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Hard Disk Duplicator Buyer's Guide

Choosing A Hard Drive Duplicator

The right HDD duplicator can save you time and money

There's more than one way to make a hard drive copy, but when time is money, a hard drive duplicator is the best option. It is faster and simpler to use a disk duplicator than to use available software, especially when duplicating multiple disks. Organizations and individuals that work with hard drives on a regular basis turn to HDD duplicators for fast and accurate copies, increasing productivity and reducing costs.

A hard drive duplicator is designed specifically for making one or more copies, often without tying up a computer that might be needed for other functions. Using HDD duplicating software packages are typically much more complicated and time-consuming to use compared to the few button pushes it takes to clone an HDD using a duplicator. Many hard drive duplicators also include advanced features that - in addition to making copies - allow users to format their drives, compare drive contents, sanitize used drives and more.

A hard drive duplicator always has a source drive and at least one target drive. The source drive is the "master" drive that contains the information that needs to be cloned. The target drives are the hard drives onto which the duplicator will copy the source drive's data. For example, a 5-target duplicator can create five clone HDDs at a time.

Questions to consider when choosing a hard drive duplicator

All disk duplicators perform the basic function of making copies, but there are a variety of features to consider. To find the combination of features that meets your needs you should consider the following topics:

1. Job Size and Deadline

How fast do you need the hard drive duplicator to get the job done?

Only duplicating or sanitizing a few hard drives at any given time?

A single-target unit will probably meet your needs. However, if you are creating more than 2 or 3 clones at a time, or sanitizing more than 3 or 4 hard drives, then it will be much more efficient to get a multi-target hard drive duplicator.

Got a lot of big hard drive duplication jobs?

1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser - 11 Hard Disk Drive Duplicator and 12 HDD Sanitizer - Part # 350109Some HDD duplicators can process more than 10 drives at a time. This could be a real time-saver for a high-volume job.

Most hard drive duplicators will perform sector-by-sector copies of entire hard disk drives, including those sectors with no data. However, many applications only require the duplication of existing data. For example, IT departments that roll out brand new computers by duplicating pre-configured hard drives onto brand new disks don't need to duplicate the entire source disk. For these cases, some hard drive duplicators include a "Fast Copy" option which utilizes the hard drive's file format in order to determine where the data exists on the hard drive and to duplicate only the sectors that contain data. This results in a much faster duplication process in most cases.

Read/Write performance can also make a major difference in speed and efficiency. Depending on the type of hard disk drives or solid state drives being processed, industrial-performance duplicators can significantly cut down the time needed to create clones, sanitize drives or perform other advanced functions.

2. Frequency of Use

How often will you use your hard drive duplicator

350123 DockInfrequently
You can save money by choosing a lower priced hard drive duplicator geared toward light use. Dock-style and other duplicators designed for smaller jobs work well for the lighter user. (Connection styles including docks are discussed later in this article.)



Frequently or Continuously

Stick with a reputable tower or table-top hard drive duplicator designed for high-demand, professional environments. These HDD duplicators can clone multiple drives and often include powerful sanitizations options that may be required by federal or state regulations. These features are essential for installing new or upgrading multiple computer systems. They are also built for the rigors of industrial use and high-volume operation.

3. Compatibility

What types of drives will you process with your hard drive duplicator?

Obviously, you need to pick a duplicator that is compatible with the types of drives you intend to process. You'll need to consider both form factors and connector types.

Form Factors
This is the physical dimensions of your hard drive. The most common form factors are 3.5" and 2.5". Hard drives with a form factor of 3.5" (typically about 4" wide) are used in most desktop HDDS. Hard drives with a form factor of 2.5" (about 2.75" wide) are widely used in solid state and mobile devices.

Connector Types
Your hard drive could have a variety of connector types depending on its interface. The most common hard drive types are IDE, SCSI and SATA. SCSI is commonly used for server hard disks that require good performance. SATA was designed as the successor to IDE and has become the standard connection for internal hard drives.
Hard Drive Connectors for Aleratec Hard Disk Drive Duplicator and HDD Sanitizers

4. Host Protected Areas

Do you need a hard drive duplicator that can copy the HPA on your master disc?

