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Is it safe to add (plug in) or remove (unplug) any device while Windows is in sleep (a.k.a. standby, a.k.a. suspend) mode? What type of devices can be added or removed in this manner? Can you do this with all type of devices like internal PATA/SATA hard drives, PATA/SATA optical disk drives, NIC (network) cards, sound cards, and AGP/PCI-Express video cards, a.k.a. graphics cards? Do they need to support any particular technology like hot plugging?

I know there are hard drives that are specified to support hotplugging. So what would happen if you tried to use a regular hard drive in the same way?

Are there network cards, sound cards, graphics cards, or any other type of PCI-Express cards that explicitly support hotplugging? I have never seen anything like it. It's usually internal hard drives that are designed for RAID arrays that are explicitly specified to support hot plugging.

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In general, unless the design allows for it you should not add/remove printed circuit cards while there is power to the backplane. You might get away with it 9 times and get unlucky the 10th and burn out the card, due to the order that the circuit board pins made contact.

And this of course says nothing about what happens to the logical state of the OS.

USB, et al, is a different matter.

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So any USB device can be safely unplugged or plugged in regardless of if the system is in Sleep mode, Hibernation mode, or fully powered on? Of course, assuming that it's not in use when you do that, in case you unplug it while the system is powered on. – sammyg Sep 6 '13 at 9:46
"unless the design allows for it" - good point! And what kind of system would allow for hot-swapping PCI Express cards and have hot-plug management support in the BIOS? – sammyg Sep 6 '13 at 10:10
@Sammy - I didn't say that. But many/most USB devices can be safely unplugged if the system is sleeping or hibernating. To unplug while the system is "awake" you should always first do the "Safely remove" thing. From an electrical standpoint USB is designed to be "hot plugged/unplugged". – Daniel R Hicks Sep 6 '13 at 11:38
Systems that allow for "hot swapping" are generally special-purpose high-availability systems and large computer arrays. And for most of those there is either a button next to or on the card that you push while removing/inserting the card, or software config operations ("safely remove") that have the same effect. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 6 '13 at 11:40

No , no and yes. If you go into hibernation modes, you would not want to change anything, because the whole state of the ram is returned. Most of the things that are in ram referancing disks and drivers and open windows pointing to places. Nothing good could come of that.
USB items Network interface items, would not suffer any great issues, but if you still had programs working with them, that would not be good. USB Storage items should have been flushed, they could be pulled.

If your in sleep modes the power is not removed off of things with power, it would be a disaster to remove PCI-E cards, PCI cards, and PATA drives. Sata drives would get away with it, because a flush would have occured before both standby and hibeernation. but even E-Sata which can be hot swapable is a powered port , there is usually no reason to do that, when it can be done more safely in the standard user system by shutting down first.

Really nothing good can come of pulling stuff out under the system when it isnt looking, so the system being standbyed or hibernated should not be observed as a time to change things.

You would never pull any Cards out of the computer or the ram without the plug from the wall fully removed, usually you would avoid messing with any internal drives also without a shutdown.

There are a lot of things you could "get away with", but why? unless it is designed with that purpose in mind, each item would have to be analised for the effect it would have at the time, depending on what was also working at the time.

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Why?... Plug and play! Seriously though, I have no particular reason for doing any of it. I just want to know what are the possibilities with today's technology. – sammyg Sep 6 '13 at 9:57
I did a web search and found something called ExpressBox 7 by a company called Magma. Can you explain what this is? I can see that it's some type of expansion system for PCI Express for use in data centers or other critical applications. But how does it work, what does it do? – sammyg Sep 6 '13 at 10:01
The above mentioned apparatus is said to support hot plugging technology. The specifications are also revealing some interesting bits of information. "Hot plug will be managed by BIOS instead of being managed by the Operating System. If the BIOS does not support Hot-Plug, then the hot-plug feature / capability on any Expansion units will not function at all." It tells me two things. One: It's possible to hot-plug PCI Express cards. Two: The BIOS needs to support hot-plugging. Now what kind of system are we talking about that does that? Some very high end server perhaps? – sammyg Sep 6 '13 at 10:04
Any of the pci slots carry power, and can carry lots of it, any of them can also break on the card edge connection end pieces (i have seen it) that means a card can be misaligned with its pins on insertion, or on some really bad removal. Because this is not superserver, it is superuser, I retain that it is a very bad idea, and unnessisary. The group that maintains constant running servers, with specific oses specific hardware, and routines for replacemment, would be a good place to ask about that. – Psycogeek Sep 6 '13 at 16:55
Card edge connetion slots can also have a card dip into the socket at a bad angle, digging a part of the card into the slot with totally misaligned connection locations. Add to all that how stickey the back support for the cards can be, you can bring the metal of the support right into the board (done that more than once too) on insertion. On removal stickey supports can get another angle going, as the card edge connector leaves the slot. I assume that on any really well designed and hot swapping system (vrses a consumer case and board) the assembly is clean straight and easy. – Psycogeek Sep 6 '13 at 17:10

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