Seagate FreeAgent Pro and eSATA connection issues

By TazarZero
Nov 13, 2010
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  1. Yeah, I know "connection issues" is very broad, but give me time an I'll explain to the best of my abilities what's going on.

    Right, so as the title states, I have a Seagate FreeAgent Pro, an external hard drive. This drive has four(4) different data connections. Esata, 1394a (6-pin), Mini USB (5-pin), and Mini Firewire (4-pin).

    My primary use for this drive is storage for video files as I do a lot of work with film. I've heard that the 6-pin Firewire (1394a) connection is the best for use with video, but being that I'm the curious chump, I wanted to see if the Esata connection would work any better or not. The two ports are the only two I've ever used since I first bought the drive, so I'm not too worried about the Mini ports.

    Here's my first problem: With the 1394 connection, I can plug in from the PC and the drive starts right up, and given a certain amount of time, it'll show up in Windows.
    However, with the Esata connection, I plug in from the PC and the drive will power up, but never show up in windows unless I restart the system, or run drive diagnostics (in which case it only shows up half the time).

    Here's my second problem: With the Esata connection, when I'm working in my video editing program and stop to take a break, the drive will shut off. When I try to get it going again, it never shows up and everything in the video editor brings up error codes because the links are all broken. I've also tried installing the software that came with the drive to change the 'Sleep' properties, but the window never opens even if the app is running in the taskbar - so I can't change the 'Sleep' properties.

    So overall, my question resides with the Esata connection. Would anyone happen to know why it works the way it has been described? Do I need to reinstall Sata drivers or what? I'm lost as to why the other port (1394a) works fine, but this one is so stubborn. Can someone maybe explain to me how Esata is supposed to work? Like is it the same as the internal sata drives or what?

    Any help would be awesome. Thanks in advance!
  2. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,012   +714

    SATA, (and Esata), are intended to be hot pluggable devices, (internal and external), as long as they are running in "AHCI", or SATA mode. If the device isn't firing up, (data wise), when you plug it in, then the system drives may be set to IDE emulation mode. In this mode, you would need to power down, then connect the drive, and reboot to have it detected.

    In any case, for safety's sake, I suggest you refrain from hot plugging you external drive while it's running in IDE mode.

    If this is the case, you would need to install SATA drivers, (Assuming you are running XP), AND reinstall the OS, to get true ACHI at the Esata ports.

    With Win 7, you could try switching the drive mode in BIOS, but don't be surprised if that doesn't work.

    Windows 7 would indeed supply ACHI drivers without your intervention, but here again, a reinstall of the OS would be necessary.

    Data transfer should be as fast in USB as it is in the original Firewire (1) spec, but not as fast as the new Firewire. For history's sake, the original Firewire was released when USB was USB 1.0, hence the speed advantage of Firewire! But, USB 2.0 more or less put an end to that. As you probably already know, USB is hot pluggable also.

    Also, once upon a time certain video programs would only allow direct video capture via Firewire, and not USB.
  3. TazarZero

    TazarZero Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Well it's a good thing I've tinkered around in BIOS enough to understand what you mean by IDE and ACHI modes. Mine is set for IDE mode, and yeah, I'll be backing everything up and reinstalling the OS under ACHI mode.

    I am also running Windows 7, so hopefully the reinstall goes smoothly. My girlfriend has an external drive that has Esata as well, so the hot-plugging feature is kind-of a needed feature for us.

    I wish I could've known this when I installed my OS the first time, lol. Would've saved a lot of hassle.

    And thank you again, Cranky, for straightening out the facts for me. There's always something I seem to be missing with just about everything I do, and the answers are never too far away. I pretty much just need the 'lingo' explained to me, if you know what I mean.

    I'll reply again when the system is back up and running, just to verify what you've told me is true. :)
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,012   +714

    I don't know if you've tried this, or if it would even help, but changing the computers standby characteristics is what I would attempt to maintain data contact with the drive.
    You should be able to set power management so that the HDDs never turn off, and the computer never enters standby. Normal "balanced" power management in Win 7, (XP too) spins the drives down after 10 minutes or so. This would cause the issue you describe.

    Before you undertake a full reinstall of Windows, check out your motherboard's website for SATA drivers, in association with Windows 7. In some cases there are RAID SATA drivers, which most probably aren't needed for a simple install in AHCI mode. Still in all, Windows will ask you for drivers, and with Win 7, I think it'll pull them right off a hard drive, without the need of a floppy.

    Just scope out the situation, before you try the reinstall, I'm sure everything will go fine.
  5. TazarZero

    TazarZero Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Alright, so I have my system back up after a reinstall, and before you tell yourself "Oh crap, what'd I make him do?!", rest assured the suggestions you made in your last post have already been researched and tried. That's why I came here for an answer.

    So for the first part, you suggested tweaking the power management settings. They were set before and after to never let the HDD's sleep,
    Result: The drive stll doesn't stay active. The light stays on, but the drive itself doesn't register in My Computer - and this is with the Esata cable! With the Firewire cable, the drive loads up fine, and reloads after shutting down to sleep.

    As for the driver idea, I've checked at Asus' website before and after the reinstall, and before it, there were certain drivers that my system didn't qualify for, and after, I was able to load those drivers. Probably the difference between IDE and ACHI modes in BIOS, who knows. Point is, now my Sata internal hard drives show up in the 'Safe to Eject' menu, but the external one, when using the Esata cable, doesn't. In fact both External drives I have that use Esata don't load when the system is already on.

    Verdict: Hot-swappable Esata, at least for this machine, doesn't work.

    I don't feel bad about reloading everything. I have all the original installation disks and whatnot, and it's nice to have a fresh start again, but the Esata thing is still an issue. Any other ideas?


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