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Hardware for Fast, Multiple Disk Cloning via USB3 HDD Dock

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July 7, 2010 6:14:21 AM


G'day from Australia tech gurus!

I have a project which has me scratching my head. I need to set up a system for cloning 260 unique hard drives per month prior to archival. They are WD5000AADS "Green" 500GB SATA HDDs with a continuous transfer rate of around 108Gb/s (based on my understanding) formatted at EXT3. There are three partitions, and the data is essentially large files as produced by Digital Video Recorders. The drive spec can not be changed.

I was planning on setting up a single machine to clone the disks one at a time, but irrespective of the host computer's spec, I believe we will run out of business days in the month to conduct the transfers due to the drive's data throughput. They are quite slow. I am trying to avoid having multiple cloning machines, so am now assessing the potential of using a single, fast machine to do several transfers simultaneously. In essence, this will negate the hard drive's data throughput limitation... though it will require more host computer "grunt" to get the job done at the rate required.

I have purchased a PCI-e 2.0 16x host card with two ports to try out and on my relatively lame business machine I can only install one of these cards. Perhaps by using a USB 3.0 hub the fast USB 3.0 speed can be shared among the 8x "slow" drives connected to it. Am I on the wrong track with this?

Then there is the motherboard PCI-e limitation. My understanding from Tom's information is that the AM3 chipset is best equipped to do the job due to it's higher PCI-e 2.0 bandwidth. I'm happy to be corrected on that of course. My understanding of base level architecture is about 20 years out of date. Perhaps if using a motherboard directly equipped with USB 3.0 the PCI-e bandwidth limitations of the Intel options are not an issue??? I gather from the motherboards I have seen that I may still require USB hubs to connect the quantity of drives required, which really needs to be around 8 in total for 4 simultaneous transfers.

As the transfers will be conducted by an elementary user, I thought that to use USB 3.0 Hard Disk Docks would provide consistent addressing of the drives, meaning I could label the docks up to avoid inadvertent data loss. If there are other options I'm happy to hear of them. eSATA sounds like it may have a complexity in the way the drives are identified if for instance a lesser quantity of drives are cloned on a given day. Maybe newer eSATA motherboards handle this better?

Aside from the hard drives, it's anything goes. The docks and PCI-e USB 3.0 host card can be called an experiment and discarded. That said, I do not have an over the top budget to get this done... but I must get it sorted.

I'm hoping there are some up to date tech wizards who can assist with this fairly specific query.

Many thanks in advance,
Steve Barbuto
January 25, 2011 6:15:43 PM

I was looking for something which provides high speed hard drive cloning on a massive scale. You definitely need some specialized device, just cannot afford to perform this kind of things using PC.

I was searching and find one vendor which provides such specialized device, you may want to look it up from the following
link:

http://www.h11-digital-forensics.com/omniclone-10xi-har...

Regards

Francis
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