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Data Storage

Best Hard Drive Dock

The external hard drive dock is a match made in heaven for those who want dirt-cheap hardware and hot-swap capabilities. For years PC owners have struggled with drive bays, external enclosures, and a generally problematic process of swapping drives quickly, but in recent years the dock has offered a quick and dirty way of quickly changing drives for connectivity to the PC by eSATA or USB. While you lack any protection for the drive, using docks is easier than ever, and the latest ones offer the most powerful hardware, and new software capabilities such as drive cloning, making a variety of great options available for your needs.

StarTech 4 Bay Hard Drive Docking Station SATDOCK4U3E

If you need StarTech's 4-bay docking station, there's nothing better that can handle this many drives so easily. It can handle any 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drives from an old 300GB you may have lying around to your brand new 4TB drive. SDDs will work fine too, and — although StarTech does not officially confirm or support this usage — CD and DVD drives are apparently working on this unit. The internal interface will accept SATA 1.5, 3.0, and even 6.0 Gb/s drives, but keep in mind that the external eSATA interface will only support up to 3.0 Gb/s — and your motherboard would need to support Port Multiplying if you want to see more than one of the four drives. On the other hand, there's also USB 3.0 (backwards-compatible with USB 2.0). You can hot-swap drives, but there's also an independent power button for each drive to be totally safe. Between all this functionality, powerful features, and total versatility, this dock is perfect for those work with a lot of drives and hardware.

INEO I-NA320U Plus 2.5" & 3.5" USB 3.0 Portable Docking Station

It's sleek, it's small, and it's perfect for the average Joe who needs what works without the biggest eyesore on their desk. The INEO I-NA320U PLUS offers up a quick and easy solution for those who want a sleek looking hard drive dock when not in use and won't break the bank. While it doesn't offer comprehensive features like fan cooling, drive copying, or a second drive, it still has powerful USB 3.0 connectivity and compatibility with all the latest SATA hard drives and SSDs. Because of these features, along with a slick design and great price, the INEO I-NA320U PLUS is really an awesome choice for most people out there.

SIIG SC-SA0D12-S1 Superspeed USB 3.0 To Sata 3GB/S HDD Docking with Fan

SIIG is more well-known in IT and networking circles than to mainstream consumers, but that's kind of a plus when it comes to quality specialized tools such as a hard drive dock. The SC-SA0D12-S1 is SIIG's most 'universal' docking station, offering support for both standard 3.5-inch drives and slim 2.5-inch notebook-sized drives — and putting it all out there via USB 3.0. This universal functionality also comes in handy with hard drives and SSDs of all shapes and sizes, ranging from 300GB to even the new Hitachi 4TB drives — as long as your Operating System can read it. The dock also comes with SATA 3 support and USB 3.0 functionality, ensuring maximum speed for copying files. The fan built right into the dock also ensures that you won't overheat your drive, and that it gets the attention it deserves. To top it off, SIIG gave the dock a sleek and slim design, with a one-touch power button to turn it on or off. All in all, this makes the SIIG SC-SA0D12-S1 a fast, efficient, and wonderful docking option for your hard drives.

Aleratec 350123 1:1 HDD Copy Dock USB 3.0 Hard Drive

While all hard drive docks can handle a single drive plugged right in, and many can handle multiple drives, the Aleratec 350123 is among a select few of devices that can handle one especially unique feature — drive cloning. Just like all hard drive docks, the Aleratec can connect with up to two difference 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch hard drives, connecting them via USB 3.0 hardware to your PC for maximum speed and connectivity. However, if you're cloning a hard drive for security purposes, or moving to upgrade your drive to a larger capacity without starting from scratch, the Aleratec 350123 has one serious edge. The Aleratec can clone two drives sector-by-sector, ensuring a complete clone of your hard drive from one medium to the next, as well as not even requiring a PC to do it. As a result, the Aleratec 350123 is an expensive, but feature rich and dev-friendly unit for those who need the hard drive dock experience with DIY cloning capabilities.

Icy Dock EZ-Adapter MB981U3N-1SA Drive Dock

The ICY DOCK MB981U3N-1SA is certainly not your average dock, but where it lacks a docking-station style it gains in versatility, compatibility, and portability. Rather than rely on a docking station system which is bulky and hard to carry around, this adapter instead plugs all of that functionality into a tiny adapter that go wherever you go. The adapter includes compatibility plugs for IDE and SATA functionality, meaning it's a good fit for old and new devices alike, and perfect for testing anything from hard drives to SSDs, and even DVD and CD players. This makes it a perfect tool to quickly access hardware or test its functionality, while being extremely portable and versatile. If you can get past its looks, the MB981U3N can be a great choice.

Josh Sherman
An all-around tech expert from the NYC area, Josh has played with computer devices & hardware since he was in diapers. Having built his own computers from scratch, written on tech & hardware for top sites like DigitalTrends & MakeUseOf, and extensive knowledge of all things PC, Mac, and computer related, Josh is a true expert of the world of computers, hardware, peripherals, and more.
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