Category Archives: Product

HDDs OMG

Plugable Tech Tips: How to Partition and Format a New Hard Drive (or SSD)

HDDs OMG

As we all progress further into the digital age, our need for additional storage space keeps growing. Digital photos, music, and movies take up large amounts of space, and adding an external hard drive to store additional media or for backup purposes is an ever-popular PC upgrade. While some tout the benefits of cloud-based storage, adding local storage capacity has many benefits including substantially better speeds as well as being vastly more secure. This introductory installment of Plugable Tech Tips will guide you through the necessary steps of setting up your new drive for use.

This guide outlines the process in Windows 8/8.1, though the steps are nearly identical for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. Each step covers a bit of explanation and context. If the “why” aspect of the process is not of interest, look for the bold text in the post which covers just the basic necessary steps.

This article also proceeds with the assumption that you’re using one of our Plugable hard drive docks (good choice!) such as the U3 or the UASP1. However, the instructions are the same if you’re using a non-Plugable dock.

Why do I need to do this? Don’t hard drives already come formatted for me?

Before a new hard drive can be used, it must be initialized, partitioned, and formatted. Pre-assembled external drives and enclosures from Western Digital, Seagate, and others generally come pre-formatted for Windows or Mac. These solutions are not without their drawbacks, however. Aside from often being more expensive than a DIY external drive, the hard drives inside these enclosures are also often accessed in a proprietary way. This means that if the enclosure itself ever fails, the data on the drive inside it may not be accessible without expensive data recovery services.

When you purchase a “bare” (also known as an “OEM”) hard drive, it does not come pre-formatted. The reason for this is that there are various operating systems in use, and they all have their own types of formatting which are often times incompatible with the formatting used in other operating systems.

Are there any precautions to take before proceeding?

Before covering the steps necessary to initialize and format the drive, a brief word of caution. Initializing and formatting a hard drive will erase *all* information on that drive. In the case of a new drive, that’s not a matter for concern – it doesn’t have anything on it to worry about. However, if there are already existing drives in use on the system, it’s absolutely critical to make sure that close attention is paid so that the wrong drive isn’t erased. If you have multiple external hard drives connected, we recommend disconnecting them prior to initializing your new drive, just as a precaution.

Okay, let’s get started!

  1. Insert the hard drive into the USB enclosure. Connect the power cable to your enclosure, and attach the USB cable between your enclosure and your PC. Use the power button or rocker switch to turn on the dock.
  2. Now we’ll want to head to Disk Management. In Windows 8.1, the most straightforward way to get there is to right-click on the “Start” button (aka the Windows logo where the Start button used to be) and select “Disk Management”. (For Windows XP, Vista, and 7, Disk Management can be accessed by right-clicking on “Computer”, selecting “Manage”, then opening Disk Management in the left side of the Computer Management window that opens.)

  3. 1

  4. When you open Disk Management, it should automatically detect a new, non-initialized drive and display a pop-up window asking if you’d like to initialize the drive. Again, please be sure that the drive in question contains no existing data before proceeding!There will be two options for how to initialize the drive, MBR or GPT. MBR is the older legacy method of initializing drives, and is only necessary if the drive will need to be accessed on a Windows XP system (XP is incompatible with GPT). GPT *must* be selected for drives over 2TB in size. If MBR is selected on a drive larger than 2TB, you will only be able to access the first 2TB of the drive, regardless of what the drive’s capacity is. GPT disks should be accessible on Windows systems running Vista and later.

  5. 2_Disk_Init

    (If you’re interested in much, much more information about MBR vs. GPT, Microsoft has a very thorough post here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/dn640535%28v=vs.85%29.aspx )

  6. Once you’ve made your selection and clicked on “OK” to initialize the drive, it’s time to partition and format. If desired, multiple partitions can be created, but this guide assumes that, like most people, you want the entire drive to be accessed through a single drive letter/partition.Each Disk that Windows recognizes is given a number and has a horizontal bar representing the space of the disk any any partitions that exist. Since we’re working with a drive that contains no data, it should be listed as “Unallocated” space. It’s also a good idea to check that the drive size is what you’d expect it to be. In the following example, we’re working with a 1TB drive, which Windows reports as 931.39 GB.

    3_Unallocated_1

    Right-click the unallocated space, and select “New Simple Volume”.

