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Hot Swap: What is Hot Swapping?

Hot Swap: What is Hot Swapping?
Written by prodigitalweb

If you are a hardware user, you must know the importance of scalable storage solutions. It is a growing concern for hardware users, although they use it for 24/7 data gathering, 4K video surveillance, or large data server applications. Multiple customers prefer to move towards Hot swap hard drive management. It helps to streamline the data storage, access, and archiving process.

What is a Hot Swap?

A hot swap is a process to remove components from a PC system or plug them into it while the power is active. It indicates that you can change parts without closing or rebooting a computer or server. The process is known as “hot plug” and “hot insertion.” However, you should know that the Hot plugging process refers to adding components only.

Know More About What is Hot Swap:

Now, you know about hot swapping. Hot plugging indicates only the addition of components. Besides, the parts or components that come with such functionality are hot swappable or hot pluggable. These components are not cold swappable or cold pluggable, and the process is also not called hard plugging.

However, the term “cold swappable” will come when you talk about hot swappable. It is because CPUs, graphics cards, and memory sticks are not compatible with hot plugging. Therefore, you are unable to replace your processor while running the PC. In case you do this, then the PC will crash.

Generally, the PC hardware like CPUs, memory, etc., is coldly pluggable. On the other hand, the mid to high-end servers and mainframes come with Hot swappable CPU, memory, PCIe, SATA & SAS drives, and other hardware components. The Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection is an excellent example of Hot swap functionality. It enables you to add external devices or remove them like a mouse, keyboard, printer, or portable hard drive. The tools are characterized as Hot swappable or hot pluggable based on the provider.

You can find tray-loading holders in mobile phones, due to which you are capable of changing SIM cards quickly without turning off the system. The digital cameras and camcorders come with accessible memory cards and battery compartments. You can cycle through batteries by recharging reserve batteries from outside. In addition, multiple cameras have internal memory to capture any moment without inserting any memory card.

Hot Swapping Features:

  • It offers a user-friendly interface that is quite similar to the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon, which is available in the notification area.
  • Ensure that you are not using all volumes on your drive before removing it.
  • You can spin the drive down to remove it in a safe.
  • Compatible with a drive than a fixed disk drive.
  • It enables the command line mode to run without using the graphical user interface.

Supported Hardware and OS for Swapping:

These are hardware and operating systems that are compatible with it.

  • Windows Vista / 7 / Server 2008 / 8 / 10 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Silicon Image SATA Host Controller (SiI3112A, SiI3114, SiI3132, etc)
  • Silicon Image SATA-PATA (Parallel ATA) Bridge Controller (SiI3611)
  • SATA Host Controller (AHCI mode enabled in BIOS) (ex- Intel Controller Hub (ICH), JMicron JMB363)
  • Whether you use a Silicon Image controller, the driver helps to spin down the drive.

Tested Hardware:

These are the hardware used for testing.

  • SIIG SATA Host Adapter Serial ATA PCI : SC-SAT212
  • SIIG SATA Host Adapter Serial ATA 4-Channel PCI: SC-SA4011
  • BELKIN SATA Host Adapter SATA II RAID 2-Port PCI Express Card: F5U251 (You are required to flash this to non-RAID BIOS)
  • ViPowER IDE to SATA SwapRACK : VP-1001LSF
  • Addonics Technologies Mobile Rack25SA: AERHD25SAW

Hot Swapping- Directions for Use:

First, you should extract the file you have downloaded and then run the extension file. Then, you can see the icon available in the notification area. As soon as users log in, the program will start up automatically.

Then, you have to tap on the icon. Finally, you can see a menu popping up containing the name of the drives.

If you want to remove a drive, you should first choose the drive from the pop-up menu. You can see a balloon appearing with the message that the device is safely hot swapped. Next, turn off your drive to remove it from your operating system. You can see a drive-in gray color which you have to choose as a non-hot swap device or used by Windows. As a result, it may not be removed.

You should tap the icon while hitting the Ctrl key. Here, a pop-up menu appears, and you should choose a drive. As soon as you select the drive in this menu, you will not see this available in the drive listing menu.

