with eSATA cable) this external HDD while my PC is ON?Yes - all SATA ports support hotplugging.

As Speedy says though, if you want this to be properly supported by the OS, you'll need to ensure that the correct SATA drivers are installed (note that this doesn't mean you need special drivers for eSATA - you don't - it just means that your OS needs to be using a SATA driver to access the disk controller, rather than something like an IDE emulation layer). The port also needs to be in AHCI (native) SATA mode; it can't be set to use IDE emulation etc.

18-12-2011, 01:18 PM
That is something I was wondering too.
I have a system here with front esata
Have used it to connect an external drive but had to reboot to get the system to connect to it.

18-12-2011, 04:04 PM
IF the eSATA ports are on a seperate controller to your system drive you can safely go into the BIOS and enable AHCI for just those and windows should redect the controller and install new drivers and that's it, hot swap should work. This is the case on some boards, mine has 6 internal SATA ports using the motherboard chipset controller and a seperate Jmicron controller with 2 eSATA ports.

If however the motherboard only has one AHCI setting for all ports and you are in IDE mode changing it will prevent your PC from booting, in this case google "enabling AHCI on an existing windows installation" or something like that, there are several guides out there. It requires a registry tweak to convince yyour system to install the AHCI drivers before changing the BIOS.

Plugging a hard drive into the eSATA controller while windows is running won't hurt anything and if it works sweet. If it doesn't and you have to reboot with the drive connected for windows to recognise it then you are in IDE mode.

IMO this is a major failing of eSATA and prevented it becoming more common. It needed to just work without pissing about with the BIOS in order for it to be adopted by mainstream users. Now we have USB3.0 I wouldn't bother with eSATA any more.

18-12-2011, 06:57 PM
Supplementary question: I have RAID enabled (from scratch, to allow Intel Rapid Storage) - does that allow hot swapping of SATA-connected drives (not eSATA)?

(Annoyingly, my new Z68 doesn't have eSATA ports. I have 2 eSATA docks connected to SATA brackets.)

19-12-2011, 05:16 AM
I believe the RAID setting should work, I understand it does everything AHCI does as well as enablig RAID arrays.

Neil McC
19-12-2011, 07:48 AM
I've been using this program for a while for my plugin SATA drives. Not sure if it works with eSATA. Although he states it works for SATA/eSATA.
After plugging in the carriage drive I go to "scan for hardware changes " and it finds the drive. Likewise I can shut it down to remove it.


Speedy Gonzales
19-12-2011, 08:04 AM
The Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers, is what you need I think. But, I'm pretty sure you have to install the chipset drivers first (which should be installed, after you install the OS). Thats the onlly way, I got the IRST control panel to work properly. The attachment is what this program looks like, after you install it / reboot

19-12-2011, 09:12 AM
Well I've just tried it (hotswapping) and it sort of works. I say 'sort of' because one disc worked, the other didn't. Both disks worked when I had Disc Management going before plugging in the new drive and doing the rescan.

Here's what I did. With Win7 running I put an old HDD in the dock and switched it on. Nothing showed up so I opened Disc Management. It hung on 'loading configuration data' and I couldn't rescan. I shut the computer down but it hung there too and I had to crash it. It also hung on re-start, at the RAID config screen. A crash out of that and a restart worked perfectly.

After my restart I repeated the exercise with the same disc but with Disc Management already going. The rescan worked. I then turned the disc off and did a 'refresh' (I probably should have done a rescan) in Disc Management. It hung again.

I then tried a different disc in a different dock and found I could turn it on and off without problems, but it did need 'rescan'. I had Disc Management running before turning the dock on. I used Resource Monitor to show me no instances of the disc before turning it off.

I think I can live with that. So thanks for the encouragement Dugimodo

Speedy - I have that screen regarding Intel's Rapid Storage Technology so I think it is going OK. With the crashes listed above I was expecting some serious RAID problems, since RAID is on the system drive, but not a squeak. It even loaded Windows in its normal 20 sec

Neil McC - thanks, I've bookmarked that app - I might end up with that

19-12-2011, 11:24 AM
I think I will play it safe & reboot when I connect one.

bk T
19-12-2011, 11:49 AM
Just plugged in mine with Win7 running and was detected and worked fine, without having to reboot.

I plugged it in first and flipped the switch to turn it ON later. Does it make any difference? Consider this as 'hot' swap?

19-12-2011, 12:04 PM
I think 'hot swap' these days means 'without rebooting the PC'.

It's nothing to do with 'volts', purely logic. Whether it's properly detected. Rebooting guarantees detection

But that's just my opinion