Offline Clone Function Comes To Dual-Drive Docking Stations
If you have ever needed to clone or copy a hard drive you know that can be a daunting task if you don't have the correct software. The folks over at Inateck have developed a USB 3.0 to SATA Dual-Bay storage drive docking station that also features an offline clone function by simply pressing a button. That means no PC is required. You just insert the drive you want to clone in slot A and a blank drive without partitions into slot B and press the "Copy" button for several seconds until the LED will start flashing and the cloning process will begin. Cloning a hard drive (HDD) or Solid-State Drive (SSD) without a PC has never been so simple! The best part about the Inateck FD2102 is the price, $39.99 shipped
, as that is basically the same price as most data backup and management software utilities. For example our go to backup software for cloning is Aconis True Image 2017 and a copy for one PC runs $49.99
Inateck FD2102 Aluminum Dual Bay HDD Docking Station Features:
- USB 3.0 external, SATA-III internal, especially made for 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch SATA HDD/SSD, USB 3.0 SuperSpeed & supports UASP, even faster data transfer.
- Aluminum-alloy body offers an effective heat dissipation besides its ultra-light portability and exquisite craftmanship.
- Support two 8TB hard drives; Support offline clone, no drivers needed, easy installation; Completely new cloning technology, computer-independent duplicating/cloning without computer support possible, high efficiency.
- Stable and reliable DC power source: The power supply is highly efficient (12V, 3000mA), so that a stable energy supply is guaranteed; Entering sleep mode without operation in 30 minutes.
laptop’s hard drive to a solid state drive and I used this Inateck docking station to copy over my files without a hitch. All I had to do was place the hard drive into the bay (it supports both 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives).
The Inateck FD2102 comes with the with a clear plastic dust cover, USB 3.0 data cable (about four feet long), wall AC-to-DC power adapter and some simple written instructions.
Inateck talks about the FS2102 HDD Docking Station being aluminum, but only really the silver sides of the device are aluminum. The bottom and top panels are both plastic as is the cloning button on the very front of the enclosure. The enclosure measures 130 x 62 x 115 mm (LxWxH) and weighs 356 grams, so it's fairly small and isn't too heavy.
Here is a look at the back of the FD2102 enclosure that shows the USB 3.0 port on the far left, power input and then the power button. The black plastic bottom has four rubber feet that help keep the SATA III docking station from moving around too easily on your desk.
The two SATA III (6Gbps) drive bays will fit either 2.5" or 3.5" storage drives and features a toll free design and no drivers are needed. There is no eject button on this dock, so you'll just need to hold the base and yank the drives out when you are ready to remove them. Inateck is using an ASMedia Technology ASM1153E bridge chipset, which is the latest (3rd) generation USB 3.0 to SATA II bridge chipset offered by the company and is more power efficient than the older ASM1053E bridge chipset that is widely used on existing docking stations.
The only downside to using a single bridge chipset is that you can't safely eject one of the drives. You need to eject the one bridge controller that handles both drives. That means if you are using it as a dock and have two drives plugged in you need to remove both to safely take out one of the storage drives. Inateck also setup the bridge controller to put the drives to sleep after 30 minutes of idle time. The only really work around to this is to use a 3rd party software program to keep the drives awake. A program called NoSleepHD
can be used as it is a simple program that writes data to a folder ever 10 minutes it places on the drive to keep it awake. This will of course increase the writes to the drive and having it powered on all the time will use more power and may reduce the overall lifespan of your drive.
Along the front edge of the aluminum enclosure are some LED lights. The far left is a power light and then there are lights below drive slots A & B to show if they are populated. To clone a drive you need to put the drive you want to clone in slot A with a bare drive without partitions in slot B. The capacity of the drive in slot B must be equal to or greater than disk A to work. You then press the clone button on the front of the housing until one of the four cloning indicator lights come on (hold for 3 seconds) and then let go and press it again quickly. The Inateck FD2012 will begin the clone process and has indicator lights of 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% to show how close the cloning process is to being done. Once done all four of the blue cloning lights will stay lighted (solid) and none will be flashing. Once they are all lighted the cloning process is done and you can remove the drive.
Let's take a look at the test system and then some performance numbers.
Our Storage Device Test System
Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Anniversary Update build 14393) and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 10 also had the power option set to high performance. We also disabled Turbo mode on the Intel Core i7-5960X to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable.
