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Computer Drive Enclosures & Docks

The need to backup data is crucial given that a computer’s hard drive will fail sooner or later. Luckily, backup and recovery of data continues getting simpler and more cost-effective because of advancements in computer drives, storage, and blank media. However, how effectively you can use and protect a hard drive depends on multiple factors. For starters, you’ll need to choose between hard drive enclosures and docks.

Enclosure or Dock?

Hard drive docking stations usually hold naked hard drives, and while they don’t offer protection, they score well on ease-of-use and convenience. An enclosure, on the other hand, turns a naked hard drive into an external hard drive and its case protects the drive. The one you should opt for depends on your preference, although enclosures are easier to carry.

Will You Use One or More Drives?

Look for a drive enclosure or dock according to the number of drives you plan to use. While finding units that hold two drives simultaneously is easy, you can also come by variants that can hold as many as five hard drives at the same time.

Interface

Check the interface of your hard drive ahead of time. For instance, do you need a USB 3.0 drive enclosure or dock or will a USB 2.0 drive enclosure or dock do the trick? Several USB 3.0 enclosures and docks offer backward compatibility with USB 2.0, so opting for the former might make more sense. You’ll also need to establish if you’ll be using a SATA I, a SATA III, or an eSATA drive.

Form Factor and Other Aspects

The size of the hard drive you want to use with an enclosure or dock plays a vital role in compatibility. You can find models that fit 1.8", 2.5", 3.5", and 5.25" drives. Some units are capable of holding 2.5" and 3.5" drives. A few docking stations come with power switches at the rear, which might be an important consideration for some. Depending on the operating system you use, you’ll also need to check for compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux systems. A few models come with one-button backup, simplifying how you backup and restore data.

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