Tap on the icon using the right button of your mouse. Now, a configuration menu will appear.

Command-line Mode Modules:

Code of removing a device for hot swapping:

1.HotSwap! C:

2.HotSwap! C:\MountPoint

3.HotSwap! \Device\00000080

4.HotSwap! \Device\Ide\IdeDeviceP1T0L0-1

5.HotSwap! DISK=7

6.HotSwap! \\?\Volume{d2361e8a-2978-10dc-9c18-816e6f6a6963}\

If you see a suppress message popping up, then use this code.

7.HotSwap! C: -Q

If you are willing to scan for the hardware changes, you should use the code.

8.HotSwap! -S

9.Wildcard characters for PDO:

10.HotSwap! \Device\Ide\IdeDeviceP1T0L0-?

11.HotSwap! \Device\Ide\IdeDeviceP1*

12.HotSwap! \*\Ide\*P1T0L0*

13.HotSwap! *P1T0L0??

Error levels of Hot Swapping:


The requested operation was completed successfully.

Error level 1:

The requested operation failed.

Error level 2:

The command-line switch was invalid.

Error level 3:

The device was not found.

Error level 4:

The requested operation was not supported.

Error level 5:

The requested operation failed unexpectedly.

Is Hot swapping the same as random swapping?

Devices ( mouse and keyboard) that support Hot swapping may not allow you to plug in or unplug whenever you are willing. There are a few devices available that are plugged in with the PC. But a driver might need to be installed to run this properly. It is the reason for which the plug-and-play (driver-free) has been made.

When using USB flash drives and other storage devices, ensure that the device is not exchanging any data with the PC while you unplug the device. Otherwise, data that you have transferred can be damaged. The quickest way to do this is to choose “Eject this device” in the system.

Hot Swap Controllers:

These integrated circuits help insert the electronic cards and boards into the live system backplane. The controller is used for controlling the inrush current and isolating the faults.

As soon as you connect the Hot swap board with the system, it helps the controller detect the power. After that, it ramps up the board’s capacitors slowly to avoid sparking at the connectors. Next, the system will reset, and the backplane supply will glitch.

Power management controllers will determine the starting time of operation of the redundant power unit. When you monitor the power in every unit, a drop below the present value signifies a fault. Then, it automatically switches your system to the working power unit, and in this process, it doesn’t interfere with the load.

Design Considerations for Hot Swapping:

Hot swapping needs design consideration for mechanical design, connectors, safety, protection, ease of replacing, etc.

If there exists a Proper mechanical design, it ensures safety. You can use guides, holes, notches, and pins to ensure and guide proper insertion.

It comes with mechanical handles, levers, and engagement latches that are useful in removing, inserting, and holding the unit firmly.

Special connectors are used for a Hot swap method. These connectors come with staggered pins that enable pins to be connected. If you observe the staggered-pin design, you can find longer pins to ground the circuitry first. There are other pins available with similar lengths. But you can see variations in the three-pin lengths. Here, the long pins are used for grounding, the middle ones are for data, and the shortest pins are for power. The pins can make contact with the corresponding ones in rapid succession.

A few designs are available where the pins may come in similar lengths. But, again, the angling and the connectors’ mechanical design make the difference. These ensure that the pins will not make contact together.

Purpose and Reasons for Hot Swapping:

The process applies to communication components, servers, medical and other equipment. You should apply Hot swapping where a system does not allow you to turn it off. Otherwise, it can cause undesired effects. You should do swapping to replace faulty units, repair parts, or upgrade them.

The main reason for Hot swapping is to control the huge transient current while you plug in the device with electricity on your device circuit.

While inserting the device, the longer pins will contact the corresponding power supply. Later, the shorter pins come in contact with them. Hence, the ground pin gets the energy first, then the data pin and the power pin last.

As a result, the power supply will get disconnected first when you disconnect your device. After that, the data pin gets disconnected and the ground at last. Thus, you can ensure that the device won’t get damaged by excess power.

