eSATA Rant

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eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:28 am

I don't know whether this is a flaw in the eSATA connector spec, or clueless vendors implementing the spec incorrectly, but twice now I have encountered issues where an eSATA cable is physically incompatible with an eSATA device. The problem is that the molded plastic cover of the cable connector and the housing of the device physically interfere with each other, preventing the connector from being properly seated into the eSATA jack.

I've now had this happen with a Vantec drive dock, and a Rosewill front panel combo card reader / USB hub / eSATA port.

The solution in both cases was to use a pocket knife to shave down the outer plastic part of the cable connector until it fits.

Stupid simple crap like this pisses me off. :evil:
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:38 am

Interesting find. I'm sorta surprised I hadn't heard of this before. What brand of eSATA cable are you using ?? I'm curious if the cable is out of spec.

I'm also dealing with eSATA issues. but of the port multiplier variety on my end. I purchased a Thermaltake BlacX Duet to be used for drive duplication (replacing a single drive enclosure I currently use) but didn't come upon the need for an eSATA port that properly supports port multiplication to be able to see the second drive in the enclosure. I did find a nice PCIe 4x eSATA card for $35 that will not only fix my ESATA needs but also will allow my OCZ Vertex 4 to run at its SATA3 speed instead of SATA2 which is the fastest my MSI 790FX G45 will currently support.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:49 am

This is why I use drive bay docks that take bare drives, though not for daily swapping as it will wear the connectors out in less than a year. You have to go full caddy to do that, easy for 2.5" drives, hard to find for 3.5"...which is why people usually end up esata anyways.

Also sata port multiplication is a sloppy hack, would not advise depending on it.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:56 am

I think it's bad design by both parties. The device manufacturer for not making the port flush to account for cable manufactures being cute with their design, and cable manufacturers for not taking into account device manufacturers being cute with their design.

I had a cellphone with a recessed USB connector and a cover for the connector. The stock USB cable worked fine, but other USB cables were hit or miss depending on the design on the end. There was on cable in particular that almost fit, and if I pushed on it, it would connect until I let it go.

Then there is the headphone jack on certain iPhone models which was notorious for being finicky about the length of the plug.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:11 pm

Walkintarget wrote:Interesting find. I'm sorta surprised I hadn't heard of this before. What brand of eSATA cable are you using ?? I'm curious if the cable is out of spec.

In the case of the drive dock, I believe it was the cable that came with the dock, so really no excuse. Not sure where the cable that wouln't fit the front panel eSATA port came from originally, I just grabbed it out of my spares pile.

Bauxite wrote:This is why I use drive bay docks that take bare drives, though not for daily swapping as it will wear the connectors out in less than a year. You have to go full caddy to do that,

While a caddy will eliminate wear on the drive connector, won't the connector on the backplane still wear out? Or are the backplane connectors rated for more insertions/removals than the drive connectors?

Flatland_Spider wrote:I had a cellphone with a recessed USB connector and a cover for the connector. The stock USB cable worked fine, but other USB cables were hit or miss depending on the design on the end. There was on cable in particular that almost fit, and if I pushed on it, it would connect until I let it go.

Yeah, I have an old point-and-shoot camera that has the same issue. Most unmodified USB cables don't work, due to interference with the camera housing. Solution is the same as for the eSATA cables -- IOW a few seconds of hacking (literally!) with a pocket knife.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:15 pm

eSATA is dumb anyway because it doesn't pipe power in most implementations. That's why I hate it, at least :P
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:41 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:eSATA is dumb anyway because it doesn't pipe power in most implementations. That's why I hate it, at least :P

Yeah, I agree that's a shortcoming. The Rosewill drive bay port thingy I got actually has a 5V power jack on it next to the eSATA port. I took the 5V power cable and wrapped it around the eSATA cable, so now I have what amounts to a poor man's combo eSATA/power cable for my portable hard drives. Well, for the 2.5" ones at least; the 3.5" ones still need a separate power brick since they also require +12V.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:06 am

eSATA is more of a power-user connection type, as the average Joe probably has no idea what it is or how to use it (of course we're talking average Joes who are capable of using an external hard drive, which itself is a small number). Therefore the number of people using eSATA is probably exceptionally small, and not much thought is given to design/ergonomics.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:12 am

