I have been researching getting a new external hard drive to speed up my virtual machine performance.

Right now I have a WD password that runs off of USB 2.0, but I'm finding that it's a real bottleneck for my development.

What I would really like to buy is an external hard drive that uses eSATAp (power over eSATA, etc), so I don't need to supply power externally to it.

What is on the market now that offers such solutions? I don't necessarily mind buying an enclosure if that's my only option, I just haven't found anything that offers eSATAp, and I'm thinking I'm looking in the wrong places.


a Decent eSata Dock with a decent drive in it should easily give you 100 MB/s which 5 times the performance of a USB connection (~20 MB/s).

I haven't tried the eSata powered ones, but go to newegg and search for "eSata power" there are various connections and adaptors that you can use.

By all means consider an SSD with your eSata - they use less power and have 20x shorter seek times. This will really make a difference for a VM performance. With a decent SSD you can run VM's on your main system drive without really seeing a negative impacting on your host or your guests. look at the Crucial C300.

  • +1 We have used eSATA docks from Startech and they show much better performance. SSD will help as well so SSD and eSata would be good. Would like to try Velociraptor deive in eSATA dock and see what 10K does to help. At this point fater SSD and eSATA dock looks like a real winner though
    – Dave M
    Sep 21 '10 at 21:01
  • I think going SSD with an eSATAp connector is exactly the think I was looking for. My problem was I didn't realize what kind of adapter I should be buying. In this case something like this would work really well with an SSD drive: lindy-usa.com/external-esatap-cable-5v-12v-1m/33626.html
    – Joseph
    Sep 23 '10 at 17:20

My experience with an external Seagate USB/eSATA drive on a laptop was that the transfer speed was about the same for both interfaces - around 20 MB/sec raw read. Neither one came anywhere near their theoretical max. When I extracted the drive from the enclosure (a one way trip) and moved it to a tower with internal SATA I got the expected 100 MB/sec raw read rate that's typical for a large 7200 rpm drive.

Just saying you might need more than specifications from the maker for this decision...

  • That's very odd. Was the IO transfering on the USB interface and not the SATA? From my understanding plugging in a SATA drive externally should be exactly the same as putting it inside your case.
    – Joseph
    Sep 21 '10 at 18:45
  • I thought so too (which is why I got that model instead of the USB/Firewire version).
    – hotei
    Sep 21 '10 at 19:14
  • That 20 MB/sec is maxing out USB 2.0 but shouldn't be even close to eSata throughput. Perhaps your dock or your sata controller or your system bus were the limiting factors. Your situation is as uncommon as it is unlucky.
    – DanO
    Sep 21 '10 at 20:25
  • For the sake of others I hope it IS uncommon.
    – hotei
    Sep 22 '10 at 0:21
  • @Dano: I said "theoretical max" and the USB 2.0 spec says 60 MB/s is the "maximum bandwidth". However, in practice I've never seen it go over 20 on any system I've used.
    – hotei
    Sep 22 '10 at 0:36

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