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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the eSATA port on a Dell PC



This articles provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) port on a Dell PC


Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Introduction

eSATA Logo 1 eSATA Logo 2

This article provides a reference on eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) ports on a Dell PC, by going over the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) by our end users and providing clear answers to each.

The questions vary from what the ports look like to how to troubleshoot them when something goes wrong.

I hope you find what you need below. If not, please contact your local support.


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2. Frequently Asked Questions

Note : Please click on the title of the section you want to open below, in order to see the contents.

What is an eSATA port and What does it do?

A Port or Connector :
A Port or Connector on a Dell PC has either holes or a slot that matches the plug or device that you are connecting to the Port.
eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment)and eSATAp (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment Powered) :
Has been around for quite a while and is an industry standard that defines the cables, connectors and the communications protocols used for external storage devices. They competed with Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 to provide fast data transfer speeds up to three times as fast as it's competitors.
Note : eSATA uses the same technology as that used in the internal HDD (Hard Disk Drive) units of your PC. This saves having to translate data between the interface and the PC. Cables are serial and can be up to 6 and half feet / 2 metres in length. Unless you are using one of the eSATAp ports, you will need an external power source for the storage device as regular eSATA ports do not supply power.

How does it work?

The first thing you require is either a Motherboard with an eSATA connector, a SATA to eSATA converter or a PCI card with an eSATA connector to connect your external device to. Once you have the hardware in place the goal of eSATA is to make your external storage devices as fast as your internal storage, by using the same technology. This should allow you to create external arrays using the same equipment that you would use inside the PC. In using the same technology as the internal storage, it removes any need for the PC to change or translate the data prior to use. (Just make sure your external device matches or is better than the specifications of your internal storage. While these devices are backwards compatible to a certain extent, plugging something older and slower to a new PC will not suddenly make that external device quicker.)

One limitation of the eSATA port is that it does not supply power through the same port. You will need an external power source for your external device.

There is a newer port design eSATAp which not only supplies power, but is also able to be used as a USB port if necessary.

eSATA devices are Hot-Swappable, this means you can pull them out and plug them in, whilst the PC is still powered up and working.

What types of eSATA port are in common use?

There are two types of eSATA port in use currently. Please select your version from the tabs below to see the available ports and plugs and what they can do :

eSATA

eSATA was the first officially recognised version of the eSATA port that was widely adopted. The name simply means External SATA port.

SATA is a computer bus interface designed for connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as HDD (Hard Disk Drives) and Optical Drives.

It has data rates of 3 Gbit/s depending on your PC's revision of SATA.

It is not a powered socket and any device plugged to it, will need it's own power source.

Port eSATA Port Plug eSATA Plug

eSATAp

eSATAp is a new port that combines eSATA with power and also allows USB connections from the same port.

eSATAp has been called by numerous names since it came out. It's also known as eSATAp, eSATApd, Power over eSATA, eSATA / USB, Power eSATA / USB, SATA on the go, eSATA / USB Combo and eSATA USB Hybrid Port (EUHP).

As this is a combi port designed to work with multiple standards, neither the USB or eSATA organisations have formally approved it.

eSATAp can provide power at 5v and 12v and no changes to your BIOS or or drivers are needed to use this port.

Port eSATAp Port Plug eSATAp Plug

What are the SATA revisions and what do they mean?

The SATA revisions chart the changes in the technology that made the transfer speeds improve over time :

SATA Revision 1.0

Revision 1.0 came out in January 2003 and supported the first generation of SATA interfaces.

Their transfer rate was stated at 1.5 Gbit/s. The actual uncoded transfer rate was 1.2 Gbit/s (150 Mbit/s). It did not support NCQ (Native Command Queuing).

This saw the end of the PATA standard from general use. (There was some backwards compatibility through the use of a bridging chip.)

SATA Revision 2.0

Revision 2.0 came out in April 2004 and supported the second generation of SATA interfaces.

Their transfer rate was stated at 3.0 Gbit/s. The actual uncoded transfer rate was 2.4 Gbit/s (300 Mbit/s). It did support NCQ (Native Command Queuing.)

