SansDigital Mobilestor MS2UTN+
The second candidate in our test is the SansDigital Mobilestor MS2UTN+. This unit can accommodate two 3.5“ drives with a Serial ATA interface. The external housing is supplied without drives and costs somewhere around $90.
The housing is all black and feels very sturdy. The front of the drive trays are made of cast iron, which affects the overall weight. This unit weighs in at approximately 1.7 kg, including the internal power supply. The advantage of this solution is that, when switched off, the housing does not draw any power at all—0 watts. The power consumption in idle is a moderate 18.3 watts, and even the 23 watts required during a RAID 1 rebuild is acceptable.
The device package includes a USB and eSATA cable, screws for fixing the drives into the slots, a set of installation instructions, a power cable, and two plastic “keys” to open the drive slots, which cannot be locked. (Should these keys be lost, the drive slots can easily be opened using a paper clip.) The scope of delivery also includes an eSATA slot cover that enables you to move an internal SATA connection to the outside of the housing. This allows the Mobilestor MS2UTN+ to be operated on computers that do not have an eSATA interface on the motherboard. As with the G-Force Megadisk MDE1000, the NTI Shadow Backup software is supplied on CD ROM.
Installing The Drives
The drive slots can be opened easily using the supplied keys, and despite the plastic tracks, can be removed easily. SansDigital chose not to include a shelf in the drive slots. In order for the slots to provide some degree of stability even without drives, supports have been added to them—these must be removed before drives can be installed. The housing can handle a total capacity of 2 Terabytes, so the installation of two 1 TB drives is not a problem. The LEDs on the front of the unit inform the user of the status of the system.
Selecting The Operating Mode
As with the Fantom Drives G-Force-Megadisk MDE1000, the operating mode is selected using a rotating button, which must also be set using a small screwdriver. The SansDigital version is not a good solution, however, as the button can be rotated 360 degrees and has no markings. This means that one of two operating modes may have been selected, but you only find out which one you’ve actually selected after you switch on the computer.
In addition to the drive configurations we have seen for the G-Force Megadisk, the Mobilestor MS2UTN+ also has two additional settings: Safe33 and Safe50.
The modes Safe33 and Safe50 are multi-partition RAID combinations. Depending on the setting selected, either 33% or 50% of the available capacity is mirrored over two drives. The remaining capacity is available to the user as an additional logical drive.