For years I’ve used external USB hard drives to store photos or computer backups of my desktop computers. External drives allow you to take your data with you or move your data easily to other computers. However, I’ve found something even better than my old USB type external hard drive. A company called ThermalTake makes a product called the Docking Station which is a device which allows you to use external hard drives but has important additional features. (http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1346&ID=1895)
I purchased model number ST0014U at my local Best Buy store, but they are also available at NewEgg.com and Amazon.com. They come in several different models which have various types of connections. They have a USB 2.0 model; a USB 2.0/Esata model; and a USB 3.0 model. All of the models allow you to insert either 2.5″ laptop hard drives or 3.5″ desktop hard drives. The docking station I own has 2 slots so I can insert 2 hard drives at once. This is great for copying data from one hard disk to another.
The docking station really shines as a device to enable and speed up computer backups. In years past I used DVD’s to backup my computers, but DVD’s only hold 4.7 GB of data and most modern hard drives are hundreds of giga bytes. Even if you only had 47 Giga Bytes (GB) of data it would take 10 DVD’s to store it. If it took 10 minutes to write each of the 10 DVDs, it would take an hour and 40 minutes total to store your 47GB worth of data.
While hard drives are not the perfect long term storage solution they do offer reasonable reliability and exceptional speed. The main thing to remember is to always have your data in at least 2 different places. Chances are that both copies of your data won’t be destoyed at the same time. For example, I keep 3 copies of my data. The first copy is on my computer. The next copy is on a hard drive in my closet. The 3rd copy is on a hard drive in my safety deposit box at the bank. So, if my house burned down, flooded or was destroyed by a tornado, my computer data would be safe. Computer Data Centers call this off-site storage.
The docking station makes all of this fast and easy using the Esata connection. Since prices of hard drives have come down, it makes having several hard drives for backups very affordable.