Top positive review
Great little dock that is at home by itself, or hanging off a computer
November 9, 2016
They bill this as a offline cloning dock but it also works just fine as a dual slot dock for a computer. I was a little skeptical about buying it given the relative price to the competition, but given the price I thought it would be worth a gamble. Fortunately the gamble paid off.
I am adding USB-C to my older workstations so the accessories for the workstation work with new laptops, motherboards, and vice versa. To that end, I already have a Startech eSATA dock which is very similar to the Startech USB-C variant. The main difference between this unit and the Startech USB-C dock is the ejector buttons for the drives, and where they place the power and clone buttons and lights. Personally, for 3x the amount of money, having an ejector button wasn't exactly a good value proposition to me. The box itself is pretty much as tough, and as cheap, as the Startech one.
Drives go in easily enough by shoving them in; you simply have to yank them out to remove them. Honestly, with the ejector buttons, I always found that full 3.5 HD's would pop up like toast, and just settle right back in anyway due to their weight. It's not like they latch in place or anything.
I hooked this dock up to a Aukey USB-C card (see separate review) and also a MSI GS63VR laptop. Both picked up the unit and attached drives without much fan fare. A small red lamp lights at the top of the ring showing power - something the images don't show. You will get a blue light to the left and right also indicating a communicating source and target drive (the foremost drive). These lights occupy the 270-315 degree and 45-90 degree area around the ring. The entire bottom half of the ring is dedicated to four more quadrants that light up during a clone operation. When accessing the drives, the corresponding drive light blinks. I have no idea how one would get the pretty solid blue glow ring shown in the pictures.
Pretty lights aside, the operation via PC is simple. Jam in a drive and access it. You can pull the drives out without the controller or device squealing, or setting off alarms like you typically get with eSATA cards and docks. In essence, it sees it as a USB dock. However, the device is seen as a single dock, so if you try to eject it using the Windows 10 OS 'Safely Remove Hardware' task bar icon, the only option available is to eject the entire dock. You cannot simply eject a single drive. That said, Windows didn't seem to mind if I simply pulled one out. It appears to treat the drives as un-cached and hot-swappable.
Cloning a drive from one to another is about as hard as putting both in the dock, and pressing the button which is the middle of the ring. The unit need only be plugged in; it doesn't need to be attached to a computer. If you do attach the dock to a computer, they do provide rudimentary software to backup a drive. However, when I launched it in Windows 10, it did not show bare drives. The volumes must be mounted and accessible. Therefore, you couldn't use a Windows PC with this software to clone, say Linux drives or MacOS drives. Using something like Paragon Hard Disk Manager would solve those problems, and is the app I use and recommend for wiping and cloning drives.
Overall I think this dock is a good value. It is priced reasonably and I honestly don't know why the Startech one costs so much. Right now, there aren't a lot of options with USB-C connections, which may explain the Startech pricing model. The limiting performance factor will be the drives, not the USB bus, so it's not like you will get killer performance from this dock that you couldn't get with an eSATA dock. However, as more and more laptops and motherboards come with USB-C, it makes this a very nice and compatible box that works on numerous systems and does have the performance advantage if you are using very high performance SSD's or something capable of pushing that limit (1,250 MBps). A Samsung 830 SSD drive was able to reach about 330 MBps for example.
In summary, I would recommend this drive if you, like me, need to regularly configure, clone, and wipe, hard disks and SSDs with multiple systems.