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At the risk of being assigned to the "bad DBA" club... I did something desperate, and may have to undo it.

Problem: After installing a low cost eSATA board, my SQL Server is intermittently unresponsive (seemingly when there is a lot of IO to the eSATA drive).


1) Is there a solution to the intermittent unresponsiveness that allows me to keep the eSATA in place?

2) Whether or not (1==true): What is a decent, low cost way to add 1-3 TB storage to SQL for non-critical SQL DBs?


Our SAN is full, and expanding it is costly and will take a month. I have a pressing need to add 1-3 TB for some development DBs (e.g. not mission critical; data loss is OK).

As a bandaid, I threw a $20 eSATA PCI board in the Dell 1950 server, and attached an external 2TB eSATA drive.

This seemed to work fine, but I notice that our production SQL DBs, and even remote desktop, now experience network "pauses" that they never did before (with both SQL client apps and remote desktop throwing "networking problem" errors).

This SQL Server has lots of memory, and runs an instance of SQL 2005 (where all line of business apps reside) and an instance SQL 2008 (for development db's). SQL Server RAM has been appropriately configured, and this setup has run great for years.

The server is:

  • Dell 1950
  • Win2003 x64
  • 14GB RAM
  • PERC controller,
  • 2 mirrored hd's internal
  • Dell SAN over gbit ethernet, dual homed
  • 2 PCIx slots (1 used by NIC for SAN, 1 now in use for eSATA board)

Thank you for suggestions!

share|improve this question
If dev performance and reliability isn't critical, can you offload that whole project to another low-cost machine? – Keith Stokes Dec 25 '12 at 15:54
@KeithStokes Fair call. In fact, I have started to eval putting this on a cloud instance of SQL Server ... but the db is laaarge... I am not sure there is a truly cheap answer... – samsmith Dec 25 '12 at 16:20
How about a desktop machine using the eSATA card and external drive? – Keith Stokes Dec 27 '12 at 16:19
possible duplicate of Can you help me with my capacity planning? – Magellan Oct 16 '13 at 22:49

Sounds like the two PCIx slots are on the same backplane and that you are maxing out the backplane. If there are other slots in the machine you can try moving the eSATA card to another port that's on another backplane. If not there's probably not much you can do.

share|improve this answer
Interesting thought. I have never (ever, in decades of IT) experienced something that is identifiable in this way (esata can saturate? gbit enet can saturate?). I am more of the opinion that the driver for the esata board is the problem. I have disabled the driver, and am working on other solutions. – samsmith Dec 26 '12 at 0:24
I see it all the time on systems that aren't very powerful (built on a budget) but are expected to function like enterprise class machines. Usually it's seen with the HBAs but a couple of eSATA cards on the same buss can do it as well (don't forget that the on board controller counts). If the problem goes away with the driver being disabled that could point to a driver problem. The hardware vendor can help you if that's the case. – mrdenny Dec 26 '12 at 23:04
Fair call. This system is a Dell 1950, so it is powerful enough. Disabling the driver for the esata board solved it, so it appears to be driver-itis. I am working on a different approach. – samsmith Dec 27 '12 at 3:15

Why don't you pull the eSATA card and put it in another machine. Then run something like openfiler on it as an iSCSI target. Then on the SQL box mount it via iSCSI ?

share|improve this answer
openfiler is a really cool tool, that I had not heard of. Thank you for suggesting it. However, I downvoted this post because suggesting a $1000+ tool when I am trying for a $100 solve indicates being on the wrong "page." – samsmith Dec 27 '12 at 3:20
Well, it won't let me edit the above comment.... Thank you for the openfiler suggestion. I had not heard of it, and may well use it! (The tool is free... the $$ is for support, it appears.) If you edit your answer, the system will let me undo the downvote. – samsmith Dec 27 '12 at 3:27
FreeNAS is another option similar to OpenFiler. – Keith Stokes Dec 27 '12 at 16:20

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