Unitek USB 3.0 to SATA III Dual Bay Aluminum Docking Station REVIEW

Great solution for hard drive upgrade.

When I built my desktop computer about 2 1/2 years ago, solid-state drives were very expensive. I researched standard hard drives and hybrid drives and I knew I did not want a standard hard drive for my main drive. So, I opted to buy a standard hard drive for data and a 64 GB SS drive for windows and Microsoft office. At the time I had Windows 7 and the 64 GB hard drive did just fine, in fact, loaded incredibly quickly. With time, unfortunately, the Windows updates have added data. I am now left with only 4 GB on my hard drive. I wanted to upgrade to windows 10, but I did not have adequate space to do so. It was now time to upgrade my computer. Turning to Amazon, I purchased a Samsung Evo 850 250 GB solid-state drive. The goal, replace my 64 GB drive with a larger drive. Luckily, I have received a Unitek USB 3.0 to SATA III Dual Bay Aluminum Docking Station to review. This promises the ability for offline cloning function up to 128GB. This may prove incredibly useful to clone my 64 Gb drive onto my new 250GB drive.

The product ships in a quality/professional looking box with a play on the black on white color scheme. The front of the box displays a color image of the device and details a few of the specifications/features. Rotating the box counterclockwise, the side is a matte black and displays the system requirements in a contrasting white coloration. To utilize the device you will need a PC with Windows XP, Vista, 7,8,81,10 (32/64) or Mac OS 10.x or higher. Turn the device counter-clockwise another 90 degrees and this surface is gray. I do not know if it is intentional, but the way they colored the package was neat. Both of the sides, the top and bottom are black, the front is white and the back is a slate gray color. The back of the packaging details some of the features of the device: Aluminum enclosure, USB 3.0 super speed data transfer (up to 5Gbps), backward USB 1/2 compatible, Supports SATA III/II/I. Additionally, it tells you that you can clone/copy disk 1–2 simply by pressing a button, and there are no necessary drivers, simply plug and play. There is a QR code on the back of the device that will yield more information. This will support all 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives of any capacity.

Opening the box, you immediately notice the aluminum dock with dust shield/cover. Remove this from the box and there is a layer of cardboard. Beneath this, you will find the rather large AC adaptor (too large for 2016 in my opinion) with just over a four-foot cord and a four foot USB A-USB B, USB 3.0 cable. Also included in the bottom of the box is a card thanking you for the purchase and reminding you to leave a review and the user manual. The user manual details the offline clone function, the reason that I wanted this device. Let me be clear, I am just above Newbie class when it comes to computer science and the actual physical structure of computers. I have my strengths and one of my biggest strengths is finding people who know more about something than I do: thank you — DJ, Nick, Travis. Today, I am foregoing my advisors and I am going to try to solve my problem, on my own.

I plugged in the device like the instructions stated. I removed the side panel from my computer, disconnected the power, removed the 2.5″ drive from its bay. Next, I turned to Amazon, the questions, the reviews and I read them all. Amazingly, this device has 78% 5-star ratings with 5% one star, mostly noting that the device did not work. A few of the lower star ratings did note that there was some data loss, some drive malfunction. I have had a few blue screens of death, historically, so I knew better and I had created a system backup prior to removal of the drive. Think of this as a just in case, and I have a system restore should I mess this up. You have likely heard that some people have a green thumb or brown thumb when it comes to gardening. Well, I find this to be true of tech sometimes as well. So, here goes nothing. Look at the top of the device and you will see that there is a little A and a little B to the side of the drive bays. There is a fold down a piece of plastic, which will all you to use the 2.5″ or the 3.5″.

Do not miss this step, the A and B must be in the correct order. Think of this as the “from and to” slots. The back most drive bay, the one furthest from the clone button is the place to insert your old drive. The closest position is the location to insert your new drive. Seed the drives into the slots, hold the front button for 3 seconds and you will see the 100% button flash (looks like a Death Star) and then press the button once. The 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% will flash in sequence. It took about 1 minutes to get from 25–50% then 50–75% and about 2 minutes to get from 75%-100%. In total, the entire transfer was done in about 5 minutes. The box states 128Gb Data transfer should take 4 min 15 seconds. This was close but was not the speed described. All of the lights will be solid on when complete. In total my 64 GB solid state drive was done within 10 minutes (install, data transfer, and reinstall). I gently removed the drive, reinstalled it into the drive bay, reseated the cables and closed the side of the computer. I reinserted the power, turned it on and said a little prayer to the computer gods. Windows loaded just fine, very snappy, just like my old drive. I navigated to the computer and it only registered the drive as 64 Gb and I still only had 4Gb remaining.

My heart sunk, my stomach felt upset and I thought I had done something wrong. I reviewed the data with the Samsung EVO 250Gb HD, I reviewed the data on Unitek and then I turned to google. There were so many options available for this problem, from using Microsoft data navigation software, Clonezilla, etc. However, closely reading the blogs and data, I found a solution. In the run window, type disk management. You will see a list of the available installed disks. Right click on the drive, select extend volume. A navigator wizard will appear, allowing you to select the size of the partition that you want and boom the computer now sees the entire volume size. This is true both in disk management and within “My Computer.” I have successfully cloned my drive and now have 180Gb of free space on drive C and my existing 293 GB free on my backup drive. Before you think “eww” that space is too low, I have 12 Tb on my Synology Diskstation, and multiple 1 TB portable drives. Space is not an issue for storage. I needed a bigger operating system main drive. I would love to give a shout out to Sidesow76 (superuser.com) for the above extend volume information.

I have a few other internal hard drives from older computers lying around with data on them. I was able to utilize the Unitek device as a USB 3.0 Hub as well. I did not get anywhere near the 5Gbps speed (640MBps possible but the device only claims 405 MB/s). I was able to get about 300MB/s to 350MB/s (averaged about 2.8–3 Gbps). This is definitely fast enough for what I need, likely fast enough for most people. I am not certain if this is a limitation of my computer, the device or the speed from the old computer. Either way, this is a really handy feature/device to have instead of having to buy powered enclosures for the internal hard drives. When Plugged into the device, your hard drive acts much like a jump drive, searchable in the computer file explorer navigator. There may be some that will think that this device should do more, or that other devices do other things. My experience with this device over the past 1.5 weeks is that it has worked flawlessly. It cloned my drive, as suggested. It takes both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives as suggested. There is no software to install and this is incredibly easy to use. I believe the 78% 5-star ratings on Amazon are legitimate and I also will review this at 5/5 stars. I am thankful that this device solved one of the problems I was having and will continue to serve me with my data management needs.
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Originally published at macsources.com on June 6, 2016.

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