Review: StarTech's flash drive duplicator, eraser is fast and simple

The eSATA/USB Portable Drive Duplicator also provides DoD standard flash drive erase capabilities

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In addition the target USB port of the duplicator can connect to external USB storage devices. The standalone USB duplicator supports cloning to SD/SDHS/MicroSD/ MMC/MiniSD and CF media through a USB multimedia card reader (which is not included with the base product and must be purchased separately) and to hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs) through a hard drive docking station or USB enclosure.

Speed test

One issue I initially saw as a rather large detractor with is that the product recommends only copying to USB thumb drives of equal size. There's a warning that if the thumb drives are of unequal size, errors may occur.

Of course, I intentionally didn't use equal size USB flash drives; I experienced no issues, but still, it would be nice to be able to use whatever you had at hand regardless of the capacity to create duplicate thumb drives.

When you initially plug USB drives into the StarTech Duplicator, a green LED light will blink as the hardware determines if the drive is serviceable. If it is, the green light will go solid; if not, a red LED light will turn on.

The red light will also appear if your USB drive is password protected, it will not work as a target for your source drive. The duplicator has no user interface other than the four buttons controlling the copy/delete functions.

First, I copied a 2GB file from my MacBook pro's USB 3.0 port to a USB 3.0 thumb drive. It took two minutes and 41 seconds.

Next I tried copying the same 2GB file from my MacBook Pro to a USB 2.0 thumb drive, just to see how much longer it would take. It took a whopping six minutes, 16 seconds.

Then I plugged a source USB 2.0 drive and a single target USB 3.0 drive into the StarTech Duplicator and hit the copy button. It took two minutes and 35 seconds. Next, I plugged a source drive and two target-flash drives into the StarTech Duplicator and hit copy. Surprisingly, it took a bit less time to copy to both drives: two minutes and 30 seconds.

Lastly, I tried copying from USB 3.0 to USB 3.0 on the StarTech USB 2.0 Duplicator. Of course, USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0, so the transfer rate didn't change: two minutes and 35 seconds.

Simplicity is a plus

What I like about StarTech's duplicators is that they are simple, and simple means people will use them. My work colleagues, especially the IT staff, regularly asks to use my StarTech eSATA/USB Portable Drive Duplicator. It's just easier than software products.

As I wrote earlier, the retail price for StarTech.com's USB Flash Drive Duplicator is $211.99. It comes with a two-year warranty. You can find it through CDW or at online retail sites such as Newegg.com, Amazon.com, PC Connection, and Insight and it is also being distributed by resellers.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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