The host protected area (HPA) is an area of a hard drive that is not normally visible to an operating system. The HPA can be used by various booting and diagnostic utilities, normally in conjunction with the BIOS. Computer manufacturers may use the area to contain a preloaded OS for install and recovery purposes (instead of providing DVD or CD media), to hide utilities or to store software used by theft recovery and monitoring services. If you want to duplicate the HPA on your master disk, you will want to have a duplicator with a Copy Host Protected Area feature.

5. Sanitization

Do you need a hard drive duplicator that can also sanitize your hard disks?

Sanitize sensitive or confidential data with Aleratec Hard Disk Drive Duplicator and HDD Sanitizers Proper sanitization is a necessary activity for anyone whose hard drives have sensitive or confidential data. For those who must process used or retired hard drives, hard drive sanitization is an important part of maintaining data security. Many industries, as well as government agencies, have very strict rules and regulations regarding data security and the sanitization of used and retired hard disk drives.

If you have a need for sanitization, you can save money by buying a hard drive duplicator that also sanitizes. Different sanitizers will offer different "wipe" algorithms. Check to make sure the sanitizer you choose offers an algorithm that meets any standards that might apply.

It's not a simple process to verify that a hard disk drive has been sanitized properly. Forensic data recovery specialists have access to specialized equipment and techniques in order to access data on drives that typical users cannot see. Unless a company or organization has this very specific combination of equipment and skills, it will have a difficult time verifying this function on its own. For this reason, it's best to look for duplicators with independent, third-party certification of the duplicator's sanitization effectiveness. This insures that claims made by the manufacturer can be trusted.

6. Logging Capability

Sanitize sensitive or confidential data with Aleratec Hard Disk Drive Duplicator and HDD SanitizersIf security is critical in your organization and confidential data is being erased or cloned, consider purchasing a duplicator with logging capability. Computer-connected, real-time progress monitoring and logging can allow you to view, record and print records of the sanitization and duplication methods used, as well as other relevant information such as model names, serial numbers of drives, speed and capacity. The ability to produce an audit trail may be necessary, especially in heavily regulated industries. As a result, having this capability built into your duplicator/sanitizer can be helpful if your organization falls under one or more of the following laws and regulations that relate to data sanitization:

  • Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SBA)


  • 7. Other Advanced Features

    What useful features are available in a hard drive duplicator which meets your needs and your budget?

    There are a variety of available advanced features that are not essential to the operation of your duplicator, but are worth considering:

    PreScan Source
    Reads the source drive to determine if there are any physical problems that will prevent the HDD duplicator from completing a full copy.

    Locking Docks or Trays
    Included in some hard drive duplicators to secure data.

    Non-Scratch SATA (NSS) Connectors
    If durability is a concern, look for features that minimize wear to your HDD duplicator and your hard disks. For example, Aleratec's SATA-only tower HDD duplicators have patented Non-Scratch SATA (NSS) connectors designed to minimize any damage to the hard drives' connectors. The connector leads come down from above to make a point contact rather than dragging across the hard drive's connector leads, potentially damaging them through repeated abrasion.

    Connection options for your hard drive duplicator

    The means of connecting to source and target drives will not be a primary factor in your decision, but when a choice is available, you may find you have a preference. Here are the options: 1:1 HDD PortaCruiser - Hard Disk Drive Duplicator and RAID Part# 350108

    Cables

    "table-top" and portable style hard drive duplicators. Using cables to attach hard drives can allow for more HDD compatibility, but they are more difficult and time-consuming to manage. For IDE drives, some cabling is almost always necessary.

    Direct-Connect

    A few duplicator devices connect directly to the hard drives. This is relatively simple to use, but you must have space for the hard drives, which are exposed

    Hard Drive Bays

    Typically work only for SATA hard drives but are very quick and easy to use. Just open the bay door, slide the drive in and close the door. You're done mounting the hard drive. Most of these kinds of bays are compatible with 3.5" SATA hard drives and can work with 2.5" SATA hard drives with an adapter.
    350117 Dock

    Hard Drive Docks

    Used in some low-capacity duplicators. These are open bays into which you place drives like you would put bread slices into an old-fashioned toaster. This style of hard drive duplicator is even quicker and easier to use than those with hard drive bays, but the docks do not protect your drives as well. Also, the mounting is not always as secure.

