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.


  1. I recently bought the Sans Digital box to use with my HP EX470 Home Server. I installed the sata drives and plugged the box into the esata port on the server. However, the server does not recognize the Sans Digital Box.

    Can you tell me how you went about installing the Sans Digital Box? Are there additional steps to installing the box - other than just plugging it into the esata port on the server?



  2. All that I had to do was contect the box into my ex475. I may have had to reboot the server to have the drives recognized.

  3. Is this configuration still working for you? I need to do the same thing. Which actual drives did you put in the enclosure?

  4. This is still working perfectly for me. I have am using Western Digital 1TB drives in all off the bays.

  5. Thanks! Went out and bought the same enclosure and put in 2 2-TB Hitachi drives. Works like a charm! What a relief! Initially, I purchased another external SATA drive and after many hours of frustration I discovered that the eSATA interface on the drive was incompatible with the eSATA controller chipset in my EX475 (undocumented of course in any place that one would look pre-purchase).

    Thanks again.

  6. Also---to Ken who posted earlier:
    My Sans Digital didn't work initially due to one tiny issue:
    The instructions say to install the drives from top to bottom, but actually it is wrong! You need to go from bottom to top (i.e. lower bay is for drive #1) and I needed to reboot the EX475.

    If you installed 4 drives at a time (as Paul did), this error would never be an issue.

    I'm sure you've found this out by now (if it was your issue), but I decided to post in case someone else ends up here looking for a solution to this problem.


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