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Best hard drive docking station 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated September 1, 2023

Arnold SimmonsHi there, my name is Arnold Simmons and the first thing I would like to say is thanks for stopping by my website. After more than 38 hours of research, including interviewing two experts and spending 10 hours testing 23 popular hard drive docking station, I found the best hard drive docking station of 2018.

In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. In this article, I’ve listed down the Top 3 list. These are the best hard drive docking station your money can buy.

Best hard drive docking station of 2018

Welcome to my website! If you plan to buy hard drive docking station and looking for some recommendations, you have come to the right place. The above tidbits will bring you closer to selecting hard drive docking station that best serves your needs and as per your budget. Many models on the market may be confusing to a person who is shopping for their first time. So this is not only going to give you an insight to the best hard drive docking station of the 2018 but also those which are user friendly and easy to work with.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Ease of use
4 points
5 points
4 points
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Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the hard drive docking station by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Wavlink USB 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5 / 3.5 Inch SATA I/ II/ III HDD SSD

Wavlink USB 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5 / 3.5 Inch SATA I/ II/ III HDD SSD

Supports Standard Desktop 2.5″/3.5″ SATA Hard Drives or SSD
Equipped with USB3.0; Support SATA III (6 Gbps) and UASP for optimal performance; Backward compatible with USB 2.0 /1.1
Fashionable & Artistic Modeling, APS plastic material Excellent cooling performance, easy set up for you
Absolutely no frills

Why did this hard drive docking station win the first place?

I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable.


Ease of use














№2 – Tccmebius TCC-S865 USB 3.0 to SATA IDE Dual Slots External Transparent Hard Drive Docking Station With Card Reader and 2 Ports USB 3.0 Hub For 2.5 3.5 Inch IDE SATA I/II/III HDD SSD

Tccmebius TCC-S865 USB 3.0 to SATA IDE Dual Slots External Transparent Hard Drive Docking Station With Card Reader and 2 Ports USB 3.0 Hub For 2.5 3.5 Inch IDE SATA I/II/III HDD SSD

Universal compatibility: 1 IDE port + 1 SATA port, With adjustable IDE connectors, Supports all 2.5 “/ 3.5” IDE / SATA I / II / III hard disk and SSD, Maximum support 8TB SATA interface Hard disk, IDE interfaces maximum support 1TB hard drive. Please select the right model to avoid your order error. (Note: Please do not replace the hard drive when the product is working.)
A little more expensive than other brands.
Borderline outdated technology.

Why did this hard drive docking station come in second place?

Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.


Ease of use














№3 – Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA I/II/III Dual Bay External Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5 or 3.5in HDD

Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA I/II/III Dual Bay External Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5 or 3.5in HDD

Supports Standard Desktop 2.5″/3.5″ SATA Hard Drives or SSD
Supports hard drives up to 10TB.
Plug and play, no drivers needed.
Not suited for novices.
It is pretty heavy..

Why did this hard drive docking station take third place?

It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.


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hard drive docking station Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy hard drive docking station, right? No!

Key Features

A premium hard drive docking station from Anker, it comes with many attractive features and maintains a balanced price. It offers support for 4TB drives and can accommodate with ease both 2.and 3.inches HDDs or SSDs. Transfering data at high speeds of up to Gbps is possible thanks to the USB 3.0 interface.

This is a device optimized for speed. Anker is set to save you a lot of time as its USB 3.0 and e-SATA ports should provide you with some impressive data transfer rates. Instead of taking hours, large volumes of data can be transmitted in just minutes. In case you need to use older USB connections, this one is fully compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1.

Installing drivers is not a requirement as Anker guarantees a plug-and-play experience for many Windows versions from XP to or Mac OS X 10.and above. Hot swapping is also supported.

It seems to have been designed with minimalism in mind. This docking station snaps the drive in place and keeps it firmly and securely stored. Thanks to the two-colored LED indicator, you can quickly check the power status and data activity. In case you want to disconnect it, a power button is at your disposal to keep your data safe when the station is not in use.

To use this device optimally, you need to consider a few things. For example, a drive can’t be accessed through both e-SATA and USB 3.0 ports simultaneously. When both are connected, only the e-SATA-connected computer will interact with the drive as it’s the only one that can be recognized.

The Anker AK-68UPSHDDS-BU is an impressive hard drive docking station in all regards. If you are only interested in the best ratio of performance per price, this one can be a very fitting choice. This device has great potential to exceed your expectations as it transfers files fast and was designed to be as reliable as possible to keep it in your toolbox for many years to come.

Hard disk drives

Hard disks are so named because there used to be a flexible or ‘floppy’ disk alternative. An electromagnetic read/write head ‘flies’ on a cushion of air, a tiny fraction of a millimetre above a magnetic disc (called a platter) that spins at up to 10,000 RPM. In principle the faster the platter spins the faster data can be written to it and read from it. The term ‘disk’ – with a ‘k’ – is historic and comes from the term ‘diskette’ or a small disc.

