What Is eSATA? - KB Article - 323077

What Is eSATA? - KB Article - 323077

Overview of eSATA

Initially, SATA was designed as an internal or inside-the-box interface technology, bringing improved performance and new features to internal PC storage. Designers quickly realized the innovative interface could reliably be expanded outside the PC, bringing the same performance and features to external storage needs instead of relying on USB or 1394 interfaces.

Called "external SATA" or "eSATA," it is possible to use shielded cable lengths up to 2 meters outside the PC to take advantage of the benefits the SATA interface brings to storage. SATA is now out of the box as an external standard, with specifically defined cables, connectors, and signal requirements released as new standards in mid-2004. eSATA provides more performance than existing solutions and is hot pluggable.

Although eSATA is hot pluggable, if data transfers are still in progress when the hard drive is disconnected from the system, data loss may occur.

Below are a few key benefits of eSATA technology:

  • Up to six times faster than existing external storage solutions such as USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394
  • Robust and user friendly external connection
  • High performance, cost effective expansion storage
  • Up to 2 meter shielded cables and connectors
It is possible to configure RAID 0 and/or 1 on select Dell systems, though Dell does not support RAID technology with eSATA.

The information contained above consists of excerpts from the SATA-IO Web site. The technical information described herein is for informational purposes only. For additional information or the complete article, please refer the SATA-IO Web site for eSATA.

Enable eSATA


    eSATA is enabled in the BIOS by default on Optiplex 960 computers.

  1. Power up the system, or if the system is already turned on, shut it down and then power it up.

  2. Press the <F2> key once every three seconds while the initial Dell logo is on the screen to enter the BIOS.

  3. In the BIOS, Press the <Down-Arrow> key to highlight Drives and press the <Enter> key.

  4. Under the Drives branch, press the <Down-Arrow> key to highlight External SATA and press the <Enter> key.

  5. Press the <Right-Arrow> key to highlight On and press the <Enter> key.

  6. Press the <Esc> key.

  7. On the Exit screen, press the <Right-Arrow> key to highlight Save/Exit and press the <Enter> key to restart the system with eSATA enabled.

  8. Note:

    For more information about entering the BIOS, the BIOS configuration, or restoring the system setup defaults, refer to the Online User's Guide.

Potential System Issues with eSATA Enclosures on Dell Systems

Some eSATA enclosures may cause minor issues, resulting in the eSATA not working correctly, in these given scenarios:

  1. With an eSATA drive attached, AHCI mode enabled, and eSATA disabled in BIOS, eSATA must be enabled in the BIOS.

  2. With an eSATA drive attached, ATA mode enabled, and eSATA enabled in BIOS, AHCI/RAID mode must be enabled as eSATA is not supported in ATA mode.


    For more information about entering the BIOS, the BIOS configuration, or restoring the system setup defaults, refer to the User's Guide.

Internal and External Locations of eSATA Connections

The Dell eSATA implementation could consist of either a built in jack (Figure 1) or may require an adapter that connects to an expansion bay in the chassis. (Figure 2)

Figure 1: Location of Built-In eSATA Port on the Optiplex 960

Figure 2: Add-on eSATA Adapter

The attached SATA cable then connects to a port on the system board. (Figure 3)

Figure 3
: eSATA Adapter Mounted in a Dell™ OptiPlex™ 755 Chassis

When connecting a drive to the eSATA adapter port, the drive requires external power. Power is not provided by the port itself. The eSATA port on system boards is designated with eSATA silkscreened next to the port. (Figure 4)

Figure 4
: eSATA Port on an OptiPlex 755 System Board

Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN266492

Last Date Modified: 04/15/2016 03:39 PM

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