I believe that nothing depraves the today’s computer users more than unlimited Internet access. The high-speed broadband Internet channels available anywhere these days offers the users so much freedom, that they do not have enough time and desire to actually decided what to do with it. Of course, it is so hard to fight the temptation when all the treasures of the world are only one mouse click away.
The users got often so much carried away with collecting all sorts of extremely useful, important or just interesting files that only the system warning “there is not enough free space on Drive C:” can stop them.
Of course, the hardware manufacturers do their best to help the users satisfy their desires. Because their business aims at convincing the users that their freedom is non other but dependence on the goods they offer…
This way the mainboard makers are gradually increasing the number of SATA ports, while the hard disk drive makers raise the storage capacity of the drives. However, the more hard disk drives are used to store data, the higher are the risks of losing some of this data, since all hard disk drives are in fact mortal.
In order to ensure the quantity to quality transformation, i.e. to provide the users not only with the higher storage capacity of the disk subsystem but also with some data security guarantees, they introduced RAID technology that allowed uniting the HDDs into reliable arrays.
And today this technology is widely available for everyone. There are very few mainboards out there that do not carry an onboard SATA RAID controller these days: the controller is either integrated into the chipset, or is placed as an onboard chip.
The problem is that RAID technology entered the mass market at a very low cost and very quickly – without all the accessories necessary for more efficient use of SATA RAID, such as well-designed swap-enclosures and bug-free software.
Sometimes you can stumble upon very funny issues. Take a look at the screenshot below taken on my home computer:
As you can see from the screenshot, the SATA controller integrated into the nForce4 Ultra chipset made all the hard disk drives connected to it removable. Even though all these HDDs are part of a RAID array!
I can hardly help myself asking the Nvidia guys why on earth they would allow me to remove the drives from a RAID array? Am I and enemy to myself? I can hardly put up with the situation when there is a potential threat to my data, and here we have clear encouragement to take apart working RAID arrays. Assume I decided to remove a flash card… One false move and my favorite RAID1 has degraded. And what if it were a RAID0?
Of course, it is a great thing that SATA has the electrical ability to support installation and removal of the devices “on the fly”. However, this feature shouldn’t be idealized…
If we are talking about a single HDD, it can really be a freely removable device. Of course, the hard disk drive should be dynamical in this case. However, if it is a part of the array, it should disappear for everyone and everything except the controller BIOS and its own software tools.
It is the controller BIOS that really needs the HDDs to support hot swap and installation. In this case you can easily replace the failed HDD in the array, change the array type or array storage capacity without shutting down the system.
On the one hand, you may think that it is pretty simple: shut down the system, replace the HDD, power on the system and synchronize the array. On the other hand, how high is the risk of a mistake? What if you remove the wrong HDD or connect the wrong SATA cables.
It is much more convenient to work with those RAID arrays which hard disk drives are installed not into the standard internal bays of the desktop PC system, but in the so-called Hot-Swap enclosures. And against the background of the total RAID array cost, the price of an enclosure like that will not be too high, while the benefits it brings will be more than evident.
Today we would like to introduce to you an external HS solution like that from ICY Dock.