The most common hard drive spin speeds are 5400 and 7200RPM. Other performance factors include the drive’s cache memory and controller circuitry. Some 5400RPM drives can perform as well as, or even better than, some 7200RPM drives. Computer magazines regularly test batches of drives from different manufacturers and these tests can be a good guide to ultimate performance as well as value for money.

You may notice the term ‘green’ being used in the model name or description for a hard drive. This means that the drive has been designed to use less power and to operate at a lower temperature than the manufacturer’s standard drives. There may be a small penalty in performance, but not always. Sometimes ‘green’ drives are audibly quieter, too.

Hard disk drives are available in many capacities and several standard form factor sizes. Laptops generally use 2.inch drives, while desktop PCs traditionally use 3.inch drives (although some compact models use the smaller 2.inch drives). There are also super-small 1.inch drives sometimes used in netbooks. Until a few years ago one-inch drives incorporated into units the same size as a compact flash cards, called Microdrives, were in common use; solid state flash memory cards have now rendered Microdrives obsolete, but larger hard drives continue to improve steadily in performance and overall capacity.

The capacity of a hard drive depends on the density at which data can be written to the drive’s platter and how many platters are contained. In 3.inch sizes capacities commonly available are 500GB, or and terabytes (TB), respectively. A terabyte is a thousand gigabytes, or a million megabytes. 4TB 3.inch drives are now available and we may see even higher capacity drives in the near future.

2TB 2.inch drives are already available, although 250, 500 and 750GB 2.inch drives are the most commonly sold at present. Don’t assume that any 2.inch drive will fit inside your laptop as a replacement, because in order to accommodate extra platters the thickness or height of the drive could be greater than the space available. The most commonly used 2.inch drives are 9.5mm high, but some are as slim as 5mm and others as large as 15mm.

Optical media

As manufacturers of hard disk drives and flash memory devices have pushed the envelope and reduced costs while steadily increasing capacities, the relevance of optical media has waned. Recordable CDs and DVDs are slow and often unreliable, as well as offering only limited capacity. With 3and 64GB memory cards now commonly available, even recordable Blu-Ray discs, which remain stubbornly expensive, are unattractive for photo storage. Optical media does remain a viable option for creating slide shows and, of course, edited video movies.


Firewire is a serial bus standard that works like a network and can operate as a chain of interconnected devices. Back when USB was just 1megabits per second Firewire was offering 400 megabit speeds, but Firewire never gained the ubiquity of USB. Later we had Firewire 800 (800 megabits/sec) but its adoption was once again far lower than USB 2.0.


Most basic hard disk drives, or bare drives, and other devices like DVD or Blu-Ray drives, connect to their hosts using SATA (Serial ATA). SATA is a high performance data bus designed to work over relatively short cables, connecting fast storage devices like hard disk drives inside a computer’s case. eSATA is a version of SATA; this enables SATA devices to be connected externally while retaining the same level of performance as internal SATA drives. Using eSATA-connected drive docking stations is a convenient way of using multiple bare hard disk drives.

Social media networks

Billions of photos are shot every day – more than at any time in the history of photography, though the number of prints made from photos is lower now than it has been for many years. Instead of printing photos they are being shown on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others, including photo-centric networks like Flickr, Image Bucket, etc. Simplifying the sharing of photos to your preferred networks can save a lot of time. Look out for photo-sharing options in desktop software and, especially, image apps for smartphones and tablets.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11.5TB

If you have a Mac Pro, a Power Mac G5, or a Power Mac Gor Gwith free drive bays, you can install an additional internal hard drive instead of upgrading your main one—it’s easy and takes only a few minutes.

Regardless of which Mac you have, if you decide to replace your current internal hard drive, you’ll need to copy all your current hard drive’s files onto another storage device before you do the switcheroo. You can use an external desktop hard drive, use a second Mac in FireWire target disk mode, or burn DVDs. To ensure that nothing slips through the cracks (like your e-mail archive, bookmarks, fonts, and other important files), you might want to consider using drive-cloning software such as Bombich Software’s Carbon Copy Cloner ( ), which easily and thoroughly duplicates your hard drive’s contents.

Western Digital Scorpio Black 250GB

Drive Compatibility Get a hard drive that matches the physical dimensions and connection interface of your Mac. MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and Mac minis use a 2.5-inch SATA drive, while PowerBooks and iBooks use a 2.5-inch ATA/IDE drive-SATA and ATA interfaces are not interchangeable. Likewise, recent Apple desktops (the Intel iMac, Mac Pro, iMac G5, and Power Mac G5) use a 3.5-inch SATA drive (the Mac Pro uses a SATA II drive), while older desktops (the iMac Gand G4, and the Power Mac G3/G4) use a 3.5-inch ATA/IDE drive. Online retailers such as OWC provide Web guides that list storage options by Mac model.

Capacity Internal 3.5-inch hard drives have capacities of up to 2TB, while 2.5-inch drives provide up to 500GB. Later G4s, all G5s, and all Intel Macs can accommodate any drive capacity, but the iMac G3, Power Mac G(blue and white), and early Power Mac Ghave a limit of 128GB.

