Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
Affordable USB storage
on 16 May 2011
I recently got to the point where my PC's data storage disc was almost full (1.3TB of a 1.5TB disc) which left me the option of another internal disc or investigating some external storage. Having previously bought a dual drive external hard drive enclosure, the advantages were obvious to me (and if nothing else, in the event of having to race out of the house in an emergency, picking up the drive enclosure would be far easier than picking up the PC).
I settled on the Icy Box enclosure, having previously bought their products and been pleased with the performance and styling. The item arrived within a few days of ordering and as usual, the item arrived packed in a second cardboard box (I appreciate the touch, Amazon, but question whether it was strictly necessary or environmentally friendly).
On opening the retail box the contents were neatly packaged and held in place by an internal foam scaffold. The enclosure itself looked comparatively small and was made out of what looked and felt like black-anodised aluminium, with a silver surround to the grille of the fascia and was very light. However, when set up against my old USB2 external enclosure, the USB3 enclosure was pretty similar in size, although it was lighter than its USB2 cousin. It came with an external mains power supply (clearly it's not USB powered) and a USB3 lead as well as a small booklet containing multi-lingual instructions.
Installation of the SATA hard drives was a rediculously simple affair: the fascia unclipped from underneath, lifted up and off the front revealing two slots behind it (think of a typical 2-slot toaster). Orientated correctly, the drives slide in easily and require nothing more than a small push to make sure the ports at the rear seat into the connectors in the enclosure. Then the fascia is replaced with a slide and click. There: done!
Connecting the enclosure to the power supply and the PC (via a PCIe USB3 expansion card) was painless, as was turning on the power switch on the back of the enclosure. It seems that by default turning on the power also turns on the integral fan which doesn't make the unit silent, but doesn't add appreciably to the relatively minimal noise my PC generates anyway. After a few more minutes of configuring the drives in Windows (Win7 64bit), I had both the installed 2TB Seagate EcoGreen drives available (about 1.85TB each after formatting) and I transfered the data from my congested internal data drive to the external enclosure. I have to admit that the enclosure did become quite warm during the transfer - not hot, but very warm. However, the data transfer rate was pretty rapid (I seem to recall seeing a burst rate of 105MB/sec initially, but which settled to a rate of 65-85MB/sec). In routine use the amount of data shuttling in and out of the discs in the enclosure is far less and I've not noticed as dramatic a temperature rise (at idle it's barely warm, and cooler than the USB2 enclosure it sits next to).
The status lights on the front flash to indicate activity, as well as providing some trouble-shooting capability for faults (for which, read the booklet). At the back are some dip-switches which allow you to configure the unit for various RAID modes. My enclosure came with JBOD set up as default which I elected to continue using to get the full size of the installed discs, so I can't comment on the RAID functions. However, the booklet reports RAID 0 and RAID 1 to be available (and changing RAID mode requires a reformat before use), while the unit apparently has no limit to the size hard drives it will accept. Additionally, there is a Kensington lock slot at the back: nice touch, but as far as I can see it doesn't prevent anyone popping open the fascia and removing the hard drives.
In the month since purchase the unit has behaved impeccably and has given my PC much needed breathing space. Based on my experience so far, I can easily recommend this product to anyone needing a USB3 capable, dual hard-drive external enclosure, and even more so if the price falls below the £ I paid for it.