MacInTouch Reader Reports

Hard Drives: SATA and eSATA

Jan. 2, 2009
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Jan. 5, 2009
Jan. 6, 2009
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Jan. 21, 2009
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Jul. 21, 2010
Jun. 9, 2012
Jan. 2, 2009

item.84459

Allen Huffman

Since high capacity hard drives (1TB+) are now coming out only as SATA drives, it looks like we need a solution to use these as external hard drives on iMacs, etc. The problem is, most enclosures made are USB to SATA only, or very expensive if they support Firewire. (I have yet even found a source for a quad-bay enclosure for SATA drives that supports Firewire, though tons of USB ones exist.)

USB to SATA would work, but the slight increase in CPU usage, and reduced transfer speed when using it for video editing (like HD via Final Cut Express) makes it a step back in performance.

There are tons of SATA/IDE to USB adapters available, starting around $15, but so far I've only found one device claiming to turn Firewire to SATA/IDE:

This box, sold by Cool Drives, is currently $30 and turns one USB or one FIrewire to SATA:

http://cooldrives.stores.yahoo.net/sata-to-firewire-usb-mini-converter.html

But, they currently say it only goes to 500GB drives (they will be testing it to see if this is wrong).

They have another device, for $60, that is the same but provides a Firewire pass-thru connector, and it claims to go to 1000GB (1TB):

http://cooldrives.stores.yahoo.net/satofimiad2x.html

Surely I'm not the only one wanting to hook a modern 1.5TB drive to a Mac via Firewire. Has anyone seen ANY other converters like this?

My idea is to try one of these with one of the many inexpensive multi-drive SATA enclosures. Those things are cheap -- as low as $100 for a 4-bay non-RAID SATA case with one SATA port on the back. It seems a case like that, and one of these adapters, would be a cheaper way to hook multiple drives to Firewire than trying to find a Firewire to SATA case.

Anyone done it?

[While FireWire enclosures cost more than USB enclosures, they're really not very expensive, and the extra expense is well justified in performance. OWC, for example, has a wide range of FireWire enclosures at various prices. (Just make sure to confirm SATA support, as they offer both PATA and SATA versions, which can sometimes be confusing.) Note also that RAID striping exceeds the performance of FireWire 400 and even FireWire 800, so there's no point in buying a multi-drive USB or FireWire enclosure for striping - although a dual-drive enclosure for mirroring makes sense with FireWire. -MacInTouch]

Jan. 3, 2009

item.84523

Joe F

Re: Allen's need for a FW enclosure that supports SATA drives. OWC, NewerTech, and MacAlly all make hard drive enclosures that use SATA drives (some 3.5" and some 2.5") and connect via FW400 and/or FW800. I'm sure there are other companies that make similar enclosures, but those are the ones I found in less than 3 minutes of searching.

item.84533

Jonathan Duke

I'd like to know if anyone has found a SATA to FireWire/USB enclosure for 3 1/2" drives that has a fan for cooling (both drive and associate circuitry) and costs less than $100.

I've found dual-drive enclosures, like the ICY DOCK MB662UEAB-2S, but that's currently over $185 at the least expensive vendor.

I can assemble a single-drive PATA setup for less than $50 for enclosure and associated mounting hardware. I understand that the production volumes on PATA gear gets the price down, but with the shrinking PATA drive capacities, SATA is the way of the future, but why hasn't anyone stepped up to take advantage of the opportunity.

NB: While the NewerTech "pizza box" enclosure has a fan and costs less than $100, I'm not convinced that the fan really has enough cooling for keeping everything happy and cool in the long-term.

Jan. 5, 2009

item.84561

Christian Liljestrand

Jonathan Duke wrote:

"I'd like to know if anyone has found a SATA to FireWire/USB enclosure for 3 1/2" drives that has a fan for cooling (both drive and associate circuitry) and costs less than $100."

Here are two (The first has an internal power supply.):

(1) http://www.cooldrives.com/fi800andusb21.html

(2) http://www.cooldrives.com/fiesusbhdden.html

No affiliation with the vendor other than having been waffling for a while about whether to buy number (1). I'm neither a satisfied nor an unsatisfied customer yet, specifically because of the divergence of opinion around the Web regarding this vendor.

item.84578

Emmett Gray

I replaced a failed IDE/PATA drive with an SATA drive in an external FW 400/USB 2.0 case using this:
  http://www.satacables.com/html/sata_to_ide_adapter.html
for $18 plus $6 shipping. It handles a 750GB SATA drive just fine, and I've been using it for several months without issue. I like external cases with fans and built-in power supplies, and I couldn't find any reasonably-priced SATA to FW cases like that.

item.84584

Jon Voskuil

In response to Allen Huffman's pointers to Cooldrives products, I would strongly caution readers against this company.

I've had a couple of bad experiences with them. The most recent involved my asking them to honor the sale price featured on their home page for an external drive case, when the product page showed a higher price. Their first response was to refuse and to change the price on the home page within minutes of receiving my email. When I emailed again and sent a screen shot of the page as it was when I first wrote, they responded with an email that I quote here in its entirety: "actually we select our customers so we decide who we do business with, sorry this is not China."

This earned them a permanent place on my vendor blacklist, and I would encourage others to avoid them as well.

item.84661

Rob Wyatt

Two comments. First, I agree, stay away from Cooldrives! I can't count the number of pre-sales inquiries to which they never responded. I also purchased an emergency SATA/IDE-to-USB adapter from them. It worked for about five minutes, then died. It's always a bad sign when companies don't respond to customers who *want* to buy products. D'uh. Isn't that why they're in business?

On the SATA/IDE-to-USB adapter front, I also wanted to comment on my very positive experience using Apricorn's Universal HDD adapter.

