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Currently we have 2 SATA hard drives housed in removable enclosures (NTFS partitions). Each week the drive is swapped out with the other one after the backup job has completed. The files that are copied are large virtual machine files ranging from 20-100 gigs in size. We use a utility called Hotswap! to re-initialize the drive after it's physically swapped out, to ensure that Windows is aware of the current drive.

The problem i'm having is that we end up with file system corruption on these drives. The error states that "the file or directory is corrupted and unreadable". Running chkdsk seems to correct the problem, but i'd like to avoid any corruption in the first place.

My main question is how can I achieve my goal of having a hot-swappable drive backup solution without corruption (what setup worked for you i.e. controller card etc)? Also is there a way to determine what is causing this corruption?

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3 Answers 3

I have been using Western Digital MyBook drives connected eSATA to a PROMISE SATA300 TX4 SATA card without any problems corrupting data. I dont use any software to "hot plug" the drive. I just ensure no drive activity before I pull the eSATA cable. I am moving to another drive solution for ease of backups. Check these products out from Highly Reliable Systems. I use Acronis to dump TIB files onto the drive for my daily full backups.

Edit: Windows 2003 SP2 Standard Server

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Disabling Write Caching on the drive(s) may fix the corruption problem. Open Device Manager, find the drive, pull up it's properties, Policy tab, uncheck Write caching. This may also impact performance, but I'd give it a try and see how it works out (since you're mainly doing sequential writes anyway).

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1) Make sure that your hardware actually supports hot swap. Just because it says SATA does not mean all of SATA.

2) If you use eSATA then you don't need any special software. The basic drive discovery on plug in and the "Safely remove Hardware" function are all you really need. It's important to make sure you use the remove-safely feature. You can not assume the drive is "done" or that there is no drive activity.

That said you should use eSATA. The connectors will probably last a lot longer that the ones on the drives which were meant only for a small number of connections.

UPDATE: See the answer to this question for safe discovery and removal of drives. It may be of help.

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