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I am a little confused about this. I understand that hot swappable hard drives are considerably more expensive than a standard internal drive, but is that due to the tray?

If I have a case that already has multiple hot swap trays in it can I use regular hard drives in there and still have hot swapping functionality?

If I need specific hot swap drives, can I still use standard drives in hot swap trays and just lose the functionality or should I avoid a case with hot swap trays all together if I don't plan on using the right drives. Reason I ask, is because id like to have the ability to upgrade to HS drives without buying a new case.

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Assuming that you're talking about modern SATA drives, most cases take standard internal drives in their hotswap bays. There's nothing unusual about the drives, you can use existing ones.

The concern however is the motherboard - hotswap support isn't always on by default. You may even have to enable it on a port-by-port basis. Don't just expect it to magically work, though.

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Ok so just to clarify, I CAN use standard hard drives in hot swap bays and they will be able to hot swap? Why are drives sold as hot swappable drives so much more expensive? And I just need to make sure the motherboard supports hot swapping. –  ryandlf Aug 6 '12 at 17:27
    
I suppose it's possible that a hard drive might not support hot swapping, but I've never seen one that didn't work. It's in the SATA specification that it's supposed to be possible. As for the cost, I've never shopped for a 'hot swappable hard drive' but I'd assume they come with the hotswap equipment, which adds cost. A case with built in hotswap already has the crade, the backplane passthrough, etc ready to go. In theory you could just hot plug a SATA drive with the standard internal connectors if the port is set up to allow hot swapping and you don't mind the mess. –  Shinrai Aug 6 '12 at 17:30

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