Worked like a charm with three different drive types and sizes, two from a Mac (one Intel, one PPC) and one from a Vista box. I thought it might be of interest to other MacInTouch readers.

item.84668

MacInTouch Reader

I looked at satacables.com and the product appears pretty useful for those with external firewire or usb cases that take only IDE drives. The problem is that there is no information available about the company. Who are they? Where are they? How can they be contacted?

I would be hesitant to provide credit card information to a company about which I can find no information.

Jan. 6, 2009

item.84720

Lee Kilpatrick

I ordered the converter from

http://www.satacables.com/html/sata_to_ide_adapter.html

but the one they sent me was actually the one pictured on the bottom of this page:

http://www.cooldrives.com/sahadradtoid.html

it is the low-profile model that looks like this:

http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/cooldrives/new-low-profile-design1.jpg

I did not have good luck with these in my Powermac G4 with an ACARD ATA PCI card, not in my OWComputing external firewire case. They worked, sort of, but after a while would hang and this made me wary of using them on an ongoing basis. This happened with two different STA->IDE adaptors and two different hard drives, a Seagate 1.5TB and a Velociraptor 300GB.

The SATA->IDE converter seems theoretically very useful, anyone else have better luck with them than I did (or maybe a different type)?

item.84728

Emmett Gray

MacInTouch Reader wrote, regarding satacables.com:

I looked at satacables.com and the product appears pretty useful for those with external firewire or usb cases that take only IDE drives. The problem is that there is no information available about the company. Who are they? Where are they? How can they be contacted?

If you scroll to the bottom of the page, http://www.satacables.com/html/sata_to_ide_adapter.html, you will see a link to their home page which has a contact form. They announce on the form that their parent company is CableMAX USA Inc. and Googling that provides an address in ClearWater, FL.

I am a satisfied customer and have no other connection. I don't see any reason to have suspicions about this company.

Jan. 7, 2009

item.84794

Allen Huffman

I'm still looking for a solution... I was also pointed to this Mac item:

http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-spyder/

...but it specifically says it won't work with "Port Multiplier" cases, so really you can only hook 2 drives up to it (it has two SATA ports).

In response to:

"While FireWire enclosures cost more than USB enclosures, they're really not very expensive, and the extra expense is well justified in performance."

I have a desk full of Firewire enclosures, that have replaced many more Firewire enclosures I have used since I got my first iMac DV in 1998 ;-) My issue is how much more SATA Firewire enclosures are. I've purchased several dual-IDE/Firewire boxes around $60, and my three quad DATOPTIC IDE/Firewire cases are list $199 (of $189 sold from the now-closed fwdepot.com).

But, when I look at similar enclosures for SATA drives, they are much higher. I just don't want to spend hundreds more to get the same thing just from switch from IDE to SATA.

If Firewire->SATA can work, then the price becomes comparable or perhaps a bit less (since SATA enclosures are generally cheaper).

I just can't seem to find anyone who's tried this. I ordered the $30 adapter and will report back. If it works, it opens up a world of very low-cost enclosures for use on the Mac.

Jan. 21, 2009

item.85636

Allen Huffman

After weeks of research and investment in to the topic of using modern low-cost eSATA enclosures with an iMac, the end result seems to be "not possible at this time." The only solution is to use a USB enclosure (almost as fast as FireWire in my testings, though more CPU intensive), or FireWire/SATA enclosures that cost significantly more than the IDE versions of the same enclosures.

Neither the FirmTek SpyderHub nor the $30 device from CoolDrives.com supports Port Multiplier enclosures. This means that SpyderHub can only power two seperate SATA drives (with two cables), and the CoolDrive one only runs one drive. If you hook the CoolDrive unit up to a multi-drive SATA case, only one drive is seen.

So for JBOD use, prepare to be slower, or spend more money if you want to use SATA drives on the Mac.

Note: It seems you can take a 2 or 4 drive USB/SATA enclosure and turn it in to "big" mode, which makes it look like one huge device. This may work with the $30 CoolDrive unit, but I have yet to test.

By the way, going USB->iStarUSA v7age220 (dual SATA enclosure with eSATA/USB) is *slower* than going USB->CoolDriveUSBtoSATA->iStarUSA case! Go figure.

I have posted extensive notes about my research and investments here:

http://web.me.com/allenhuffman/Appleause/Home/Entries/
2009/1/17_FireWire_to_SATA_adapters_for_the_Mac.html

Now, if someone wants a market, make a FireWire800 to eSATA adapter that *supports Port Multiplier enclosures. Then we could buy that gadget and use low-cost SATA PM enclosures on the Mac, at much less cost.

Jan. 22, 2009

item.85755

MacInTouch Reader

Regarding Allen Huffman's remarks about using SATA disk drive cases not being possible with his Mac, I've got good news. I have been doing this successfully in four different ways for several years to do my backups using the inexpensive aluminum Granite Digital SATA cases that put the drives in simple aluminum sleds. You can connect to a MAC using a USB to SATA converter cable, a Firewire to SATA converter, a plugin laptop card that supplies a pair of SATA ports, or indirectly with a USB to SATA converter connected to a Time Capsule. As expected, the SATA port card is fastest, next Firewire, next (if you are not in any hurry) USB, and slowest the USB via Time Capsule. Duplicating a 1 TB hard drive overnight (almost filled with large .dmg backup images) - copied onto another 1 TB drive to be taken offsite - is no problem using the SATA port card plugged into an old Pismo laptop! The Granite Digital cases are nice, but you can also plug directly into the SATA hard drive without even needing to use the case (nice for travel or to keep working if a case should ever fail). For example, when the Pismo's internal hard drive died, instead of sending it off for a hard drive replacement, I got a WeibeTech Firewire to SATA adapter to attach to an external boot drive. Redundancy is critical and its good idea to have spare hard drives and spare power supplies as both have limited lifespans.

item.85763

Colleen Thompson

MacInTouch Reader wrote:

"Regarding Allen Huffman's remarks about using SATA disk drive cases not being possible with his Mac, I've got good news. I have been doing this successfully in four different ways for several years to do my backups using the inexpensive aluminum Granite Digital SATA cases that put the drives in simple aluminum sleds. You can connect to a MAC using a USB to SATA converter cable, a Firewire to SATA converter, a plugin laptop card that supplies a pair of SATA ports, or indirectly with a USB to SATA converter connected to a Time Capsule."

