Once in a while, we encounter a gadget performing a niche, yet handy function. A month or so back, we received a pitch for a palm sized portable SATA duplicator (with eSATA / USB dock) from StarTech.com with the model number SATDUPUE.

Before going into the details, a summary of the product's features is given below:

  1. Standalone sector-by-sector SATA drive copying with LED progress indicator
  2. Push-button switching between Duplicator mode and Docking Station mode
  3. Compact, pocket-sized form factor
  4. SATA II compliant eSATA host interface and USB 2.0 compliant host interface
  5. Support for both 2.5" and 3.5" SATA drives
  6. Support for hot-swap and plug-and-play operations

This product caught my eye because there are not too many players in the niche SATA duplicator market. While it is possible to use a PC to make a sectory by sector clone of the hard disk, there are many situations where one might want to avoid the hassle of finding a PC and installing the appropriate software on it. PC-independent SATA duplicators might find use are:

  1. Forensic investigators wanting to back up hard drive evidence
  2. Computer technicians at customer sites without access to a desktop PC
  3. Computer users wanting quick and painless backups

In addition to StarTech.com, some of the contenders in the casual (2-bay) SATA duplicator market are Aluratek, Kanguru, Bytecc etc. A quick search seems to reveal that almost all of these are based on the JMicron JMB352 class of SATA bridge chips.

Since 'StarTech.com portable SATA duplicator / dock' is too lengthy to type, I will refer to it with its model name (SATDUPUE) in the rest of the review. The JMicron JMB352U used in the SATDUPUE is a USB 2.0 / SATA II combo to dual SATA II port multiplier (1 to 2) bridge. The bridge chip also has a 8051 microcontroller embedded.

The SATDUPUE uses the above bridge chip in the following configuration.
 

Note that the PC host and USB connection are not necessary in the standalone duplicator mode.

Unboxing and Test Setup
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  • Nickel020 - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    I didn't know such a product exists, and I'm now considering getting one. I like it that AT now occasionally does short reviews like this. As long as the lon reviews keep coming, more is better.

    To omit information because the reader may assume it is a terrible practice. I always like reviews that are very detailed - if they're well structured, they can still be enjoyable to read. I should not need to go to the manufacturer's homepage for further info after reading a product review.

    "A summary paragraph is much more professional. "

    You're not being serious, are you? The purpose of a review is to present original and available information in an understandable way and help make a purchasing decision (not look "professional" and only understandable for elitist users). Pro/Con lists help a lot there from a didactic standpoint. I wish AT would use them more, like JonnyGuru does for example. They make information considerably easier to grasp than a wall of text.
    It's also called a summary for a reason. It's meant to readable stand-alone. Hence the name. Hence the need to re-state information.
    Reply
  • lpjz290 - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    Reikon, you're talking through your hoop! The purpose of the articles on this well-respected site is to help us make informed buying decisions, not to present to the IEEE or some other research organizations as research papers and the likes!

    In order to keep readers informed,there is a need to repeat what features the products have and what they can do. Otherwise, what's the point of even doing a review?

    The use of bullets is very useful to reinforce what the product is supposed to be good at, or whether the product is worth considering. And if you don't know, bullets do a better job at helping readers digest the huge amounts of information. nobody will want to re-read an entire page of text just to recap!

    If you want to be so elitist and make everything as you perceive to be "professional", please leave this site and start your own.
    Reply
  • Reikon - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    *sigh* Okay, I might have been a bit harsh to say the article itself was bad. It's just there's way too much useless and redundant information that makes the article SEEM like it's from a site that has nothing to really say.

    I still stand by the pro/con list specifically in this review is almost pointless. The vast majority of the info is obvious (function, size) or is in an easy to read table just a little bit above the pro/con list. He could have easily turned it into a several sentence summary that's still very easy to read, but instead it looks like a padded list to create "content."
    Reply
  • sleepeeg3 - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    It's an adapter. How much is there really to say? Sheesh. Reply
  • colmiak - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    agreed. quality review just like all anandtech articles.

    this a small product with not much to say and the cons/pros list is great way to summarize a short article. i mean... theres not much more to say :)
    Reply
  • dhuhtala - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    The most important thing to me is to be able to manage the size of the partitions - I'm almost always replacing a hard drive with a larger capacity drive. There's no mention here as to whether or not this device supports increasing the size of the target volume. I'm assuming it won't...which makes the device completely useless to me... Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Volume management needs to be done on the PC.

    For example, when I cloned the SSD to the HDD, all the partitions on the SSD got reflected onto the HDD, but the remaining ~1.7 TB of space on the HDD showed up as unallocated in the Windows Disk Management console. I was able to make this into a separate partition without affecting the cloned data.
    Reply
  • rustycurse - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    quotes: "However, waiting for more than 5 hours to get a 2 TB drive cloned' & "Product gets quite hot to touch and needs proper heat dissipation when operating" ...
    ...at least ...you can boil (warm) your cup of coffee (tea).....;)
    Take care...;)
    P.S. Anyway... thanks to all Anandtech team for keeping us informed
    Reply
  • c4v3man - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    Unless the device is certified as blocking all writes, and making no changes whatsoever to the source disk, then this device will simply DESTROY evidence, not duplicate it. There's a reason why Tableau and other manufacturers can charge $200+ for devices that do less... It's because they are certified, serial-numbered devices that preserve the integrity of the evidence in a repeatable verifiable manner, and are reliable products that get the job done.

    Now for 99.9% of our tasks at our shop, we use similar devices to this Startech unit, and they work very well. Most people don't need to forensically duplicate a hard drive, so this is a good/great product. The article, however, shouldn't claim a use that it's not capable of performing.
    Reply
  • Spoooon - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    I interpreted it as a list of possible uses for this type of device, not uses specific to this brand and model device. Reply

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