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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  • ganeshts - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    Bad sectors are skipped, so you do get the good data. In case of a failed drive, this is not a suitable product for that (look at my comment in reply to mariush's post above) Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    needs usb 3.0 :( Reply
  • pandemonium - Friday, September 09, 2011 - link

    I'm impressed. Not particularly since this is a nicely done niche product, but the fact that they market the speeds less than what they actually did in the bench. That's admirable. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Agreed! Nice bit of honest marketing for once. Reply
  • mozozozo - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know of a software HDD Duplicator that can do more than 1:1 cloning, say 1 master to 3 slave etc. I know there are PC independent hardware solutions but they are quite expensive.If the software is available one could built a cheap 3 hdd duplicator with a basic 4 sata port motherboard. Reply
  • jonathan1683 - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    I would like to state my thoughts as well on the article since I have never seen a device like this and it actually made me want one. After the review I really didn't know exactly what it did and I do not agree with the person said that you shouldn't put info that was available elsewhere. I would rather read it in the review so thanks for keeping the info. Maybe if people really dislike it you can have a manufacturer info paragraph so people can decide not to read it. I think it should have given more info on to what it did. I think the article assumed I knew what devices like this do. I understand somewhat what it does, but I still think I need to visit their site to understand completely. I think just the words hard drive duplicator would have been helpful. I thought it was duplicating interfaces to do IDE to USB functions. I also agree with mariush these questions are valid and I would have also liked to know how stable it worked with a bad drive and I would also have liked you to include your personal opinion on the power supply because it was the first thing that deterred me from buying it. If you include info like this in your review it would prompt manufacturers to make smaller devices. Why do they even need power bricks this big for such a small device? The fact that you actually tested the device and thought what we were thinking should give you reason to add it in the review because you had the same thoughts and questions. Also I thought the comment was dumb that someone asked if it could do a function like acronis migrate easy when it cloned data to a bigger size drive because the review said it could use larger drives I assumed it could. I thought it was great, but it actually doesn't and you would have to make a new partition which to me make is not what I would want. The info about the unallocated space should have been included. Anyways this is getting too long. This is my first time on the site and I am reading almost every article. Great site and thanks for the review. Reply

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