Alan was describing his investigations into using an eSATA enclosure with an iMac, which has no way to install an eSATA card and only has USB and FW ports.

Perhaps I misunderstood Reader's comment, but the "converter" cables mentioned do not connect to the Granite Digital eSATA case; they are for directly connecting SATA hard drives to Firewire or USB (I know, because I own about ten various Wiebe and other brand docks and connectors for IDE and SATA drives.)

If I'm wrong, I'd love a clarification, because I use a MacBook and an iMac and would like to be able to use eSATA enclosures.

Jan. 23, 2009

item.85823

Aaron Bredon

In reply to Colleen Thompson's note:

"Perhaps I misunderstood Reader's comment, but the "converter" cables mentioned do not connect to the Granite Digital eSATA case; they are for directly connecting SATA hard drives to Firewire or USB (I know, because I own about ten various Wiebe and other brand docks and connectors for IDE and SATA drives.)
If I'm wrong, I'd love a clarification, because I use a MacBook and an iMac and would like to be able to use eSATA enclosures."

If the USB or Firewire to SATA converter uses a SATA cable to connect to the drive, you can buy a SATA to eSATA cable to use with the eSATA enclosure (the contacts on SATA and eSATA are identical, the only difference is the connector body.)

item.85845

Allen Huffman

This missing piece seems to be "Port Multiplier" support in a FireWire->eSATA adapter. I have found $27 USB->eSATA that support Port Multiplier, but none of the FireWire ones I've found do it. What this means is right now it's probably easy and cheap to hook up a cheap multi-drive SATA enclosure via USB, but then, USB enclosures are cheap on their own.

What's missing is a way to use the speed of FireWire 800 ports to go to eSATA enclosures. I've even investigated a few companies that make bridge boards (like what would be installed in the back of an enclosure, hooking up to SATA drives on the inside, but exposing USB/FW ports to the outside). DAT Optic, for instance:

http://www.datoptic.com/cgi-bin/web.cgi?product=eSUF-S&detail=yes

But they replied that it does not work with PM. If the Wiebetech UltraDock $200 adapter supports PM, it would be a solution (though not very pretty, and at $200, defeating the purpose of the low cost enclosures). But, it's worth investigating.

The learning continues!

PS - I have an $85 USB/eSATA iStarUSA v7age220 enclosure, and just ordered a USB/FW400/800 version of it from www.homestudiodirect.com for $135 (NewEgg also sells this model). Home Studio Direct is the only place I've found that also carries the 4-drive version with RAID support, but it's nearly $300. eGoodz has been selling a 4-bay Galaxy Metal Gear FW/USB/SATA enclosure for $199 with shipping on e-Bay, which is on-par with the pricing of low-cost IDE enclosures.

Jan. 24, 2009

item.85893

MacInTouch Reader

I don't understand why one simply cannot flash Seagate SATA and eSATA flash firmware in an external USB or Firewire drive enclosure. I recall that you can flash update firmware in Oxford chips for Firewire drives while in the enclosure. Unless Seagate has some stupid design engineers who do not care.

They expect people to disassemble a PC and pull the startup drive and insert their drive to update? Absurd at best!

Let Seagate pay for taking it to Apple, Best Buy or another computer store where it is done for the user at Seagate's expense.

I'm certainly not going to use someone's PC since the drive was sold as Mac compatible.

At this rate, Blu-ray will be cheaper than constantly replacing Seagate and Maxtor drives. I will check but I've seen some great specs on Blu-ray discs.

Mar. 5, 2009

item.88225

Jim Behlke

Responding to Becky Waring's post a few days ago about Express Card adapters:

I also purchased an eSATA Express Card adapter, an Apiotek, from macsales, within the last year. This was a dual eSATA that was specified to handle two eSATA cables and RAID.

Included instructions for Mac OS were brief, cryptic, vague, and completely inadequate-- someone who had cared could have spent 20 minutes writing up sufficient Mac instructions -- perhaps they were too busy. Anyway, the instructions said to look at the website for driver updates (good luck).

I have also experienced kernel panics -- the adapter falls out like a ball bearing off a counter. Basically Mac support for this item is inferior -- I guess the vendor may not care if their customers experience kernel panics. The flaw in these cards (and from what I've read, other cards too -- perhaps they're all made at the same place in Taiwan and rebranded) is they easily slip out of the slot, disconnect the drive, and cause a kernel panic.

Are there other cards that are less likely to slip out? I couldn't get information from macsales, but can I uninstall the driver that came with the Apiotek? If so how? (Before I try another card I'd like to get rid of the old inferior hardware and software). I'd also like to see a step-by-step instruction for inserting the card, attaching the cable, starting the external drive, then unmounting/ shutting down the external drive, unattaching the cable, removing the card . . . (whatever needs to be done correctly to avoid a kernel panic).

I use FireWire 800 whenever I can. It is a bit slower but eSATA is a pain in the butt on a MacBook Pro.

Mar. 6, 2009

item.88275

Pedro Gelabert

I have an ApioTek extreme eSATA express card adapter (APIEC0003D ) with a MacBook Por 17" (2007). It has worked well and not had any issues with an external RAID0 drive using the two eSATA cables. This adapter uses a Silicon Image chipset Sil3132. You can find the latest drivers here:

http://www.siliconimage.com/support/index.aspx?pid=0&cid=0&

item.88295

Michael Corbin

RE: Becky Waring's post and Jim Behlke's response, I acquired a Seritek ExpressCard dual eSATA adapter along with a FirmTek dual SATA drive enclosure, and have had no trouble with it. I installed a 750 GB drive in one of the drive bays, followed the instructions to install the drivers for the card, and use the drive for Time Machine.

