2TB Drive Won’t Hot Swap! (Solved)

2011.01.25 РUPDATE!!! РI was searching different KB articles from MS and was looking for drive issues and timing when spinning up and fell on this article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/977178 this explains that newer ECO drives that use less power have issues because they take longer then the standard 10 seconds Windows gives a drive to be ready. Now I am not using theses drives as a system drive so I never got the stop errors explained in the article, but I did notice to fix that problem there is a hotfix available to make Windows wait longer before trying to initiate the drive. I download and installed the hotfix and low and behold all of my drives hot swap! Holly Crap!! Another mystery solved!

If you have read some of my other blog posting you will get to know the kind of person I am. I am very technical, I understand the way things should work (even though they don’t) and I get really pissed off when in the 21st¬†century¬†we have to deal with stupid mistakes by software or hardware giants and unless enough of us speak out your ignored. I feel really bad for people that are not computer smart because every time there is a problem (experience from over 15 years in the industry) the¬†first¬†thing they do is blame¬†them self¬†for not knowing what they heck they are doing! They follow what the manufacturer says and the device does¬†not¬†perform as expected. You call up the help desk and because they don’t know the answer they play on your knowledge and tell you “Call Microsoft! This is an OS issue!” you call Microsoft and they say “Talk to the¬†manufacturer¬†this is their issue” so now what do you do?¬†I’m¬†in one of those situations right now but again if you know me I hate this crap and wont take an answer unless they can back it up!

I am an IT professional so one of the most important things I learned is that “You only¬†realize¬†what you¬†didn’t¬†do after you¬†didn’t¬†do it!” This go for so many things in IT, and backups is one of them. Backups are one of the most important jobs as an IT administrator. If you don’t have a backup then you are playing¬†Russian¬†roulette with your career. For myself I try to use the 2-1 backup¬†methodology, what this means is this:

2 different types of media. This can be HDD, DVD, Tape, Flash Drive, Cloud Backup etc.

1 copy should always be stored off site. If you house burns down or gets robbed, having a back up on or beside the computer that just melted or was stolen does not do you much good!

From this list I also have a few different strategies for my backup medium. I use HDDs from different manufacturers, This is because if you bought your 2 or 3 backup drives from the same manufacturer they are all likely going to be from the same batch and could all possible have a defect and all fail at the same time leaving you with no backups at all! So I picked a drive from WD one for Seagate etc.. chances of them going bad at the same time are slim to none.  HDDs are cheep and I mean cheep I was able to purchase a 2TB drive from Western Digital WD20EARS-00MVWB0 Caviar Green for $89 and a Seagate ST32000542AS Barracuda LP for $99. I also have at home a Vantech NexStar Hard Drive Dock (http://www.vantecusa.com/en/product/view_detail/377) as well as I purchased an internal trayless hot swap mobile rack HSB100SATBK form StarTech http://us.startech.com/product/HSB100SATBK-525-Tray-Less-SATA-Hot-Swap-Bay. With this setup I would be able to keep a drive always in the computer until my weekly scheduled backup ran. I would then take that drive to work and that night bring have the other drive and place it in the internal hot swap bay which would then make it ready for the next scheduled backup.

Here comes the problem.

