I'm thinking of using external HDD to test out PC-BSD and various Linux distros. Been looking on Google for pros and cons of this setup, but only seem to find pros...so I get nervous when I cannot find any downside to something. Can anyone think of any potential problems of using eSATA hard disk drive to switch in and out various operating systems? Maybe bootloader problems, or anything else?
I have dealt with quite a few customers with external SATA hard drives and the 2 main problems are heat and being dropped.
Drives in small un-ventilated enclosures tend to overheat if left running for extended periods of time. If you get a well ventilated or actively cooled enclosure then this shouldn't be a problem.
The way I get around the "being dropped" problem is to put any external drive I intend to use on the floor. This way, it can't fall.
Hope that helps! :)
I'm not sure we're talking about the same exact thing though. I think what I'm looking into is called a 'eSATA Docking Station'...at least that is as close as I can find to an external/eSATA version of a 'mobile-rack' HDD. Having re-read my post, it sounds like I'm asking about a regular external SATA HDD.
SATA and eSATA are basically the same thing except eSATA has both power and data in 1 plug. You can get SATA hard drives in eSATA enclosures and you can get eSATA to SATA cables. eSATA can be used internally or externally if your PC has the right plugs in it.
I have 3 eSata arrays with good cooling and a dual drive docking station where you plug the drive into a slot in a vertical orientation. The dock uses ambient air flow to cool the drives, and it seems to work just fine for extended periods of time. The one I use is from StarTech.com. It has both dual eSata connections as well as a single USB 2.0 connection, so you can use either, though the eSata throughput is much better than USB 2.0.
As for using the drive for running/testing Linux, I would recommend that initially you format the drive with NTFS and use it to store virtual machine images and test out your Linux/BSD systems in a virtual machine such as VirtualBox or VMware, rather than trying to use the drive for bare metal multi-boot capabilities - fewer problems until you are experienced enough to go that route, and even then you might not want to.