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We have a Veris ~2TB eSATA drive we're using to port data from one machine to another, and as backup. System 1 is a Windows 7 machine, and it seems to treat the eSATA as an external drive, working perfectly with hot swapping. System 2, a 64-bit Vista machine, doesn't. If you plug it in, it doesn't recognize. If you shutdown, plug in, and restart, it shows up as a system drive not a removable drive. It certainly doesn't have an 'eject' or 'safely remove' drop-down tag.

This is honestly the first time I've ever dealt with eSATA, so I'm not sure what the problem is. If there is only one problem. I started poking at this because one of my users couldn't copy a small file from this drive, even after rebooting, but when we moved it to System 1, everything was fine.

My guess is that this is a driver or system config issue with the Vista, as it works perfectly fine for the Win7 machine, but I'm a big user of Ubuntu systems and a legacy XP guy, so the ins and outs of newer Microsoft systems are beyond my ken. What might be the issue and where should be poking to change it?

ETA: We've decided to treat the drive like an internal -- shutdown to connect and disconnect -- on Vista.

share|improve this question… reference a couple of hotfixes that look relevant. – Ajw Aug 24 '10 at 15:48

This sounds like the second machine is running SATA in IDE emulation mode, a setting you can change in the BIOS; SATA must run in AHCI mode to enable hotswapping. Don't just change the setting, you must edit some registry entries to make Windows aware of it before rebooting:

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I've had the same problem in the past with Windows 2003 Server - and I dare say Vista could be the same - where devices like your eSATA drives just aren't hotswappable.

I've been told that it is a limitation with the OS itself 1. not being able to recognize certain devices being plugged in and 2. not being able to handle the removal of those devices because of references held by the kernel.

I ended up using a software utility called HotSwap! to disconnect the eSATA drive. Another one is USB Safely Remove if you want another option. To connect the drive I seem to remember something to do with the Add New Hardware wizard. In the end, I wrote a script to add the drive after it was connected using a utility from the Windows Resource Kit, from memory.

Btw, DataPort was the vendor that I used for drive enclosures and they provided great after sales support. In the end it was too hard.

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