I fart in your general direction. Have 2 eSATA rigs, one a captured internal, one just a dock. Yes, they both come with power bricks but it's not like this 2007 mobo has any faster path to external storage.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 5:52 am

I would say that many "average Joes" are perfectly capable of using an external hard drive. Granted, 99% of the ones who do are probably using the drive via USB and don't even know what eSATA is; but it's not like external hard drives in general are rocket science.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:59 am

just brew it! wrote:I don't know whether this is a flaw in the eSATA connector spec, or clueless vendors implementing the spec incorrectly, but twice now I have encountered issues where an eSATA cable is physically incompatible with an eSATA device. The problem is that the molded plastic cover of the cable connector and the housing of the device physically interfere with each other, preventing the connector from being properly seated into the eSATA jack.

I've now had this happen with a Vantec drive dock, and a Rosewill front panel combo card reader / USB hub / eSATA port.

The solution in both cases was to use a pocket knife to shave down the outer plastic part of the cable connector until it fits.

Stupid simple crap like this pisses me off. :evil:



Yeah I have encountered this before and not just once or twice but more than enough that its just plain stupid. I am right there with ya JBI, companies need to really go through a Q&A with their products.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:16 am

I wonder how many eSATA devices have been RMAed because the user thought they were DOA, when the problem was really just a few extra milligrams of plastic getting in the way.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:20 am

This is when Mr. Dremel comes in very handy.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:28 am

Captain Ned wrote:This is when Mr. Dremel comes in very handy.

Too much trouble for stuff like this. I just whip out the pocket knife.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:58 am

While on this topic, am I the only one around here that thinks that eSATA without power was a pretty retarded idea to begin with? I mean, I'll use eSATA if I have it available, but if you think about it, it's only a half-measure at best. There isn't *that* much of a point to be using eSATA for most usage scenarios (read: external drives) if you still have to have a power brick around.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:59 am

Well...

It made a lot of sense for larger (3.5") external drives in the pre-USB3 days since you needed an external power brick anyway, and eSATA is a lot faster than USB2. I still use eSATA a fair bit since I've got a pile of existing external enclosures that support it, and some of my older systems don't have USB3 ports.

For people who don't have existing legacy hardware they want to support, USB3 probably makes more sense. Though if you're using 3.5" drives I believe you still need a power brick anyway, even with USB3?

And then there's the issue of USB bridges not exposing the entire SATA command set. This was definitely an issue with USB2; I haven't used external USB3 drives enough (mostly only on the locked-down machines at work, so I'm not doing stuff like running HDD diagnostics anyhow) to know whether this is still the case.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:12 am

My laptop has an eSATA port on it, and it saves me from using the awful USB2-to-SATA adapters. Having to cart around a power brick is a pain, however.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:16 pm

JBI wrote:And then there's the issue of USB bridges not exposing the entire SATA command set. This was definitely an issue with USB2; I haven't used external USB3 drives enough (mostly only on the locked-down machines at work, so I'm not doing stuff like running HDD diagnostics anyhow) to know whether this is still the case.


It is with the two different USB3 ones I have. :/

Although I didn't bother to check if they have the same chipset, so maybe it's just the one USB3-SATA bridge I have. :P
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:18 pm

For all I know it is like that in the USB mass storage spec.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:39 pm

Bauxite wrote:This is why I use drive bay docks that take bare drives, though not for daily swapping as it will wear the connectors out in less than a year. You have to go full caddy to do that,

While a caddy will eliminate wear on the drive connector, won't the connector on the backplane still wear out? Or are the backplane connectors rated for more insertions/removals than the drive connectors?


There are some caddy systems with a custom connector that can take a lot more abuse, but only found them for 2.5" drives....SIGH.

You can still replace the bay which can be as cheap as $20 twice a year. If you are swapping out different hard drives and not the same one every day (like archival) this the cheap and effective option.

