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Review Details

4 Port SATA III / II / I  Switch  With KeyLock and LED 6Gbps Compatible

4 Port SATA III / II / I Switch With KeyLock and LED 6Gbps Compatible

Product Review (submitted on June 20, 2013):

This review is lengthy, but it partitioned into sections so that the reader can jump to the information of interest. I am taking the time to put together this lengthy write up in the interest of sharing the knowledge with regard to SATA Switching and to counter some reviews that I seen which I feel unfairly characterize CoolDrives.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH COOLDRIVES
My experience has with CoolDrives has been fantastic: fast and courteous technical assistance / customer service (Thank you, Caleb), unique product offerings (e.g., the SW-SATA2X4), and high-quality, reasonably-priced products. In addition to two of the SATA Switches, I purchased the “USB 3.0 / 2.0 to IDE/SATA adapter with Write-Protection” SS-127ASD product and some cables from them. Their products are well-packaged for the shipping environment, and their shipping is fast and affordable; one order was placed on Thursday night (PDT) and received the following Monday using their $3 flat rate shipping option.

I had seen some negative reviews for CoolDrives, and as a result, I was a little skeptical. However:
- Only CoolDrives had the products that I was looking for.
- Many of the bad reviews were very old. Disgruntled people are more likely than satisfied customers to post a review. Consequently, I would expect to see a continuous stream of negative reviews if CoolDrives is really a disreputable company.
- There were also positive reviews.

I feel that the negative reviews not only do a disservice to CoolDrives, but they do a disservice to the consumer steering them away from a great company with great products. I must admit that CoolDrives’ electronic-only customer interaction is not the norm, but I can understand how a small company might take that approach to contain their overhead costs. However, their means of communication has worked just fine for my dealings with them.

SATA SWITCH REVIW INTRODUCTION
If you have a system with multiple SATA hard disks (any one of which you might need to boot from), the ideal solution (and the only elegant solution in my opinion) is to use the CoolDrives SATA Switch (SW-SATA2X4). In this review, I will clearly define why this is the superior approach for SATA switching and how it can be used for advanced switching requirements such as SATA RAID switching.

BENEFITS OF THE COOLDRIVES SW-SATA2X4
This device allows you to do the following:
- Set the default drive that will automatically be used when starting the system. This can be “none” or any one of up to 4 drives. With input power supplied to the SW-SATA2X4 and the key switch unlocked, press and hold the button for 3 seconds to save the current setting as the default.
- Override the default drive by simply pressing a switch during boot up. With the key switch unlocked, press and release the button to cycle through the options (1, 2, 3, 4, none).

With the default set to “none” and the device locked, unauthorized use of the computer can be prevented. For a family computer with a “for parents only” hard drive and “for kids” hard drive, with the default set to the “for kids” hard drive and the device locked, unauthorized access to the “for parents only” hard drive can be prevented. With the key switch locked, inadvertent drive switching (e.g., a kid pushing the button) can be prevented.

HOW TO REALIZE SIMULTANEOUS DUAL-PORT SWITCHING
This defines how to easily construct a dual port switcher from two CoolDrives SATA Switches. Such a switch could be used to switch pairs of hard drives using only one key switch and only one push button; for a given pair, the drives could be members of a RAID or they could be independent volumes.

Fabricate and use two Y adaptor cables, one for the connecting one key switch to both circuit boards and another for connecting one push button to both circuit boards. Disconnect the switches and buttons from the circuit boards, and install the Y adapter cables so that one key switch is connected to both circuit boards, and one push button is connected to both circuit boards. More detail can be provided upon request.

The presence of jumpers on the circuit boards and “2x4” in the products name leaves me to wonder if a single SW-SATA2X4 can be configured as a simultaneous dual port switcher.

ALTERNATIVES AND THEIR DISADVANTAGES
Below are the alternatives (based on only one hard disk at a time being enabled), none of which provide the capabilities/benefits outlined above:
1. Construct and install a selector switch to deliver power only to the desired drive. Use the switch to select the desired hard disk. NOTES: Each hard drive will be connected to a different SATA port, and all of those ports will be enabled in your BIOS. During boot up; the system should notify you that a drive(s) was not found and inform you of the key to press to ignore the issue and continue.
2. When prompted during boot up, press the appropriate key to override the default boot sequence to select the drive from which you wish to boot. NOTE: Each hard drive will be connected to a different SATA port, and all of those ports will be enabled in your BIOS.
3. When prompted during boot up, press the appropriate key to enter system/BIOS setup to ensure that only the port associated with the desired hard drive is enabled and to ensure that it is enabled in the boot sequence. NOTE: Each hard drive will be connected to a different SATA port, but only one of those ports will be enabled in the BIOS setup.

Below are the disadvantages of each of each of the alternatives:
Alternative 1 (Power Switcher):
- Special key press required during boot up.
- For simultaneous dual port switching (e.g., RAID switching), the switch would need Y adapters so that one switch position can deliver power to two hard drives.
Alternative 2 (Boot Sequence Override):
- Special key press required during boot up.
- All drives are powered on (issues: power requirements, thermal issues, mechanical wear) when the computer is on.
- All drives are available to the user, whether you want them to be or not.
- For simultaneous dual port switching (e.g., RAID switching), the computer system may not allow more than one RAID; in that case, the only option for switching between two SATA RAIDs is the SW-SATA2X4.
Alternative 3 (BIOS Setup):
- Special key press required during boot up.
- All drives are powered on when the computer is on even though only one is available (issues: power requirements, thermal issues, mechanical wear).
- For simultaneous dual port switching (e.g., RAID switching), the computer system may not allow more than one RAID; in that case, the only option for switching between two SATA RAIDs is the SW-SATA2X4.
- Changes to BIOS settings can be error prone. For non-RAID configurations, the consequences of such errors do no tend to be serious.