Friday, February 2, 2018

OWC Dual Drive Dock USB 3.1

I’ve had mostly good experiences with Other World Computing’s Dual Drive Dock USB 3.1 (Amazon). It’s the only USB 3 drive dock I’ve used that did not spontaneously unmount my drives. Previously, the only reliable dock I’d found was the Thunderbolt-based Highpoint RocketStor 5212. At $69, the OWC is less than half the (now reduced) price of the RocketStor and only $20 more than the adapter needed to connect the RocketStore to a modern Mac with USB-C. Other advantages over the RocketStore:

Unfortunately, the OWC dock does sometimes spontaneously eject one drive when swapping the other. This seems to occur much more often while the drive is in heavy use. The obvious workaround is to manually eject both drives before swapping. This somewhat reduces the utility of having a dual dock, but it’s still much more useful than a single dock, and I’ve not found anything better that uses USB 3.

(Another recent candidate was the $23 Sabrent lay-flat dock. Two of these were dead-on-arrival from Amazon with drives larger than 4 TB. Their replacements from the company both suffered from spontaneous ejections, interfered with my keyboard and mouse at boot time, and sometimes refused to mount newly inserted drives.)

Update (2018-05-10): I’ve also found that swapping drives with the OWC dock can cause drives connected to other USB devices to unmount.

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Thanks for sharing this, though it's unfortunate that a reliable USB 3 dock still costs this much. Back in 2010 I got a Thermaltake USB 2 dock for $22... nearly eight years later and it's still in regular use, working without issue. Most of my backups run overnight, so USB 2 speed limitations aren't much of a concern. I've said it before, but I really feel like I'm not missing out on much by sticking with USB 2 for everything.

@remmah Yep, I reviewed the Thermaltake USB 2 Dock in 2008. It’s great. However, at least with the one I had, there was a limitation on the max drive size, which is what eventually led me to seek out USB 3 solutions. USB 3 really does feel a lot faster, even if you weren’t near the theoretical speed limit of USB 2.

Indeed, I had a USB 3 dock back when I used a hackintosh. The dock itself stopped working a few months after getting it, but the speed increase was noticeable. For doing a verification scan of a backup drive, the USB 2 dock takes several hours longer, but even then, the scan still completes by the time I wake up. While booting into a backup drive over USB 2 can be a pain, one can just attach the drive internally with the old Mac Pro.

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