Hard drive docks are prevalent on the PC accessory market so having other features to help set the product apart can be a boon for sales. As we’ve discussed, the Vantec NexStar HDD Duplicator dock adds the functionality of sector-by-sector hard drive duplication without the need for intervention of an OS or even connection to a host PC. Using as a dock, it uses the speedy USB 3.0 interface and allows for two drives to be connected at one time. This all for $63.09, a price you’d expect for a product of this type. In our use, we found cloning a drive by copying from a 480GB drive to a 512GB drive with 70.5GB of actual data, took about 21 minutes to complete the process – and it did so flawlessly. We copied over several different drives and nary once had an issue. A few caveats to note though. First, you need copy to an equal or larger sized drive, regardless of the amount of data being copied. We tried to reverse the above scenario and were immediately met with an error light. When going to a larger drive, since it’s a sector-by-sector copy, the difference in drive sizes will be leftover as an unformatted partition portion of the target drive. For those that have the room to spare on an SSD, this is a nice way to leave extra room on the drive for over provisioning. Otherwise, you’ll need a drive tool to reclaim this space which is simple but may be daunting to some who’ve never had to deal with it before. It might be nice for Vantec to supply a free tool and some instructions on their site for doing so for those lacking experience in doing to. Second, users migrating from an HDD to and SSD on Win XP should beware that the alignment of the partitions may not be optimal for an SSD as Windows XP does not align optimally for SSD use by default. A sector-by-sector copy will carry the XP alignment over to the target drive – SSD or HDD alike. Overall, operation – whether as a typical dock or in duplication mode couldn’t be easier.
Something readers may be pondering is why someone would even want to duplicate a drive. For our SSD reviews, we use the same archived copy of an OS drive image for all of our tests for the sake of consistency. It’s much easier to pop a few drives in, press the button and make disk copies than it is to use software cloning methods that use up resources on other systems. Cloning software can be finicky too. For everyone else, there are handful of scenarios that make sense. First, is for backups/archival of precious data. For instance, make a copy of a drive used for your photos, music, etc and take that copy and store it off site for safe keeping. A lot of people are migrating from hard drives to SSDs and on laptops, this can present a challenge without some special cables. Pulling the HDD out, popping it into the dock and cloning to an SSD is an easy way to get this done. Keep in mind that for this product in particular, it acts as dock as well so if you are going to go out and buy a dock, why not have one with the extra functionality of independent drive cloning?
Legit Bottom Line: The Vantec NexStar HDD Duplicator dock is an excellent and easy to use tool for cloning drives at the sector level and works great as a USB 3.0 dock for any SATA based drive that may be on hand.