Store, Swap and Organize: Storage Accessories

Addonics Mobile Rack

If you want to pursue a hard drive based backup strategy, removable drive frames are a must - especially for hot plug operation - since they allow you to insert backup hard drives for every day of the week. Fortunately, the Addonics Mobile Rack is an interesting solution for hot-swapping 3.5" hard disk drives. The internal name is AESNAPMRSA, but you should easily find it looking for the name "Mobile Rack". The concept behind this product is as simple as it is powerful: this isn't just another solution to swap hard drives easily. It also allows the user to treat her or his hard drives as if they were removable media by mounting them like optical SATA drives.

Addonics' Mobile Rack requires an available 5.25" drive bay and installs like an optical drive. It is well finished and sufficiently solid. Insert the removable frame into the drive bay of the installed Mobile Rack; the disk drive is physically connected as you close the lock. As soon as the hard drive has completed its spin-up and initialization process, Windows will immediately recognize the new drive.

To release the drive and remove the disk you have to open the lock, and a little mechanism will push the drive slightly out of the frame. If you do this while the drive was in operation (hot swapping), wait a few seconds after the mechanism releases the drive to be sure the motor is spun down and the heads are properly parked. According to Addonics the tray itself is protected against shocks and vibration.

However, the hot plug feature only works if the controller or chipset supports SATA hot plugging. Systems that don't may crash or show a blue screen when you try to plug or unplug a drive. Most SATA controllers available that comply with the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) standard today do support it - but certainly not all. Please double-check the supported features of your SATA controller before purchasing the Mobile Rack.

The Mobile Rack has a small integrated fan that runs all the time; it even runs when no drive is installed. Since the fan has a tiny diameter it has to rotate at higher speeds to provide an adequate air flow. As a result, the Mobile Rack is not particularly quiet, and we cannot recommend it for desktop use unless you don't mind the noise.

The performance of the installed drive is not an issue, as the Mobile Rack simply extends the interface. Running benchmarks would therefore have served no purpose.