The SATA hard drive installs in the MB664US unit and connects
with a hot swappable SATA data/power jack fixed at the rear.
So long as you are running Windows XP or Vista, and the
removable hard drive caddy does not contain your operating system, the PC will
react pretty sensibly to the immediate removal or insertion of a hard drive.
It's best practice to go to "removable devices" in the control panel and "stop"
the hard drive before pulling it out of a running computer, or data loss may
occur. This step ensures data integrity while the latter is a little like
playing russian roulette with your data. SATA is inherently hot swappable so it
won't affect the drive.
The general build quality of the Icy Dock MB664US is
nice, we particularly
like the little rubber feet which fold up into the unit
when not needed. The aluminum chassis is jet black and should hold up to little bumps
well enough. The front bay door is plastic and does feel kind of cheap,
but the mechanism behind it which supports the drive and ensures it is
seated fully is metal.
eSATA Device Support
External Serial ATA support is easily
the most exciting feature to pop on motherboards of recent. When it comes to
external mass storage, bandwidth has always been, and will always be an issue.
USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) and IEEE 1394a/b (400/800 Mbps) offer better alternatives
than past connections like Serial and Parallel ports but they are still slow
compared to dedicated hard drive channels.
With the emergence of Serial ATA, external storage
took a huge step forward. Serial ATA is an affordable solution (as opposed to
SCSI) that offers speeds at well past USB or IEEE 1394 levels. Serial ATA
generation I has up to 1.5Gbps worth of bandwidth and Serial ATA generation II
doubles that bandwidth to 3Gbps. Serial ATA makes even IEEE 1394b's 800Mbps
bandwidth look paltry by comparison.
internal Serial ATA cables are sufficient for internal connections, but SATA-IO
governing body decided a while back that the external version should be somewhat
different, thus creating the eSATA standard. The eSATA cable that accompanies
the Icy Dock MB664US is
the eSATA I ('eye' not 'one') type connector (of the
two pictured, it is the left one). There are also eSATA L
connectors floating around, so we'd advise you to double check what type of connector end
is on any kind of cables you might pick up.
great thing about eSATA enclosures is that hard drives connected over this standard are just
as fast as internal SATA devices. The connectors are hot swappable, so
it makes adding and removing an external hard drive about as complex as clipping
in a USB memory key.