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USB Duplicator Buyer's Guide

How to Choose the Right USB Duplicator

USB flash drives are ideal tools for sharing data. Often referred to as thumb drives, USB flash drives are small, easily transportable, and pack a remarkable amount of memory. From sales presentations to media files or software, there's virtually no end to what these devices can collect and store, which explains their continued popularity.

If you regularly use USB flash drives for training materials, sales presentations, or to install software, chances are you'll have to duplicate multiple flash drives at some point, and if you've ever done this manually, you know how time consuming it can be. Fortunately, countless hours and effort can be saved from the process of making large numbers of copies by purchasing a USB duplicator, a device that quickly copies files from a source drive to multiple target drives. Let's explore the types of USB flash drive duplicators available.

Computer-Connected USB Duplicators

Far more robust than the manual method, computer-connected USB flash drive duplicators are designed to quickly copy multiple flash drives in one process. These devices connect to a computer's USB port and include a software interface to manage the duplication or other processes. These types of duplicators often allow you to duplicate directly from image files or a flash drive, or duplicate from selected files and folders on the computer's hard drive.

Computer-connected USB flash drive duplicators connect to your computer's USB input and often include a software interface that gives users more control over the duplication process.

Stand-Alone USB Duplicators

Just like the name implies, this type of duplicator works without the need of a computer. Often resembling a PC tower, standalone duplicators range from as little as seven target drives to well over a hundred, and the duplication process is managed through a set of built-in controls and display. Standalone duplicators typically have more features than computer-connected devices and are often a favorite among IT professionals because of their ease of operation, especially on large scale jobs. Some models include advanced copy functions such as compare, copy system and data only, copy complete drive, format FAT and FAT 32 file systems as well as create and copy images from bootable flash drives.

External Hard Drive-Compatible Standalone USB Duplicators

There are USB duplicators that go beyond cloning just flash drives and include the ability to copy USB-connected external 2.5-inch hard drives or solid state drives as well. In addition, advanced models can sanitize traditional 2.5-inch external USB hard drives. For example Aleratec's "USB HDD" Copy Cruiser and Copy Towers offer sanitization of 2.5" external hard drives with 1-Pass, 3-Pass or DoD 7-Pass Overwrite functions.

External hard drive-compatible USB duplicators such as Aleratec's Copy Cruiser and Copy Towers can clone USB flash drives, 2.5-inch hard drives and solid state drives with USB and can sanitize traditional 2.5" external hard drives with 1-Pass, 3-Pass or DoD 7-Pass Overwrite functions.

Important Questions to Ask Before You Buy

Whether you purchase a computer-connected USB duplicator, stand-alone or an external HDD-compatible duplicator, be sure to ask these important questions before you buy.

How many USB flash drives will you duplicate on a regular basis?

The number of USB ports determine how many target flash drives you can create at a time. If you plan on duplicating large numbers of flash drives, be sure and choose a duplicator with a large number of ports.

USB 3.0 or USB 2.0?

Actual data transfer speeds will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of flash drives you use. The USB 3.0 spec boasts a maximum transmission speed of 5 Gigabits per second while USB 2.0 offers 480 megabits per second. However, USB 3.0 is backward compatible with earlier standards so if you choose a USB 2.0 stand-alone duplicator, it will support USB 3.0 flash drives at USB 2.0 speeds. Similarly, a USB 3.0 duplicator will also support USB 2.0 flash drives (at USB 2.0 speeds).

Does the USB duplicator include asynchronous copying?

Some USB duplicators are capable of asynchronous copying, a time-saving feature that works when duplicating drives of a limited size (the size limit will depend on the duplicator). Asynchronous copying allows you to remove target drives when data transfer is completed and replace them with fresh target drives, and the duplicator will automatically transfer the data to the newly inserted drives. With asynchronous copying, you don't have to wait to complete a set of target drives before inserting new target flash drives so the job flow is continuous.

Should I go portable or stationary?

USB duplicators can be stationary or portable. Stationary units typically include more USB ports and are used for larger duplications jobs. Portable units include fewer USB ports but can come in handy when traveling on business. However, the latest models of portable USB duplicators have capacities that rival stationary units. If you purchase a portable unit, make sure it has solid metal construction as it must stand up to the rigors of the road.

Functions to look for on a USB flash drive duplicator

Depending on the model, a USB duplicator can do more than make copies. Although special media may be required for certain functions, here are some of the useful functions available on some brands:
  • Compare: Compares data on original source drive with destination drives.
  • Erase: Erases data on the target drives.
  • Verify: Confirm target drives can be read correctly after copying and matches original source data.
  • Test: Verify one or more flash drives function correctly. Determine the drive letter associated with each drive.
  • Format: Formats unformatted flash drives.
  • Create Image: Allows user to create an image file for duplication from an existing file on a source drive.
  • Image Copy: Copy from an image file.
  • File Copy: Select down to the file live to copy from available folders.

  • Putting It All Together

    Choosing the right USB duplicator depends on the needs of your organization, but if you've read this Buyers Guide you'll be well prepared. Be sure to choose a reputable brand and that the company offers adequate technical support. A good USB duplicator manufacturer will list detailed specifications in their products descriptions to help you compare features and make the right choice.

    Aleratec Solutions

    Aleratec offers both standalone and computer-connected USB duplicators ranging from 7 to 118 target ports. Our line of USB duplicators currently includes:

    1:31 USB HDD Copy Tower SA – Part 330122
    1:23 USB HDD Copy Tower SA – Part 330121
    1:7 USB HDD Copy Cruiser SA – Part 330120
    1:118 USB Copy Tower SA USB Flash Drive Duplicator - Part 330118
    1:16 USB 3.0 Copy Cruiser Mini Duplicator - Part 330115
    1:10 USB 3.0 Copy Cruiser Mini Duplicator - Part 330113
    1:21 Copy Cruiser Duplicator – Part 330104


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


    330115330113330107 330104 330118 330104 330104

    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.