A little while back my office computer had a bit of a meltdown. Actually, it was my main hard drive that went belly up, leaving me in a little bit of a pinch. The truth is that my office computer hadn’t been getting that much of a workout because I do most of my work on my MacBook Pro. The rest of the family all have laptops and so we do what we need to get done through my Apple Time Capsule, which not only acts as a back-up for my Mac, but also connects the rest of the family computers to the Internet, the printer, and the Drobo storage unit. So the sudden loss of my office PC wasn’t really bothering me too much except for one thing, I had a lot of data stored on other drives in the computer that I didn’t believe I had backed up anywhere else.
See, I have this thing about having separate drives for data and for programs and operating systems so my office PC had two, 250GB data drives for storing photos and music and other random sorts of files. Since I hadn’t been using it for photos in the past couple of years, most of my imagery was already on the Drobo. The problem is that I had a lot of images from a long time ago that weren’t properly backed up so now I was faced with a dilemma. I could buy a new hard drive to replace the failing C drive and then reload my operating system to get to my data or I could remove the data drives and just move the data right to the Drobo via my Mac. I chose the later for convenience sake.
Now that I had a plan, I needed an enclosure for my two SATA drives so that I could operate them as external drives to back up the data. I had begun my search by trying to find an inexpensive drive enclosure and ended up finding something that is not only super convenient but also very cool and easy to use. Enter the Thermaltake BlacX storage docking station.
The BlacX is not an enclosure that needs to have the drive installed into rather it’s a desktop storage dock that allows you to simply drop in your SATA hard drive and have access to your files. If that wasn’t great enough, it also handles both 3.5 and 2.5 drives. That’s right, you can extract that hard drive from the busted laptop and get access to all of your files (that is unless it was the hard drive that went bad in the first place). Or simply buy some spare drives and use them as back-ups for all your important data.
Here’s how it works, plug the BlacX into a standard power outlet and then insert your SATA drive into the top-loading slot. Turn on the power switch on the back to power up the drive. Attach the USB cable from the dock to your computer and that’s all there is to it. SATA drives don’t have any of those fragile connector pins like old IDE drives, which makes them perfect for a plug-n-play system like this.
The docking station was instantly recognized by both Mac and PC machines and the hard drive was ready to access. The drives stay pretty cool while operating because they are not closed up in a container. The data transfers are extremely fast moving back and forth across the USB interface. If you have an external SATA port on your computer, you can have even faster read/write times by using the SATA cable that comes with the dock and then connecting to the port on the back of the station.
All in all, I would have to say that this little unit really kicks butt. it has given new life to my older drives by not only removing old files but by also allowing them to be used as additional external storage. Now if I want to add more backups, all I have to do is buy some SATA drives. There is no longer a need for the added expense of the drive enclosure when all I have to do is slide it in the dock and plug it in. The BlacX sells for about $40 at Amazon. Oh, and if you really want to expand your storage capacity, check out the Thermaltake BlacX Duet , which can handle two SATA drives at the same time. With hard drives costing so little these days and the plug-n-play ease of the BlacX, there is just no reason not to expand your storage horizons.
As a side note, all of my old family photos are now safe and sound on the Drobo. 🙂