OWC USB-C Dual-Bay Drive Dock Review
Editor's Note: This review was originally published at TekRevue and is republished here with permission.
Industry trends, such as increasingly compact PCs and Macs that are incapable of being upgraded, and faster connections to network-attached storage devices, have made the traditional “bare” 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drive far less common in typical homes and businesses. But for those who still use bare drives for backup, archiving, data transfer, or troubleshooting, the importance of a solid drive dock is crucial.
These devices, which generally accept the SATA connections of bare mechanical and solid state drives and allow access to the drives via a more handy external I/O protocol, have been around for years, with certain devices offering access via USB 2.0, FireWire, eSATA, USB 3.0, and even Thunderbolt. But the ones you find today in typical online marketplaces often suffer from reliability issues or limited functionality, such as the inability to boot from a connected drive.
One company that has long offered a range of external drive docks is OWC, and although it has been several years since I used an OWC drive dock, I recall that the company’s products suffered none of the aforementioned drawbacks. And so when my most recent USB 3.0-based drive dock from StarTech recently died, I was interested to see that OWC had continued to update its drive dock product lineup, adding a USB 3.1 Type-C option last year.
I spent the last few weeks evaluating a review loan of this latest OWC Drive Dock, and found it to be a well-built, high-performance device that is a significant upgrade over my previous drive dock. Read on for my more detailed impressions of the device’s design and performance.
CalDigit Tuff Rugged External Drive
There are a myriad of options when it comes to portable external storage. But if you value durability just as much as portability, those options quickly dry up. Combining a cheap 2.5-inch hard drive with an AmazonBasics enclosure is often just fine for an external storage solution that sits in your climate controlled office all day, but it's probably not the best choice for field use during your national park photography trip, your scuba diving expedition, or on-site construction management.
For situations like these where the elements become a factor and the chance of an accidental drop skyrockets, it's a good idea to invest in "ruggedized" equipment. Companies like Panasonic and Dell have long offered laptops custom-designed to withstand unusually harsh environments, and accessory makers have followed suit with ruggedized hard drives.
Today we're taking a look at one such ruggedized hard drive, the CalDigit Tuff. Released in 2017, the CalDigit Tuff is a 2.5-inch bus-powered external drive available in both HDD and SSD options. CalDigit loaned us the 2TB HDD model for testing.
Subject: Storage | December 8, 2016 - 05:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Seagate, external hard drive, cloud storage, cloud backup, amazon drive, amazon
Seagate and Amazon have partnered up to offer a new USB external hard drive called the Seagate Duet that, while functioning as you would expect an external drive to, also automatically keeps files synced between itself and the user's Amazon Drive cloud storage. The Duet is based on Seagate's Backup Plus drive series and is a 1TB drive with two platters and PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) technology that spins at 5400 RPM. It connects to PCs over USB 3.0.
During the initial setup, users provide their Amazon Drive login to the Duet software which will upload all media files stored on the external drive to Amazon Drive as well as download any files stored on Amazon Drive regardless of whether they were uploaded by the Duet or other devices not using the Duet software.
Seagate offers a two year warranty on the drive which will be an Amazon.com exclusive and available on December 10th for $99.99. The Duet does come at quite the premium over other drives (even Seagate's own) with non-automatic cloud syncing 1TB USB 3.0 drives coming in at around $50 and 2TB drives able to be found easily for less than the Duet's $100 price.
However, there is a bit of a saving grace in that the Seagate Duet does come with one year of free Amazon Drive Unlimited storage which normally costs $59.99 a year.
For enthusiasts, there are cheaper 1TB or higher capacity drives for the same price as the Duet, but I find myself thinking that this would be a great gift for family members to help them protect their precious family photos and videos from a drive failure or lost drive! With the holidays coming up fast, if you have not figured out the perfect gift yet this may just be the thing to buy – and if something does happen, the real gift is that their photos are safely backed up!
Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 15, 2015 - 09:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, Raspberry Pi, external hard drive
Western Digital recently made storage simpler when it comes to the Raspberry Pi micro computer. The aptly-named PiDrive Kit allows you to easily pair the company’s 1TB 2.5” hard drive with the SFF PC.
Released last week, the PiDrive Kit consists of a 1TB laptop-style mechanical hard drive, a custom Micro USB cable, a microSD card, and a 5V USB AC power adapter. The hard drive has a micro USB 3.0 port (though the Raspberry Pi only supports 2.0 speeds) for data and power. One end of the cable connects to the drive. The cable then breaks out into three cables which connect to one of the Pi’s USB ports, the Pi’s micro USB power input, and the USB wall adapter. This allows the drive and Raspberry Pi to be powered off of one USB connection.