Speed If you’re happy with your Mac’s drive performance, stick with the same disk speed, but if you have a notebook and work with audio or video, consider getting a faster, 7200 rpm drive.

Attach to Mac or PC

Now comes the moment of truth. Connect your new drive enclosure to a spare port – USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt, as appropriate – on your Mac or PC, plug it into mains power (desktop drives only) and wait for the disk to spin up. Hopefully it will appear in Finder/Windows Explorer soon after.

Beyond Plastic

As designs get sleeker and slimmer, manufacturers are using an array of materials in their construction. Plastic (or polycarbonate) is the least expensive and most commonly used material in laptop frames, but manufacturers have shown great ingenuity in making plastic not look cheap. The most common technique is in-mold decoration or in-mold rolling, a process made popular by HP, Toshiba, and Acer, in which decorative patterns are infused between plastic layers. This process has evolved into etched imprints and textures, commonly seen on laptop lids.

Hard Drive Enclosure Specification

Connection Types – Most of the external hard drives available connect to the existing computer through USB 2.0 and USB 1.or even FireWire. What determines the one you use are the type of ports that your system has available as well as the type of system you are running. (Either Windows or Mac) If both types of ports are available, the choice of connectivity to use is up to you.

Interface – There are two interfaces that internal hard drives are available in: IDE and SATA. SATA is the more common of the two. They offer much better performance in regards to large memory cache, RPMs, and overall transfer rates.  If your hard drive is SATA based, you can use a SATA hard drive enclosure.  USB and FireWire are also able to use SATA.

Size – This category refers to the actual size of the device rather than its capacity. There are two sizes available: 3.5” and 2.5”. The difference is the larger one is for a desktop and the smaller for notebooks. The 3.5” are faster and cheaper but if you are upgrading your laptop, you will need the 2.5”.

Using a Hard Drive Enclosure Properly

The steps for using a hard drive enclosure are easy.  They work just like an external hard drive by taking an internal hard drive and enclosing it.  We have outlined the steps below so you can use hard drive enclosures correctly.

That’s it!   The complete instructions for using your hard drive enclosure properly.  The enclosure will transform the internal hard drive into what amounts to a plug-and-play device.  You can use the internal hard drive anytime your system is running and it works just like a removable flash drive and is just as convenient.

Stand alone single pass overwrite erase

We will transfer stock to fulfill your order at no extra cost. If the quantity shown for our US warehouse isn’t enough to fulfill your order, we will transfer the required stock from our Canadian warehouse.

Transferring Data From The Old To New Drive

The process of installing a new hard drive is one of the least difficult hardware installation procedures around in terms of the physical effort required. However, the hard drive is one of the most critical components in your system because it stores all of your information. Everything from your operating system to your emails to your favorite songs are stored on your hard drive. Obviously, a straight replacement will leave you without that information.

Replacing The Old Drive

Desktop computer hard drives are usually placed in the lower front half of a mid-tower enclosure and are attached using between two and six screws. The process isn’t overly difficult, but is detailed enough to warrant its own post. Please refer to James’s coverage of how to install a replacement or second desktop drive for instructions.

Laptops are different, but easier. Most laptops will offer a plastic hard drive bay cover on the bottom of the laptop that is held in with one or two screws. Removing the cover will reveal the drive, which is itself typically attached with a few screws. Installing a replacement drive is simply a matter of taking the existing drive out and putting the new drive in its place. The power and data connections are built into the mount itself, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down the cables. Please note that not all laptops are intended to be user serviceable in this way,  so please read your laptop’s manual for information about hard drive replacement before proceeding.

Form Factor

There are two form factors available for HDDs at the moment – 3.5” and 2.5”.

3.5” hard drives are quite large and bulky compared to 2.5” drives and are typically used in desktop setups where space isn’t at a premium, and their larger form factor is easier to work with. These are some of the oldest designs of hard disks on the market, and they’re designed to work well with any PC setup.

2.5” hard drives were developed for the laptop market – these much smaller, thinner drives offer the same storage capacity as larger 3.5” drives – but are usually a bit more expensive. Generally, these are only used for laptops – though recently, Xbox One and PSconsoles have begun supporting internal and external storage devices in the 2.5” range, and some small-capacity PC towers such as Micro ATX models support the 2.5” form factor over the larger 3.5” form factor in order to save space and maintain a lightweight, portable PC.

Generally, what’s best for you depends on what you’re working on. For most PC gamers, 3.5” is preferred, as it’s the least expensive, and works well with most modern PC towers and motherboards.

Conversely, if you’re working on a laptop, you’ll have to buy a 2.5” disc – the larger 3.5” simply won’t fit in the small form factors of modern laptops.

Hybrid Discs

Hybrid discs use a small solid state drive as a cache staging area – sort of like the RAM is used in day-to-day computer operation.

By storing data that is recently accessed and recently written on this solid state drive, the performance of the HDD is massively increased – as time goes on, data is flushed from the SSD to the permanent storage of the disc.

