If you are like me you probably have some old hard drives lying around from computers that you no longer have or have worked on for friends and family. I know I have a hard time throwing away any computer item I have even if it is so old it will not work in today’s newer computers. I have two closets full of computer parts from motherboards, video cards, cases, power supplies to you name it and I probably have it. But my biggest collection of computer parts is hard drives.
This is only a few of my hard drives that I have pulled from my own systems and from other people’s systems that I have worked on over the years. But what do you do if you want to be able to get the data off these drives or to see what is still on them. Well you could build a test computer to hook each drive up to, turn on the computer and copy the information from the hard drive to another hard drive you have hooked up to your test computer. But I find that cumbersome at times. I mean why go through the trouble of turning your computer off, fiddling with unhooking/hooking up cables and wires, turning the computer back on and waiting for the computer to boot up just to copy data or to see what is on the hard drive, or to even check the hard drive for failures.
Well Brando has a pretty nifty gadget that I have found to be a perfect companion to my arsenal of computer repair gadgets. It’s the Unitek USB 3.0 SATA HDD Dock with One Touch Backup.
• USB 3.0 SATA HDD Dock with One Touch Backup
• USB 3.0 Cable
• AC Adapter (100-240V, 50/60Hz, 0.8A, 12V/2000mA)
• User’s Manual
• CD Driver
• Support 3.5″ SATA HDD / 2.5″ SATA HDD / SSD
• Super-Speed (5Gbps) / High-Speed (480Mbps) / Full-Speed (12Mbps)
• SATA Gen2i (3Gbps) & (1.5Gbps)
• Support 2TB over HDD
• One Touch Back-up Function (Multi-Language driver)
• Plug and Play, Hot Swappable
• Power LED indication
• On/Off switch
• Support Window 7 / Vista / XP / 2000
The Unitek USB 3.0 SATA HDD Dock is an amazing product that makes transferring files, checking hard drives and making hard drive clones a breeze. The included HDD Dock is well built and really compliments a computer desk if you want to leave the device plugged in all the time. As you can see in the picture the included AC Adapter I believe is for the UK, but no problem there because I was sent a adapter to adapt to US plugs as well. USB 3.0 is a newer technology that can deliver speeds up to 5Gbps. Here is a comparison of transfer speeds:
USB 3.0 = 5Gps = 5120 MB/s
USB 2.0 = 480 Mbps = 60 MB/s
USB 1.0 = 12 Mbps = 1.5 MB/s
These speeds are all theoretical.
I’ll be reviewing this adapter with a 3.5 inch Western Digital WD1600JS 160 GB SATA 2 drive and a 3.5 inch Seagate ST36531A 6.51 GB IDE drive. All my testing was done on a HP Media Center computer with a AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core Processor and USB 2.0.
Hooking up the USB 3.0 SATA HDD Dock is very simple, just connect the included USB 3.0 cable to the HDD Dock and the other end to an available USB port on your computer, plug the included AC Adapter into the HDD Dock and then plug the unit into the wall receptacle, slide the hard drive into the HDD Dock, turn the power switch on HDD Dock on and after a few seconds your computer will recognize the drive.
My first test was with the 3.5 inch Western Digital WD1600JS 160 GB SATA 2 drive. As you can see you do not have to mess with any cables to hook the drive up.
The second test was with the 3.5 inch Seagate ST36531A 6.51 GB IDE drive. The USB 3.0 SATA HDD Dock can be used with IDE drives as well with an optional IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter also available from Brando.
Hooking up a IDE drive is a little more cumbersome, first you have to use the IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter (which Brando also sells), this device slides onto the end of the drive and has a power adapter inside of it along with IDE connectors that hook right up to a IDE drive. It is a very tight fit to try and hook the power connector up. As you can see from the picture there is not much room, but once the IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter is on and mounted to the drive it can be slid into the HDD Dock.
At first I thought I could just hook the IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter up without using the supplied mounting screws, be warned I spent about 15 minutes trying to pry the IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter out of the HDD Dock. The connection is pretty snug and if you don’t use the supplied mounting screws while pulling the drive out of the HDD Dock the IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter will stay in the HDD Dock. Read the instructions with IDE to SATA HDD Docking Converter, I know I am guilty of not wanting to read all instructions.
I had no problems transferring files from the HDD Dock to my computer and vice versa. I was even able to reformat the drives with the HDD Dock, once the drive is inserted into the HDD Dock and turned on the computer recognizes it and assigns it a drive letter. Now on to the actual test results.
3.5 inch Western Digital WD1600JS 160 GB SATA 2 drive
1.36 GB File copy from and to
8.38 GB file copy from and to
As you can see on the SATA drive my average speed was 16.8 MB/s, USB 2.0 theoretical is 60 MB/s but the actual speed can really only reach 40 MB/s depending on software and hardware.
3.5 inch Seagate ST36531A 6.51 GB IDE drive
1.33 GB file copy from and to
As you can see on the IDE drive my average speed was 3.18 MB/s, not sure if this is because of the IDE adapter being used because the theoretical speed of ATA-3 is 16.7 MB/s.
I am very pleased with the Unitek USB 3.0 SATA HDD Dock. If you have some old SATA drives lying around, it is nice to be able to slide the drive into the HDD Dock and now you have yourself a external hard drive to copy files to and from. If you are using IDE then it can be troublesome, but it can be done. The HDD Dock is probably one of those things you may not use very often but it works great and is nice tool to have around when you need it.