    4_SimpleVol

    You will be guided through a series of steps. For the vast majority of users, just accepting the defaults and clicking “Next” will be fine. The two items that you may wish to change are the “Assign the following drive letter” if you’d like your drive to have a specific letter assigned, and the “Volume label”, which will be the name you see associated with the drive letter in Windows File Explorer.

    steps

After these few quick steps, you’re all done and your new drive should be ready for use!

Plugable USB 3.0 SuperSpeed SATA III Vertical Hard Drive Docking Station (ASMedia ASM1051E SATA III to USB Chipset; ... Product Details
$25.00

Plugable USB 3.0 SuperSpeed SATA III Lay-Flat Hard Drive Docking Station (ASMedia ASM1053E SATA III to USB Chipset, ... Product Details
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Plugable Storage System Dual 2.5" SATA II Hard Drive Docking Station with Built-in Standalone Drive Clone Duplicatio... Product Details
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USB3-HUB3ME_1_512

Plugable’s Perfectly Portable USB 3.0 Hub Family

Plugable Technologies is excited to announce two new small, portable, bus-powered USB 3.0 hubs. They provide extra expansion, save wear and tear on your tablet or laptop, are easy to throw in a bag, and are plug and play compatible with Windows, Chromebook, Mac 10.9, and Linux 3.9+ systems.

Both hubs have been designed to fit easily in your bag for travel, with no removable cable to lose. A bulky external power adapter isn’t needed for either hub, as they are solely bus powered from the host computer’s USB port. Both hubs feature the VIA VL812 B2 chipset with the very latest 9091 firmware for maximum compatibility with almost all USB 3.0 equipped computers on the market. They’re also fully backwards compatible with USB 2.0/1.1 devices and hosts. With USB 3.0 SuperSpeed, data transfer rates up to 5Gbps are possible allowing data to move quickly between devices. These hubs are ideal for connecting peripheral items such as flash drives, USB video adapters, keyboards, mice, etc.

The model with Ethernet, in particular, has been engineered down to be the smallest, most portable option available on the market.

Either hub is a must have for any frequent traveler that needs more USB 3.0 ports on the go, but the USB3-HUB3ME is especially useful for computers like the Microsoft Surface Pro or Apple MacBook Air as they are lacking a built-in Ethernet port. Having a wired network adapter can be a life-saver in conference rooms and hotels with marginal WiFi coverage. Being able to use a wired connection instead of a weak wireless connection in these scenarios can drastically improve speeds.

Don’t put up with with several USB devices fighting for the few open ports on your computer. Extend the life of your ports with a USB hub like these.

Where to Buy

Plugable 4-Port USB 3.0 Portable Bus Powered Hub (VIA VL812 Rev B2 Chipset with v9091 firmware, Windows, Mac OS X, a... Product Details
$15.95

Plugable USB 3.0 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Network Adapter with 3 Port USB 3.0 Bus Powered Hub (ASIX AX88179 ... Product Details
$27.95

Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware History Mid-2014 Update

USB 3.0 is ever evolving with new hardware and software that create new compatibility considerations, and Plugable is committed to staying on the cutting edge and improving our product functionality and compatibility.

For the best user experience we recommend to install the latest available firmware update to your hub. To do so you must use a computer running Windows and have the hub connected to a USB 3.0 port (2.0/1.1 ports are not supported for the update process) with any additional hubs/docking stations disconnected.

In this blog post we will focus on updating hubs with the VIA VL811+ and VL812 B2 chipsets to the 909x series firmware. Depending on what model hub you have, your hub may have an older chipset not supported by these latest firmware updates. Take a look at this chart to see if your unit is eligible for an update. (some may not be covered in this blog post)

The update process only works on Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1) so if you are a Mac OS X or Linux/Unix user please contact our support for additional assistance, we’re more than happy to help!

  • Updating through a virtual machine like Parallels, VMware, VirtualBox, etc is not supported.
  • Mac users, updating through Boot Camp is supported.

If your product is eligible for an update, click on your product below to jump to details about firmware changes and specific update instructions:

USB3-HUB10C2 9091/9095 Combo Firmware Update

Units shipped with firmware version 9081/9084 combo which allowed for charging on the two flip-up ports only when the hub was not in use for data. This meant the hub had to be either not connected to a host computer (“no-host”), shutdown, or in hibernate/sleep mode.

