Why Choose an eSATA External Hard Drive

Why Choose an eSATA External Hard Drive

Though USB based external hard drives are in vogue today, when it comes to high data transfer speeds, those based on eSATA are unmatched. Here's why you should go for them.
With devices like external hard drives offering storage capacities, which are greater than a terabyte, it is hard to imagine that once people used floppies, with storage capacities of a mere 64 MB. When it comes to connecting secondary data storage devices, the most popular computer bus options are USB (Universal Serial Bus) and FireWire. However, very few people are aware of the third option, which is eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment).

What is eSATA?

External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (eSATA), is a type of interface, used for connecting SATA based devices. It is actually the bus interface for internal hard drives and a successor of the ATA technology. It provides a serial architecture for data transfer, with narrow but long connecting cables. The technology is a modification of SATA, to connect storage devices like external hard drives.

Why Opt For it?

One simple reason why one would go for these drives, instead of USB 2.0 or FireWire 400, is the phenomenal data transfer speeds they offer. eSATA hard drives are directly connected to your computer's high performance serial ATA bus, through a direct channel. That's why, data transfer towards and away from such a drive, is comparable to data transfer rates of internal hard drives. Unlike a USB device, data transferred through these drives doesn't have to pass through a USB channel, but uses a data transfer highway, which is the internal hard drive's bus. That's why, data transfer speeds through an eSATA drive can reach as much as 3GB/sec. That is why, an eSATA based drive can hold and transfer large amounts of data, at phenomenal speeds.

These kinds of speeds are unattainable for USB or FireWire, as their data has to first pass through external interfaces. If one needs to store large video files, whose transfer can be time-consuming on USB and FireWire based devices, eSATA is a better option.

External Hard Drive Enclosure

If you have an unused internal SATA hard drive, it can be converted into an external storage device, by using an enclosure. One drawback of using such enclosed eSATA drives is that they need power through an external cable, as they cannot draw power from the port.

The problem with using these devices is that most laptop computers and desktops do not have an eSATA port as yet. A separate hardware for connecting these devices needs to be purchased, which adds to the overall cost of the drives, which is already quite high, compared to USB 2.0.

People connecting these external devices are often hit with messages like 'external hard drive not recognized' or 'drive not detected', due to driver compatibility issues and other related problems. However, if one follows the installation instructions properly, there are generally no problems.

Opt for eSATA drives, if you need really high data transfer speeds. These devices come in handy, when you need speedy data transmission, to transfer big video files. If data transfer speed is not an issue for you, USB and FireWire devices are good enough and cheaper too. Look at devices which offer you the best trade off, between storage space, transfer speeds, and cost.