USB Geek USB to SATA/IDE Universal KitNov 22nd, 2006 | By Archive
USB Geek USB to SATA/IDE Universal Kit
: 11/22/06 – 04:07:38 AM
Page 1 : Index
With more and more people switching over to faster and faster broadband internet connections, a lot of data gets transferred across the internet. You can download large amounts of data in a relatively short amount of time. But where will you store it all? A secondary internal hard drive sounds like a good idea but the disadvantages largely outweigh the benefits for most users. For one, you have to have room in your case to install it, which is not an option for laptop users. Also, mobility is severely affected as it is just not practical to remove the hard drive every time you need to take the data with you. A pre-built external hard drive is a good idea but they are expensive.
Enter USB Geek's solution: the USB to SATA/IDE Universal Kit with One Touch Backup, hereafter referred to as the Universal Backup Kit for the sake of brevity.
This little device acts as a bridge between your USB port and a SATA or IDE device, allowing you to backup files to magnetic storage (hard drives) or optical storage (CD/DVD). It also includes software that enables "one touch backup" where you can backup all your important data with the push of a button!
Page 2 : Package and Contents
The Universal Backup Kit comes in a relatively plain box with green accents. It is unclear who the manufacturer is but we can assume that it is the "Double Dragon" given the title. The model number is MDT-USA003 and it is distributed by USB Geek.
All the sides feature the following: "S-ATA&IDE>USB2.0" and "USB2.0 TO IDE & SATA ADAPTER KIT FOR LARGE CAPACITY DRIVE (WITH POWER SUPPLY)".
From that, we can infer that this device effectively allows your IDE or SATA drives to connect to your computer via USB; very convenient, indeed.
The bottom of the box features some identifying information as well as features, specifications, and package contents which we will soon explore. There are also some nice pictures showing all the combinations of drives that can be connected. You can make the following connections: 3.5" IDE HDD, 3.5" SATA HDD, 2.5" IDE HDD, 2.5" SATA HDD, SATA CD/DVD Burner, IDE CD/DVD Burner; you can even connect both a SATA and IDE HDD at the same time! In general, you can connect any IDE or SATA storage device.
The package contents include the USB to SATA/IDE device, a power adapter and cable, a 4-pin converter cable, a driver CD, a manual, a female-to-male IDE extension cable, and a USB to SATA extension cable.
As the pictures show, the contents are well-packed. Everything is included to make setup easy.
Let's take a look at the main part of the device.
The device is rectangular and has connections on all sides. The top has a button for "One Touch Backup" and three LEDs denoting power, USB connection, and data activity. A full-size IDE connector protrudes out of the side.
This side shows the USB mini-pin connector that connecs to your PC and the 4-pin female Molex power connector to which the included power supply attaches.
This side shows the SATA data and SATA power connectors to which a SATA hard drive would plug into. On the left is a connector for 2.5" IDE hard drives, such as laptop hard drives.
Looking at the underside reveals some identification information and nothing much else. Note that the connectors are labeled with descriptive icons. I was unable to get a good picture of the writing due to the high-gloss surface and the black lettering.
In any case, let us take a closer look at the specifications before continuing on to installation and testing.
Page 3 : Specifications and Setup
Here are the specifications:
Got it? Good. Let's install this thing.
Installation is as easy as attaching the power supply to the wall outlet, connecting it to the device, and connecting the device to your computer using USB. At this point, you can start attaching drives to the device.
The following pictures, courtesy of USB Geek, demonstrate all the different ways in which you can attach drives to the device.
Attaching a 3.5" SATA hard drive is, by far, the easiest:
Connecting a 2.5" IDE drive:
Connecting a 3.5" IDE drive:
Connecting a 5.25" DVD-RW or CD-RW drive:
To use the One Touch Backup button, you have to install the software. I installed the software just fine but the one touch backup button still did not work, even after a great deal of tinkering with the software.
Here are the installation steps for the software, contained on the green mini-CD marked "Driver CD":
The problem was that the software did not recognize the SATA hard drive I connected, even though Windows recognized it and I was able to access its contents through Windows. Because of this, I could not analyze the effectiveness of the "One Touch Backup" feature.
Regardless, let's test the performance.
Page 4 : Performance
Theoretically, the device should be able to perform up to 480Mbps, the maximum data rate for USB 2.0. The real rate should be less. 480Mbps equals a speed of 60MB/s and what better device to saturate the speed than a SATA II hard disk, theoretically capable of 3Gbps (384MB/s) burst speeds?
I connected a Hitachi Deskstar 160GB SATA II hard disk to the Universal Backup Device and tested the read speeds using HD Tach RW. The device was connected to my Toshiba Satellite R25-S3503 Tablet PC. For comparison, I also ran the test on my laptop's internal 4200RPM hard drive. The results were amazing to say the least.
The USB 2.0 link provided a fast burst rate and average read for the connected SATA II hard drive (blue line), which was greater than that of my laptop's internal hard drive.
A burst rate of 35MB/s is nothing to scoff at, especially for a drive connected via USB 2.0. Note, however, that the CPU usage is higher when using USB as opposed to the internal hard drive. When all is said and done, you will get better performance if you connect drives directly to your motherboard but sometimes it is not viable, as in the case of laptop users. Also, the convenience of connecting drives through USB more than makes up for the performance hit.
I didn't even bother running a test with an optical drive because most optical drives out there today don't have a read (or write) speed anywhere near 30MB/s. The results have shown that the performance will be more than enough and the USB bus will be able to handle it.
I encountered some anomalies during testing. In trying to do a longer test, the drive would randomly unmount and become invisible to Windows, thereby prematurely stopping the test. Initially, I thought this was due to the drive physically losing contact with the device but even after securing it well, the problem recurred. This prevented me from doing further testing.
However, based on these results, the Universal Backup Device performs exceptionally well.
Let's wrap things up.
Page 5 : Conclusion
Devices such as the USB to SATA/IDE Universal Kit with One Touch Backup aim to make life easier due to their convenience. However, there is a small price to pay, other than the price itself, for the convenience.
The Universal Backup Kit performed well; for example, when using a SATA II drive, it outperformed my laptop's internal hard drive! It is also very convenient as it allows you to attach almost any drive to any USB-equipped computer. The design is impeccable as is the compatibility.
Nevertheless, the disadvantages became immediately apparent after setup: there was a tangle of cables, leading to wire spaghetti, and also, the drives were left unprotected and in the open, unlike an enclosure. Also, especially with the SATA hard drive, the drive could not be secured well to the device as even a small tug would detach the hard drive. The software needs some more work too.
If you can overlook these minor disadvantages, I wholeheartedly recommend USB Geek's USB to SATA/IDE Universal Kit with One Touch Backup solely due to its performance and convenience.
One Touch Backup software is cumbersome
Not practical or suitable for a permanent setup due to insecure mounting of hard drives.
Overclockers Online would like to thank USB Geek for providing the review sample.