A hard drive docking station can be a lifesaver when it comes to accessing, backing up, and protecting your data. The cost per gigabyte for hard drives has never been so inexpensive, giving a lot more people the power to hold a lot more data.
If you’re one of these people, you might want to consider investing in the best hard drive docking station (Source). These hard drive docks can be connected to your computer via USB, and usually have between 1-4 bays for you to insert multiple hard drives.
No need to install new drivers onto your computer, as most hard drive docking stations are compatible with most software. From there, you can simply and safely transfer your files, copy them to another hard drive, or recover files you might have lost.
You’ll certainly want to purchase a hard drive docking station if you work in a digital or creative industry. You might also just be someone who requires a lot of space for your hobby, or for family photos and videos.
Either way, hard drive docking stations will help you manage multiple hard drives, and even help you recover and access old hard drives from old computers.
Prior to purchasing a hard drive docking station, you’ll want to make sure it can accommodate the physical size of your hard drives, as well as their capacity (Source). You’ll also want to consider things like transfer speeds, and the number of bays it has.
Whatever you’re storing, we recommend protecting it with these top-rated hard drive docking stations.
How Much Do Hard Drive Docking Stations Cost?
Table of Contents
- 1 How Much Do Hard Drive Docking Stations Cost?
- 2 How Do Hard Drive Docking Stations Work?
- 3 Comparing The Best Hard Drive Docking Stations
- 4 1. Liztek USB 3.0 Hard Drives Docking Station – The Best Choice
- 5 2. Inateck USB 3.0 to SATA Dual Bay Hard Drive Docking Station – The Most Unique
- 6 3. Atolla 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station – Best Selling Docking Station
- 7 4. Wavlink USB to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station Single Bay – Most Security Oriented
- 8 5. Inateck 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station Enclosure with Dust Cover – The Most Durable
- 9 How to Use a Hard Drive Docking Station
- 10 What to Consider When Purchasing a Docking Station
- 11 Ready To Buy The Best Hard Drive Docking Stations?
How drive docking stations cost anywhere from $20 to $280. For most users, a $20 to $30 docking station will do everything they need it to do.
More expensive docking stations may have more slots or cutting-edge technology. Some may even come with proprietary backup software.
What you need to spend on a docking station will depend on several factors. For example, how many slots do you need? What connectors do your current hard drives have?
How you want the setup to look may also be a factor, but today many docks are aesthetically pleasing and easy to use without costing much more.
Do Convenience Add-Ons Cost More?
Card readers, extra charging ports, and other add-on features don’t tend to increase the price of hard drive docking stations. However, more expensive products from some brands may have more reliable or universal versions of these features.
How Do Hard Drive Docking Stations Work?
Hard drive docking stations are an easy way to connect a standard hard drive to your PC. Most of us would rather not have to open up the case of their PC and mess with cables and power to see what’s on an old hard drive or populate a new one.
A docking station, whether a snap-in or plug-in type, will allow you to see what’s on any hard drive that’s a compatible format for the reader and you’re PC. It’s just as easy as using any external hard drive.
Once a dock is set up and the hard drive is plugged in, the dock needs to be connected to your PC or another compatible device. This is typically done with a USB cable, though other options are available.
Your device should then recognize the dock and hard drive as an external hard drive, similar to how it would recognize a USB drive or a memory card. The contents can then be modified, viewed, and saved just like they would be if the hard drive was hooked up internally.
Not All Hard Drives are Equal
If you’re not used to dealing with internal hard drives, it’s important to look at their specs before committing to a purchase. While the size of the drive is important, so is the shape and what connectors are available. Not every docking station will be compatible with SSDs, for example. Very few can connect to IDEs.
Comparing The Best Hard Drive Docking Stations
|Product Name||Top Feature||Specs|
|Liztek Docking Station||Compatibility with Windows XP||2.5” and 3.5” HDD/SDD|
|Inateck USB 3.0 to SATA||Dual Bay and offline cloning||2.5” and 3.5” HDD/SDD|
|Atolla 3.0 to SATA Docking Station||The two extra data/charging |
|2.5” and 3.5” HDD/SDD|
|Wavlink USB to SATA HD Docking||Overcurrent and short circuit protection. Also, the one |
button backup function
|2.5” and 3.5” HDD/SDD|
|Inateck 3.0 to SATA |
External Hard Drive Docking Station
|Ventilation holes and dust cover||2.5” and 3.5” HDD/SDD|
1. Liztek USB 3.0 Hard Drives Docking Station – The Best ChoiceThe Liztek USB 3.0 Docking Station is considered the best choice because of its high compatibility. For one, it is compatible with operating systems as outdated as Windows XP. That is not all though; it can still handle the more recent operating systems—Vista Windows 7, 8, and 10. Regarding Mac, the docking station is compatible with Mac 9.0 and above.
Second, though it is made with USB 3.0 connections in mind, the docking station is still backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1 connections. Such a wide range of compatibility makes it one of the best docking stations available in the market today.