This makes them a great alternative to expensive SSDs, as they can offer somewhat comparable performance at nearly the same price per gigabyte as traditional hard drives, giving you much greater capacity compared to an SSD in the same price range.

And despite their dual construction, the failure rate of hybrid drives is about the same as standard HDDs, as the flash-based cache is unlikely to fail before the physical hard disk.

However, they still fall flat compared to true SSD performance, and can get quite expensive when purchased in large capacity, so if you’ve got the money to invest in a hybrid disc, it’s often a good idea to see if you can buy both a small-capacity SSD and a standard 3.5” HDD, and use those instead of a single disc for increased capacity and performance.

Putting It All Together

With the work of learning about the ins and outs of external hard drives and purchasing the right enclosure behind you, the rest is easy peasy. If you have a tool-free or toolless enclosure, you literally just have to snap the case open (like opening the battery compartment on an electronic device) and slide the hard drive in.

Installing an SSD into a Mac

Whether or not you can upgrade a HDD to an SSD in a laptop depends on the model you’ve purchased. Currently the MacBook Pro 15-inch, Mac mini and iMac 27-inch are the only models that you can swap out the hard drives on (these will be joined with the new Mac Pro later in the year). The MacBook Air and newer MacBooks have their memory fixed to the motherboard, and the smaller iMac’s hard drive is inaccessible.

Six months ago

We’ve removed our discussion about work laptops from this guide. Check out our guide to what laptop to buy for our most up-to-date laptop picks, including our favorite ultrabook, power notebook, and business laptop. We’ve also changed our portable external hard drive pick back to the TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim after noticing a significant increase in our former pick’s reported failures.

Collapse Most Recent Updates

To round out a work-optimized list of computer, phone, printing, and audio gear, we looked for the best software and apps that help remote workers get organized and connected. We tested apps for time tracking and task management, tax filing, web meetings, and project management, then compared and debated the merits of each to find the best fits for most people.

Once we had our picks, we set them up on our ideal standing desk, took some photos, and then, inspired by the challenge, fixed up our own home offices, as did many other Wirecutter staffers and contributors. We hope this guide provides you with your own spark to make your home office a more efficient and less stressful place to get things done.

HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 All-in-One Printer

Let’s be clear: All printers are disappointing, particularly color all-in-ones. Yes, that statement even includes this HP model. Even the most popular, highest-rated printers will probably find a way to let you down at some point during their life cycle. And no matter which one you choose, it will use up lots of ink. If you can get away with it, avoid a printer entirely.

It’s a strong enough phone app to eliminate the need for a document scanner for most people.

In choosing the best scanning app, we tested factors such as document detection (finding the document on a surface, framing it, and lining up the crop lines with the paper’s edges), multi-page support, and image quality. And while not everybody needs it, good OCR was a necessary feature for our top pick, as it can be had for such a low cost. We also favored apps that allow easy sharing to outside cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive.

Scanbot launches right into a capture window, ready to find documents or receipts. The image detection algorithm is able to differentiate between a sheet of paper and the surface you have it on. Other apps require you to draw the frame yourself or find it after the shot. Once the edges have been found and the content in focus (on-screen prompts tell you to move closer or hold still), the app automatically snaps its shot. Your scan is then uploaded to your cloud service of choice, if you have that feature set up, or you can jump in and edit the file.

The app’s image quality is the best of those we tested. Text is crisp and clear, with great contrast. Images reproduce accurately, in both color and black-and-white scans (scans are color by default, but can be switched to black-and-white after the shot).

We researched 1different webcams and tested two head-to-head in Skype calls, Google Hangouts, and Zoom meetings. The C920’s 1080p image was crisp and clear, and autofocus and auto–white balance worked well for meetings. If you need more control, you can manually adjust exposure, gain, brightness, contrast, color intensity, white balance, and focus in the Logitech Webcam Controller software for Windows and Mac. If you don’t, you can ignore all those settings and use the webcam straight out of the box.

The C920 has a huge field of view, and the software allows you to zoom and pan—keeping your lovely face in frame, for example, without showing your messy office to coworkers. Our pick sits on top of your laptop screen or monitor and braces itself against the back of the screen, or can be mounted on a tripod, depending on your needs. It physically tilts up and down—in addition to the software controls—to control what’s in frame.

Calendar app

After much installing, deliberating, and dueling with our personal recommendations, our team came to agree: the best mobile calendar app for most people is the one built into their smartphone. While there’s plenty of attractive calendar software out there, each with their own useful feature (or three), we think the built-in apps in iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, or just in a browser tab are fine for most people.

Android and iOS make up the vast majority of smartphones out there, so most people have their calendars synced through either Google or iCloud, or imported from an Exchange account. Google Calendar is the safer bet, as it offers the best range of support across browsers, desktops, and mobile apps and devices. Apple’s iCloud Calendar is a little more limited, as there’s no native support outside of Apple products and Microsoft Outlook.