It is necessary to eject the drive in the Finder, then to power down the card before ejecting it when you are done, but it has so far performed flawlessly for me.

item.88296

Jeff Brandenburg

Grandy Pollo wrote:

"The Sonnet Expresscard (not the overpriced pro version) does not do either of these things. The card goes in the slot like a ballpoint pen - push in fairly hard, click it is in; push in again, fairly hard, it springs out. Sounds like you got your $20 worth in a market where decent cards cost more than $20."

Is this the same Sonnet Expresscard for which Sonnet's site says, "Temporarily not recommended for Mac systems with greater than 2GB of memory"? With a footnote about problems with dual-interface drive compatibility?

"While some customers have successfully used external hard drives with USB 2.0/eSATA dual interface, these products (based on the Oxford Semiconductor OXU931DS storage controller chip) exhibit underlying errors that prevent them from being fully compatible with this Sonnet product under Mac OS X. Kernel panics occurring when the drive is connected, and the drive not being recognized by the operating system are known issues."

I'm not sure I could stand much more than $20 worth of *that* kind of "decent".

item.88303

Gary Kellogg

Jim Behlke asked about eSATA adapter options with his MacBook Pro. Here is my take: All cards are not created equally. I have had great luck with my Sonnet Tempo Express 34 that is over two years old. Along the way, an OS X update came out that caused the card to generate kernel panics upon removal, even if powered off first. Sonnet revised their driver and no problems since. Recently, the Sonnet card came in handy when I had to upgrade the firmware on an external Seagate drive using a primitive FreeDOS utility on my MacBook Pro. Not all eSATA cards worked with this utility.

I agree that the connection for these cards is awful. They really should have some kind of latch but they don't and that is way it is for all of them. I connect everything with the drive turned off, then turn the drive on. When I am ready to disconnect, I "eject" the drive and wait for it to disappear from the desktop. I then power it off before removing the eSATA card even though I don't think this is mandatory. I don't bother with powering down the card before removing it. YMMV. Good luck.

item.88308

MacInTouch Reader

The problem with Express/34 cards coming out of the slot is a well known issue with every laptop using that slot be it PC or Mac. The slot is just badly designed or rather the spring mechanism that is supposed to keep a card in place is badly designed. I'm sure you can Google up lots of reports of this problem.

So the problem isn't unique to Apiotek or anyone else making these sorts of cards.

item.88317

MacInTouch Reader

I have an Addonics ADSA3GPX1-2 in my Mac Pro and after installing the proper updated drivers I have had zero problems since June of 07.

item.88327

Tim P

I recently purchased a dual eSATA Express Card adapter, a Rosewill RC-605 ($34.99 from Newegg). It arrived with a CD full of drivers for various flavors of Windows, but no OSX drivers. However, a quick search of rosewill.com yielded 2 OSX drivers, one specifically for 10.5.1 (I'm running 10.5.6 on a 2 year old Macbook Pro). The download and install went without incident and I was soon up and running with an eSATA connection to my WD 1tb 'My Book' (triple interface: USB2, firewire 400, eSATA)

I have had no kernel panics, or any other errors reported, but I do have two observations:
1- As others have noted, the retention mechanism to hold the Express Card in the Express Card slot is very weak, and it is easily dislodged (a strong sneeze would suffice!).
2- Perceived real-world speed by watching I/O thruput as displayed in Activity Monitor (admittedly unscientific) is no better that I get with firewire 400. While the observed thruput via USB is much less than firewire, the eSATA connection does not appear to exhibit any speed benefit over firewire.

I expected better. For now, at least, while this eSATA connection does appear to function OK, I do not gain any speed improvements. That, coupled with the ever-present fear that the card will simply 'fall out' means that I have gone back to using FireWire. Of course, it is always possible that the limiting factor is the WD disk, but if anyone has any suggestions for tweaking/tuning this interface then I would like to hear them.

item.88335

David Ditzler

I have the same setup with the Apiotek card from MacSales and I like mine. The trick is to change it out for a flexible eSATA cable and then you won't have nearly as many problems with the setup.

http://www.satacables.com/

I documented this and some performance numbers on my blog if you are interested.

I also have an external eSATA dual-drive raid enclosure made by Addonics and that works great as a RAID 1 but I don't have a battery powered solution figured out for that.

On a single drive setup I can run a USB phone charger battery as power for an external drive when I need to use it on the road.

I also have a FW800 enclosure from MacSales and that is easier and less delicate of a connection. It doesn't perform as well but it is close. I don't use it for video capture though for that the eSATA solution is great because it runs on two different interfaces so I never have a problem.

item.88336

Silvio Alessi

I had the same problem with e-sata on my macbook pro, the first one I bought was a LaCie Sata II ExpressCard, the drivers did not follow OSX updates and it is very slow on OSX, on windows XP (bootcamp) it works OK. I finally bought a JMicron based e-sata card, you dont need any drivers to run on OSX, you can even boot from an external drive and it is cheaper than any other brand on the market.

item.88339

Becky Waring

Wow! It's comforting to hear that I was not the only one experiencing problems with eSATA ExpressCards. While my issues (kernel panics and an inability to stay in the slot) were with the OWC model, several other models seem to have the same issues, probably using the same chipset.

One poster asked if I had looked for firmware updates, since an update fixed his kernel panics with another card. When I contacted OWC about the problem, they did not suggest an update, and I simply returned the card. However, in looking at their support site, I don't see any firmware for it.

In my original post, I said I had ordered the 2-port Griffin eSATA card as a replacement, and would report back. I received the card a few days ago, and I'm happy to report that it solves both problems!!