Hot Pluggable and Hot Swappable Devices:

Hot pluggable devices indicate those which can be removed and installed when the server is ON. However, it is essential to perform administrative tasks before or after installing the hardware. A hard drive is an example of a hot pluggable device.

The Hot swappable devices come with all the features of hot pluggable devices and don’t affect the other server’s capabilities. Fan trays and power supplies are examples of Hot swappable devices.

What Devices Are Hot Swappable?

The Hot swappable devices are as follows:

USB devices are of this type. U disk, cell phone data cable, mobile hard disk, keyboard and mouse, SD card, printer, camera, etc., are examples of USB devices.

Hard disks with a USB interface or any updated version than the SATA2.0 version are theoretically regarded as hot swappable. However, it is recommended to perform a Hot swap to the SATA hard disk for the computer.

HDMI and DP are examples of Audio and video accessories. These are made with the same principles and compatible with hot plugging. Unfortunately, a few interfaces like VGA and DVI don’t come with a design to support Hot plugging.

How Does Hot Swapping Work?

Hot swap is one of the significant features of USB devices. If a component in a server fails, the redundant unit will take it over automatically. You can replace Flawed or failed hardware without disruption.

It offers a rack or enclosure for the device, providing an uninterrupted connection to the controller. In this case, your system assumes your device is intact when you remove or replace it.

Shared devices on LAN or a local area network may be hot swappable. The arrangements are available and sold for both SCSI or Small Computer System Interface and IDE or Integrated Drive Electronics hard drives. In addition, you can find Hot swap versions of RAIDs or Redundant Arrays of Independent Devices.

When you use Hot swappable RAIDS, you don’t have to swap the drives out without shutting down the power. Hard drives, keyboards, printed circuit boards, etc., are a few examples of hard drives.

What is a Hot Swappable Hard Drive?

A Hot swappable hard drive enables you to remove a hard drive or replace it, and hence you don’t need to turn off the power. A purple tab is used to detect Hot swappable drives.

Are all HDD Hot Swappable?

You must consider two key aspects that help you determine if a hard drive is hot swappable. These are the EBI or external bus interface on your hard drive and the actual port with which you have connected your hard drive.

Hard Disk Drivers available on today’s market mostly come from some standards. SATA, SAS, FireWire, etc., are examples of the standards. The standards rely on the interface on the connecting point of your hard drive. All these are hot swappable.

It indicates that it must be hot swappable if a hard drive has a SATA or SAS interface. Almost all drives use the interface on the market.

The connecting bay or port is the other part to discuss. It is the port on the device where you need to disconnect the hard drive. The port may be available on the system’s mainframe or motherboard. Whether the bay or port is hot swappable, you can exchange the hard drive without stopping the power.

How To Know Whether The Hard Drive Is Hot Swappable Or Not?

We have said that most hard drives are hot swappable. However, you may not be so careful. Therefore, you should ensure the case before tempering with an active system. You need to consider a few things to verify if you can Hot swap your hard drive.

The first thing to verify is on the drive itself. Now, you should grab the hard drive and check if any purple tab is on the body. If you find any purple tab, make sure that the drive is hot swappable.

Another thing that you should make sure of is the storage type of the drive. Whether a drive uses a RAID setup, it will be swappable. Besides, while installing the operating system, you may take help from the technician or the supplier to know whether your system has Hot swap bays or not. If it doesn’t, then ask to put the ports in so that it will be possible to change the drives on the fly.

If you find the drive cold pluggable only, stop the electric supply before changing it. Otherwise, there is a possibility of damaging your drive, system, and yourself.

Cons of Hot swappable Hard Drive:

While swapping out the hard drive in a Hot swappable setup, your system may be unable to identify the new driver. It can happen when the driver does not fit the Hot swap bay properly.

What is a Hot Swappable Keyboard?

Hot Swappable KeyboardHot swappable keyboard switches enable people to personalize the keyboards. There is a switch puller in the mechanical keyboards to allow you to switch hot swappable keys. So you don’t have to unplug the keyboard from the PC to remove switches & plugs and replace them with new ones.