The no-host requirement turned out to be a major limitation as many users wanted to charge their phone or tablet while using their computer. Users also wanted to be able to charge and sync devices at the same time.

Firmware update version 9091/9095 combo now nullifies the no-host requirement and enables full BC 1.2 Smart Charging and Charging Downstream Port (CDP) functionality. In short, users can now charge their device while the hub is attached to the computer and running. Users can now also charge and sync devices at the same time.

To update your USB3-HUB10C2 hub, please download the:

USB3-HUB10C2 VL812 B2 v9091/9095 combo update utility.

Once downloaded, disconnect any additional hubs/docking stations and have only the hub you wish to update attached. If you own more than one hub that needs a firmware update, please update one unit at a time.

After opening the firmware update utility, if the hub is not initially detected, unplug the hub from the USB 3.0 port on your computer and plug it back in and click the “Scan Device” button:

usb3hub10c2_notdetected

You should now see some information about the hub detected, specifically the chipset information and current firmware version:

usb3hub10c2_detected

If you see results like the image above, go ahead and click “Start Upgrade”. Once the upgrade is complete, unplug the hub from both USB and power, then reconnect it (power first).

upgrade_complete

If you would like to confirm, you can click “Scan Device” again to see the update was successful:

usb3hub10c2_updated

USB3-HUB781X, USB3-HUB7A, or USB3-HUB4AC1 9091 Firmware Update

Units shipped with firmware version 9081 which had no major limitations or issues. With that being said, there were some edge case scenarios where sleep/wake functionality for host and devices was not working properly.

Most users will not have encountered any issues but we recommend running the update to maximize compatibility with future USB 3.0 devices / computers you may eventually own.

To update your USB3-HUB781X, USB3-HUB7A, or USB3-HUB4AC1 hub, please download the:

VL812 B2 v9091 update utility.

Once downloaded, disconnect any additional hubs/docking stations and have only the hub you wish to update attached. If you own more than one hub that needs a firmware update, please update one unit at a time.

After opening the firmware update utility, if the hub is not initially detected, unplug the hub from the USB 3.0 port on your computer and plug it back in and click the “Scan Device” button:

usb3hub10c2_notdetected

You should now see some information about the hub detected, specifically the chipset information and current firmware version:

812B2_detected

(The USB3-HUB4AC1 only has one internal VL812 B2 chipset vs the image shown here for the USB3-HUB7-81X and USB3-HUB7A hubs)

If you see results like the image above, go ahead and click “Start Upgrade”. Once the upgrade is complete, unplug the hub from both USB and power, then reconnect it (power first).

upgrade_complete

If you would like to confirm, you can click “Scan Device” again to see the update was successful:

812B2_upgraded

USB3-HUB81X4 9095 Firmware Update

Units shipped with firmware version 9084 which allowed for charging on all four ports only when the hub was not in use for data. This meant the hub had to be either not connected to a host computer (“no-host”), shutdown, or in hibernate/sleep mode.

The no-host requirement turned out to be a major limitation as many users wanted to charge their phone or tablet while using their computer. Users also wanted to be able to charge and sync devices at the same time.

Firmware update version 9095 now nullifies the no-host requirement and enables full BC 1.2 Smart Charging and Charging Downstream Port (CDP) functionality. In short, users can now charge their device while the hub is attached to the computer and running. Users can now also charge and sync devices at the same time.

To update your USB3-HUB81X4 hub, please download the:

VL811+ v9095 update utility.

Once downloaded, disconnect any additional hubs/docking stations and have only the hub you wish to update attached. If you own more than one hub that needs a firmware update, please update one unit at a time.

After opening the firmware update utility, if the hub is not initially detected, unplug the hub from the USB 3.0 port on your computer and plug it back in and click the “Scan Device” button:

usb3hub10c2_notdetected

You should now see some information about the hub detected, specifically the chipset information and current firmware version:

usb3-hub81x4_detected

If you see results like the image above, go ahead and click “Start Upgrade”. Once the upgrade is complete, unplug the hub from both USB and power, then reconnect it (power first).

upgrade_complete

If you would like to confirm, you can click “Scan Device” again to see the update was successful:

usb3-hub81x4_upgraded