If I take SATA or SAS drives out of a Dell or HP server and install them in a different machine with a standard SATA or SAS controller will they still be readable? Obviously if they are part of a hardware array they won't but if they are part of a windows software array.

Question has come about because I am told that both Dell and now it appears HP change the firmware in their drives to suit them being mounted in their drive bay caddies. Does that preclude those drives from being read elsewhere?

If so that trashes my idea of having one big backup SATA drive for rapid disaster recovery purposes.

  • "my idea of having one big backup SATA drive for rapid disaster recovery purposes" This is going to cause you more problems than it solves. What's the problem with normal backup software/hardware? Also, if you're bringing VMs back online, your hypervisor might have something that lets you do DR.
    – Basil
    Jan 16, 2014 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


The major vendors are becoming more protective and restrictive in their "acceptable" drive configurations. However, the firmware on the disks is also a way to ensure compatibility and a consistent process for maintenance and monitoring.

That said, you can usually use generic disks in branded servers...

For instance, an HP may complain, but basic functionality will be there.

Can you elaborate more on what you mean by "one big backup SATA drive"? If you're using hardware RAID in a Dell or HP server (which is very likely, as RAID controllers are standard on most models), I don't understand exactly what you're trying to do. Dells use LSI-based controllers, and HP ProLiants have SmartArray controllers. Both store their RAID metadata and configuration on the drives. So no, you would not be able to read a Dell array on an HP box or vice-versa.

If you have any hardware RAID situation on a Dell or HP box, you won't be able to read the data from those disks on another system unless you have a similar controller in the target computer.

  • I think you got this backward. He wants to use a Dell/HP Server Disk in his no-name desktop PC.
    – Chris S
    Jan 16, 2014 at 16:55
  • 1
    @ChrisS No, that's backwards.
    – ewwhite
    Jan 16, 2014 at 16:58
  • We want a 1Tb SATA drive in the new Dell/HP server which we will backup to. We then want to be able to physically remove that drive from the server and install it in a spare machine so that we can quickly get the VMs and data back up and available again albeit on different hardware.
    – NickC
    Jan 16, 2014 at 16:59
  • @NickC What operating systems/virtualization software is in use here?
    – ewwhite
    Jan 16, 2014 at 17:00
  • Sorry should have said, Server 2012 R2.
    – NickC
    Jan 16, 2014 at 17:02

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