Seagate’s External SATA Drives – Speed Meets Capacity
As long as you’ve got SATA ports on your PC, of course
by Daniel P. Dern ([email protected])
Vendor: Seagate Technology LLC Product Name: Seagate 500GB eSATA external hard drive Price (MSRP): $359.00 Availability: Now Product URL: http://www.seagate.com/products/retail/esata/
Tech Requirements: Windows 2000 or higher; MacOS X or higher
Moving data between your computer and an external drive takes time. With bigger data volumes, e.g. major backups, or real-time video editing, often too much time.
The biggest speed bottleneck is likely to be the physical interface to the disk, as anyone who’s tried using USB 1.0/1.1, and then gone to USB 2 (“Hi-Speed”) or to FireWire.(IEEE 1394), knows. SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Architecture),
which can currently can do data rates up to 3 gigabits per second, is
rapidly supplanting the older ATA (a.k.a. Parallel ATA, PATA), which has
been around since the 1980s, for internal drives in desktops, notebooks, NAS
devices, and smaller/low-cost servers.
And now, also in external hard drives.
This lets Seagate’s eSATA Pushbutton Backup Hard Drive — now available in 300GB and 500GB versions — move data up to 5X faster than your USB 2.0
or Firewire external hard drives. Of course, your computer needs to have a SATA port to do this.
If your computer doesn’t already have one, but has room for a PCI card, you can install the 2-port Promise Technologies PCI-to-SATA host adapter card that’s included in the Seagate eSATA box
(along with drivers and instructions).
If you can’t do this, e.g. no PCI slots, machine too old, it’s a notebook, not allowed to open the box, you can use a $30 USB2.0 to eSATA adapter
like Coolmax’s ES-300 USB2.0 to eSATA Converter (http://www.coolmaxusa.com/productDetails.asp?item=ES-300&details=features&subcategory=converter&category=converter). (Bring the eSATA cable with you to make sure it will fit, some of the SATA adapters are for the drive cables, not this cable!)
The Promise PCI card originally sent with the eSATA didn’t work, which led me to the USB adapter workaround, which worked perfectly. (A replacement PCI card — and re-installing the drivers — is working.)
Obviously, you won’t get SATA speeds with the USB adapter. Copying 2.2GB of MP3 files through the SATA port took just 1 minute 35 seconds; using the USB
adapter to a USB port took 4 minutes 7 seconds.
You may want to pick up one of these USB/SATA adapters anyway, in case you
want to use the eSATA with a notebook or another desktop… or if you’re
about to get a new computer, which will have SATA ports.
And if you get an eSATA RAID controller, you can do RAID with your eSATA.