I installed the hot swap tray in my machine, it¬†just¬†needed a SATA cable and SATA power at¬†the¬†back and was ready to go! I opened disk management as new drives need to be formated first plus I’m a geek I like to watch my new drives pop up on the disk management. I put the first drive into the internal bay and closed the door. I heard the drive spin up and I waited for Windows to detect the new hardware. After 30 seconds I started to worry because it did not come up. I took the drive out and checked all my connections, everything¬†seemed okay?! I decided to use a 500 GB drive I had kicking around as a test. The drive showed up just fine. Humm okay so I put the new drive back in , no go. I even tried the “refresh disks” from the action menu with no luck. So I chalked it up to failed drive! This¬†would not be the first time I had received a DOA drive. I took the other WD drive out and placed it in the drive. Waited and waited and waited….. same result! The drive did not show up, this was strange, 2 drives from 2 different manufactures gone bad. I doubt it but people have won the lottery so maybe I won the 2 dead drives in a row lottery, it can happen! For troubleshooting reasons I left the drive in and rebooted the machine. During the POST I went into setup and I did see that the drive showed up in the BIOS. I checked to ensure I was using the right settings on my SATA interface. AHCI was the setting and I double checked to make sure this was the right setting. I let the machine boot up and Windows desktop came up I saw that Windows pop up a “found new hardware” info box in the bottom corner¬†and proceed to install the new drive. I opened up disk¬†management¬†and up came the¬†initialize¬†new drive dialog. I¬†initialized¬†the disk and formated it as MBR. The drive now was there and worked great! I tried to hot swap the drive and again the drive never showed up again. Errrrrrrrr

I¬†know I could get the drive to show up if I reboot the computer but not if I hot swap it. I was at a loss for an¬†explanation¬†as to why. I did some more tinkering and decided to get out my external eSATA dock. I was meet with the same result, but I was thrown a bone in the process. After the drive was fully spun up I removed the eSATA cable and plugged it back in to make sure the connection was tight…. I heard Windows chirp its “found new hardware chirp”, I looked at the screen to see Windows now saw the drive. This kind of made me mouth the famous WTF and scratch my head. I though maybe the eSATA was not in properly and the external dock would work! Maybe my internal hot swap bay was bad. I turned the power off ¬†for 10 seconds on the external dock and then back on……. the drive never showed up. Using the information used last time I decided to pull out the eSATA and plugged it back in. It showed up again. WTF was now a very clean version of the words¬†going¬†through my head! I decided to try the exact same thing on the internal drive bay. I put in my drive let it spin up, and as expected it did not show up. I took the door off my computer case and pulled just the SATA cable off the back of the bay and plugged it back in, Windows chimed it has seen the drive and auto play menu showed up.

I can now get the drive to hot swap but not the way SATA is designed for. To me this seems like a timing issue that the drive does not have enough time to spin up before the drive tries to communicate.  This is the 21st century, technology does not need a work around or a band-aid solution like just reboot the machine or pull the data cable off and put it back on. I decided to put in a tech request email to the manufacturer of the Seagate drive. This is the exact responce they gave me:

First of all Seagate fire this guy as he has no idea what he is talking about (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_ATA#Features) so luckily before I had a chance to call and give them a thrashing I received a second email:

Okay the second email is more of a real possible answer. BTW his¬†response¬†shows he did not understand my post to Seagate, it did clearly state it would not hot swap in either external or internal. I called Seagate¬†just¬†to make sure I¬†understood¬†this response properly. A Seagate tech brought up my case and had a look and said the comment is correct. SATA supports hot swapping but Seagate does not support it! If it works, it works. If it does¬†not¬†they don’t give support for it. The Seagate tech said only the Cheetah drives support this feature. I was now kind of stuck because I had 2 drives that would not work they way SATA was designed to work. I have emailed WD but I am still awaiting a¬†response¬†from them. I will update the post once I receive a¬†response¬†from them. I also decided to do a test using a different machine just¬†in case¬†it was my SATA chipset. My home machine is running an AsusRock Motherboard using a AMD chip. My work Laptop is a Dell Latitude E6500 running Intel I took my other external HDD dock for testing (so a 3rd different dock) and the same problem happened with both drives.

So conclusion:

2 different HDD manufacturers
2 different machines Intel and AMD
3 different HDD docks

None of them work to make my drive hot swappable! I am starting to believe this is a Windows 7 x64 issue as both machines are running this version. I have not been able to find a Windows XP x32 or Windows 7 x32 to also do testing with yet but again I will update this post when I do. I am also going to be calling Microsoft to see what their take is of this is.

I would like to hear your feedback on this and if you have a 2 TB drive what system you are using

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© Caspan 2011