    Cradles

    Built into some systems to serve as docking bays for hard drive trays. You connect the hard drives via cables or direct-connect inside the trays and have the option of putting a cover over the tray to fully enclose the hard drive. These trays offer the advantage of physically protecting your hard drives but take more effort to mount and dismount than other options. One benefit of HDD trays is that they can sometimes allow the same duplicator to accept both SATA and IDE drives.

    Final Considerations

    As with any high technology product, it's important to consider the reputation and qualifications of the manufacturer when choosing your hard drive duplicator.

  • It's best to choose a brand that has a history of quality and credibility.

  • You want to be sure that the company offers adequate support and guarantees its products.

  • If you carefully consider your needs and available features, it will be a breeze to select the Hard Drive Duplicator that's right for you. You'll be on your way to enjoying increased productivity, saving time and money.

    Aleratec Solutions

    Aleratec offers a variety of standalone hard drive duplicators which copy from a single source hard disk drive to up to eleven target hard disk drives. The tower-style duplicators also support Secure Erase and Overwrite sanitization for the decommissioning of used hard disk drives. Aleratec's line of Hard Drive Duplicators currently includes:

    IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators with Logging
  • 1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Duplicator - Part 350140
  • 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Duplicator - Part 350141
  • 1:16 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Duplicator - Part 350142
  • 1:24 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Duplicator - Part 350143

  • High-Speed WL Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators with Logging
  • 1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed WL - Part 350135
  • 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed WL - Part 350136

  • IDE/SATA High-Speed Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators
  • 1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator - Part 350130
  • 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator - Part 350131
  • 1:16 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator - Part 350132
  • 1:24 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator - Part 350133

  • High-Speed Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators
  • 1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed - Part 350125
  • 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed - Part 350126
  • 1:16 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed - Part 350127
  • 1:24 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed - Part 350128

  • Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators
  • 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser - Part 350109
  • 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA - 11 HDD Duplicator and 12 HDD Sanitizer - Part 350124

  • Portable Hard Disk Drive Duplicators
  • 1:1 HDD PortaCruiser - Hard Disk Drive Duplicator and RAID - Part 350108
  • 1:1 HDD Copy Dock USB3.0 Hard Disk Drive Duplicator - Part 350123
  • 1:3 HDD Copy Dock Duplicator Part 350117 - Part 350117

  • Check the charts below to find the Aleratec Product that meets your needs and link directly to the product page.

    IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators with Logging:

    1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL 1:16 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL 1:24 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed WL Image Map

    High-Speed WL Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators with Logging:

    1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed WL 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed Duplicator Image Map

    IDE/SATA High-Speed Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators:

    1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator 1:16 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator 1:24 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA High-Speed Duplicator Image Map

    High-Speed Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators:

    1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed Duplicator 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed Duplicator 1:16 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed Duplicator 1:24 HDD Copy Cruiser High-Speed Duplicator Image Map

    Tower Hard Disk Drive Duplicators:

    1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser Duplicator 1:11 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA Duplicator Image Map

    Portable Hard Disk Drive Duplicators:

    1:1 HDD PortaCruiser Duplicator Part 1:1 HDD Copy Dock USB3.0 Duplicator 1:3 HDD Copy Dock Duplicator 1:5 HDD Copy Dock Advanced Hard Disk Drive Duplicator Image Map

    Aleratec's Line of Optional Adapters Currently Includes:

    IDE Accessory Pack for HDD PortaCruiser MicroSATA to SATA Adapter 350106 IDE Hard Drive Adapter 2-Pack 350122 350120 350119 350118
    Related Links:

    Hard Disk Drive Duplicators
    Using 3.5" Hard Drive Duplicators for 2.5" Drives
    The Importance of Proper Hard Disk Drive Sanitation

    By Perry Solomon
    Copyright © Aleratec. All Rights Reserved. Aleratec and the Aleratec logo are registered trademarks of Aleratec, Inc. All other product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.