We all continue to accumulate more data every day. Photos, documents, applications, videos, music, and more. That’s one reason why even 1TB hard drives come short of meeting our needs today, as we need more and more storage space. At the same time, we need newer ways to easily access and manipulate that data. A best hard drive docking station does just that.
Unlike external drive stations, internal HDDs can be hard to access. You must remove the cover and insert it directly into the motherboard. A docking station removes that need altogether. Some even let you work with multiple HDDs simultaneously. So that you can write data on one while reading from another. It makes for flexibility of owning, managing and use hard drives more user friendly. Isn’t that great?
Below are the five best hard drive docking stations available today. We have also included a buyer’s guide in this article to help you choose the right one.
Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station
Undisputedly, the best hard drive docking station in town is Sabrent EC-DFLT. It’s a lay-flat docking station, can handle up to 4TB HDDs, and supports both 2.5 & 3.5 SATA drives.
What’s more, thanks to USB 3.0 support, it delivers an impressive transfer speed of 5Gbps (max). On top of everything, it’s a plug and play device. So, you don’t need to be very tech-savvy to utilize this device. We bet even your grandma can use it without any problem!
The device has a compact and durable design. The hinged cover is permanently attached to the cradle. It has multiple LED lights to inform you about the state of the drive. Moreover, Sabrent offers universal compatibility. You can pair it with any popular operating system, be it Windows (32bit, 64bit), Mac, or Linux.
Unfortunately, it has only one docking bay. This means you cannot clone your HDD directly from another hard drive. However, you can do so using any suitable software, which can be a little complicated for the uninitiated. Overall, Sabrent EC-DFLT Lay flat docking station is perfect for backup and storage of data like family pictures and videos. It’s simple to use and carry around. PS: The price is the most economical one you can get.
Buy Here: Amazon
WAVLINK Dual-Bay External Hard Drive Docking Station
Coming in second is Wavelink dual bay docking station. It offers a convenient way to add multiple drives (USB 3.0 external and SATA-I/II/III internal) simultaneously.
So, you can clone your drive easily without spending too much on expensive docking stations. It has a solid build and sits steadily on the desk without moving around.
As you can see in the picture, WAVLINK dual bay docking station doesn’t have a raid or enclosure design. That’s why it’s more suitable for temporary use when you want to hookup bare HDD for duplication, cloning, data transfer, backup, etc. Not to mention, the data transfers are fast, as it supports a transfer speed of 6Gbps, thanks to the USAP transfer protocol.
The most distinguishing feature of this dual-bay docking station is the ability to clone drives offline. With this, you can clone a drive in a very short time with just one click of a button and without connecting to a PC. Isn’t that great? The only thing we would have added is housing to cover the drives while they are being used.
Buy Here: Amazon
Thermaltake BlacX Duet External Hard Drive Enclosure Docking Station
The BlacX Duel HDD Docking Station is another convenient way to access all files stored on your hard disks. Not only does it provide quick two-HDD access and data exchange, but it can also read and run the drives simultaneously. Like other products listed in this article, it supports any 2.5″/3.5″ SATA I/II/III hard drive in all capacities. Plus, it supports USB 3.0, due to which data transfer speeds can reach up to 5Gbps.
The station has an aesthetically compact design that maximizes heat dissipation. We didn’t notice any excessive temperature rise. Furthermore, the installation is easy, as it is a PnP design. No software is needed. Simply plug in the drives, and you’re good to go. There’s an LED power button on the top, which turns to blue when the device is in use. It supports both Windows and Mac OS but unfortunately doesn’t work with Linux distros.
The only downside is its relatively higher cost. When compared with our first two products, this one costs almost double. However, considering the convenience (as it’s hot-swappable) and a two years manufacturer warranty, you get the most out of your money spent.
Buy Here: Amazon
Sabrent 4-Bay Docking Station
Of course, the more, the merrier! Sabrent’s 4-Bay docking stations give you the flexibility to add up to 4 drives to your computer without the hassle of unscrewing and rewiring. This baby allows you to physically insert and take out 2.5″ drives and 3.5″ SSDs with ease.
Further, it lets you keep a stack of HDDs in your library at a more reasonable cost. This is because it eliminates the need to buy enclosures for each storage unit. Simply label them, organize to a file type (Jpegs, audio, docs, etc.), and have a master list. When you want to get them online, remove drives you don’t need and insert fresh ones into the station. It’s also not enclosed, which is excellent because you can hot-swap easily.
Installation is a breeze. Plug into a USB 3.0 port on your PC and the USB B into the Sabrent. Afterward, attach the power supply. It takes less than 5 minutes to start working without any special drivers. Regrettably, it is not a USB 3.1 connection, as that would have allowed even faster data transfers. Still, this is USB 3.0, due to which transfers reach 5Gbps max speed. Overall, we love this solution over NAS, as it needs little setup, maintenance, and administration.
Buy Here: Amazon
Unitek Aluminum Dual Bay External Hard Drive Docking Station
This is an excellent mid-range dual-bay external HDD docking station for anyone looking to swap out their HDDs. And yes, it allows Offline Cloning as well with just a simple push of a button. As a cherry on top, it also has an offline erasure feature. Besides, you can work with two 16TB hard drives simultaneously. This docking station is ready to work right out of the box with ample instructions, cables, and adapters.
The metal frame is sturdy and feels very elegant. It’s available in three different colors: black, white, and rose gold (whoever created this color deserves applause) version. There’s also a protective dust cover to safeguard the drives when in use. The installation is quick, as it’s plug and play; no driver required on any OS.
We especially love the low output status LEDs that don’t blind you when working in the dark. What’s more, like the Wavelink docking station reviewed above, it supports the UASP protocol, which provides up to 70% faster read and 40% faster write speeds when compared to USB 3.0. With that said, Unitek’s external HDD docking station is a sturdy and flexible piece of hardware that comes at a reasonable cost too.
Buy Here: Amazon
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Hard Drive Docking Statio
A docking station works just like a memory device. So, there are a few features you should always keep in mind before buying one. These are:
The first thing to look out for is compatibility. If your docking station isn’t compatible with the specifications of your computer, then why purchase one? Among these specifications, the first and foremost is the OS. Thankfully, most docking stations are universally compatible. Still, you should keep this in mind. Second, check for the form factor of drives it can handle. Most stations can work with 2.5 and 3.5 inches drives, it should be able to handle that, but some may not.
When it comes to connectivity, most docking stations use a USB port. There are three main types of USB ports: 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0. USB 3.0 ports are the fastest among them, offering up to 5 Gbps speed. These are also backward compatible. Some docking stations go a step further and support the UASP protocol, further enhancing the transfer speeds. However, as a rule of thumb, don’t go for a docking station with no USB 3.0 port.
Other than accessing your files, docking stations can also clone your HDD. But of course, to get that function, you will need at least a dual-bay docking station. Otherwise, a single drive bay docking station is fine too. It can also have additional charging ports, Ethernet port, and SD card slots to make it compatible with handheld devices. These features are not a deal-breaker, but they can be a nice icing on the cake and may enhance your overall experience.
Hopefully, now you know what will be the best hard drive docking station for you. There are several options in the market but always check for a brand’s reliability before settling on one. All of the options reviewed above have earned the trust and support of users from around the world. Therefore, we hope you find a suitable one right among these. Good luck!