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Review: OWC’s Drive Dock turns your Mac’s old internal hard drives into plug-and-play storage

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Mechanical hard drives will continue to be available — though decreasingly important — into the foreseeable future. New drives are cheaper and higher-capacity than increasingly dominant solid state drives, and old drives pulled from computers are hard to throw away, even if they’re past their prime. Most people would seek out an external hard drive enclosure, which is ideal if you want to commit to repurposing one internal drive for an extended period of time. But what if you want to swap multiple internal hard drives in and out on an as-needed basis?

Sporting a substantially metal chassis with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 ports, OWC’s new Drive Dock ($245) is a premium solution for people who want high-speed, on-demand access to internal hard drives. The top has two SATA-compatible drive bays, each capable of holding 2.5″ laptop drives or 3.5″ desktop drives, while the bottom holds a power supply capable of safely powering both drives as plug-and-play volumes…

Key Details:

  • A professional-grade docking solution for SATA internal drives
  • Features Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 interfaces for high-speed data
  • Can be used on as-needed basis to swap/access old, unused drives
  • Fastest speeds will be seen with 2012+ SATA III drives, esp. SSDs

There’s no question that Drive Dock carries a substantial design and electronics premium over functionally similar alternatives from companies such as Sabrent — this, like OWC’s Mercury Pro optical disc burners (reviewed here), is a fancier, Mac-matching option with features that will be of disproportionate interest to professional users. The thick aluminum and equally sturdy black plastic chassis are arguably the least important of these features, though they do a very nice job of matching everything from iMacs and Mac minis to MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros; they also enable Drive Dock to remain stable on your desk when you’re connecting or disconnecting drives from its bays.

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On the functional side, OWC bundles Drive Dock with a Thunderbolt 2 cable, which is fairly uncommon for accessories of this type, as well as dual Thunderbolt 2 ports so Drive Dock can sit in the middle of a Thunderbolt chain rather than at its end. You’ll also get a USB 3.0 cable and a power cable in the box; a power switch on the back controls the entire unit, while individual power buttons on the top can power each drive on or off as preferred.

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Using Drive Dock is as simple as plugging your internal drive into one of the bays, SATA plugs facing downwards in the lower left corner. You’ll hear a soft click when the connection is made, and at that point, the drive will be ready to show up as a volume on your USB- or Thunderbolt-connected Mac. No drivers are necessary, and the user experience is literally indistinguishable from using a dedicated external enclosure… except for one thing. Once you press the Eject button on OS X, Drive Dock enables you to just physically pull the internal drive out at will and swap it with another if you want. With standard external hard drive enclosures, that feat is either impractical or impossible.

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If you’re planning to use Drive Dock with recent, fast SATA III drives, the speed benefits will be more obvious than with older, slower SATA I and SATA II drives. As my personal collection of spare internal hard drives is limited, and doesn’t include anything with SATA III, I wasn’t able to push Drive Dock to its theoretical limits. Using both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 connections, my single SATA II drive tests tapped out at around 125MB/second for both reads and writes, below the Drive Dock’s Thunderbolt 2 (477-522MB/second) and USB 3 (347-427MB/second) peak single drive benchmarks. OWC notes that it is also capable of running two drives in a RAID 0 configuration at speeds of around 371-378MB/second, varying only slightly based on your choice of Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3 interface. With a SATA III mechanical hard drive, you can expect up to 180MB/second speeds; a SATA III SSD will come closest to pushing Drive Dock’s capabilities.

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As Mac peripherals go, Drive Dock is quite clearly designed to appeal to a very specific audience: professional Mac users who have need for a high-performance, quick-swap adapter for internal hard drives. It isn’t cheap, but it isn’t flimsy, and it looks very much in the right place next to a desktop or laptop Mac. The ideal customer for such an accessory is someone who either has a lot of internal hard drives — say, a video professional or huge fan of multi-drive backups — or a need to frequently switch between several drives that aren’t better placed inside discrete external enclosures. Drive Dock’s pricing, finish, and features make it a good choice for creative professionals who care about speed and aesthetics.

Manufacturer:
Other World Computing
Price:
$245
Compatibility:
Mac

More From This Author

Check out more of my editorials, How-To guides, and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. I’ve recently discussed how to safely prepare and wipe your iPhone for resale or trade-in, and how to get the best iPhone trade-in price to help buy an iPhone 6s, amongst many other topics.


Filed under: Mac, Reviews Tagged: Drive Dock, hard drive enclosure, OWC, SATA, Thunderbolt 2, USB 3

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Western Digital encrypted external hard drives have flaws that can expose data

The hardware-based encryption built into popular Western Digital external hard disk drives has flaws that could allow attackers to recover data without knowing the user password.

A team of three security researchers investigated how the self-encryption feature was implemented in several popular Western Digital My Passport and My Book models. Depending on the type of microchip used for the encryption operation, they found design flaws and backdoor-like features that enable brute-force password guessing attacks or even decryption of the data without knowing the password.

In some cases they found that the encryption is performed by the chip that bridges the USB and SATA interfaces. In other cases the encryption is done by the HDD’s own SATA controller, with the USB bridge handling only the password validation.

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Lenovo Yoga 900: Core M ditched for full-fat Skylake, sensible keyboard returns

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It’s safe to say that Lenovo made a few, let’s say, less-than-ideal tweaks to its flagship Yoga ultrabook with the launch of the Yoga Pro 3. Sure, the overall sleek design and wonderfully over-engineered hinge remained highlights, but the switch to a slower Core M processor and the sacrilegious alteration of its keyboard made the Pro 3 something of a step down from its predecessor.

Rejoice then, ye Lenovo faithful, for the new Yoga 900 makes up for much of the Pro 3’s flaws. For starters, the Core M has been ditched in favour of a full-fat i5 or i7 Skylake processor, while the keyboard regains its dedicated function key row. It’ll come in three different configurations, starting with a £1199 Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SATA SSD. £1299 gets you the same spec with an i7, while £1399 bumps up the SATA SSD to 512GB. Sadly, there’s no option at all for a quicker PCIe-based SSD. Pricing starts at $1,199 (!) in the US, but PR wouldn’t tell us anything further.

All models come with the same non-replaceable 66Whr battery (up from 44Whr in the Pro 3, and good for around nine hours of battery life according to Lenovo), a 13.3-inch 3200×1800 (276 PPS) IPS touchscreen, Windows 10, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, a headphone jack, and an SD card reader. Lenovo’s also boasting that it features a 32 percent larger fan, and thus runs quieter than its predecessor.

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Save up to 65 percent on select Crucial and Lexar products from Amazon

Amazon is currently hosting a big sale on select Crucial and Lexar memory products, offering you a chance to save up to 65 percent. Whether you are looking for a new hard drive for your computer, or to add some additional storage capacity to your mobile phone, Amazon has the savings for you. While it’s not the complete assortment of Lexar or Crucial products, the deals are on a wide variety of them. Here are some of deals:

Memory Cards

Solid State Hard Drives

These deals are good for today only, so if you are interested be sure to place your order before it expires!

Shop all the Lexar and Crucial specials on Amazon

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