If you are just swapping a pair of "hot" volumes over and over (like a DR plan in a smaller business with 1 always offsite, I see this a lot) then I would actually pony up for two SAS cards (1 offsite) and pair of "semi-portable" SAS cages, some of those SFF8xxx external connectors are very well rated.
Should be a RAID array for that kind of plan anyways so 4 drives in a cage is great. 8 drive will be too damn heavy in a padded travel case, don't skip on that either because it WILL be dropped, ask me how I know :)

Doing it with crummy consumer usb or esata junk on a daily basis is guaranteed to fail.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:20 pm

Probably a spec issue is my bet, but who knows.

Anybody notice the SATA cables with latches don't always latch to drives? Especially with SSDs, many SSDs for whatever reason used a different plastic connector so latching cables cannot actually clip to anything. One set of Gigabyte latching cables I had would come off the SSD with just a slight brush against the side of the cable because they couldn't latch.

Hard drives are one thing, but given how often SSDs are stuck in random locations in a case or moved around one would think it'd be even more important that all SSDs used a latching connector.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:41 pm

One of the 4 drives in the cage in my P182 is clearly labeled "DO NOT TOUCH". Between incompatible locking and sharp angle bends the only time I will touch that cable is to retire the drive.

And SATA was supposed to be less twitchy than IDE.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:03 pm

If you ignore VIA's train wreck of a controller from back in the early SATA days, it *is* less twitchy. Not to mention faster, and less of an impediment to case airflow. But I agree the connector could be better.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:01 pm

Captain Ned wrote:And SATA was supposed to be less twitchy than IDE.


Yeah, from the standpoint of how easily it is for SATA cables to get bumped or tugged loose, definitely. Not something that could ever happen with an IDE ribbon connection.

The first-gen SATA cables would "snap" when slotted into place so they wouldn't pop off randomly, I remember those. Oddly 3rd gen SATA cables no longer do that, especially the latching types. When using a latching cable on a drive or SSD that doesn't have a latch-style connection all it takes is the tiniest of bumps or tugs to pull it half off the drive.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:07 pm

A bigger problem I find with eSATA is that it didn't become mainstream. It's not something you'd find on an average laptop, nor on most motherboards (I suspect those plain SATA -> back bracket adapters aren't eSATA spec-wise).
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:16 pm

meerkt wrote:A bigger problem I find with eSATA is that it didn't become mainstream. It's not something you'd find on an average laptop, nor on most motherboards (I suspect those plain SATA -> back bracket adapters aren't eSATA spec-wise).

It depends. While it is true that eSATA uses modified signaling levels versus standard SATA, some motherboards have a per-port BIOS setting to indicate whether the port is being used as an eSATA port or not. I would assume (thought I could be wrong...) that this adjusts the electrical characteristics of the port to match the eSATA spec.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:14 pm

Makes me wonder. Perhaps they can just make all internal ports eSATA compliant, assuming that isn't a problem somehow for plain SATA.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:22 pm

just brew it! wrote:I don't know whether this is a flaw in the eSATA connector spec, or clueless vendors implementing the spec incorrectly, but twice now I have encountered issues where an eSATA cable is physically incompatible with an eSATA device. The problem is that the molded plastic cover of the cable connector and the housing of the device physically interfere with each other, preventing the connector from being properly seated into the eSATA jack.


I've had this exact problem when I bought two eSATA cables (5 feet I think) from monoprice 3 years ago - I had to take a knife to the molded plastic and cut them down! Meh, screw eSATA, I hardly use it anymore.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:18 pm

On a slightly unrelated note, my laptop's USB3 port is not compatible with USB 2 devices. Mouses, external HDDs, external DVD drives, flash drives, etc, nothing works unless if I use a USB3 device.

Physically compatible, but the USB2 device doesn't show up unless if I plug it into a USB2 port. And device manager said that the USB3 port was working fine.

EDIT: I thought I used a USB 1.1 device, but I think I just plugged it into the USB2 ports without trying the USB3.
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Re: eSATA Rant

Postposted on Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:57 pm

I've encountered the USB3/USB2 compatibility issue as well, but not to that extent.
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