I have had no kernel panics when following the same procedure as before (eject drives from the Finder, then power down the card from the menubar). AND the card stays in the slot! Even better, the eSATA cable also stays firmly in the card.

The only oddity is that no eject icons appear next to the eSATA drive partitions in the Finder, so I have to eject each partition separately using the Finder File menu command instead, but that does the trick.

Supposedly, this card is also capable of RAID support, although I haven't tried that and probably won't, since I just use my external drives for backup and overflow storage. If someone else with experience with the Griffin card has used the RAID configuration, I'm sure that would be of interest here.

At only $39.99 on the Griffin site right now, with free shipping, this card would seem to be a great value. It's the cheapest two-port RAID card I know of.

Jun. 15, 2009

item.94095

MacInTouch Reader

There appear to be a number of ExpressCard eSATA adapters on the market, but reading the previous experiences of other readers here, it seems they've been fraught with problems. Does anyone have positive experiences or recommendations for particular cards on MBPs with Leopard? I'm looking to use "multi-interface" drives, which can apparently increase the likelihood of compatibility issues.

Griffin Technology offers an inexpensive card based on a Silicon Image 3132 chipset, like almost every other maker (so it seems). Is there actually any functional difference between cards of different makers using the same chipset? Griffin notes on their support site that multi-interface drives "might have trouble" if they use an Oxford chipset (which most do). They also note compatibility problems with first-gen unibody MBPs (which I don't have) and for RAID it's "possible this functionality will work, but we cannot guarantee success". Finally, the drivers Griffin provides are directly from Silicon Image, which were last updated in 2006. Silicon Image directs compatibility issues towards your hard drive vendor. Seems like everyone's passing the buck.

None of this inspires much confidence - can anyone counter this? Are there any cards using alternative chipsets to Silicon Image? Are they any better? Thanks in advance.

Jun. 16, 2009

item.94141

Jim Behlke

I finally gave up on using this Expresscard adapter. Occasionally I'd get a kernel panic. Esata has several issues. Many cards don't allow booting. Esata external drives require their own power sources. Most (but not all) esata cables are stiff. It is easy for the Expresscard to slip out of its slot (the connection doesn't seem tight or firm - from experience this too can cause a kernel panic if the card slips out). I guess Apple doesn't take responsibility for third party hardware or software.

Macsales stopped making 2.5 inch external esata hard drive enclosures. They still make 3.5 inch enclosures. I asked them if they had any quality concerns about external esata and they said esata works fine.

Firewire 800 is bus powered (although with my 500MB 2.5 inch external Firewire enclosure I need to plug in my Macbook Pro's AC power adapter to get adequate power). I can use the drive as a boot drive. So far it has worked fine as a scratch disk for Final Cut Express. It transfers data about 2/3 as fast as esata. There are also Firewire RAID enclosures, but I'm not smart enough to know how those solutions would enhance video performance or if data would be transferred faster into the Macbook Pro.

Apple theoretically supports third party peripherals like Expresscard 34 hardware. But I have not found third party solutions that provided reliable performance. In my old 933 mhz Quicksilver Power Mac, Apple also theoretically supported USB 2.0 PCI cards but I never found one that worked. But the built-in Firewire 800 connection in the Macbook Pro works reliably and it is a primary component of the Macbook Pro's architecture. It is interesting they eliminated the Expresscard slot in the newest Macbook Pos.

The last time this topic was discussed, as I recall, other readers commented Firmtek expresscard esata adapters worked. Sonitek may also work.

Finally, if I were Dictator of the Computer World, I'd tell my subjects to invent and then adopt Firewire 3200 (or 6400) for everything possible including external keyboards, external hard drives, internal hard drives, internal optical drives, video and camera connections, etc.-- (would it also work with monitors?) I'd try to consolidate as much of the computer world's component connections into a single hardware connection format.

Of course in the real world this isn't going to happen.

item.94143

Gary Kellogg

I have been using the Sonnet Tempo SATA Express 34 card for over 3 years, first on a MBP Core Duo and now on a MBP 17" Unibody. I have never had a problem and have used several different eSATA drives with it, all of them with multiple interfaces including a LaCie Quadra d2. Don't buy a cheap card; don't use a cheap cable.

item.94144

Stephen Szewczyk

A MacInTouch Reader asked if anyone is having positive experiences or has recommendations for particular cards on MBPs with Leopard?

I purchased a Dynex 2-Port Expresscard adapter at my local Best Buy some time back for use with my 15" MBP (2007). To date I've experienced no issues whatsoever using this adapter running Leopard with either my Thermaltake BlacX or OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro hooked up. The only perceived issue was finding the product drivers packaged on a mini-CD. A quick trip to the Dynex website to download the drivers and I was up and running in minutes. The drivers can be found here:

http://www.dynexproducts.com/p-687-dynex-2-port-esata-ii-expresscard-adapter.aspx

Please note the Dynex card IS based on a Silicon Image 3132 chipset.

Realizing all the issues surrounding Expresscard adapters, I'm starting to feel extremely fortunate that I've had no problems using this particular card with Leopard or any of the devices I've hooked up to it thus far. Knock on wood!

item.94169

Dennis Whiteman

I use two different cards with my 2007 Macbook Pro 2.2Ghz Santa Rosa model: the $19 single port card from Other World Computing and the $40 two port Apiotek card sold by Other World Computing.

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/EXP34SATA2P1/

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Apiotek/EC0003D/

The OWC card requires not additional drivers is bootable, meaning I can book from a drive inserted into my quad interface Voyager Q external enclosure. I have also used it one drive on my SeriTek/1EN2 Dual-Bay External Enclosure. The only thing I don't like about the OWC card is that it gets warm and this has caused the adhesive label to become unattached. Otherwise, it's plugged in 24 hours a day and I use it mostly for Time Machine backups.

