As Green As It Gets
We've all seen extremes in efforts to be as "green" and eco-friendly as possible. Convar, a German company responsible for the BytePac product, has taken this concept and turned it into a very intriguing and simple product idea. Convar bills the BytePac as "the greenest and most practical way of ensuring your data is safe for the future".
What is it exactly? Well, it's an external drive enclosure comprised entirely of cardboard! It sounds a little ghetto but if you think about it, what does an enclosure do besides house and protect the drive? Cardboard boxes are used to house and protect a variety of items every day, mainly for transport, so why not construct a more specialized box? We all know how bad plastics are for the environment, from manufacture to disposal, and the eons it takes for them to biodegrade. The pricing is very reasonable as well, for three of the enclosures and one set of the cables for connection they are asking $53.93 USD (tax included).
Rather than attempt to describe it further, we'll defer to the video on the BytePac product page to provide a demonstration.
- 1 SATA / USB 2 or USB 3 Connection Kit
- 3 Empty boxes
- 3 Sleeves
- 3 Sets of labels
- 2.5" Adapter
An outer sleeve covers the actual cardboard drive enclosure and made from the the same cardboard material, albeit much thinner than what is used in the rest of the product. The sleeve has a cutout for the holes built into the enclosure to facilitate air circulation. The shipping box itself converts directly into the archive box to hold the three BytePac enclosures so no waste when it comes to packaging material.
On the back side, the sleeve has a cutout for the part of the enclosure that pops out and locks in to elevate the drive to accommodate air circulation and cooling underneath.
On one side is the BytePac name and a logo signifying the eco-friendly nature of the product.
The other side has an area that can be used to label the enclosure for reference when shelved.
With the outer sleeve removed, the drive enclosure can be opened from the side, revealing the inner design which we'll have a closer look at later on. Right now you are asking yourself why can't you just get some boxes and a knife and start cutting your own. Well, technically you can, but the BytePac is cut from one piece of cardboard and doesn't use any adhesives to hold it together. It's also manufactured to very tight tolerances to fit the drives snugly and keep everything neat and tidy. Replication of this without the proper equipment would be difficult at best.
BytePac Kit Contents
As you may have noticed in the video, not everything that comes in the kit is comprised of cardboard.
Depending on the BytePac model you choose, it comes equipped with
several accessories to provide the means to attach the housed drive to a
PC. We received the kit has three BytePac enclosures, along with an eSATA/USB connection pieces.
Packaged along with the enclosures, are labels that can be affixed to the outside to identify the drive contents. It's a pretty nice extra to have and there are a variety of colors.
Included also is a graphical instruction sheet to illustrate how to set everything up which. It's all very simple as we'll walk through on the next page.
In the bundle are all the cables you'll need to connect a drive to a computer. You can attach via eSATA or USB 2.0. They also offer a USB 3.0 version as well but it's not part of this kit. There's a SATA data/power cable that connects to the drive as well as an AC adapter which, in our case, has a converter from the European plus to a U.S. standard plug.
The USB to eSATA cable is very compact and handy to have, giving the enclosure some added flexibility.
In the middle of all of the cables is a small ByteSpotter branded hub-like device they refer to as a PowerBox. It's very compact and well labeled so it's easy to tell where everything goes. Each of the components above can be replaced individually should they be lost or broken. This is very nice as it seems a lot of companies lately force consumers to buy an entire kit even if they only need a single piece. Plus, all are covered by a 5-year warranty. Of course these items are made of materials other than cardboard but there's little alternative here and environmental impact is minimal as the cables are relatively short except for the AC adapter cable which has ample length.
Setup, Use, And Final Thoughts
To get everything set up on the Convar BytePac couldn't really be any easier. It's very intuitive and fits together nicely.
For a 3.5" drive, simply remove the sleeve, open the box, remove the loose 2.5" drive spacers within and drop the drive right in. The top folds back down and has an additional flap to make sure everything is snug. Close it up, plug in the cables and off you go. When not in use, you can use the box the enclosures shipped in to store on a shelf like books.
For a 2.5" drive, setup is the same except the spacers are left in to hold the drive in place although you lose the benefit of direct airflow from the vent holes on top at the opposite end.
The under flap we referenced earlier folds back and locks into place to prop the drive up and allow for air to circulate underneath, keeping the temperature at a reasonable level. All of this is passive of course, with no fans present and we found that none were needed. During testing, on the bare drive the max temperature we reached while running continuous tests with HD Tune Pro was 37°C based on the S.M.A.R.T. data presented in the benchmark tool. While inside the BytePac, the max temp was 41°C which isn't very much of an increase so we feel pretty good about not having to be concerned about heat being an issue. beside favorable thermal properties, the cardboard is rather resilient and does just as good, if not better, a job at absorbing shock than most plastics. While cardboard is a paper product and susceptible to damage as a result of moisture (i.e. spills), so are the electronics found within more traditional enclosures so it's a wash there (no pun intended). Really, other than vanity, we can't find a practical reason to choose a more traditional enclosure over the BytePac.
For those that go out of their way to minimize impacts on the environment, this is a no-brainer. According to Convar, the average hard drive plastic case is produced using 350ml of crude oil. Cardboard is also much more cost-effective in terms of manufacturing so the cost for the kit we reviewed is very reasonable at $55.93. Frankly, the cables alone are worth that much and are all covered by a generous 5-year warranty. Overall, it's very innovative, works as advertised, and we really have nothing negative to say about our experience with the BytePac.
Legit Bottom Line: If you need an external drive enclosure, whether you strive to minimize your ecological footprint or not, the BytePac from Convar is a unique solution with no drawbacks that we could find as compared to a more traditional enclosure.