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Hot swapping a serial ATA drive

I am trying to set up an XP system as a backup computer.  It has three serial ATA drives: one for the OS, and two in Addonics combo hard drive cases (http://www.addonics.com/products/combo_hdd/aechdsa35.asp).  I also have an Asus P5GD1 motherboard (http://usa.asus.com/products/mb/socket775/p5gd1/overview.htm), and an Intel P4 processor with 915P Express architecture that supports the Matrix Storage technology (http://support.intel.com/support/chipsets/imst/sb/CS-012308.htm).

As far as I know, everything that I have supports hot swapping.  The Addonics drive case, the motherboard, the processor.  Nothing is giving me a straight answer to my question though: Can I pull my drive out when the system is running without damaging it?  Do I have to turn the drive off first?  Do I have to unmount the drive first?

-There doesn't seem to be a setting in the BIOS, which the Intel page is telling me
-There isn't a little icon for "removable hardware" in the system tray that one normally gets for USB/Firewire enclosures, etc for me to unmount a drive
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impact-dental
Asked:
impact-dental
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1 Solution
 
IanThCommented:
I think you will need something like this

http://www.granitedigital.com/catalog/pg51_hot-swapinternalsystem.htm

It would be unwise to unplug a sata drive when its powered up as data corruption may occur
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impact-dentalAuthor Commented:
If you look at the manual for those drive kits, they say that you require a host adapter that supports the hot swap capabilities of SATA, which is just like the Addonics drive kits that I have.  I'm starting to think I may need to buy a special controller just to have hot swapping, that my motherboard does not support this by itself.  Would I be wrong in saying this?
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DoTheDEW335Commented:
According to your device:
* Drive access signal is from Serial ATA controller. The primary drive (usually the drive C) cannot be removed from the system.

(1) Serial ATA hot swap feature works only with controllers basing on Silicon Image chip set from our inhouse testing. Other controllers that are not Silicon Image based may not support hot swap. You may consider adding one of the Addonics Serial ATA host controllers to your systems to ensure the hot swap capability. New controllers from Intel and other suppliers may finally correct the problem. Please verify with your controller manufacturer if you need to have hot swap feature in your application. Hot swap featurs is supported in Windows 2000 and XP only. On other OS, drive can be removed without crashing system. But replacing with a different drive can result in crashing the OS.

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DoTheDEW335Commented:
Ops hit enter on accident. According to your MB it doesn't say anything about having the Silicon Image chipset , which is what Addonics states will definatly work and "Other controllers that are not Silicon Image based may not support hot swap" So if you try it with another controller and it doesn't work or it messed up your hardware I'm sure they will go back and say that they only recommend Silicon Image chipsets. Your best bet is to get one of their controllers that they recommend using.
http://www.addonics.com/interface_solutions/sata.asp#controller

This way you know u definatly have what will work and you can take out any drive (Except the one that has your Bootable OS) out while your system is powered on (Hot-Swapping)

If I lost you anywhere let me know i'll go back and try to explain it better..

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impact-dentalAuthor Commented:
I understand that Addonics recommends a Silicon Image controller...what I'm asking now is whether I actually need any controller at all or not, or whether I can hot swap using my current components.  Because Addonics does mention the fact that an Intel controller may work, and the Intel processor specs I have do mention the fact that it supports hot-swapability.  
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DoTheDEW335Commented:
>>what I'm asking now is whether I actually need any controller at all or not, or whether I can hot swap using my current components<<

You definatly should not need it, Your hardware listed  (Asus board and Addonics case) supports hot swapping. So bascially what I meant to say was yes it should work,  but if it doesn't then you defiantly will need the recommended controllers. You also asked:

>>Nothing is giving me a straight answer to my question though: Can I pull my drive out when the system is running without damaging it?  Do I have to turn the drive off first?  Do I have to unmount the drive first?<<

Wish I think I answered correctly above if not please let me know.
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DoTheDEW335Commented:
ops Wish was suppose to be Which. lol.
Also the links say that the hardware that you have BOTH support hot swapping. Which means your find to use what you have listed.
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chuckroxCommented:
What kind of power supply are you using? I remember reading somewhere that you must use the SATA power connectors for hot swap, because the molex power connectors do not support hot swap. Just something to be wary of.
Cheers!
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impact-dentalAuthor Commented:
Just called Asus and they seemed to have the answer (since it's their controller on the motherboard that's being used).  They told me that there's nothing in their documentation that says that hot-swapping is NOT supported, so it's safe to assume that it IS supported.  Thanks for your answer DoTheDEW335, I just wanted to make absolutely sure, because pulling a drive out of a running system is more of a risk I wanted to take.
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DoTheDEW335Commented:
I completely understand. No one ever wants to ruin hardware. I'm glad that Asus was able to re-assure you. Thanks for the accepted answer.
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