Benefits of Hot Swap:

Typists and quality-oriented manufacturers prefer to use hot swap keyboards. The keyboards help repair switches simply, resulting in a longer keyboard lifetime. As these are simple to install, therefore the smaller production can run. As a result, manufacturers can install exotic switches with a lower MOQ. It is the abbreviation of the term Minimum Order Quantity.

The modification points are limited if hot swap sockets are not available on a keyboard. When using standard keyboards, you should add Holtite sockets to change switches. However, the sockets are not so reliable as these can handle some switch changes. The problems will not appear with better Hot swap socket designs like Kaihua’s.

Why Are So Few Hot Swap Keyboards Available?

Reduction in profit is the crucial reason for both long and short term. When you buy a keyboard with Hotswap sockets, you need to invest extra money.

The mass-market keyboards are produced at a cheap rate in batches of thousands. Companies don’t prefer the extra cost eating into their profit. So they make the repairing process simple.

Hotswap sockets need a little engineering expertise for implementation. These consume additional space on the PCB to precisely make the component placement and routing. When a keyboard is equipped with a LED, it will limit the international layout support at the PCB level. However, some people prefer to use a European enter key or split space bar. They need to have a different PCB design. Minivan and a few other keyboards are no longer available. But these get partial all-in-one success by decreasing the LED functionality.

What Is A Hot Swap Printed Circuit Board?

A PCB or printed circuit board is a type of board that makes Hot swappable keyboards possible. The Hot swap PCB comes with special sockets using which you can pull out the switch. Besides, it enables you to tap on a place without soldering this onto the circuit board inside. It indicates that you may change the switches on demand without much effort.

What is a Hot Swap SSD?

A Hot swap SSD is a solid-state storage device that helps leverage IC assemblies to ensure persistent data storage. Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives have a flexible nature. It makes HDDs or SSDs useful for a huge range of apps.

How to Install:

  • You should ensure that you have kept the tray handle open.
  • After that, your job is to keep the drive assembly aligned with the guide rails in the bay.
  • Push the drive assembly slowly into the bay till the drive doesn’t stop.
  • Next, you should push the handle to the locked position.
  • If you keep your system powered on, you should check your HDD status LED to operate appropriately.

How Should You Select The Right Storage Drive For Your Hot Swap Bays?

Is an HDD unable to identify your system after removing and reinserting this into a Hot swap bay? You should find additional space between the drive and the top of the bay. When you see the bay, you can see the internal SATA connector. Then flip over the system and insert the drive again if you can. If you are willing, then add spacers to 7mm drives. It ensures that this will get fitted in 9.5mm Hot swap bays. You may buy 9.5 mm tall drives, but you should realize the difference between storage drives and Hot swap bays. These help to avoid this type of frustration.

Actual Examples of How to Hot Swap Storage:

For instance, let’s assume that a system comes with two identical hard drives. The configuration has been done into a RAID 1 array. It indicates that the saved information is similar on both drives. This type of mirroring is a good failsafe against system downtime. The reason is that if a drive crashes, you will get the data on your drive. Try to pair this with a different backup solution because it offers high availability and reliability. With the help of a Hot swap system, you can change out a drive.

As another instance, suppose your business can run all the same software on all PCs on the factory floor. You can find hard drives as a very crucial point of hardware failure in most manufacturing facilities. Some factors can cause hard drive failure. These are as follows— Airborne contaminants, extreme temperatures, and high vibration levels. As a result, the hard drive can fail, especially while not using a solid-state storage option.

If you don’t have a Hot swap solution, you can lose all your time if a hard drive fails. The reason is that you need to remove the mounting system and send this to It. Then, you should wait for these till it doesn’t wait. Next, you should replace and test your HDD. After that, your job is to install the operating system again.

You can keep many spare pre-configured drives using a Hot swap bay. Then, your task is to swap these out on the floor. It helps you save a lot of time for your business and money.

