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While most users' experience with storage involves selecting internal or external PC hard drives, enthusiasts and professionals want more cutting-edge applications. Their needs, for example, may involve attaching different kinds of storage devices to multiple host systems. But while complex, more elegant storage solutions can still involve standard interfaces, such as USB 2.0, Firewire or eSATA, and can be hooked up to host systems rather easily. Accusys, Icydock or Wiebetech have recently introduced such high-powered, yet easy-to-set-up devices. We found them to be useful, but expensive.
In one of our recent articles Silicon Image Brings Virtualization to eSATA, we reported on technology that allows for virtual access of multiple storage devices. In short, eSATA virtualization comprises a single storage volume that has multiple cascaded devices and volumes that automates storage data management. In the future, it is likely that users will be able to add storage devices to her or his computer without having to worry about partitions or different protocols. Simply add the drives, and it is up to the storage management system to integrate it. Ideally, you eventually shouldn't even have to organize files and directories anymore, either; file management and access should be an easy process. Expect to see the equivalents of Microsoft or Google's desktop search engines for storage media in the future.
However, the future isn't here yet, and maintenance of data is still largely a manual process. There will still be lots of occasions when you will have to access data on a drive or other devices, while creating storage environments and performing other tasks yourself.
Accusys sent us a solution that hosts two 2.5" SATA drives with a 3.5" drive bay. Icydock's device comprises a 3.5" SATA enclosure, while Wiebetech offers a plethora of Combo Dock and SATA Dock adapters, which allow users to operate virtually any 1.8" to 3.5" hard drive with a USB 2.0 or Firewire connection.
We also recommend having a look at the recent article Store, Swap and Organize: Storage Accessories. It discusses removable frames, multi-drive RAID enclosures for 2.5" drives, PCI installation cards for 2.5" drives and a drive silencer. The article Bringing eSATA to Notebooks, covers devices that accommodate eSATA notebook drives.