>>bl" <email@example.com> wrote in message
>>I need to get a new external HDD for my laptop and I'm thinking of getting
>>an eSATA drive. My question is this: Can any HDD be turned into an eSATA
>> >>drive by housing it an enclosure which has an eSATA port or is there
>>something special about SATA drives? I'm not sure whether I should buy an
>>already enclosed SATA or buy the HDD and the enclosure separately
>> >>cheaper option). Thanks for your help.
"Jeff Gaines" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> A good external enclosure is the ANTEC MX-1 EC, it's on Amazon UK at:
> It does USB2 and eSATA and has a built in fan for cooling, you need to add
> your own HD. You also need an eSATA connection on your laptop so make sure
> you do (I would think they are rare on laptops).
> Whether or not eSATA will work depends on how your computer is set up. If
> you want hot plugging you need to have your SATA ports set up in the BIOS
> as AHCI. If they are set up as ATA or Normal or Off (depending on the
> terminology used in your BIOS) then you won't get hot plugging, although
> turning the PC off, plugging the eSATA drive in and then turning the PC on
> again should allow you to see the drive.
> Changing to AHCI on an already installed system is not trivial, although
> it can be done. If you want to do it then post again and people will point
> you to the various guides that exist. Don't just change your BIOS settings
> whatever you do or you may not be able to boot your PC!
> PS - You should set Windows mail to post in plain text to newsgroups.
> Jeff Gaines
> Damerham Hampshire UK
First of all, we're assuming that your laptop supports SATA capability,
right? The laptop presently contains a SATA HDD, does it not? Because if it
doesn't go no further with this...
Anyway, assuming that your system does support SATA capability...
I'm not sure where Jeff is getting his information re achieving
"hot-plugging" ("hot-swapping") capability for SATA HDDs. It is true that
this capability must be supported by the motherboard (together with the HDD
itself) but you would be hard-pressed to find any motherboard or HDD
produced during the past few years having SATA-II capability that does not
support "hot-plugging"/"hot-swapping". It is *not* necessary to set your
BIOS to AHCI mode as it involves SATA HDDs to achieve this capability. As a
matter of fact it could be counter-productive to do so in many instances.
Assuming we're not dealing with a RAID configuration, in general the BIOS
"default" setting for detecting a SATA HDD in the system will work just
fine, e.g., the IDE setting or some similar label (if differs from
motherboard to motherboard). Assuming your system does contain a SATA HDD
and it's functioning just fine you should be OK with the present BIOS
Understand that an eSATA port basically provides a more secure connection
than a "normal" SATA port. The latter provides "hot-plugging"/"hot-swapping"
capability just as well as an eSATA port as long as the system supports that
capability as described above. Usually a better-shielded cable is used with
an eSATA connection since the SATA HDD will be used as an external device
and the heavier shielding provides add'l security re data transfer. Frankly,
we've never run into any problems re data corruption/data loss even using
non-shielded SATA data cables.
No doubt the Antec external enclosure Jeff recommends will do the job just
fine. It is well, as he suggests, to have an enclosure that provides USB
capability as well. Virtually every SATA enclosure coming on the market has
both types of connectivity. And virtually all of them are equipped with an
eSATA port rather than the "normal" port so that's no longer even a
All things considered, it's probably best to purchase the drive & the
enclosure separately. While I'm not sure there's any great savings any more
to do this (at least here in the U.S. where the commercial SATA external
enclosures w/drive have fallen dramatically in price), you can select the
precise SATA HDD you want and should the need arise, find it reasonably easy
to uninstall it from the enclosure and install it in your laptop. Take a
look at newegg for their various offerings. You would probably want one that
accommodates 2 1/2" drives.
There's also another way to go for you to consider. Coincidentally I just
posted the following message in another newsgroup that bears on your
Another consideration would be to purchase an ExpressCard with an eSATA port
so that you could connect a SATA external HDD to that device. See, for
This assumes, of course, that your notebook is equipped with an ExpressCard
slot. If it has the older CardBus (PCMCIA) slot then you would need the
latter type of device. They come with both a "normal" SATA port as well as
an eSATA port. Do a Google search on "Cardbus with SATA port" for various
The great advantage of the SATA interface over the USB interface is data
transfer speed. Considerably superior to USB. Also, (at least in theory)
with the ExpressCard device, the external SATA HDD connected to that device
is bootable assuming the drive contains a bootable OS obtained via a
disk-cloning program such as the Acronis or Casper programs. We're still
experimenting with that aspect. But we have never been able to achieve
"bootability" with the CardBus device.