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How to Buy a Hard Drive Enclosure

Introduction

External hard drives are useful for a variety of purposes, why not create your own with a hard drive enclosure? By using an enclosure, you will have the ability to use an internal hard drive or solid state drive of your choice. Alternatively, if you have multiple internal hard drives that you want to use externally, consider a hard drive dock. If the customizability of a hard drive enclosure or dock appeals to you, NeweggBusiness offers some considerations that will help you select the ideal solution.

Special Features

In this section, NeweggBusiness will outline some special features that you will find in some hard drive docks and enclosures.

Hot Swapping

The ability to hot swap a hard drive means that you can remove and replace the drive without the need to restart the computer. To the operating system, the enclosure or dock will still show as being connected even if the hard drive has been removed. It is a feature that makes backing up data to multiple hard drives a more time-efficient process.

Cloning/Duplication

Cloning or duplicating a hard drive means mirroring all the contents to an image file or another hard drive. It is more comprehensive than copying and pasting files, as cloning captures all data on the drive and not just visible files. With some dual-bay docks, cloning can be as simple as inserting two hard drives and pressing a button to begin the process.

Redundant Array of Independent Disks/Drives (RAID)

A RAID array is a method of setting up multiple hard drives so that they appear and function as a single volume. A RAID setup can be used to improve read/write performance and decrease the likelihood of total data loss, depending on how it is configured.

Just a Bunch of Disks/Drives (JBOD)

Similar to a RAID setup, a JBOD array consists of multiple hard drives. But with JBOD, you can choose to have the drives appear as distinct volumes or one volume.

However, when the drives are set up to appear as one to the operating system, data is not striped or mirrored like how it is in a RAID array. Instead, the JBOD writes data to a drive until it is at capacity and then continues on another drive.

Enclosure or Dock

Below, NeweggBusiness details the differences between external hard drive enclosures and docks.

Enclosure

Hard Drive EnclosureAn enclosure is a case that houses an internal hard drive to protect it and adapt the internal connectors for external use. Similar to external hard drives, enclosures come in a variety of sizes and form factors.

Some smaller cases for instance, can convert laptop hard drives into portable solutions. On the other end of the spectrum, there large enclosures that can accommodate multiple hard drives and manage them in RAID and JBOD configurations.

Dock

Hard Drive DockCompared to an enclosure, a hard drive dock fulfills a slightly different role. A dock is ideal if you have multiple hard drives and frequently switch between them. For that reason, many docks support hot swapping. Some dual-bay hard drive docks also have duplication functionality built-in.