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What is Hot Swapping?

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  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 09 Mar, 2022
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Hot-swapping allows the removal or insertion of components to the computer without shutting down or rebooting the system. It is also called “hot insertion”. In this, a component can be removed and a new component can be inserted, while the main power is still on. It is a feature of USB (Universal Serial Bus), an external drive, and a network adapter.

For example, a USB connection, allows users to add or remove other devices (such as a mouse, keyboard, printer, pen drive) without shutting down the computer. Nowadays most smartphones also allow hot-swapping. Sim card or memory card can be easily inserted without shutting down the phone. When components in a server fail, the redundant unit automatically takes over. Hot-Swap arrangements are sold for LAN (Local Area Network), SCSI (Small Computer System Interface), an IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics).

Working of Hot Swapping:

Hot swapping works by providing a rack for the device that gives the appearance of a seamless connection to the computer’s bus or controller. The system assumes that the device is intact when removed or replaced. Take a look at “SATA” and its copper connector pins, you can see one is longer than the other. The extra length gives enough time to tell a device that it is being removed/added electrically. Controllers are also removed/added drives whose driver software can be removed/added from upstream layers of the drive.

Advantages of Hot Swapping:

  1. Increased efficiency
  2. Increase usability
  3. Increase safety
  4. Decrease costs

Disadvantages of Hot Swapping:

  1. The hot-swap socket can wear out.
  2. Hot-swap restricts the number of available layouts down to 1.
  3. It increases the cost factors.

Hot-swappable Devices:

Components that Allow Hot Swapping:

  1. Firewire devices
  2. Modem/phone cord
  3. Network cable
  4. SATA devices
  5. USB devices
  6. Audio port

Components that do not allow Hot Swapping:

  1. AT port and devices
  2. CD-ROM, IDE hard drives
  3. Parallel port and parallel port devices
  4. PS/2 port and devices
  5. Serial port and devices

Note: Disconnecting a device that is not swappable when the system is turned on can cause a device to stop working and physical hardware damage.

Cold Swap: 

It describes the process of inserting or removing a component that requires the computer to be turned off during installation. Examples: RAM, Hard drives, Graphics cards.

Difference between Hot-swap and Cold swap:

S no. Hot-Swap Cold-Swap
1. Switching off the computer is not required for inserting or removing a component.  It requires to be switched off or installation of components.
2. No restart is required  Restart is required.
3. It is handy and flexible It is not handy and flexible.
4. It increases efficiency. It does not increase efficiency.
5. Mouse, keyboard, printer, etc are examples of hot-swapping. RAM, hard drives, graphics cards are examples of cold swap.

What is Hot-plug?

Hot-plug means the device is added or removed without shutting down the system. It enables the user to connect/disconnect hardware devices to their system without shutting the devices. The operating system automatically recognizes the changes that have been made. Hot-plug was first introduced in Linux kernel 2.4 in January 2001. When hot-plugging of a USB device is done, the device is immediately seen in the system’s device. 

Difference between Hot-Swap and Hot-Plug:

S No. Hot-plug Hot-swap
1. Hot plugging is the attachment of a component while the system is running. Hot swaps allow the replacement of components while the system is running.
2. It requires mounting the hard drive after the new drive has been installed. Hot-swappable devices do not require any additional tasks to install. 
3. It is the attachment of components only It is the replacement or addition of components.
4. “Hard-drive” is a hot-pluggable device “Fan trays and Power supplies” are hot-swappable devices. 
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