The Apiotek card uses drivers from Silicon Image and is not bootable. It was a bit problematic in the beginning, but for the most part has worked great under Leopard. I only use it now when transferring data between two drives connected to the external SeriTek enclosure. I had this card for more than a year before I got the OWC card.

Jul. 22, 2009

item.96290

Hung Tran

Recently bought a Griffin eSATA Express/34 card, a G2 Mini S2 eSATA/Fiwire 800/USB 2.5'with a Hitachi 200GB 7200rpm, partition for Mac OSX 10.5.7 and Bootcamp Windows XP.

Connected the external HDD to my MacBookPro 15' 2.5GHz early 2008 model thru the Griffin eSATA Express/34 card and I have learned that:

- eSATA HDD 200GB is not bootable in both Mac and Windows mode.

- Copy files (4.89GB in 2 mininutes) between main HDD and eSATA external HDD is faster compared to a Firewire HDD (4.89GB in 4 mininutes).

Starting up the MBP with eSATA HDD still connected is not possible.

Jan. 12, 2010

item.107541

David Charlap

I have recently assembled some new external hard drives and the cases have eSATA ports. I'm currently using FireWire, which works great, but eSATA would be faster.

My computer is a QuickSilver-2002 PowerMac (PCI slots). I am considering adding an eSATA card, but the ones made for Mac use all cost more than I want to spend.

Searching for inexpensive PCI eSATA cards, I've found many, but very few have documented Mac support:

IPSG 006916, which has two eSATA ports, an internal PATA port and an internal SATA port that is shared with one of the eSATA ports.

LaCie 130823, which has just two eSATA ports.

Vantec UGT-ST300, which has one internal SATA port and one eSATA port.

Syba SD-VIA-1A2ES, which has one PATA and two eSATA ports.

Amazon lists many others, but almost all of the inexpensive ones either say nothing about Mac compatibility or explicitly say they don't include Mac drivers.

My question is: Does this matter? I realize that I may need proprietary software if I want to use the RAID capabilities of some of these cards, but I don't have any need for that. I also have no need to boot from these ports. If I just need to add one or two eSATA ports for attaching backup and data drives, can I use any card? If only some chipsets work, which ones? And if I later want to attach multiple drives to the port, which ones support port multipliers? Can I assume that any device sporting an official eSATA logo will support port multipliers?

Jan. 13, 2010

item.107590

Wolfgang Wagner

Regarding David Charlap's eSATA inquiry: I got increasingly dissatisfied with using FW800 connections for backup of large user accounts and invested in Firmtek's 4-port eSATA card for Mac Pros (http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-2me4-e) and their 4bay enclosure (http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-2eEN4/). I stuffed the enclosure with four 2TB Hitachis. Using DU, I RAIDed them in a 1+0 configuration yielding a 4TB volume. Everything worked perfectly from the very beginning. I am running SnowLeo and a MP 2008 and have, of course, no connection to Firmtek. This may not be the cheapest solution but it works well and is way faster (10 to 20 times) than FW800. As a treat this card also submits the complete SMART information to SmartUtility.

item.107623

MacInTouch Reader

Like other folks I have found SMART reporting to be sort of like an avalanche sign, it's not 100 percent certain that a ton of snow is coming down the mountain on top of you, but... you might want to take special care!

I've had a number of drives fail, and managed to recover data on many of them due to a alert from the SMART info. Not always, but a few times I had enough advance notice.

The drives that I always worried about were the ones that were attached via eSATA cards, so I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that FirmTek recently updated their drivers so that using their equipment the SMART data is available. I'm not aware of if other folks who have updated their drivers or firmware to allow this, but I hope others follow their lead. It's a welcome feature add.

item.107632

Lee Clawson

David Charlap asks about adding an eSATA card to a QuickSilver-2002 PowerMac but the ones made for Mac use all cost more than I want to spend.

Look for a PCI card made by Sonnet (sonnettech.com) named Tempo Serial ATA. We bought one 3 years ago for a QuickSilver -- cost $32.00. Has 2 SATA ports. On the box it says compatible with Mac.

Jan. 14, 2010

item.107642

David Charlap

Wolfgang Wagner wrote:

"... invested in Firmtek's 4-port eSATA card for Mac Pros (http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-2me4-e) and their 4bay enclosure (http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-2eEN4/)."

and Lee Clawson wrote:

"Look for a PCI card made by Sonnet (sonnettech.com) named Tempo Serial ATA. We bought one 3 years ago for a QuickSilver -- cost $32.00. Has 2 SATA ports. On the box it says compatible with Mac."

To Wolfgang: Nice card, but it's not G4-compatible. They make a another model (the 1eSE2 - http://firmtek.stores.yahoo.net/sata1ese2.html) which is PCI and has two eSATA ports, but it costs more than I want to spend ($100 from FirmTek, $88 from OWC.)

To Lee: That card is for internal drives. There are no external SATA connectors. Sonnet's Tempo SATA X4P is their only PCI model that has external ports, but that one's not cheap. The lowest price I found on Google was $245.

Generic eSATA cards that don't say a thing about Mac compatibility are available in the $15-30 price range. This is what I'm looking to get. I don't want to buy a more expensive card for a computer that will likely be retired in another 1-2 years, especially given the fact that FW400 is meeting my requirements.

item.107647

Nck Harvey

For the record, only 2 port SATA PCI/X cards support booting, including the LaCie eSATA 2-port card - very useful for cloning internal HDDs in G5s from an external enclosure.

item.107676

WK Lee

I own NexStar SATA and eSATA docks from Vantec. It has been my experience than these docks are unbootable using the Sil3132 chipset-based ExpressCard 34 devices. However, there is the JMicron chipset which claims to be able to boot eSATA devices.

Sil3132 chipset based ExpressCard:
http://www.apiotek.com/Global/Product/Add-on_Card/EC-0003D.htm

JMicron chipset based ExpressCard:
http://www.apiotek.com/Global/Product/Add-on_Card/EC-0003S.htm
Claims Leopard compatibility but not Snow Leopard.

