External hard disk testing for use with IIAB (internet in a Box) on XO based XSCE servers

James Cameron quozl at laptop.org
Mon Jun 24 00:08:06 EDT 2013

Empty USB to SATA enclosures have a tiny adapter containing a
controller and firmware.  The firmware must implement the USB storage
protocol on one side, and the SATA protocol on the other.

It is one of those product areas where the barrier to entry is very
low, the margins low, and this can lead to a wide variation in quality.

Yes, I've found they vary in terms of performance, reliability, and

Many of them don't support SMART, so you'd need to query a drive using
smartctl on a system with a native SATA port in order to prove whether
smartctl will work through the adapter.

Relying on other people's reports is a start.

I recently purchased one to re-use a SATA drive, and tested it with
OLPC OS and Open Firmware.  It works fine, but I have not tested
SMART.  Manufacturer: Welland Industrial Co., Ltd.  Model: ME-746E.
Brand: speed master.  USB Vendor/Product: 174C:5106.  USB Vendor
string: ASMedia.  USB Device string: AS2105.

USB hard drive enclosures on the other hand allow the manufacturer to
eliminate an area of doubt; because they choose both the controller
and the hard drive they can assure compatibility, and test at the USB
storage protocol level.

For important systems, I think a USB hard drive will be a better
choice than an empty enclosure.

They are also often cheaper than a new empty enclosure and a new hard

James Cameron

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