I recently bought a Silex Sx-3000GB (or “SILEX USB 2.0 SERVER FOR NETWORK” as my store called it) for use with two WD MyBook drives and some other stuff on a Windows 7 guest OS. The initial setup went fine, even though it installs a tray app for the logged in user (didn’t bother me at the time since I always have a user logged on anyway). However, I soon started seeing some strange behavior as the disks were constantly connecting and disconnecting/reconnecting. The solutions turned out to be installing the software as a service. Here we go:

  1. You need instsrv.exe and Srvany.exe, these are part of the “Windows 2003 Resource Kit” (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9d467a69-57ff-4ae7-96ee-b18c4790cffd&displaylang=en) and installs on W7 as well. Put them in %WINDIR%\system32.
  2. Open cmd. Execute “instsrv SXVirtualLinkStarter %WINDIR%\system32\srvany.exe”.
  3. Start regedit and go to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\SXVirtualLinkStarter”.
  4. Create a new key and call it “Parameters”.
  5. In Parameters, create two new Strings. “AppDirectory” with data “C:\Program Files\silex technology\SX-Virtual Link” and “Application” with data “C:\Program Files\silex technology\SX-Virtual Link\connect.exe”. Adjust the paths accordingly.
  6. You now have a new Service, make sure it runs as the same user as the one used to access the hardware and set it to start automatically if desired. Keep in mind you cannot use the Silex software UI as long as the service is running, so if you need to change any settings; stop the service, start the app as normal and save your settings, close the app and restart the service.

I’ve had it setup this way and running smoothly for a few weeks now. Even though the Silex device is not very fast (I average about 8MB/s both read and write) the disks feel fairly snappy and seems to produce OK access times. This guide should also work on other Server based OS’s (2003/2008). If the connect/disconnect issue is related to the OS running on VMWare I do not know, however this can be done on any “normal” Windows install as well. It should also work for other Silex devices using the same “SX-Virtual Link” software.

On a final note, I learned that older Silex devices are compatible with the Belkin USB servers and that the Belkin software could be used instead. The Belkin software is said not to have the disconnect problems but it did not work with the SX-3000GB.

7 comments so far

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  1. Could you please elaborate on what “6.You now have a new Service, make sure it runs as the same user as the one used to access the hardware ….” means? I have done all the steps as outined but I don’t see my hard drive getting mounted when the application is run as a service. In the Silex Virtual Link GUI I have set that the hard drive should automatically connect.

    Thanks for the help

  2. Well… a service will log on and run “as” a user (most time the System account, but still – a user). Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_service to read up on this if it’s not clear.

    Anyway, if you have your service set up to run using the Local System Account or any other windows account that differs from what you use to log in to windows, you will not see your hard disk.

    This might differ some depending on your OS, but basically you A). Start menu->Run->Services.msc. B) Right-click “SXVirtualLinkStarter”, choose Properties. C) Click “Log On”-tab. D) Click “Use this account” and specify the username & password of the account you use to log on to windows. E) Reboot.

  3. I averaged about 4MB/s both read and write and I’m wondering how you obtained 8MB/s. Are there setup considerations? What kind of switches are you utilizing? I think 4MB/s is too slow.

    ps. Making the application run as a service fixed my connectivity issue. Thanks.

  4. Actually, both the host computer and the Silex device are connected directly to a D-Link DIR-855 router. The host computer is pretty descent, an Intel Quad Core@2.66ghz hardly loaded at all, so W7 gets a fair amount of resources. Keep in mind that any anti-virus software or similar could have a significant performance impact on slower devices like these.

  5. Thanks for the information. I’m hoping it will solve some similar problems for me. My only question is is this solution viable for 64-bits systems? I noticed on the resource kit url that the resource tools are not compatible with 64-bit systems.

  6. I’ve used other tools from the kit with x64 systems without any problems so my guess is most of it will work just fine. There is no x64 specific package that I’ve seen.

  7. Do you have documentation for adding an existing VMFS datastore to an ESX host? I see the datastore when I go to storage\add but it wants to reformat. I want to keep the data on the drive. The drive is a previously configured vmfs store.