Hard drives have become so cheap and large that many people now often use them for purposes other than functioning as the main operating system hard disk, such as data archival and backups, additional storage, redundancy and so on. One main drawback with having data on a bare hard disk is that it must be connected in some way to the PC to access its content. The most common way is to either place it in an external USB hard drive enclosure, install it internally or use a cheap bulky USB to SATA (or IDE) kit to connect it.
Termaltake, a company well known for PC cases and power supplies has recently come up with its own solution – a USB Hard Drive docking station. Unlike the cheaply made external USB to SATA kits, the docking station is a complete unit where a 2.5" or 3.5" SATA hard disk can be dropped in vertically, much like inserting a game cartridge into a console in the days of cartridge based consoles. The docking station is hot-swappable and hard drives be changed by simply lifting one out and dropping in another. The main drawback we can see is that it’s a pity it lacks eSATA connectivity and is limited to SATA drives.
With the high price of tape drives, one of these docking stations along with a set of SATA hard disks would potentially make a good alternative to a DLT tape based solution in some cases for businesses. On the plus side, it would provide quicker backups and data recovery like Iomega’s Rev Drive solution, without the additional cost and bulkiness of using hard drive enclosures for each hard disk; however, the drawback would be the need for careful handling of the delicate hard disks for the backup operator, since generally internal hard disks don’t come with protective covers like tapes do.
A quick review of the docking station, along with performance tests can be found in this ThinkComputers review.