These devices were backwards compatible with Revision 1.0

SATA Revision 3.0

Revision 3.0 came out in July 2008 but was finalised on May 2009 and was intended to improve the quality of service for things like Video Streaming and high-priority interrupts. It contained the following changes :

  • 6 Gbit/s for scalable performance
  • It was compatible with SAS (Serial Attached SCUSI) using the STP (Serial ATA Tunneled Protocol)
  • Isochronous NCQ (Native Command Queuing) streaming command for isochronous quality of service for streaming digital content
  • NCQ management features
  • Improved power performance
  • New connectors for specialist devices

Their transfer rate was Stated at 6.0 Gbit/s. The actual uncoded transfer rate was 4.8 Gbit/s (600 Mbit/s).

The devices were backwards compatible with Revision 2.0

SATA Revision 3.1

Revision 3.1 was released in July 2011 and introduced some new features to Revision 3.0 :

  • mSATA was SATA for SSDs (Solid State Drive) using a PCI mini card like connector that is SATA
  • Further power savings including a Zero power drive when in an idle state
  • Queued TRIM command for improved SSD performance
  • Link Power Management reduced the overall power demand of several attached SATA devices
  • Hardware Control Features enabled host identification of device capabilities
  • USM (Universal Storage Module) standard brought in for plug in, powered storage for third party devices

SATA Revision 3.2

Also Known As : SATA Express

Revision 3.2 was released in August 2013 and introduced the following changes :

  • The new SATA interface combined the SATA and the PCI Express buses. Legacy SATA and PCI express storage devices could now co-exist
  • The SATA M.2 standard was a small form factor implementation of the SATA express interface using an internal USB 3.0 port.
  • Micro SSD introduced a new interface for miniturised, embedded SATA storage.
  • USM Slim reduced the thickness of the USM from 12.5 mm to 9 mm
  • DevSleep enables low power consumption for always on devices
  • Hybrid infromation allows for higher performance from SSD-hybrid drives

Their transfer rate was stated at 16.0 Gbit/s. As an additional benefit, the choice of PCI Express enables scaling up the performance by using multiple lanes and different versions of PCI Express. For example, using two PCI Express 2.0 lanes provides a total bandwidth of 1 GB/s, while using two PCI Express 3.0 lanes provides close to 2 GB/s, equating to effective 1969 MB/s).

The devices were backwards compatible with Revision 3.0

What Operating Systems support eSATA ports?

So far there hasn't been a popular operating system that hasn't supported eSATA. Everything from Apple, Linux and Windows have support for these eSATA standards built into their operating systems from the base up as it matches their native storage technology.

eSATA Devices

eSATA external devices are basically external storage devices, such as Optical Disc Drives (ODD, DVD), Hard Disk Drives (HDD), HDD Arrays and HDD Docks. Additionally Network attached Storage devices can also have eSATA ports for expansion using additional storage devices.(NAS)

External CD-ROM, DVD, ODD

There are a number of external disc drive devices available that use the eSATA connector. These cover a number of formats including Blueray. There are a number of system formats now such as the Ultrabook that don't include a floppy or disc drives and depend upon USB flash drive installs or the use of external devices such as these.

External case using internal HDD

These are simple drive enclosures that allow internal drives to be used externally to expand your systems storage capabilities.

External case holding group of internal HDDs

These are simple drive enclosures that allow a number of internal drives to be used externally to expand your systems storage capabilities. (There is also some scope for RAID using these devices.)

External Dock for swappable internal HDDs

External HDD docks have several uses. They offer instant access to any internal drive you insert into the dock through a drive letter, without you having to mount the drive. This is the epitome of hot swappable. These docks are used to retrieve information from archive drives, to attempt repair to or data recovery from faulty drives, to clone / image drives for use and to format / reinstall drives from backups. It's a handy and versatile tool for any IT technician to have.

Network attached storage you can expand using eSATA devices

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is storage that is accessible on your network, by anyone on your network. These devices can be a number of internal drives in series or in some type of RAID configuration. These devices can usually host a Printer and make it available to your network and also can be expandable by adding extra / larger storage devices to them through an eSATA or USB connection.

How do I resolve an issue with a Device not detected or faulty on a eSATA port?