The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the storage drives was based around the ASUS X99 Sabertooth motherboard with BIOS 3402 that came out on 09/23/2016. We used Intel RST storage drivers, the exact version was 18.104.22.1681. The Crucial Ballistix DDR4 32GB 2400MHz memory kit was run at 2666MHz with 15-15-15-28 1T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD was used as the primary drive.
Intel X99 Test Bench
|Intel LGA 2011v3 Test Platform
|Core i7 5960X
|ASUS X99 Sabertooth
|Crucial Ballistix 2400MHz 32GB
|Corsair Neutron XT 240GB
|Windows 10 64-Bit
For our basic USB 3.0 performance tests we'll be using a WD Blue 1TB SSD for testing. As you can see below the drive was using the UASP (Serial ATA) interface over USB 3.0 as it should be.
Let's take a look at the performance numbers
USB 3.0 Performance - ATTO & CrystalDiskMark
Let's take a look at how a WD Blue 1TB SATA III SSD (review
) performs in the Inateck FD2102 docking station.
ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.
Inateck FD2102 w/ WD Blue 1TB SSD in Slot A:
Benchmark Results: ATTO showed the WD Blue 1TB SSD topped out at 440 MB/s read and 389 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. WD rates this particular model at up to 545 MB/s read and 525 MB/s write using CrystalDiskMark, so we are clearly limited by the bridge controller and the USB 3.0 (5Gbps) interface.
CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 x64
CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.
Inateck FD2102 w/ WD Blue 1TB SSD in Slot A:
Benchmark Results: The WD Blue 1TB drive reached 431 MB/s read and 378 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test. Not bad performance and pretty close to the numbers Inateck is showing off on their landing page for this product.
Let's take a look at offline drive cloning.
Inatek FD2102 - Drive Cloning Performance
One of the key selling points of this docking station is the fact that you can clone two storage drives offline with no drivers needed. You just pop in two drives that are 8TB or smaller (no 10TB hard drive support) and you should be able to duplicate the drive without any software. There are tons of software programs that will do this for you, but those require software and the use of open storage drive ports inside your PC or with an external USB docking station.
We had a pair of matching Corsair Neutron XT 240GB drives that we secure erased and installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Anniversary Edition with all the system drivers and Windows updates on one of them. We wanted to clone the clean install to the other drive to have a 'backup' of the clean install. We first used the free Corsair cloning utility to clone the drives using the Inateck FD2012 to hold the empty drive that was to have the image cloned to it.
The process took 19 minutes and 25 seconds to complete and we ended up with a fully functional backup of the original C: drive. We ran a secure wipe on the drive copy that we just made and shut down the system. We then placed the C: into the Inateck FD2012 docking station slot A and the empty drive in slot B and ran the clone mode. In just 7 minutes and 15 seconds we were able to clone the drive, so we nearly saw a 3x improvement in the time it took to clone the drive by doing it in offline. Keep in mind that this drive had just Windows 10 Pro v1607 installed and nothing else, so a full drive will take much longer to clone. Cloning from a hard drive to another hard drive or an SSD will also take longer.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
The Inateck FD2102 worked as advertised and the offline cloning mode is a nice touch. If you have an older docking station that is going out or are looking for your very first, the FD2102 shouldn't disappoint. It looks good and has respectable speeds thanks to using the newest ASMedia controller available. Our performance tests showed that our sequential performance topped out at 440 MB/s read and 389 MB/s write. These are respectable performance numbers and will give you quick access to the data you need to get to.
When it comes to pricing the Inateck FD2102 USB 3.0 to SATA Dual-Bay Docking Station runs $40.99 shipped
on Amazon and that is pretty fair for a dual-drive docking station. You are generally looking at $35 to $50 for dual-drive docking stations from Anker, Sabrent, Inateck or StarTech.com. In fact, Unitek appears to have the same exact enclosure in white for $39.99 shipped
. From what we can tell it looks like might be a design from an OEM and then it is being re-branded by multiple companies as no one has exclusive rights to it.
Update 10/16/2016: The Inateck FD2102 is not priced at $39.99, so it is the same price as the dock that appears to be identical under a different brand name.
Legit Bottom Line:
If you are looking for a new docking station you might as well get one with offline cloning abilities and the Inateck FD2012 is solid.