Google and Apple’s native calendar apps both offer rich experiences that match about evenly with the third-party options we tested (at least as of this writing), including deep integration with the other apps on your phone including the dialer, maps, and contacts. That hasn’t always been the case, but they improve with each new operating system release. We found that the main selling point of third-party apps is distinct design. Some people may strongly prefer a certain layout or text scheme, enough so to pay for a change. But both Google and Apple offer multiple layouts to meet different needs, too.

The best to-do app for the majority of people is Wunderlist. It’s available on pretty much every platform, including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows 7, Windows and 10, the web, Chrome, and even the Apple Watch. We find the app incredibly simple to use without sacrificing deeper options and conveniences. At least one of our editors switched away from his well-established reminders setup after reviewing this pick. The app has free and paid tiers, but for most people the free version will be more than enough for their daily tasks.

Chrome OS

1to 1inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under pounds.

1to 1inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.

Gear & Gadgets

You’ll need to source a new enclosure to house the disk in. As USB is the most ubiquitous choice, we’ve highlighted a solid USB model that is designed to make it relatively easy to insert and remove disks – but that’s not true of your existing drive enclosure.

Freecom Hard Drive Dock Pro

This USB 2.0 docking station makes it easy to copy data from 2.5- and 3.5-inch disks with SATA or an old IDE interface.

Prepopulated external hard drives aren’t designed to be user-serviceable, so you’ll rarely find convenient screws holding them together; instead, a series of plastic tabs click the chassis’s various elements into place.

Thankfully, others have boldly gone before you and documented the dismantling process on YouTube and other websites. So, your first task is to track down one of these and use it, in conjunction with our step-by-step guide, to transfer your disk from its old case to a shiny new enclosure. Enter the name of your drive’s make and model in Google, such as Seagate Backup Plus 4TB, plus the words “open case”, which should find you a suitable video.

We suggest you watch the whole video before reaching for tools. It’s a good idea to avoid using sharp or metallic objects to prise open the caddy as these can damage it – some experts use guitar picks, but you don’t need to rush out and buy a job lot. Instead, cut up an expired credit card, and then use a rounded corner as the end of your ‘pick’ to prise open the drive case firmly, but carefully.

Pop-up tabs

Most drive enclosures aren’t conveniently held together by screws; instead you’ll need to ‘pop’ plastic tabs using a combination of skill, force and luck – using plastic tools like guitar picks helps to minimise the damage you can cause while doing this.

Identify and remove disk

Make a note of the disk’s markers: its size (3.inches in this example) and the interface (SATA in most cases), if you don’t already know these details.

Then lever the disk out of the chassis and remove any additional housing that the maker may have used to hold it in place.

Fit to new enclosure

Once you’ve got a bare disk, you can fit it into its new enclosure. This should be a much easier job. In some cases, you simply slide the disk into the enclosure’s bay and click it into place – no screws required – then seal the enclosure, sometimes just by closing a door.

Optimal performance with support for SATA III & UASP

Improved Performance with UASP

UASP is supported in Windows 8, Mac OSX (10.or above), and Linux. In testing, UASP performs with a 70% faster read speed and 40% faster write speed over traditional USB 3.0 at peak performance.

At the same peak in testing UASP also shows an 80% reduction in required processor resources.

When you press that shutter release button, the camera does its thing and a fraction of a second later several million bytes of data needs a new home. It’s easy to regard that mass of data as simply an image file, but with modern digital photography it’s easy to generate thousands of image files consuming terabytes of storage space. Taking a picture or shooting a video is simple but what you do next requires a bit of thought – otherwise you’ll end up with a mass of randomly stored images and a big headache finding what you need in the future.

Ease of finding the photos you need

Once you’ve built up a sizeable archive of files, finding files you need can be a major problem. Fortunately, photo image files can be keyword tagged with appropriately meaningful words that can help you to find target images quickly and easily. You can use DAM (Digital Asset Management) software to build a robust database of tagged images, although even your computer’s operating system may be able to offer a rudimentary image tagging and searching facility. Storing your images in a logical structure of folders, perhaps arranged by date or subject, can also help, although I wouldn’t recommend this instead of tagging.

Backup software

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to backup your data; it’s so important that backup facilities are now built into computer operating systems. There’s also a burgeoning market for independent vendors of backup software, and the best of these will offer solutions that are easier to use than OS-based offerings. This is an important point because you will tend not to use a system that is difficult to use, no matter how effective it might be. You can backup a complete computer system operating system, applications programs and your data files, or just the data files; it’s your choice.

Another brand using that chipset

That Asmedia 1053e (or even newer 1153e) chipset is much better for performance compared to the chipsets used in most other docking stations, thanks in part to UASP support, provided the host USB 3.0 controller in the computer also supports UASP and includes drivers that support UASP (and the Intel controller in a PC like your XPS 8700 supports it using the USB 3.0 UASP drivers included with Win 8.1).

There are many reasons why you might want to format a hard drive, such as to install Windows fresh, to get rid of a virus or malware or simply because you’re giving your PC to someone else or throwing it away.

Here, we’ll explain all you need to know to erase all the data from disk and get the job done properly.

The process can be different depending on whether it’s your only hard drive and whether you have a spare PC or not.