No mention of Snow Leopard compatibility although you can check with the JMicron website for updated firmware.
http://www.jmicron.com/Driver.htm

There appears to be a problem displaying pictures on Apiotek's website.

item.107595

Robert DeVoe

Re:

[I tried Smart Utility at Colleen's suggestion and found it very informative and helpful. (Some interesting, extra data are provided below the top level of data, which is already much more detailed than Disk Utility, for instance.) Unfortunately, I also experience the same lack of SMART data access with external eSATA drive docks - both an OWC Voyager Q and a BlacX model - which are connected to a PCIe eSATA card in a G5 duallie. -Ric Ford]

Ric Ford writes about lack of SMART data access in two eSATA drive docks. I've had no such problems getting SMART data access using a SeriTek SATA-2SE2-E PCIe eSATA card in a single Quad Core 2009 Mac Pro, and either a SeriTek SATA-2EN2 dual-bay eSATA enclosure or a Wiebtech ToughTech XE FW800/USB/eSATA external enclosure.The SeriTek card also supports booting the external drives; some manufacturer's cards don't. It would be interested to learn if failure of SMART data access coexists with a card's failure to boot.

[I also can't boot from my eSATA drives - I'm using a Silicon Image SV-HBA3132 eSATA PCIe card in the Power Mac G5 duallie. -Ric Ford]

item.107620

Randall Voth

Ric Ford wrote - "Unfortunately, I also experience the same lack of SMART data access with external eSATA drive docks - both an OWC Voyager Q and a BlacX model - which are connected to a PCIe eSATA card in a G5 duallie."

Couldn't you just use a powered SATA case (for power) and hook up your own eSATA to SATA cable to the drive (with the case being open)? Sort of a reverse technique to what you did with the Mini Monster project.

I haven't actually tried this but if it doesn't work then it must be the PCIe card that is blocking the information.

[I don't see much need to *replace* an internal SATA drive with an external kludge, but extending the internal SATA connector externally should work in theory, and I do think the issue is the PCIe card (or its driver software or some operating system issue). -Ric Ford]

item.107665

Randall Voth

Ric wrote:

"I don't see much need to *replace* an internal SATA drive with an external kludge"

What I meant was hook up the drive directly to the eSATA PCIe card, not internally to the motherboard (using power from an external case). That way you can figure out if it is the card or the dock blocking the information. I think the BlacX dock worked for updating Seagate firmware, so I figured it should also pass SMART data.

[Follow-up:]

What we really need to know is which PCIe eSATA card works for SMART, low level drive utilities, firmware updates, etc. in combination with which drive dock. It would also be nice to know for Express Card users who have MacBook Pros.

For instance: Card / Dock / Passes SMART / Zeroes Drives / Updates Firmware.

I couldn't update the firmware through a MacAlly case with a Sil3132 eSATA Express Card. But it turned out to be the MacAlly case which blocked the Seagate firmware. That MacAlly case is USB, Firewire AND eSATA. The BlacX dock, which apparently works with firmware updates, is only USB and eSATA.

item.107682

David McLaughlin

I just had a problem getting SMART data from a Western Digital drive through a Voyager Q using eSATA. I recently installed a NewerTech eSATA Extender Cable to get at the 2 unused SATA connectors on the motherboard in my Mac Pro (early 2008).

http://www.newertech.com/products/esata_cable.php

I thought the problem was with the WD drive but when I broke down and installed the drive in an internal bay, SMART works just fine. Both via 'smartctl' on the command-line (MacPorts) and "SMART Utility" (which has been wonderful since I installed it yesterday).

It was definitely the Voyager Q via eSATA that was causing the SMART problem.

I have another external drive in an OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro case connected via eSATA that acts as if it was just another internal drive and SMART just works.

[I just tried the Elite-AL Pro enclosure with my Silicon Image SV-HBA3132 eSATA PCIe card, and I still can't access the SMART data on the SATA drive, so it can be a card issue, too. This card shows up as a "parallel SCSI" device in System Profiler ("About This Mac"). -Ric Ford]

Jan. 15, 2010

item.107690

Grandy Pollo

WK Lee says However, there is the JMicron chipset which claims to be able to boot eSATA devices.

The OWC $20 single port JMicron ExpressCard 34 eSATA does indeed boot eSATA devices, notably OWC's own Elite eSATA drives, even though they say the drives are not bootable. I booted off of an Al Elite and one other clone in a eSATA case. I bet the Apiotek and others with this chipset and this price are all from the same no-name maker in China.

By way of comparison the Sonnet Pro 2 port eSATA Expresscard/34 does not boot eSATA drives but performance is WAY faster.

There is no need to install drivers, etc., leading me to believe that the JMicron is the same SATA chipset inside the MacBook Pro.

item.107711

MacInTouch Reader

David Charlap: you can find numerous SATA to eSATA cables/connector/bracket setups for under $10. Try searching Amazon for "internal sata to esata".

item.107715

Mark Rosen

Re:

[I just tried the Elite-AL Pro enclosure with my Silicon Image SV-HBA3132 eSATA PCIe card, and I still can't access the SMART data on the SATA drive, so it can be a card issue, too. This card shows up as a "parallel SCSI" device in System Profiler ("About This Mac"). -Ric Ford]

I have the Newertech SI3132 eSATA PCIe card ($39) and it does not pass SMART info. If you look the specs of different cards, the higher end cards,like Rocket Raid cards (~$200), don't say anything about passing SMART data either. Although there may be some cards out there that do, seems like you have to some research to find one.

The only drives I get data on my Mac Pro are internal drives and drives connected the Pro's 2 motherboard connecters (Serial-ATA bus.) which is the same bus as the internal drives.

