Friday, March 6, 2009

Sans Digital TowerRAID TR4M-B 4 Bay SATA to eSATA Enclosure

Our Windows Home Server was running out of disk space.  We had four drives in the internal bays of the HP MediaSmart Server.  I also had two external USB drives attached to the rear USB ports.  (I have a DVD drive attached to the third USB port) I wanted to add a few more drives, and also I wanted to reduce the number of enclosures next to the server.

I wanted to find a drive enclosure that had an SATA port replicator.  This would allow me to attach several SATA drives to the external eSATA port. (This solution will mean that the bandwidth will be shared among the drives.)  The Sans Digital TR4M-B is the best enclosure that I found.

I set it up several weeks ago, and it works perfectly with the  HP MediaSmart Server ex475.  The drives appear the same as they interal SATA drives do on the MediaSmart server.

The only think that I suprised me is that the power LED on the TR4M-B is orange.  When I normally see an orange LED, it makes me think that there is some error.  But it appears that this is just the normal color of it.

One issue that I had is with the design of the case.  You can hot swap SATA drives and the TR4M has a door in front, so you can access the drives.  The problem is that the drives are screwed directly into the enclosure itself, and not in drive sleds.  This is not the major problem itself, but to get access to the screws, you have to remove the top/sides of the enclosure.  What I do is only leave the thumb screws on the top back of the case.  When I want access to a drive, I remove those screws, and just slide the cover back enough for me to get access to the drive screws.  This allows me to hot swap drives when I need to.

The TR4M-B will not work with the new MediaSmart Servers (i.e ex48x).  The new servers do not suport SATA port replication.