You can’t, for example, format the hard drive on which Windows is running. In order to do this you will need to boot your PC from a Windows installation disc, a USB flash drive or another bootable disc.

How to reset Windows

In Windows 8, you’ll have two separate options: Refresh and Reset. These two options are fundamentally different. Both options can be found within Settings > Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Recovery.

If you’re looking to keep your personal files and settings, but want to have a fresh Windows install, you’ll want to refresh your PC.

Do note that a refresh will remove all programs and apps you’ve installed on your machine, but will keep the Windows-default programs intact.

A reset reinstalls Windows and deletes all your files, settings and programs. We suggest performing this if you have previously backed up all your files and don’t mind transferring your personal files.

Windows has a slightly different approach and might confuse those coming from Windows Microsoft removed the refresh option and has instead combined the refresh and reset options into one setting.

To find the option, open the Start Menu, click on Settings > Update & security > Recovery > Get started (under the Reset this PC option).

After 120 hours of doing research, consulting with electrical engineers, and testing hubs, we determined that the Anker 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub is the best USB hub for most people. It’s compact and reliable, and it has well-placed ports aplenty. In our tests, it rose above the competition mainly because of its usability and design: Compared with most of the hubs we tested, it’s smaller and equipped with more ports, and those ports are easy to get to. It also has three high-speed charging ports, something our readers told us they wanted.

After testing a new model and revisiting our recommendations, we’ve determined that the Anker 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub is still our top pick for most people, and that the Anker AH23remains our pick for people who need more data ports. But our new portable pick is the four-port Sabrent HB-SGAR-5V4A, and we no longer recommend the Anker 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub, which is discontinued.

Its seven USB 3.0 data ports and three high-speed charging ports face upward, so cables and plugs take up less room on your desk.

Sabrent’s HB-SGAR-5V4A is smaller than a brick of sticky notes, and though it comes with a dedicated power adapter, it’ll run just fine without one. All four ports put out up to 1.amps, meaning this model is better suited for charging phones and tablets than most hubs of its size, and the adapter provides more than enough power, which is rare. However, this square hub has one port on each face, which means it’ll take up a fair amount of space on your desk when everything is plugged in.

Who this is for

A USB 3.0 hub is for anyone who has a computer with at least one USB 3.0 port and either wants more ports or wants those ports in a more-accessible place. Many laptops have only one or two USB 3.0 ports; many desktop computers have USB ports in difficult-to-reach locations.

This guide currently focuses on traditional, rectangular USB-A connectors. But USB-C ports are becoming more common on computers, phones, and other devices. While the new standard has yet to supplant the legacy USB-A port that all of these hubs use, new USB-A hubs seem to have stopped coming, and older models are getting discontinued without replacements. If you’re looking for accessories for your USB-C device, check out our full guide to USB-C accessories.

If your computer doesn’t have enough USB 3.0 ports, or if you want a more-convenient place to plug in your USB 3.0 hard drive or flash drive, you should consider a USB 3.0 hub. If you have a computer with USB 3.0 ports but a slow USB 2.0 hub, you should consider upgrading, as you’ll see significantly faster transfer speeds across all your devices with a new hub. If you need a dedicated charging port for your smartphone or iPad—and you’d rather not use a dedicated USB wall charger—or if you’re experiencing dropped connections or other undesirable behaviors with connected devices, you should upgrade to one of our picks.

What makes a great USB hub

We surveyed more than 700 readers and added the results of our own research to come up with the criteria for choosing the best USB hubs. A great USB hub must have USB 3.0 ports and should have dedicated power. It needs to be reliable, practically designed, compact, and (for portable hubs) light. LED indicators for each port and a decent warranty are also useful.

USB 3.0 hubs tend to be more expensive than USB 2.0 hubs, and the 3.0 standard has interference issues with 2.GHz wireless devices. Still, we chose to focus on USB 3.0 hubs, because the USB 2.0 standard is ancient—it was introduced back in April 2000, while USB 3.0 debuted in November 2008—and many times slower than 3.0. For example, our favorite desktop hard drive transfers files at about 150 megabytes per second on a USB 3.0 connection, but on USB 2.0 it maxes out at just 40 MB/s—if you think you’ll ever want to plug USB 3.0–capable external hard drives or flash drives into a hub for data transfer, you’ll want the extra speed that a USB 3.0 hub provides.

Pull Quote

Using a dedicated power cord or adapter is a smart idea if you don’t want to risk accidentally corrupting everything on your hard drive.

Dedicated power is a must-have for most hubs—but not for all of them. (More on the kind that don’t require it in a moment.) To explain why, we first need to talk about how power flows through USB hubs. According to the official USB 3.0 spec, each USB 3.0 port must provide 900 milliamps of current at volts, or 4.watts. If you have a four-port USB 3.0 hub powered solely by your computer’s USB 3.0 port (in other words, without a dedicated power cord or adapter), that means you theoretically have four devices running on the amount of power usually provided to one. This arrangement can lead to devices losing power and disconnecting improperly from the computer, which can cause drive corruption and data loss.