As far as the SCSI interface is concerned it seems like it's a SATA to SCSI bridge, according to my conversation with OWC tech support.

item.107718

Mark Rosen

High Point RocketRaid 2314 (4 port) SATA supports SMART status (~$200)

item.107732

Jon Lindemann

I hope this isn't redundant information.

The Express 34 card eSATA adapter from OWC (OWCEXP34SATA2P1) is "Bootable in MacBook Pro systems using Core 2 Duo processors (not bootable with original MacBook Pro Core Duo)" but doesn't support port multiplication. It has the JMicron JMB360 chip set.

I am able to boot my 2007 2.2 GHz MBP from an OWC Mecury Elite AL Pro using this card (OS 10.5.8). Can't comment on 10.6.

item.107734

Charles

Received an e-mail response from NewerTech in regards to their Voyager Q enclosure:

"The bootability of a SATA device is determined by the SATA controller not the drive. The controller has to support booting. SMART status is not read by the Voyager unit."

So my question is:

Does anyone make a drive enclosure like the Voyager Q that reads the SMART Status?

Thanks in advance.

Jan. 16, 2010

item.107764

MacInTouch Reader

Re: SMART Utility

I have a reply from SMART Utility's president Matthew Butch regarding using SMART Utility on external drives:

Unfortunately that is mostly impossible. Most external enclosures do not support passing the necessary commands to read SMART data. Supposedly there are a few USB enclosures that do (they use a Cyprus chipset) but I have not personally tested any.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

-Matt

I suppose most drive enclosure manufacturers do not want to spend the money to enable SMART data checks or they do not realize the advantages.

I'm buying SMART Utility since the info does provide an edge in checking drive health.

Better to have some disk data warning and info than none.

item.107765

Robert DeVoe

I wrote earlier that SeriTek's SATA-2SE2-E PCIe eSATA card supports SMART data access as well as booting.

SeriTech recently informed me that

"The FirmTek SeriTek/2SE2-E firmware will boot with PPC computers like the PowerMac G5 as they support Open Firmware. The Intel Mac Pro does not support Open Firmware. As a result, the SeriTek/2SE2-E will not boot when installed in an Apple Mac Pro".

However, the card's SMART data access works in the Mac Pro, and the latest driver software (SeriTek2SE2_5.3.1) is 64-bit Snow Leopard compatible.

item.107771

MacInTouch Reader

Re: Does anyone make a drive enclosure like the Voyager Q that reads the SMART Status?

The problem with Voyager Q and similar docks and the drives themselves is that the drive contacts were never designed for more than a few plug in cycles.

If you were to pull drives and test them frequently, assuming that you had a USB enclosures that uses a Cyprus chipset which "may" work, you would degrade the drive connections quickly and just add another failure mode.

A while back I checked USB 2 and FireWire industry specs which were either vague on plug/unplug cycle ratings or the info was buried and was not obvious.

Also, according to the Smart Utility folks, "Most external enclosures do not support passing the necessary commands to read SMART data. Supposedly there are a few USB enclosures that do (they use a Cyprus chipset) but I have not personally tested any."

Unless all the PC makers including Apple demand such testing capability for external drives, it just won't happen anytime soon.

Even if they do, it would take years for a standard to be developed and even longer for drives and enclosures to be built IF the market demanded it.

Jan. 18, 2010

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Charles

... FYI, I just found an external dock that relays the SMART Status info. It took 2 days of web research and I bought it yesterday but it does indeed work:

Kingwin EZ-Dock Model# EZD-2535 (eSATA & USB 2.0)

I bought at the same time this 2 Port eSATA ExpressCard for my 17" MacBook Pro4,1 running 10.5.8 (no drivers needed):

PPA Int'l Item# 1172

This combo has Smart Utility accessing the SMART Status and as an added bonus I can also boot from the dock.

Both items I purchased locally at Fry's for $25 and $35 respectively though there are many online sources.

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Bob Grant

With respect to the Kingwin dock does it relay SMART data via both USB and eSATA or eSATA only?

Jan. 19, 2010

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Charles

Re:

With respect to the Kingwin dock does it relay SMART data via both USB and eSATA or eSATA only?

Only eSATA.

Jan. 20, 2010

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Colleen Thompson

I was really excited to learn of an actual model of external dock that would pass SMART date (Kingwin.) Then got thoroughly bummed to learn in a later post that that feature only works through eSATA. My main computers are a MacBook and an iMac, so at this time I do not have any eSATA capability. Does anyone know of an external dock that has the fabled Cyprus chipset that supports SMART via USB? As a consultant, I need something like this to troubleshoot bare hard drives.

While I'm at it, would it be possible to find a SATA-to-IDE adapter for an external dock that supports SMART? Then I could get rid of this old G4 tower I keep around for testing IDE drives.

Once again I'll voice my plea for some vendor to come up with a USB universal adapter that supports SMART and both IDE and SATA drives. Sigh.

Jan. 21, 2010

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Trevor Hart

The smartmontools team
   http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/smartmontools/wiki
maintains a list of USB enclosures/docks that pass SMART information to smartmontools.

  http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/smartmontools/wiki/Supported_USB-Devices

I don't use GUI-based programs to read SMART data, but many of them are based on this package.

Using the command line version isn't terribly difficult, there are many how-to's and FAQs available.

Installation is painless via MacPorts (however it is only current with 5.38 rather than 5.39 which released recently).

Jan. 23, 2010

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MacInTouch Reader

Has anyone had any experience with SMART data working through an IDE to SATA bridge? For example, an IDE drive installed into a G5 using a SATA bridge. Does SMART data get passed through?

I've talked to some friends at Apple and they're not sure.

Thanks in advance...

Jul. 21, 2010

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Michael Zimmer MD

Beware of data corruption. Before you buy that OWC esata card do your homework.

xlr8yourmac.com/feedback/Cheap_SATA_cards_inOSX_10.6.htm#storytop

Jun. 9, 2012

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MacInTouch

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