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Drive docks to help re-use old hard drives

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:01 AM

Post your comments for Drive docks to help re-use old hard drives here
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#2 User is offline   tewha 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:09 AM

The number of times I've retired a drive due to replacement, I can count on one hand with fingers left over. The number of times I've replaced a hard drive due to it dropping dead is far greater.

The number of times I've replaced a hard drive because it was dying, but not yet completely dead, is greater than both of those combined.

Storing data on old hard drives, months or years later, is a horrible idea if you care about your data.
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#3 User is offline   klahanas 

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:23 AM

View Posttewha, on 27 June 2011 - 08:09 AM, said:

The number of times I've retired a drive due to replacement, I can count on one hand with fingers left over. The number of times I've replaced a hard drive due to it dropping dead is far greater.

The number of times I've replaced a hard drive because it was dying, but not yet completely dead, is greater than both of those combined.

Storing data on old hard drives, months or years later, is a horrible idea if you care about your data.

These devices are a huge convenience during upgrading or replacing a hard drive. Let's say you buy an SSD, you could clone your existing drive, swap the new drive in, and voila!
"One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity."

-Rush
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#4 User is offline   eavary 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:37 AM

I finally ended up getting one of these docks and I couldn't be happier. Not only has it helped me to perform a migration from an old failed computer to a new one without having to put each drive into an enclosure, but it has also come in handy at least three times already as I've been helping friends and clients with data recovery when their drives fail -- a dock is great for anyone who finds themselves doing such things for people.
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#5 User is offline   pogo97 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:37 AM

I use a Thermaltake 2-slot unit for backups. It usually connects to my Airport Extreme backing up our three laptops using Time Machine. Once a week, I update a bootable backup for each computer on one of two alternating HDs which is then stored off-site. It's very handy to just be able to stick an HD into the slot.

I wouldn't use it to re-purpose an old drive either ; it was replaced for a reason. Usually it was too small, which would make it inappropriate for backup.
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#6 User is offline   Penguirl 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:18 AM

Maybe you don't want to trust your old HDD for storage, but couldn't it still be used as a scratch disk?

Most of the descriptions do not specify interface, are these all SATA or are any of them PATA?
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#7 User is offline   whitedog 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:33 AM

I have an earlier generation Voyager Q from NewerTech. Very handy - especially the dual FireWire 800 ports, which enable me to daisy-chain drives when necessary. I also have a NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter. The dock is easier to use, but the adaptor is more flexible, supporting older ATA drives as well as current SATA drives. One caveat with the universal adaptor - you have to use a jumper to set ATA drives to Master. The adapter seemed not to work until I noticed this bit of info on the NewerTech web site. I guess with most drives now being one flavor of SATA or another jumpers will soon be a little mourned relic of the bad old days with SCSI and ATA.
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#8 User is offline   hagen 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 01:06 PM

All my drive failures have been external drives. And most of those have been seagate: housings, power supplies, rarely the physical drive.

Now using the Voyager Q and works well: each year, just unplug and drop a new one in: no wasting resources and $ buying enclosures and filling dumps up with dead power supplies.
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#9 User is offline   Panglos 

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  Posted 27 June 2011 - 01:41 PM

The value-priced Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex drives have an interchangeable base, to which they connect via SATA connector. You can buy these bases in a variety of configurations, and connect them to an internal drive as well as to a GoFlex drive. (You may need to create a small shim to make your internal drive seat onto the SATA connector properly.) If you buy a GoFlex base (FireWire 800 version, for example) to replace the version that came with your GoFlex drive, you'll end up with a spare SATA adapter, usable with an internal drive.
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#10 User is offline   Mr_EMan 

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 01:57 PM

View PostPenguirl, on 27 June 2011 - 11:18 AM, said:

Most of the descriptions do not specify interface, are these all SATA or are any of them PATA?


That would be useful to know. I'm guessing these are all for SATA drives. Is it possible to confirm, in case we missed it in the text?

I use old drives for back up. If a drive has lost data in the past, I get rid of it. If I simply upgraded it (which is what I tend to do), then it becomes a back up disk. My theory is you can't have enough back up of important stuff, like pictures.

Age of a drive is an issue, but if the drive is being used only occasionally, it's cheap insurance.
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#11 User is offline   whitedog 

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 02:52 PM

View PostMr_EMan, on 27 June 2011 - 01:57 PM, said:

View PostPenguirl, on 27 June 2011 - 11:18 AM, said:

Most of the descriptions do not specify interface, are these all SATA or are any of them PATA?