However, it’s important to recognize that this theoretical setup has a lot of flexibility. The 900-milliamp-current requirement for USB 3.0 ports is a minimum rather than a fixed level, and manufacturers often provide more power to their hubs’ ports. The power consumption of devices also varies wildly based on the kind of device and what you’re doing with it at a given moment. For example, in its user manual for our top-pick hub, Anker provides the following estimates of power consumption by device: A mouse consumes about 100 milliamps, a keyboard uses a maximum of 500 milliamps, and a portable USB 3.0 hard drive consumes a maximum of 900 milliamps.

Beyond minimum power, we know from our research on USB chargers that people prefer ports that can charge their phones and tablets more quickly; an informal Twitter survey of readers confirmed this. So we looked for hubs with high-speed charging ports, a feature that requires external AC power, and with the exception of portable hubs, we ended up focusing on powered models.

With those power requirements in mind, we eliminated any USB hubs without enough juice to fully power all their ports. For example, our top pick has seven USB 3.0 ports and three 2.4-amp charging ports. According to the USB 3.0 spec, that means this hub could need as much as 4watts to power all its ports at their theoretical maximums—and because it includes a 12-volt, 5-amp (60-watt) power supply, it gets enough power for all its ports at their theoretical maximums. Many hubs without adequate power aren’t significantly smaller, lighter, or less expensive to make up for that, so we ruled those models out.

Vertically stacked ports (front) make it easier to connect larger plugs and thumb drives than horizontally arranged ports (back).

A great USB hub also has to be designed with usability in mind. The ports should be spaced far enough apart that you can connect bulky thumb drives and card readers next to one another. In our tests, we found that vertically stacked ports were generally preferable to horizontally aligned ones. A hub should also be small and light, especially if you’ll use it for traveling, and it shouldn’t make the devices you plug in take up too much room on your desk: Hubs with ports on top (as opposed to around the edges) are better because the plugs you connect will stand vertically instead of fanning out around the hub and taking up even more space. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but it’s also nice if a USB hub doesn’t look like it fell out of the ’90s. And a decent warranty is useful in case you wind up with a faulty hub.

We found that an LED indicator for each port on the hub made troubleshooting much simpler when things didn’t work as intended, because we were able to tell which port was having issues.

In our reader survey, 5percent of respondents told us they wanted a USB hub with five to seven ports, while 2percent favored four or fewer ports. The remaining 20 percent said they wanted eight or more ports. Based on that feedback, we looked for picks with four, seven, and ports. Nearly a third of respondents said they were interested in a travel USB hub, and 7percent of them told us they wanted a travel hub without a dedicated power cord. So for the four-port category, we tried to find a USB hub that could work without a power cord but came with one; that way, the power cord would be available when you needed extra power but wouldn’t be a mandatory nuisance.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Despite being the best-designed hub we tested that has at least seven data ports, this Anker hub still has a couple of annoying quirks. The top plate is made from a glossy-black plastic that shows every fingerprint, smudge, and speck of dust. It’s easy to clean but just as easy to get dirty again the next time you plug in or unplug a device. (At least this model doesn’t have that glossy plastic on all sides like some of the other hubs we tested.) The upward-facing ports are great for making plugs and devices take up less room on your desk, but the port orientation means that the ports are susceptible to dust collecting inside. That said, they’re easy to clean out with a bit of compressed air.

Like most USB hubs, this Anker model comes with a chunky power supply. It’s a necessary evil, and the Anker’s is the same size as, or smaller than, the power bricks for the other seven- and 10-port hubs we tested, so it’s not a dealbreaker. This Anker hub also doesn’t have a power button, but only five of the hubs (and none of the seven-port options) we tested did, and we don’t think most people have a real need to turn off a USB hub (if you need to, you can just unplug the power cord).

If you need more than the seven data ports of our main pick (who are you?!), the Anker AH23is exactly the same size and shape as our main pick but designed with a different mix of connections: nine USB 3.0 data ports and one 2.1-amp charging port. (Unlike the 2.A ports on our top pick, which according to our measurements actually put out 2.A, this port maxed out at 2.A in our tests.) The AH23also has glossy white plastic around the sides and a different LED color than our pick, but the two models weigh the same and come with the same power brick and cables, and they worked similarly in all of our tests.

The Anker 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub (bottom) and the Anker AH23(top).

The Sabrent hub performs better than any other four-port option, but its sprawling layout isn’t great.

The four-port Sabrent HB-SGAR-5V4A is the most portable and versatile USB hub we tested. It’s quite compact, and you can use it with or without the included power supply. However, using it without its power supply carries the risk of overloading the hub, dropping connections, and corrupting data, so we recommend that you use the power cord whenever possible. That said, we tested the Sabrent hub with and without the power supply and found that file transfers were just as fast in both scenarios.

Each of the hub’s USB 3.0 data ports doubles as a higher-current charging port, capable of delivering up to 1.amps whether the hub is attached to a computer or not. For best performance, the hub requires 1W of power, and the included power adapter provides 20 W—it’s the only four-port hub we’ve found that gets enough power from its adapter. This means that you can use high-power-draw devices such as external hard drives with confidence. But the Sabrent has only one power-indicator light, rather than an individual light for each port.

