The Removable Hard Drive with the convenience of a floppy is here! you can use Serial ATA (SATA) internal drives as externals here's what you need to do:


Just pop a dock on your desk, slide in a bare 3.5" or 2.5" Hard Drive and connect via USB or eSATA and you have a 1TB HDD with the convenience of a Floppy Disc


This unit is light and portable making it ideal for on site work

So my next purchase is a pcmcia e-sata card to enable me to connect the unit to my laptop via an eSATA cable


The view of the top RH corner of my Monitor 'desk top' below shows my internal drives and the External connected via USB shown yellow named E01 (External 01)

I have 4 internal drives arranged as

1. Drive 1 (500GB) - System Drive (Sys HD) - containing applications

2. Drives 2+3 (2x 1TB) Working Drive (Psy 1) as a striped pair (Raid 1) for speed - containing Libraries, working Archives, Scratch pad etc

3. Drive 4 (1TB) Internal Backup (BupA) Preservation Archives

Desktop View © Phil Gee

I ran a few tests using a eSATA ExpressCard |34 comparing it to the USB connection.

This card fits into a slot at the side of laptop which used to be designated PCMCIA slots and you were able to slot a CF card in with the help of a suitable adaptor.
But things move on and we now have yet another configuration a smaller 34 slot and additional expense but it's supposedly faster?

I used a typical file which happened to be 30.18GB the Folder containing various files and image formats

Using USB 2 the transfer time was 30m 58s =

with SATA the transfer time was 9m 55s =

The USB is a little slow so I ran comparative tests using my main machine following rates were achieved.

USB ...........
FW 400 ....
FW 800 ....
SATA ........

So the Dock SATA rates are pretty good the hard drives in the Laptop and External are fast drives 7200 RPM with minimum of 16MB and 32MB Cache respectively.

Dumping a 500GB drive via SATA is going to take you approx 3hrs and via USB 8hrs

eSATA adaptor cards for your laptop cost from £15 to £250 depending on type suitable for your Operating System and performance requirements.

PCI and PCI-E cards to fit your desktop machines are available and give you multiple external SATA options in the same price range.

My laptop uses a eSATA ExpressCard |34 and desktop (tower) uses PCI-E cards.

In both cases Desktop and Laptop I purchased twin slot port multiplying adaptors (you can get 4 or 8 slot for the Desktop)

NB 'Port Multiplying' means that one eSATA cable can cary information to address more than one SATA hard drive in my case all four in the external unit I am using.

The two slot card enables me to connect two eSATA cables so I can use it in conjunction with my Wiebetech 4 bay unit on one cable and the Dock on the other.
If the need arrose I could connect my colleagues Wiebetech 4 bay unit to the other slot giving 8 external HDDs
The laptop may however require a 'little' active cooling

Granted a simple single slot unit would work for the dock but I could get another dock and then have two relatively portable Hard drives for £88 + HDDs (£24 for a Dock and cables x2 + £40 for card)

My next test is to set up a scratch file on the external and then see how it works with Phocus and PS-CS3 i.e. the application is on the laptops hard drive and the image files and working space on the external.
I am writing/reading from the external as you would/should be doing if you are using a desktop with two or more HDD's.

My large RAW files are approx 21MB from 35mm DSLRs and 50MB from the Hasselblad so it should be a stress test for the Laptops 4GB ram and 512MB Graphics card but we shall see how it can cope.


Images of my laptop with the eSATA ExpressCard |34 card shown infront of the Dock unit and in the image below shown fitted into the laptops ExpressCard |34 slot, you can see the eSATA cable in this case is fitted into the lower socket a second cable can be fitted into the top one.