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We look at a rather unique external hard disk enclosure that promises to be technically advanced as well as eco-friendly called Bytepac.
This cardboard product does not mean we have to skimp on capacity or performance however, we paired the BytePac kit with Seagate's new power efficient yet speedy Barracuda 3TB drive.
We also discuss the pros and cons of external drive enclosures.
I dislike external disk enclosures, especially generic types suited for 3.5" drives. Why? The majority of them are buggy, highly cost-reduced, poor build quality, lack any sort of industrial design and most importantly have a tendency damage drives which can result in data loss. If a $20 external enclosure dies that is fair enough and we can cheaply replace that but if the failure damages installed HDD and priceless data then that is not on especially if a minor flaw in the enclosure is to blame.
Enclosures from HDD manufactures often have strong industrial design, good reliability and there is after sales support and warranty however these are not suitable to the D.I.Y. market who are after an enclosure to install their drive into rather than a sealed external hard drive.
Some aspects to keep in mind form a technical point of view with generic enclosures:
Cheap external enclosures (cases) may use badly installed internal cables to connect drive power and data which may eventually break or short circuit, damaging the cases controller, power supply or the HDD itself.
The controller chips used in the cases are often no name themselves with compatibility issues with particular drives especially large capacity drives.
Generic External enclosures often have poor fit and finish, proving difficult to install the HDD and the top cover of the enclosure and are held together using smallest screws possible.
Generic External enclosures are mainly manufactured by faceless companies who rely on the distribution channel and point of sale for any technical or warranty issues.
Thermal and Power management is not a main concern for generic enclosures due to the cost and effort to implement or engineer. Some enclosures still ship with inefficient bulky power supplies
Generic cases can be poor value for money with some types, up to half the cost of a name brand external HDD
If the electronics fails, this is a non replaceable part rendering the rest of the case a paperweight, especially the bulky and inefficient power supplies which use a 5-pin DIN connector and supply 5 volts and 12 volts separately rather than the modern 12V only energy efficient compact sized power supplies
How do we solve such issues? There are several methods. Buy a modular type enclosure which separates the electronics and the enclosure, the Bytepac kit we are looking at and the Seagate line of GoFlex drives are examples of this; or buy a brand name enclosure from a HDD or NAS vendor such as Western Digital which typically have excellent engineering.