The Sabrent hub measures just inches square and 0.inch thick, and it weighs only 1.ounces—it’s smaller than a brick of sticky notes. The hub’s four ports are arranged one per side. The ports are horizontally oriented, and because they’re not right next to one another, you won’t have any trouble plugging in large devices. But the layout is admittedly ugly, and it means that despite the hub’s small size, once you connect a few devices, it will take up more room on your desk than most others. This sprawling design is bad enough that we considered withholding our recommendation, but the hub’s performance is so much better than anything else in this category that we think it’s worth putting up with the mess. If you hate the design, consider the four-port Anker hub we describe in the Competition section below.

The Sabrent hub has an integrated USB cable that’s inches long; the cord on the included power brick is about 60 inches long.

Long-term test notes

One of our editors has been using our upgrade pick, the Anker AH231, since September 2014, and it has been working great, providing plenty of power for any USB device hooked up to it and allowing reliable data transfers. The charging port has also worked flawlessly.

Devices that don’t work with USB hubs

Some devices must be plugged directly into the host computer’s USB port—they don’t work at all when you plug them into a USB hub. For example, the Apple SuperDrive works only when you plug it directly into a USB port on an Apple laptop.

It’s impossible to account for every setup, scenario, and device, so our advice is to do a bit of research before you buy: A quick Google search will usually turn up common issues with the devices you’ll be plugging into your hub. We also recommend testing, right when you get a new hub, compatibility with your existing USB devices so that you can return the hub if it has a problem.

A note on wireless devices and USB 3.0

USB 3.0 ports and devices have been shown to emit radio-frequency (RF) noise that can interfere with devices using the 2.GHz wireless band; such devices include wireless mice and keyboards that use an RF dongle for wireless communication.

The RF noise can come from anywhere along the USB 3.0 connection. For example, if you have a USB 3.0 hard drive plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the interference can come from the port on your hub, the USB cord, or even the drive’s USB port. This noise isn’t always an issue, but if your wireless mouse or keyboard constantly drops its connection, or if you lose clicks or keystrokes, you should try connecting the mouse or keyboard to a USB 2.0 port and keeping RF dongles and devices away from active USB 3.0 connections. If your computer doesn’t have any USB 2.0 ports, you can use a USB 2.0 extension cable to move the RF dongle farther from the source of the interference.

The competition

The Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub’s design isn’t great for wide plugs and thumb drives.

If you hate the look of our four-port Sabrent pick, the next-best pick among a field of compromised options is Anker’s Ultra Slim 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub, available on its own or with a power adapter. This tiny (4¼ inches by inch by ¼ inch) stick is the smallest hub we tested, but its four data ports are arranged in a horizontal line along one edge, closely spaced, so fat plugs or thumb drives will partially block adjacent ports. In addition, our data transfers failed when we attempted to use two portable hard drives at a time, even with the hub’s optional power adapter connected, so we recommend this hub only for low-power-draw devices such as flash drives, mice, and keyboards rather than for hard drives. That said, if you’re planning to use a bus-powered drive with this hub, make sure to choose the version with the power adapter.

The Unitek Aluminum 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub with Smart Charging Port is appealing on paper, but in our real-world use it turned out to be rather disappointing. It has only three data ports, with the fourth port reserved for charging. Though the company claims charging at amps, we measured only amp of charging output. The power adapter’s connector also fit far too loosely into the hub, suggesting poor manufacturing and leaving us uncomfortable with how this model might hold up over the long term.

Our previous top pick, HooToo’s HT-UH010, is still solid, but it’s not quite as appealing as the Anker hub that took its spot. Aesthetically, the HT-UH0is almost identical to the Anker: It has the same body and a similar port array, including the same number of data ports. It also has charging ports, but only two instead of the three of our top pick. HooToo labels these charging ports as 1-amp and 2.1-amp, yet in our testing both supported 2.4-amp charging; on the other hand, when copying data to seven flash drives at once, we saw the transfer rate of some of the drives drop. In our long-term testing, we noticed that a bit of the soft-touch coating started flaking off the bottom surface, but that isn’t a major concern because it doesn’t impact the usability or look of the hub when it’s sitting on a desk. Again, the HT-UH0is a good hub, but it’s not as good as our top pick.

Satechi’s 10-Port Premium Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub is physically larger than any other hub we tested. Rather than the clean, side-by-side power- and data-cable ports of our top picks, it has a port on each vertical end of its horizontal layout, making for more cable clutter.

The Sabrent High Speed Port USB 3.0 Hub is larger and uglier than our 10-port pick, and it was problematic in our testing. The first time we plugged it in, the first power-indicator light took about 30 seconds to turn on. We also encountered random disconnects, heard an annoying coil whine, and saw speeds slow down during multiple-device transfers. This model doesn’t have an overall power-indicator light, and during testing this hub got warmer than others.

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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your hard drive docking station wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of hard drive docking station



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