Hot swapping and hot plugging are terms used to describe the functions of replacing computer system components without shutting down the system. In all the articles it was mentioned during some system problem the drives can be replaced using hot swap.

So in case of hard disk can i use hot swap for my backup purpose. I need to backup data from my server every day.


  1. Can I use hot swap option so that after backup I can remove the hard disk used for backup?
  2. Is hot swapping the drive used only if urgent system problem or disk problem occurs?
  3. Is there any restriction for hot swapping drives?
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    They do make SATA hot swap backup disk enclosures (similar to RDX drives as ewwhite points to) for this purpose if you want to go that route. One like this: cdw.com/shop/products/… for example. Honestly, it's all a matter of what you like and can RESTORE from easily. If it works for you, and you and your company are fine with it...go with whatever you'd like. Use pigeons carrying printouts daily offsite for all it matters, as long as it works for you. – TheCleaner Jan 8 '14 at 13:57

Consider using a purpose-built internal or external RDX backup drive system for this.

RDX consists of ruggedized SATA disks in cartridge form and is intended specifically for hot-swap and backup purposes. The drive is inexpensive and you can purchase "cartridges" or disks separately, as you need them.

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If not, an external USB3 disk and backup software go a long way!

Also see: Are RDX removable disks a good replacement for LTO tape?

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Intentionally degrading your array because you don't want to take a proper backup is a bad idea. I would never consider this as a valid option. If you don't want to back up to tape (a lot of people don't) then, at least do disk-to-disk backups where the disks are in a separate server. A backup that is stored on the same server being backed up is no backup at all.

Whatever you do, absolutely don't consider pulling a disk from a RAID set as an option.

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  • I will always do backup to a separate disk by connecting it to a server and after backup keep it safe. – Navaneet Jan 8 '14 at 13:27
  • How many disks do you plan on having for this? This seems like an unsustainable practice, even if you use a "dedicated" disk for backup. Are you going to keep a different disk for each day of the month? What happens if you need to restore a file from 13 days ago? Do you have 13 disks you can use? Also, by switching out disks and not backing up to the same media, you can't leverage incremental or differential backups, meaning you'll have to do a full each time. Not something I'd be interested in. Back up like normal people do - either write to tape, or backup to a dedicated backup server's disk – MDMarra Jan 8 '14 at 13:30
  • RDX. – ewwhite Jan 8 '14 at 13:39
  • @ewwhite Right, but the cost sucks, no one uses them, they aren't as good for long-term archival as tape, and the OP was asking about a standard disk, not RDX, which requires additional equipment. A 1.5TB RDX disk seems to be around $200 USD, while an LTO-5 tape which can do 1.5TB seems to be between $30-40 USD – MDMarra Jan 8 '14 at 13:41
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    @MDMarra - while your last statement about tape/drive cost is correct, you have to factor in that the "rdx shuttle" is usually cheap (often free) whereas an LTO-5 drive can cost easily over $1k. – TheCleaner Jan 8 '14 at 13:54

I would consider purchasing a NAS device with its own RAID array to do your backups. We (the company I work for) has a NAS that all our backup jobs dump their data to on a daily basis allowing us to leverage incremental backups. The NAS is in turn backed up via USB3 to an external disk which is taken off-site nightly (we use two disks so one is always connected).

This process works well and really works on its own other than remembering to swap a drive, but wouldn't be suitable for large arrays (like a SAN, for instance) or if you're packing multiple terabytes of data.

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Hot swap hard disk trays are indeed intended to allow you add and remove disks without shutting the system (typically a server) down.

The primary purpose though is to facilitate easy replacement of broken disks or adding disks in RAID arrays. That means that the mechanical engineering is typically designed for incidental use and it will not stand up to the wear and tear of daily disk swaps.

In addition, it would mean that after removing the disk you would need to use the RAID controllers management tooling to present the disk to the your server as it won't magically appear.

Making back-ups to removable disks is a viable solution for small business but my recommendation would be to use an interface designed for removable storage like USB3, firewire or if you're fruity, thunderbolt and not hot swap disks.

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In a professional environment swappable and extractable backups are traditionally done with tape systems.

But yes, you could use some hot swapping systems for backing up under some conditions. Taking into account that those are meant for replacing damaged components, e.g. disk or power drives.

There is a consequence of being meant for replacing damages, not backups, and that is that this hot swap systems often take several hours to rebuild, in case of hard disk drives common RAID systems.

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