Plugable USB 3.0 Lay-Flat Hard Drive Docking Station

Plugable Lay Flat Hard Drive DockAfter a couple months with a USB 3.0-enabled laptop, my USB 2.0 hard drive docking station just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Looking at reviews on Amazon, though, it seemed that there were a lot of issues with USB 3.0 docks — in part it seems that the USB 3.0 chipset market isn’t nearly as mature and stable as the USB 2.0 chipsets, which isn’t too surprising.

Then I ran across reviews for Plugable’s USB 3.0 Lay-Flat Hard Drive Docking Station. Reviewers reported no disconnect issues, which plague some docks, and consistently fast transfer speeds. At $29.95 on Amazon, it is also one of the cheapest USB 3.0 docking stations.

I bought one back in February, and after two months of solid use, this is awesome. I’ve been using Thermaltake vertical docks for years, but the Lay-Flat design of the Plugable just makes it so much easier to insert and remove hard drives (at the expense, of course, of taking up more space).

I was worried about potential-heat related issues since the entire underside of the hard drive is in contact with the dock. After doing several large 3-terabyte copy jobs that took 9+ hours to complete, however, I haven’t seen any issues at all (if anything, the hard drives are cooler to the touch after such long operations in the Plugable dock than they are when I do the same sort of intensive job with the Thermaltake).

5 TB Hard Drives Finally on Their Way in 2013?

Interesting speculation at Tom’s Hardware based on an alleged document leak that Western Digital plans to release a 5 terabyte hard drive by the end of 2013.

If it hadn’t been for the Thailand floods of 2011, a 5TB hard drive would have probably already made it to market. The flooding wiped out a significant portion of hard drive manufacturing plants which led to a decline in the number of hard drives shipped worldwide and a sharp rise in hard drive costs.

Western Digital only recently got around to releasing a consumer level 4TB hard drive, so a 5TB by the end of the year would be most welcome.

Silicon Forensics Hard Drive Shipping Case

I really like Silicon Fornesics’ hard drive transporter for 3.5″ hard drives, but I’ve got 10-12 hard drives stuck in a locking drawer, and the bulk from 10 or 12 of the hard drive transporters would be a bit much. Enter Silicon Forensics’ Hard Drive Shipping Case:

Silicon Forensics Hard Drive Shipping Case

Holds 12 hard drives in a foam padded case suitable for shipping, if you wanted to — though I just want a nice storage solution for a bunch of loose drives.

This thing goes for $129.99 and weighs 8 lbs. I can’t wait to get one.

Hard Drive Transporter

So, I have a lot of hard drives lying around that I occasionally move from office to office and need effective way to store them in the meantime. I’ve tried a couple of different solutions, none of which worked very well, until running across Silicone Forensics’ Hard Drive Transporter. As you can see, on the outside this is a softshell case that has a window on the back for inserting a label:

On the inside, there’s a foam insert that snugly fits and protects a 3.5″ hard drive. Alternative inserts are available for 2.5″ and 1.8″ drives as well. These things can be had for $7.95/each, so they’re also a relatively cheap solution for moving or storing hard drives so that they have some protection.

SSDs – Write Endurance Myths

I happened to be reading a comment on another website the other day where the commenter claimed SSDs would never be viable alternatives to traditional magnetic hard drives until manufacturers solved the “100,000 rewrite cycle issue.”’s SSD Myths and Legends – “write endurance” attempts to put this claim to bed once and for all.

The main point is that most of the SSD drives being sold today have write endurances ratings in the 1 to 5 million rewrite cycle range. The 100,000 limit was the maximum available in the late 1990s, but has long since been superseded.

The upshot of this is that even using extremely data intensive applications that write and rewrite large amounts of data over and over again to and SSD, the user is looking at decades of such intensive use of an SSD before it fails.

This is why typically, SSDs released today have MTBF ratings equivalent to those of magnetic hard drives (not that there aren’t issue with MTBF as a guide to hard drive reliability, but rather that there is nothing about recent SSDs that will make them fail more frequently than their magnetic bretheren).