That would be useful to know. I'm guessing these are all for SATA drives. Is it possible to confirm, in case we missed it in the text?

I use old drives for back up. If a drive has lost data in the past, I get rid of it. If I simply upgraded it (which is what I tend to do), then it becomes a back up disk. My theory is you can't have enough back up of important stuff, like pictures.

Age of a drive is an issue, but if the drive is being used only occasionally, it's cheap insurance.


These drive docks are all for SATA drives. If you have legacy ATA drives, get the NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter, which can connect ATA in addition to SATA drives. Be sure, as I noted in my post above, to insure an ATA drive is jumpered to Master or the adapter won't work.
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#12 User is offline   Greentree_uk 

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  Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:02 AM

Do we not speed test docks anymore are we all really more interested in the asthetics. FYI not all usb/firewire bridges are equal. bought a cheap lacie drive recently and could only get 17MB/sec out of it. Took drive out of casing and could get well over 90. So much for 480Mbps I know usb is not that efficient. LEt see some numbers!
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#13 User is offline   whitedog 

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 03:27 AM

View PostGreentree_uk, on 28 June 2011 - 01:02 AM, said:

Do we not speed test docks anymore are we all really more interested in the asthetics. FYI not all usb/firewire bridges are equal. bought a cheap lacie drive recently and could only get 17MB/sec out of it. Took drive out of casing and could get well over 90. So much for 480Mbps I know usb is not that efficient. LEt see some numbers!


I think that's why all these docs support USB 3 - to maximize performance. Of course, you have to have a USB 3 port on your computer to take advantage of it, something Apple does not yet provide. Which means, if you want the best performance with a standard Mac, get a doc that also has Firewire 800 (as Apple doesn't support eSATA either). Or get a new Mac with Thunderbolt and wait till USB 3 and eSATA adapters are available for it. Of course, most PCs don't yet have USB 3 either, but new models with USB 3 connectivity are coming to market, so it appears Windows users will have access to USB 3 before Mac users do. A year from now Thunderbolt will have obliterated this advantage; but in the meantime you have to decide if you want immediate satisfaction or are planning for the future. There's also the fact that only some of these docs support the SATA III standard and 3TB drives. If you get the doc primarily to support older drives this won't matter. But it you want a future proof solution, it might. Eventually we will have the last laugh when these docs become available with Thunderbolt ports; however, like current multi-port models they will undoubtedly be more expensive. One can posit any number of strategies. Buy cheap now and upgrade in a year or two when a selection of Thunderbolt devices are available. If you have a Mac Pro you can get the best doc available now and purchase a USB 3 or eSATA controller card to go with it. No one can tell you what solution is best - you'll have to figure that out for yourself, based on your own needs and preferences. I was lucky in that the NewerTech doc I got last year has Firewire 800, which still gives me decent performance. But I had to make the choice at the time to get the more expensive model, rather than the inexpensive USB 2 only version.

Given that all the docs listed offer USB 3 and that no Macs do, I think testing them would be rather pointless at the moment. There are too many variables when you add in the docs with more ports and support for faster drives. There's also the fact that drive docs are a niche product, which is going to discourage extensive product comparison testing. I think the old rule probably applies: You get what you pay for.
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#14 User is offline   AikiDavid 

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 07:43 AM

View Posttewha, on 27 June 2011 - 08:09 AM, said:

The number of times I've retired a drive due to replacement, I can count on one hand with fingers left over. The number of times I've replaced a hard drive due to it dropping dead is far greater.

The number of times I've replaced a hard drive because it was dying, but not yet completely dead, is greater than both of those combined.

Storing data on old hard drives, months or years later, is a horrible idea if you care about your data.


I'm thinking from your comment that you are definitely Not an 'early adopter.' You must only buy things when they need to be replaced.
I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I always want the latest gadget, and I think over the many years since 1986 when I first bought a
Mac, that I may have only had ONE drive fail on me, and maybe one, maybe none be near death. In that same time period I've probably
bought not only many newer computers, but all sorts of external drives that later became neglected because of newer ones that are
faster, etc. I probably have 20 usable hard drives sitting in my closet not doing anything, so I think this article could be of real use.
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