10 drive docks help you re-use old hard drives

These USB 3.0 drive docks let you create external storage out of your salvaged internal hard drives.

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Docks with one bay

Aluratek's AHDDU200F is the archetypal external hard drive dock. Nearly a cube at 7.9 by 6.5 by 3.8 in. and weighing 2 lbs., the dock will accept either a 3.5-in. or 2.5-in. hard drive. It keeps the drive from wiggling free or dancing on your desktop by the force of its girth and weight alone. It's not a bad setup for those of us with wandering elbows.

This chunky monkey of drive docks is absolutely free of frills but, given its low price, your expectations will be kept to a minimum as well. Sometimes a drive dock is just a drive dock and that's all it needs to be.

Aluratek AHDDU200F from Aluratek

Direct price: $50

Retail price: $30-$57

Cirago Hard Drive Docking Station (CDD2000)

Cirago was another of the early responders to USB 3.0. Its CDD2000 drive dock was first offered in mid-2010; it's a petite 5.1- by 3.6- by 3-in. unit with a single bay that will accommodate either a 3.5-in. or a 2.5-in. drive. The sleek white device will look good on most desks; obviously, its appearance, low price and simplicity (it has only a single USB 3.0 port) are designed to appeal to consumers.

Surprisingly, the CDD2000 doesn't offer as many features as its USB 2.0 predecessor, the CDD1000 (still available for $40). Designed in bright red and black, the CDD1000 features a built-in memory card reader and can also serve as a two-port USB hub.

Cirago Hard Drive Docking Station (CDD2000) from Cirago International

Direct price: $50

Retail price: $46-$61

Ineo I-NA317U Plus

Ineo's contribution to the USB 3.0 hard drive dock crowd is called the I-NA317U Plus. It supports either a 3.5-in. or a 2.5-in. drive inserted through a spring-loaded cap on the top of the bay.

Like the Cirago docking station, Ineo's 7.8- by 6.9- by 2.4-in., 2-lb. device is both simple and stylish, with a two-tone, silver/gray base and a glossy black top. The back of the unit offers the USB 3.0 port, a power input and an on/off button. Inexperienced consumers will be grateful for the user manual, which is actually a short but well-illustrated "how-to" pamphlet.

Ineo I-NA317U Plus from Ineo Technology

Retail price: $36-$48

NexStar Hard Drive Dock SuperSpeed (NST-D300S3)

Measuring 5.4 by 3.2 by 3.4 in., Vantec's NexStar Hard Drive Dock shares a similar design with many of the drive docks you'll find on the market. Basically, it's a cradle with a spring-loaded top into which you insert either a 3.5- or 2.5-inch hard drive.

A newer version of the dock, model NST-D300S3-BK, which comes in black instead of white, will soon be available. Carrying the same footprint as the original version, it will add support for SATA 3 hard drives, such as Seagate's or Western Digital's 3TB hard disk, to maximize capacity.

NexStar Hard Drive Dock SuperSpeed (NST-D300S3) from Vantec

Retail price: $37-$60

Rosewill RX-DU300

Rosewill is Newegg's house brand, and given the tech hardware retailer's penchant for low prices, it's probably no accident that while the RX-DU300 had no price posted on the Rosewill website as of this writing, I could find it elsewhere for a relatively modest $35.

The 5.5- by 3.5- by 2.2-in. dock doesn't make any concessions to style -- it is straightforwardly black and has a single slot that will hold either a 2.5-in. or 3.5-in. drive.

My only complaint about the RX-DU300 is that it uses an outlet-mounted power brick that can get in the way of a neighboring outlet. If your AC outlet is otherwise unused, you'll have no problem.

Rosewill RX-DU300 from Rosewill

Retail price: $35-$50

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