Hardware Configuration Settings of Hot Swappable Devices:

These are the following settings generated in the Hardware Configuration window for every module.

Two Possible Settings for I/O Modules:

Stop program when this module is disconnected

Allow the program to run with this module disconnected.

Automatic Module Verification is linked to the Module ID assigned to every module. While you replace system modules, you must verify ID to ensure that it comes in an identical configuration in the hardware configuration.

Two Possible Settings for P3-RS/P3-RX/P2-RS/P1-RX (Remote Slave):

Stop program when this base group is disconnected

Allow the program to run with this base group disconnected (hot-swap)

When you select the option, it will help you to set all I/O modules to the Hot swap mode. However, no settings are available for the P3-550, P3-530, P3-EX, P2-550, P1-550, or P1-540.

“Allow the program to run with this system disconnected” (hot swap):

Here, you can see an option “Allow program to run with this system disconnected” (hot swap). It enables the Hot swapping functionality for each unit in the group, base, or system. The hot swap will enable your operating system to run a project without using the configured I/O. If you are willing to choose the option, your job is to tap on the desired Base or Group. After that, your task is to tap on the red “Allow program to run…” icon available on the hardware configuration page.

System Tags Associated with Hot Swappable I/O:

We have given a few system tags that you can use with the ladder program to notify errors. For example, you can see three system tags here that help detect the configuration’s state.

I/O Configuration Error:

The System bit will detect an error in the system configuration.

I/O Config Error Group Location:

The System Word will detect the Base Group displaying an error.

I/O Config Error Base Location:

It is a System Word that helps detect the base within the specified group displaying an error.

I/O Config Error Slot Location:

The I/O Config Error Slot Location is a System Word that will detect the base slot within the specified group displaying an error.

Cautions of Hot Swapping:

This process is helpful sometimes. However, you should understand this properly and know electrical and component functions. Ensure that if you want a system Hot Swappable, there should be the ladder logic design. A qualified programmer should make the program because they know how to enable Hot Swapping without damaging the system.

You need to remember that Hot Swapping requires a HOT-powered system to be performed. It is why you should take care of your system significantly. Thus, you can ensure that it will stop damage to components, terminal blocks, etc. It prevents damage even if it is a personal injury for a short circuit from the live terminal block. Ensure that talented technicians should perform hot swaps.

Hot Swap UPS Systems & PDUs:

From a lifecycle perspective, a digital UPS system may not be uninterruptible when you view it from there. Sometimes, it becomes essential to take the UPS offline, i.e., costly system downtime. Take the help of Hot swap Solutions to repair or replace any time. You should perform these, keeping the mission-critical equipment turned on as well as fully operational.

It provides Hot swap PDUs that make UPS Hot swappable and Hot swappable Modular UPS Systems. The UPS systems are integrated with a detachable Hot swappable PDU. A modular PDU or power distribution unit is a significant part of the Hot swappable design. The function of the power distribution unit is to combine all input and output power connections using a manual bypass switch.

The dual input and manual bypass help you replace the battery and exchange the complete power module. In this case, you don’t need to switch off the connected mission-critical equipment.


This article has a brief description of the hot swap. Besides, we have also given details regarding Hot plugging, hot swapping, Hot swappable devices, etc. When you use a Hot swappable hard drive, it will add flexibility to the system. Therefore, it is recommended that you use a Hot swappable hard drive if there is a choice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Should you use Hot swappable Hard Drives?

A Hot swappable system is beneficial to all parties. Along with saving your downtime, it also helps you keep the business running even during a malfunction. Besides, you can upgrade an active system and many other things using this.

  • Where is Hot swappable Hard Drives used?

If you have to run your system throughout the whole day, then your system must need Hot swappable drivers. These are available in factories or a company. Factories generally use an automated production line, whereas a company offers continuous online services.

  • Is a Hot swappable Hard Drive good?

These are all the raves in recent times and obviously for good reasons. However, a few are concerned about the entire thing. Therefore, you should know the benefits and drawbacks of a Hot swappable hard drive. Then, you should evaluate if these are good to be used.

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