Once you've built your very own computer; picked out the
perfect motherboard, the best CPU, a swift videocard and assembled it
all in a case that says "Hey! This is MY PC", it's time to come back to earth
and deal with the day to day challenges computers occassionally present. At
one point or another we've all faced down spyware, drivers that broke things, a
blue screen of
death or two and a failed hard
drive. It was a hard drive failure in 2003 that lead to PCSTATS long
line of Beginners Guides,
starting with the life-saving Guide
to Data Recovery .
Since then PCSTATS has heard from countless readers
who have lost precious family photos or years of work, and thankfully
many recovered all their data with aid of that Guide. The alternative is a
$2000 bill from a data recovery lab - a bitter pill to swallow, but if your data
is important and you haven't backed it
there are no alternatives.
After I lost a hard drive and just barely managed to
recover 90% of the data on it I vowed never, NEVER, to save my important work on
a single hard drive ever again. From then on it's been smooth sailing under
the protective cover of RAID 1. RAID stands for Redundant Array of
Independent Disks, and the "1" designates the kind of RAID array where the
same data is mirrored on two identical hard disks. If one drive fails,
there's always an up to date working copy at hand. Take a look at this
Guide to RAID if you'd like to learn more, it's not difficult to set up since
RAID is a standard feature on most motherboards these days.
Lately I've found hard drive racks the most
convenient way to manage pairs of RAID 1 drives (1TB Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS in case you wondered). Forced cooling is
often part of multi-bay drive racks to prevent excessive heat build up, something that isn't always so with PC chassis.
A hot swappable backplane means I never have to fiddle with plugs and data cables, and the
drives are always at hand for remote backups or upgrades.
Awhile ago PCSTATS look into Icydock's
MB454SPF-B hard drive backplane module, it fits in the space of three 5.25" drive
bays and holds four 3.5" SATA hard drives. Each hard drive needs rails screwed onto
it first, but now Icydock is offering a new hot swap module of the same proportions called the MB674SPF-B which is
completely tool free. Just open up one of the four bays, slide a SATA hard drive in and close
the door. The hard drive automatically engages with SATA data and power connectors, no screws required!
MB674SPF-B is a seriously convenient Serial ATA hard drive backplane module, it
retails for about $120 USD ($100 here ). It does not come with hard drives.
||IcyDock MB674SPF-B 4-Bay Hard Drive Bay Module
| Instructions, mounting screws,
(HDDs not included)
Used in the free 5.25" bays
of a full tower case or
dropped into a standalone external storage chassis, the ICYDock MB674SPF-B provides a convenient way
to increase data storage capacity in any computer case with at
least three open 5.25" drive bays. It has the added benefit of hot swapping
data/power connections for each drive, and supports SATAI or SATAII standards. Only hard drives
with SATA power connectors
can be used.
At the back of the unit all cables are centralized, so
wire clutter is minimized. An 80mm cooling fan draws air over
each drive and this helps to keep temperatures from escalating in
the confined space. The fan can be removed for cleaning as well.
hard drives are inserted right side up into the ICYDock MB674SPF-B almost all the
way. The door can then be closed, and doing so pushes
the hard drive back to engage it with data and power
connectors on the backplane. That's it, literally.
To remove the hard drive a little aluminum lever is
lifted up on the somewhat flimsy plastic door, this releases an equally flimsy catch and
allows the door to open. Each door is mechanically linked to
a small metal lever which automatically disengages the hard drive from the SATA
data and power connectors. By the time there is enough hard drive
to grasp the drive has powered down and can be gently handled
by the edges without any special precautions.
The ICYDock MB674SPF-B doesn't have any locking mechanisms to
prevent a hard drive from being removed, so in that respect
it's not very suitable for publicly accessible computers.
That's about all there is to the ICYDock MB674SPF-B multi-bay
hard drive module. The device is effectively transparent to the Serial ATA
hard drives that are installed in it, with no impact on data throughput.
The IcyDock MB674SPF-B SATA hard drive module will accommodate most
PC chassis configurations but... there are at least two critical areas
which may conflict with some chassis designs.