I began to run out of slots inside my computer for hard drives, so I decided to get an external enclosure. I had a few requirements: The enclosure would have to store at least 4 drives, make each drive individually visible to the operating system, and be eSATA compatible. The TowerRAID TR4M meets all of those requirements… it even comes with 2-port eSATA card.
The card has a PCI-e x1 connector. To install the card I powered off the computer, unplugged all of the cables, opened up the side of the case, and removed the slot cover of the slot in which I wanted to install the card.
After starting up the computer I got this message:
It’s too bad that Vista didn’t have the drivers locally, but as the following pictures show, the drivers were on Windows Update, making the driver install very easy. Clicking on the little “installing drivers” icon in the system tray brings up the install status.
Here are some pictures of the enclosure with the cover removed:
The although the enclosure supports hot-swapping (inserting and removing drives while the computer is running), it should be noted that for the drives to be properly installed securely the cover has to be removed to gain access to screw holes. It seems that for temporary drive access where the enclosure isn’t moving, it isn’t necessary to screw the drives in. Other than the screws, the drives simply slide in through the front door.
Plugging in the enclosure to the eSATA card and installing drives into the enclosure didn’t require Windows to install any drivers. Taking advantage of the hot-swapping, I installed all of the drives while the computer was on.
Here’s a picture with the drive enclosure filled with drives. The bottom three are Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB drives, and the top one is a Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB drive. (The serial numbers are blurred out.)
The trickiest part of this enclosure was putting the cover back on. This is because there are a bunch of prongs inside the case that fit over the edges of the enclosure. This is a good design, as it make the cover fit more snugly, but I simply didn’t realize that it was designed like this at first and had trouble screwing the case back on.
Ah, gratuitous amounts of storage. It’s so nifty.