Thanks to the USB 3.0 standard, the docking station supports transfer rates as high as 5Gbps. With such speeds, you can transfer data within minutes instead of hours.
The Liztek USB 3.0 Docking Station is hot-swappable. That means you do not need to restart your computer during a disk swap; you can do so while the machine is still on. The device is thus convenient and easy to use.
However, please note that this does not apply when it comes to changing drives. Before replacing or removing any disk drives, disconnect and power off the docking station.
Great care was taken during the design process to make the device tool-free. Consequently, you need no tools or screws; the dock is easy to install and easy to assemble. Actually, the docking station just snaps into place, and it holds the hard drive firmly and securely.
Regarding durability, the Liztek USB 3.0 Docking Station is highly durable thanks to the ABS plastic material used. Great artistry has been incorporated to ensure a clean and simple appearance that is aesthetically pleasing.
Finally, it is essential to note that the docking station can hold both the 2.5” or 3.5” SDD or HDD in place. Moreover, it accommodates all SATA standards (SATA I, SATA II, SATA III).
2. Inateck USB 3.0 to SATA Dual Bay Hard Drive Docking Station – The Most UniqueThe Inateck SATA Dual Bay Hard Drive Docking Station full package comes with four items—the docking station, a 1.2m long cable, a D.C power supply and a multilingual user manual. At first glance, the feature that catches the eye is the sleek and attractive gamer style design. It is both unique and unlike most docking stations.
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If you are a gamer you’ll fall in love with this. You can use this docking station to load media from external HDD without affecting the performance of your PC. A quality computer speaker allows you to watch movies with high-level HD quality sound.
Other than outward appearance, this particular docking station is highly efficient. For one. It has two docking stations, and each can support an 8TB 2.5” or 3.5” hard drive. That means it has a support drive of up to 16TB. The docking station also has an offline cloning capability. Thus, if you don’t have a computer, then you can utilize the offline cloning functionality.
The docking station has an ASM1156 chip that supports UASP. As a result, you get access to data transfer speeds which are as high as 6gbps. The speeds are further helped by the USB 3.0 standard and the SATA III compatibility. Note that similar to the Tecknet docking station discussed above, this particular docking station also supports SATA I and SATA II.
Regarding operating systems, the docking station is compatible with XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. It is also compatible with Mac OS and Linux. Such broad range compatibility ensures a particular OS will not restrict you.
To facilitate user-friendliness; the station has an intuitive LED lighting system. Consequently, whenever you insert Disk A or Disk B, the left-hand light or right-hand light will turn blue respectively. Also, during cloning, four lights clearly labeled 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% will track the progress.
One cannot fail to note the auto sleep function that conserves energy and helps prevent overheating. The hot-swapping, plug and play technology makes the device easy to use. Just remember to power off the docking station before removing a drive.
Also, with regards to cloning, it essential you back up the files on the target hard drive because they will be overwritten when offline cloning occurs.
3. Atolla 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station – Best Selling Docking StationThe Atolla 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station delivers when it comes to high performance. It supports any 2.5” and 3.5” SATA Hard Drives or SSDs. Thanks to the USB 3.0 standard, transfer speeds are as high as 5Gbps.
Additionally, it supports UASP. The UASP protocol guarantees the docking station supports speeds that are 70% faster than those of a conventional USB 3.0 with no UASP support. In terms of capacity, the docking station supports up to 8TB GPT drive. All these high-performance features ensure one thing—that you get value for your money.
The Atolla 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive docking station is highly compatible. It is backward compatible with USB 2.0, 1.1 and 1.0. That means it does not matter how old your hard drive, you will be able to access it. Regarding SATA, other than being compatible with SATA III, which offers a bandwidth of 6Gbps, it is also compatible with SATA I and II.
It supports both Windows and Mac operating systems. However, please note that it does not support IDE/EIDE/PATA, SCSI, SAS, mSATA and M.2 drives. The lack of this support might limit you some.
Similar to the two docking stations discussed above, it is a plug and plays docking station. However, unlike the Tecknet which has a tool-free design, this particular docking station is mounted using screws, and thus you need tools. Efficiency is therefore reduced.
A significant benefit of opting for the Atolla 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station are the two extra data/charging ports that extend the PC’s connection for external devices. Finally, the docking station has an open docking bed design that facilitates better heat dissipation ensuring it does not overheat.
The first thing that sets this docking station apart is the USB 2.0 standard. However, this does not diminish the performance at all. Similar to others, it supports 2.5” and 3.5” SATA HDD and SDD.
It is both backward and forward compatible because other than USB 2.0 connections; it also supports USB 3.0 and USB 1.0 connections. Because of the USB 2.0 standard and the lack of UASP support, the transfer speeds are a bit low though still fast enough.