Looking up the model number from the WD website, it looks like the hard drives are part of the company’s Passport Ultra line. The biggest bottleneck is likely to be the USB 2.0 interface, especially when it comes to burst speeds though. The included micro SD card (WD does not specify capacity or speeds) can be used to test out alternative operating systems or to test out setting up the external storage in Linux without messing with your main development install.
If you are using a Raspberry Pi Model B+ or a Pi 2 Model B and need a hefty terabyte of storage, WD has a simple option that is currently for sale on their website for $52. I’m sure enthusiasts will find uses for the massive storage upgrade beyond what micro SD can offer (at the moment).
Is it time to dust off the Pi?
Meet the Inateck barebones tool-free HDD
Recently Inatek sent over two products to test out, the FEU3NS-1 USB 3.0 HDD Tool Free External Enclosure and the BP2001 10W Bluetooth Stereo Speaker. Inatek has been around for a while, though originally their products were only available in the EU they have recently expanded to North America. They sell a variety of peripherals such as PCIe USB cards, cables and chargers as well as Bluetooth input devices and mobile device protectors, in addion to external HDDs enclosures and of course Bluetooth speakers.
The first product to take a look at is the USB 3.0 enclosure which ships with a USB cable and manual in addition to the tool free USB HDD enclosure. It is a very simple product at a very low price and is small enough to stick in a laptop bag without having an unsightly bulge. The base model is currently $14 on Amazon and for an extra $5 you can get one which supports USB Attached SCSI Protocol to allow an SSD to hit full speed when installed in the enclosure. The USB 3.0 cable is a dual male cable; no proprietary plugs or breakable adapters needed to make this work and as enough power can be provided over USB that this is the only cable you will need. The only compatibility issue concerns the relatively uncommon 12mm 2.5" drives which will not fit, 9.5mm and 7mm are both acceptable and there is a removable cushion to keep your 7mm drive nice and snug.
Subject: Storage | August 8, 2012 - 07:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb 3.0, icy dock, hard drive enclosure, external hard drive, eSATA
Hard drive enclosure manufacturer ICY DOCK has launched its new Blizzard enclosure that is designed to keep your 3.5” hard drive cool. Putting a fast hard drive in an external enclosure can shorten its lifespan if it does not provide proper airflow. As the name implies, the Blizzard takes cooling to the extreme by placing an 80mm fan at the front of the enclosure to ensure that the 3.5” hard drive is nice and chilly even when under heavy load. Specifically, ICY DOCK has released the MB080U35-1SB and MB080USEB-1SB. The former is the USB 3.0 model while the latter foregoes USB 3.0 in favor of Firewire.
The enclosure itself is all back and constructed of ABS with a metal frame. It measures 237.5 x 126 x 146mm and weights 646 grams. The Blizzard enclosure can hold a single 3.5” SATA desktop hard drive. The front of the case is a diamond shape and hold the 80mm fan. From there, the case tapers back into a form-fitting rectangular shape a bit larger than the hard drive it is holding. Exhaust ports are present at the back and the front grill is used as a large intake. The fan is LED lit with a dimmable blue light. Further, a fan speed switch allows setting the fan to high, low, or automatic speeds. Should the drive temperature go above 50 C, the front LED will turn a red color. At the top-front of the drive enclosure are two LED lights–a solid green LED for power and a flashing orange LED for indicated hard drive access. On the side are two large release buttons that allow the front to be pulled off and hard drive to be inserted or removed.
Aside from the fan and the resulting odd shape, this enclosure is fairly standard. If you need fast rotating storage though, that fan design may be very important. When one of my WD MyBook drives died, I swapped it out for a 7,200 RPM hard drive I had lying around and used it as a backup-backup drive (lest it simply act as a dust catcher). It would get warm to the touch, so while it may be overkill for many people some might find it useful if you absolutely need large amounts of fast storage in an external enclosure.
As mentioned previously, the MB080U3S-1SB model features a USB 3.0/USB 2.0 and a eSATA connector on the rear of the device for connecting to your computer. The MB080USEB-1SB model, on the other hand, features USB 2.0, FIrewire, and eSATA ports. Also included on the back of the device is the fan speed switch, LED dimmer, power switch, and power jack.
While the Icy Dock website does not list an MSRP, the enclosure can be found for around $70. It is currently listed for $71.99 over at Newegg, for example. I’ll admit that it’s a rather odd enclosure, but if you have the desk space and want to keep your drives nice and chilly this appears to be a decent option. No Thunderbolt support, but as Ryan found out, you would need a multi-drive array to really get your money’s worth out of Thunderbolt (so for a single hard drive, USB 3.0 or eSATA should be fast enough).
You can find more photos and information on the Blizzard enclosure on the company's website as well as a video of it below.
What do you think of the external hard drive enclosure?