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Quick tip: a hard-drive dock can make back-up and recovery easier

If you're a techie and you're fiddling with disks all day long, then hard-drive docks make a lot of sense.

If you're a techie and you're fiddling with disks all day long, then hard-drive docks make a lot of sense.

A hard-drive dock can make a techie's life much easier. (Credit: Welland)

Once upon a time, the prospect of plugging a SATA drive in to a USB 2.0 enclosure was a painful process, if only because the speed limit of USB 2.0 held you back. Whether you were trying to recover data or simply copy files from a friend, it was an arduous process without eSATA. eSATA wasn't fun, either — the unpowered nature and unreliable ability to hot swap made it more complicated than it was worth.

Add to this the annoyance of having to either screw things in or close an enclosure's door to put a hard drive into place; as a once-off, it's fine, but if you're constantly swapping disks around, it's a pain.

There is, thankfully, one solution to these problems: USB 3.0 hard-drive docks.

Docks allow you to just drop a hard drive in vertically, and have it appear in Windows without fuss. USB 3.0 serves up a whole lot more speed than USB 2.0, so copying data is far less painful. USB 3.0 isn't as fast as it claims, but it should be more than enough for mechanical drives. Being USB, you also won't have to get into the guts of your machine to plug the hard drive in.

One of the saving graces of CNET's labs is the budget Welland Turbo Leopard ME601S, which can take both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch SATA hard drives. Best of all, it only costs AU$45. It's saved us through many a new install or recovery operation, and we think it should be an essential part of any techie's toolkit.

Of course, if you really fall in love with hard-drive docks, there's always the overboard option...

Hotway's four-bay dock allows both 3.5- and 2.5-inch drives, and interfaces over USB 3.0 and eSATA. (Credit: Hotway)