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I'm looking at consumer grade ESATA DAS solutions for my home lab.

I use vmware workstation with mucho VMs currently all stored on the same 1TB 7200 RPM SATA disc- performance is pretty terrible as you can imagine.

But what perplexes me, looking on newegg, is how cheap complete ESATA RAID enclosures (for home users) are vs how expensive standalone RAID controllers (also for consumers) are. It makes me suspicious that the controllers bundled with these 4-8 bay enclosures are all garbage.

If I buy an external storage solution packaged with a SATA RAID card will I be able to upgrade the RAID card in the future? I know changing the card will mean rebuilding the array and restoring all the data of course. Apart from the slightly inconveniencing penchant of most higher end controllers not having external ESATA ports, which can easily be solved, are there any reasons why they wouldn't be compatible? As long as the card supports Port multiplier and SATA it should be able to access the disks right?

For a specific example I'd like to buy a complete solution like the "Sans Digital 4-Bay eSATA Tower Storage Enclosure", but then if necessary upgrade the RAID card to something like the "HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL".

I'm not asking for any specific buying suggestions I just want to be sure these two types of products will be compatible and I'm not misunderstanding something.

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  • Generally, the RAID that is built into self contained units is designed specifically for those units, meaning that they are special boards designed for the case and are not separate raid cards such as those you would add to your computer - in other words, you can't just swap out the controller - it is built into the board that also controls power and external communication with the device.
    – MaQleod
    Dec 1, 2013 at 21:31
  • But I'm taking about the ones that are bundled with a RAID card. Can I use a different RAID card for those solutions is the question. Are you saying the RAID cards they come with are doing more than just RAID and are communicating with the enclosure in a special way? Dec 1, 2013 at 21:55
  • Sp the "eSATA RAID enclosures" you look at are just an external case for a bunch of SATA disks, connected via eSATA and using a port multiplier? And it comes with a (software/Fake RAID/HW RAID) SATA RAID card?
    – Hennes
    Dec 1, 2013 at 22:40
  • Well that's what they look like to me. I wanted to confirm that's all they are. Like the one I linked to they typically have a board all the discs connect to and one or two esata ports on the back. Not sure if the cards they come with are fake or hybrid RAID, but they seem super cheap. Just want to check if there is any compatibility issues I might run into with a different card. Dec 2, 2013 at 0:04

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