The docking station is compatible with Windows 10 through to XP, Mac OS 10.2 or higher and Linux. This broad compatibility ensures you will not be limited by your current operating system when purchasing the docking station.
A significant benefit of this particular docking station that is not evident in others is the overcurrent and short-circuit protection. This security feature protects your data and helps ensure the hard disk doesn’t get damaged whenever power surges, blackouts and brownouts occur.
Also, the docking station has one button backup function. The function will help you avoid data loss in the event of a sudden power outage.
The Wavlink USB to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station is a plug and play which means you do not need drivers or any other installation requirement. Simply plug in the docking station—it has fast installing SATA drives, and once that is done, you can start using it. As a result, it is easy to use.
The device is user-friendly thanks to the LED light indicators and the APS plastic material guarantees it cools effectively and avoids overheating.
Some notable applications that might greatly benefit from this particular docking station include secure storage for photographers and filmmakers who need to store images and video and backup storage for research students.
5. Inateck 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station Enclosure with Dust Cover – The Most DurableThe unique feature evident on the Inateck 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station are the ventilation holes on the bottom. The apertures facilitate better heat dissipation which not only makes the docking station more stable it guarantees no overheating. The unique construction also incorporates a dust cover which protects the device from dust. The lack of dust plays a significant role in ensuring durability,
In terms of compatibility, it supports Windows XP through to Window 10 both 32 bit and 64 bit. It also supports Mac OS 9.1, 10.8.4 and above. It is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1.
However, it connects with a fast speed USB 3.0 capable of achieving a 5Gbps theoretical speed. It is also enhanced with UASP; a protocol that ensures the docking station performs 70% faster than conventional USB 3.0.
The docking station is compatible with SATA I, II, and III hard drives. It was designed for 2.5” and 3.5” SATA HDD/SDD. It has a foam pad whose role is to ensure the hard drive is steady and will not move from side to side which might cause data loss or hard drive damage.
The docking station’s user interface is enhanced by the double LED indicator which helps determine the status of the docking station and the drive.
A speed test for Samsung 840 Series Pro 128 GB with Windows 8 64-bit recorded a 437 Mb/s read speed, and 417.5 Mb/s write speed. While not 5Gbps, this is still fast.
How to Use a Hard Drive Docking Station
How you intend to use your hard drive docking station will determine how it needs to be set up and which docking station is best for you.
Do you want to make quick clones and backups of your hard drives?
A few docking bays on the market are ideal for making cloned drives and backups or transferring data from an old hard drive to a newer model. If you’re looking for this feature, see if the docking bay you have your eye on has a “one-button transfer”.
This feature allows all of the contents from Slot A to be transferred to the drive-in Slot B with no connection to a computer needed and just one button press.
Do you want to archive information on older HDDs or new SSDs?
If all you need to do is be able to view and edit information, any docking bay that is compatible with the hard drives you already have or intend to buy should work.
For general backups, speed and advanced connection types aren’t much of an issue. A docking station that supports a plug-and-play style may be worth looking into.
Do you just need more space or want to take your work with you?
In cases like this, a multi-bay standalone docking bay that connects to a computer using a USB is a great choice. With this, all you need to do is connect the drives you want to use and you’re good to go.
Many docking stations will even allow you to connect a drive to boot from if the connection is stable enough. With an SSD, this experience can be nearly seamless.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Docking Station
Docking stations are a dime a dozen in the market. To ensure you only purchase the best; there are some things you ought to consider.
Is The Docking Station Right for Your PC?
Determining if the docking station is right for you is where specifications come into play. Ensure the docking station specs are compatible with your PCs specifications. For instance, it is a loss to buy a docking station that has no Linux support, and yet your PC uses the Linux Operating System.
However, it is important to note the rule of thumb when it comes to specs—Always go for Universality. That means you go for a docking station whose specs supports a wide range of machines. That is because you are likely to replace your PC on a frequent basis.
If you are a gamer and considering to upgrade your pc for a wide range of support, we highly recommend you to buy the top-rated gaming PC from the market.
What happens when three years after purchasing your docking station you decide to move from Windows to Mac? If you did not consider this when purchasing the docking station and your docking station does not support the Mac OS; you will be forced to buy another one.
If you have been researching docking stations for a while, then you have already noticed that often, the only difference is the brand. You will find multiple devices with the exact specifications but manufactured by different brands.
It is therefore essential to research all the top-rated brands. Top-rated brands are those that consistently produce high-quality products. With that information, it will be easier to separate one docking station from the other.
Ready To Buy The Best Hard Drive Docking Stations?
There are other minor considerations such as the number of peripherals you need the dock to support. In such a case, you need to look for a dock with more ports. However, the two listed considerations are the most significant.
Once you adhere to them, you will be able to pick the best dock for you quickly. Are you looking at a perfect solution for enhancing hardware performance and availability? Consider buying the best RAID controller.
Also, keep in mind you can use your old HDD as additional storage to store your media files. You can easily move files from SSD to HDD using the docking station.