PSA: new SATA power standard / HGST 10TB drives

PSA to anyone who bought a new 10T or 12T drive and can’t figure out why the damn thing won’t power on: the SATA power standard changed. The 3.3v rail is now used to command a new-spec drive to spin down – which means that an old-style SATA power supply will never allow one of the newer spec drives to spin up.

I discovered this the hard way with two new HGST 10TB NAS drives this afternoon. I wondered why such shiny big drives shipped with molex->SATA power adapters… and now I know.

Fortunately, you don’t have to use those crappy molex->SATA power adapters to get the drives working; the fix is just to pull the 3.3V rail out of the SATA adapter coming off your PSU that you want to power the newer drive with. This should typically be the orange wire; it’s the one on the “dogleg down” side of the adapter:

To get newer drives to spin up on older SATA PSUs, remove the 3.3V rail from the plug. It’s the wire on the “dogleg down” side of the SATA power plug, and is typically orange in color.

From what I’ve read online, no production hard drive prior to the SATA standard change actually used that 3.3V rail for anything, so it should also be safe to power older drives (and backplanes) with the 3.3V rail forcibly removed. I can confirm that my HGST 10TB NAS drives worked after removing the orange rail as shown; and the WD 2TB Black drives that they are replacing also worked fine without the 3.3V rail; I successfully booted the system on one of them after removing the 3.3V as shown, with no apparent problems whatsoever.

I am expressly providing this information with NO WARRANTY; if your drives or backplane stops working / your cat gets pregnant / a republican congress is elected after you remove the 3.3V rail from a SATA adapter, that’s your problem not mine. With that said, this worked great for me, saved me from having to use one of those crappy little firetrap molex adapters, and does not seem to cause any issues whatsoever with either newer or older drives.