Hard drive docking and cloning stations are a hard must for many PC enthusiasts these days. It makes getting data on and off drives nearly as simple as plugging in a USB drive. It also makes cloning one drive to another as easy as pie, preventing the user from having to download any special software (as long as you are looking to do an exact copy, at least). Today we get to take a look at a solution from the company Alxum. It’s the Alxum USB-C SSD Docking Station for 2.5″ SSD or HDD format drives.
This docking station features some of your standard abilities found in most others in the market, with an added twist that many of the others don’t have. That is “airflow”. It has a built-in cooling system thanks to a fan that helps to push air across the face of both inserted drives and out a vent at the top. Helping to bring down the temperatures of the drives during a cloning process or other heavy project (ie, backing up a large amount of data all at once).
The whole point of keeping the drives cool during this process is simply to help improve the life span of each drive. They can get pretty hot during heavy loads and although this is normal and many docks don’t bother with this, it is a nice addition to have to the process. Why not take care of those precious drives that hold all of your vital data on them?
When you remove the lid and put it off to the side, this is when it becomes the same as any other docking station. At least, any docking station that is dedicated to just 2.5″ drives. Two slots, one for your source drive and the other for your destination (the new drive you are cloning the data to).
Given, it has a fan either way, but putting the lid back on over the drives will create a chamber for the air to flow into and move around before exiting out the top. You can see the vents surrounding the connection point that the drives slide into (this is where the air comes up from).
It’s a neat concept that more companies should consider including within HDD/SDD docking station designs.
It takes power from the wall to juice itself and the two drives up with and an optional USB-C connection to the computer. The USB-C connection is for when you want to access whatever drives you have plugged in with the said computer. For transferring files back and forth or using your favorite formatting, partitioning, and/op cloning software (if you choose to still go that route). If you plan to use it strictly for cloning one drive to another, then you can opt to skip the USB-C cable and simply plug the docking station into the wall.
The backside of the unit also contains a power switch for turning it on and off. Nothing too exciting there, but it’s nice to be able to turn it on or off without having to mess with the plug.
The front side contains a button that is used to trigger the native cloning process of the docking station. You insert two drives, power the unit on, press and hold this for around 3 seconds until all of the lights light up, and then quickly press it again. The cloning process will then begin. The trigger method of starting it is a little unique as usually you just have to hold a button down for a number of seconds, but it isn’t an inconvenience to simply tap the button one more time.
As it clones, the LED lights will begin to light up in 25% increments like most docks with built-in cloning capabilities. So you will get a light for 25%, 50%, 75%, and finally 100% once it has finished. When it does finish, you can connect it via USB-C to verify files, or if it is an OS drive, you can install it into its machine to verify that it boots up without any issues.
It does take some time to clone a drive. The bigger the drive, the longer you wait. This is because these docks use a sector-to-sector cloning process. Where software lets you break things down further or into other cloning methods. Sector-to-sector is a great way to clone an OS drive since the final result will be the exact state the source drive was in.
Of course, you want to make sure that the destination drive is the same size or larger (never smaller). You can’t do a direct clone like this if the destination drive is smaller.
Again, it does take time. We found that it is comparable to some and but not all docking stations we have come across. It does a decent job, although it can be a tad slower than some others at times. We only cloned 3 drives so far, but this is what we have agreed upon thus far based on experience with other models.
It does come with the USB-C cable, along with the power cord/adapter. The instructions are simple and seem to cover the areas to help you best understand how it works.
We find the docking station to do its job nicely. It is a chip of weight off the shoulder to know the drive is being cooled down as it is running in the dock. Let it be for file access or cloning. It’s good to treat your devices with an added level of respect to get the most out of them. This also gives this specific model an advantage over others since most do not have a cooling system of any kind.
The speed performance of the cloning process can waiver in either direction depending on your situation. Either way, it does take a while, but as mentioned, this is quite common. It compares well enough with other solutions out there for us to be able to recommend it.
Now, if only they would make a solution similar to this that can handle both 2.5″ drives as well as the larger 3.5″ drives. That could beat up the industry a little if the electronics inside are reliable enough.
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
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