Note: If you have Accidental Damage Cover, damage is specifically covered as part of the Accidental Damage package. We will need to know where the damage is and how it occurred when you contact your local Technical Support. If you DON'T have any cover or no Accidental Damage cover, then any repairs will be chargeable. Please be aware external devices unless purchased with the PC on the same order, are unlikely to be covered by our Accidental Damage Cover.

You can check your warranty status on the link below.

Note: Please confirm your BIOS is NOT set to SATA legacy mode - eSATA is disabled as default with this setting.

The first step is to check the ports, the connector and the cable for any wear and tear or damage that might be causing you problems :

  1. Checking for damage is very basic, it's looking at the eSATA port and visually checking if there are any:

    • Cracks in the plastics surrounding the port?
    • Any part of the port crimped or bent?
    • Any pins from inside the port bent or missing?
    • Any parts of the port missing or broken off?
    • Any damage to the devices male connector?
    • Any damage to the cable from the connector to the device?
  1. If you identify any of the above you will need to have in place a complete care warranty or be prepared for a chargeable repair call. (Your local Technical Support team will provide a quote for this repair.)

  2. If there is no damage to the port or external device then carry on with the next step.

  1. Does the external eSATA device work ok in another system?

    1. Yes, then proceed with the next step.

    2. No, then you will need to replace the external device.

  1. Plug the external device to the port. If you move the connector whilst it's plugged into the eSATA port, does it affect whether the device is picked up or not?

    1. Yes, then contact your local Technical Support team to take the connection issue further.

    2. No, then proceed to the next step.

  1. Have you ruled out a software issue in any way? There are three basic ways to accomplish this.

    1. You can two way swap your HDD (Hard Disk Drive) with one from a similar working system and see if the fault follows the HDD to a new machine or if the issue stays with your system? Please follow your User Guide for instructions on removing any hardware parts as the steps change from system type to the system type or you can search on our support site using terms such as "your PCs model type", "CRU" and "removal" to find a guide specific to your machine.

    2. You can boot from an Ubuntu Live CD (Regardless of the the operating system currently in use on the PC.) and check to see if you experience the same issue in another OS. Ubuntu live CD's allow you to boot the OS off the CD without installing it on your Hard Drive. You can download an ISO of the CD on the Download link below. Tap rapidly at the F12 key when the system boots to the Dell Splash screen and choose the CD/DVD drive option from the boot once menu that appears.

    3. You can run a factory restore or reinstall your Operating system.

Caution: Carrying out option iii. would be done as a last resort and only done if one of the other two steps couldn't be done. You MUST back up all data before carrying out this procedure - if you do not data WILL be lost. Any operating system reinstall or factory restore involves formatting your Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Please refer to the guides on the Windows portal for further information on these procedures.
  1. Was the issue seen once the OS and Software was ruled out?

    1. No, then the issue is resolved.

    2. Yes, then contact your support to take this further, they will take you through some hardware diagnostics. These are built in to your PC and you can also access more on the Dell Support Site by entering your service tag.

Please see the additional information section at the bottom of this article for contact us instructions.

Note : If you're using Windows 7 64bit with Service Pack 1 and still can't detect your eSATA device please follow these steps :
  1. Reinstall the Chipset driver from your recovery media or from the Support site.

  2. Run the fixit tool from Microsoft's Support site.

  3. Restart your PC and check for the device.

What is the future of the eSATA port?

There doesn't appear to any doubt that the eSATA standard has a very clear cut advantage in the storage market.

However the truth is that not many consumers are aware of the benefits of this hardware and without customer demand to keep them in use - these types of port can end up replaced with a more generic port.

The two main issues with eSATA are the need for an external power source with regular eSATA ports and the fact that there is no single accepted standard for a powered eSATAp port. There are no signs of a supported eSATAp being brought out soon either.

The current trend has seen most eSATA ports being replaced with USB 3.0 on the majority of new motherboards and new standards such as Thunderbolt 2 being introduced.

This may see eSATA turning into a standard used in niche / speciality markets that can make the best use of it's storage performance benefits.


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Additional Information :

If you issue with another port on a PC, please try the article below :

If you require further assistance, please contact technical Support.
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Article ID: SLN291980

Last Date Modified: 05/03/2017 07:12 AM


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