A couple weeks back, I reviewed the Inateck single SATA Hard Drive Docking Station and found it an extremely useful device. It allowed me to recover files from laptops that had died for one reason or another. The hard drives still worked, just the laptop hardware had failed. The Inateck dock is easy to use and flawless in function, not even requiring a driver installation. It treats hard drives inserted into the dock and connected to a USB port just like any other thumb drive. I've used it a few times since the review and will probably continue using it as needed.
Some commenters to that review gave me some recommendations for other such devices to test, and I'm currently working to fulfill the requests. One commenter talked about a dual drive system which peaked my interest right away. I checked, and Inateck does also have a dual drive dock. I solicited Inateck for a review unit and it arrived late last week. I spent some time on Saturday to test.
The dual drive dock functions almost exactly the same as the single drive dock so I'm not going to delve too deeply into how it functions in this review. If you want details about how these docks install and function, check out the previous review. Instead, I'll focus here on the differences between the two devices, including an offline disk duplication feature.
In the Box
The box contains the dual hard drive dock, an AC adapter, a USB 3.0 cable, a concise manual and a special dust cap.
The "what's in the box" difference between the single dock and the dual dock is the dust cap. When I first unpackaged the dual dock I thought that the dust cap was just part of the packaging. But, the sticker affixed to the dust cap reads that it is meant to be used to when the dual dock is not in operation to keep dust from collecting on the sensitive electronics.
The dust cap is an extremely thin piece of plastic that conforms to the shape of the dual dock. I can just see the dust cap being mangled from someone (probably me) accidentally stepping on it. It's that thin.
Just like the single dock, the dual dock supports 2.5 and 3.5 inch SATA hard drives. And, just like the single dock, the dual dock provides easy storage expansion without a driver installation. One minor difference is that while the single dock only supported up to 4TB, the dual dock supports up to 6TB. But, clearly the biggest difference is the offline hard drive duplicating feature of the dual dock.
In essence, you insert two hard drives, a source drive (slot A) and a destination drive (slot B), press the "Clone" button twice and the device will duplicate the source to the destination drive. This is all without a USB connection to a computer. I tested with two 250GB laptop drives and the process took a little less than 20 minutes. You have to push the "Clone" button twice as confirmation that you really do want to initiate the cloning process. This is a safety feature to keep you from accidentally overwriting a hard drive.
As the cloning process progresses, the unit displays the percentage of completion on the top, side panel, giving you a quick-glance estimation of when the duplication will finish.
There's a couple important things you should remember when using the cloning feature:
- The target disk must be larger than the source disk.
- The hard drives should be error free, meaning you'll want to clean up bad sectors before cloning.
- The dual dock is not hot swappable. The dock should be powered-off before inserting drives for duplication, and then powered-down before removing the hard drives after the cloning process is complete.
The Inateck dual hard drive dock is a useful gadget. I can see the cloning feature being extremely valuable to those IT folks that have to support end-users with computers that are failing or when migrating users to a new laptop or desktop. Personally, I won't use the cloning feature a lot, so I'll probably use the single dock device the most as a means of expanding local storage.
The dual dock is available from Amazon for about $40. You can find it here: Inateck USB 3.0 to SATA Dual Docking Station