Can someone recommend a good docking station for HDD?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Keatah, Oct 28, 2013.

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  1. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I've got about 20 bare HDD and want to use them for infrequently accessed data.

    I'm tired of using a USB cable. While it works, I want a more elegant solution. I'm not interested in housings as these disks will be used at best 1x or 2x per year. So a docking station seems a good choice.

    Features I want:
    Cost
    Simplicity
    Durability (lot of remove/insert cycles)
    USB-2 interface (or better)
    3.5 and 2.5
    sata and pata

    Recommendations? Newegg seemingly has hundreds to pick from! http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...ription=docking station drive&N=-1&isNodeId=1
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  2. jwcca

    jwcca Registered Member

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    sata and pata are mutually exclusive, unless you can find a station with two slots, one for sata, the other for pata, you'd need two separate stations.

    3.5 and 2.5. sata stations can handle both, don't know of any pata stations so can't say.

    USB-2 interface (or better). It depends on what connections you have on the mother board. E-Sata is about the same as USB3.

    Cost vs Durability There's probably a relationship...

    Simplicity stations are very simple, carefully lower a drive into it and press onto contacts, some have a button to disengage, others you simply pull out.

    I have both Bytecc and Vantec stations with e-Sata and no problems. The Bytecc has two slots (for sata 3.5 & 2.5 only, not pata) with an option in hardware to copy one drive to the other. These are all 'hot swappable'.

    Raw cost? $30-$50 is pretty low compared to buying separate enclosures for 20 drives, although you may need at least one for the pata if there's no pata docking stations.

    J
     
  3. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    More elegant solution? Not sure what that means. Whether you use USB or eSATA, you still need a data cable. Is an eSATA cable more "elegant" than a USB cable? I don't see a difference, other than eSATA cables can be more expensive. And they generally offer better transfer speeds. But regardless, with a docking station, you still need a data cable and a power cable.

    That said, I love my Thermaltake SATA docking station. It works great and supports USB or eSATA. But note this one is SATA only. Also note you can find this exact same docking station branded with different company names, and in a wide range of prices.

    As you discovered, there are many docking stations out there, but I have never seen a reliability study so that would be hard to answer. And user reviews are not reliable either as typically they are posted while the product is still new.

    You need to redefine your needs. Do you want a single "universal" docking station that supports 2.5 and 3.5, and PATA and SATA? Or perhaps more than one docking station for different drives? And do you want one that has a single bay/slot, or a DS that supports multiple drives simultaneously? Will you need to transfer data from one docked drive to another docked drive? Do you need a "cloning" feature?

    You say cost is a factor but cost is relative. $80 may be within budget for some, but a budget buster for others. So how much are you willing to spend?

    Finally, what are these drives doing the rest of the year? I ask for a couple reasons. First, EIDE (PATA) is going away. In fact it is almost gone as more and more new motherboards are coming with SATA only. If you check Newegg, 320Gb is the largest PATA drive they sell so that tells me HD makers are phasing them out too.

    The second reason has to deal with drive motors. While not common, it is not that rare for older drives (motors) to seize after they have been sitting unused on a shelf for extended periods of time. The lubricant settles and hardens. The risk is sensitive data may be sitting on the drive that you cannot retrieve or safely "wipe" off the drive. Then what do you do with the drive? Do you hang on to it forever or toss it? A determined badguy with lots of resources (time, expertise, and forensic data recovery equipment) may be able to retrieve the data.

    So I am suggesting it might be time to go through all your old drives one last time and get rid of those you really don't need - especially the obsolete PATA drives. Then you may be able to get by with just a SATA docking station instead of wasting money on one that supports PATA too.

    I recently (and finally) went through all my old hard drives (about 30 of them!) and copied off any files I wanted, then wiped the drives to ensure nothing recoverable was left. Then I took all the PATA drives to the recycling center (they should not go in landfills). Plus many centers will pay you for the drives (I got $.35 per pound).

    This allowed me to feel comfortable buying a SATA only docking station. If I need to access a PATA drive, I can still pull out my adapter cables.
     
  4. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    A station that can handle both SATA and PATA in both 3.5 and 2.5 form factors and connect via USB are the most important features. Any other features, or lack of, I can live without.

    Being able to clone disks or copy between them (while in the dock) is of little or no importance.

    Some of these disks are 200MB-1GB in size, from the 80's and 90's. Some are more recent from the past 5 years.

    Pricewise, it should remain under 60.00, because anything more I'd just buy a 2tb 2.5 external for 2x $$$ and consolidate the data there.
     
  5. jwcca

    jwcca Registered Member

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    I googled for "Docking station both SATA and PATA" and found one by Startech

    StarTech.com USB to SATA IDE Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5in or 3.5in Hard Drive / HDD Dock

    $45.25 on Amazon


    so go googling... maybe you'll find what you want.

    J
     
  6. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That is exactly where I was (only I still had a couple 40Mb drives! And after consolidating the data I wanted to keep in a "Old Drives" partition on my current computer, I got rid of all my old PATA drives and couldn't be happier. Now I don't care that my docking station does not support the legacy PATA interface. I don't need it and I saved money by not needing one that supports both. And my old parts cabinet is ready to start collecting new old parts. ;)

    I mean really, is there any good reason to hang on to legacy 200Mb - 1Gb drives when it would be easy to "once and for all" copy off the data you need to one current SATA drive? Even if you have hundreds of them, no way are you talking 2Tb of data.
     
  7. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I thought this would work -- http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-...Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5in or 3.5in -- until I discovered the second slot is basically a place-holder and that to connect up an IDE device you need to make 4 separate cable connections.

    Then I found this -- http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-2-5-...Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5in or 3.5in --but it only made the problem worse, because, now, you have to make the same connections in a confined space.

    So it looks like StarTech products are not going to work.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  8. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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  9. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Yeah, that one looks good. The USB labeling is a bit confusing. It says USB2.0/3.0 but it appears to really be USB 2.0. But of course, USB is forwards and backwards compatible so it will certainly work - at 2.0 speeds - at least with the EIDE drives. SATA support can go through eSATA - assuming your motherboard has a eSATA port out the back. If not, then you will need to use USB.

    Good find! :)
     
  10. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    USB 2 vs. USB 3 have different connectors, you can ID them on sight. Where was the source of confusion? I didn't see anything that mentioned USB 3.0.
     
  11. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    In further reading the description, it says not compatible with WD disks. I wonder why?
     
  12. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Did you look at the box?
    They are still forwards and backwards compatible.
     
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