ORICO 2-Bay USB Hard Drive Docking Station With Offline Clone Review
An Affordable Multi-Function USB Dock
Today we’re checking out a dual-bay external hard drive dock from ORICO (full product name 3.5/2.5inch 2 Bay Transparent USB3.0 Hard Drive Dock with Offline Clone Function), which combines the functionality of a normal USB HDD dock with the capability of standalone drive cloning. It’s not expensive (selling for around $36 on Amazon currently), especially considering the features it brings to the table at this price.
We first looked at an ORICO product with their USB Type-C NVMe enclosure a few months back, and the overall build quality and performance were excellent. With any lesser-known brand longevity concerns are valid, but after a few weeks with the ORICO NVMe enclosure (across multiple systems and with three different NVMe SSDs installed) it was – and still is – solid, with only the expected heat production from a design that uses the aluminum shell to dissipate heat.
So, with ORICO offering to send additional products for us to check out we agreed to another external drive enclosure – but this time a dual-drive solution. We received both the USB 3.0 and USB-C version of their Dual Bay Hard Drive Dock, both of which also provide drive cloning without a PC.
- Product Code:
- USB-C Version: ORICO 6239C3-C
- USB 3.0 Version: ORICO 6239U3-C
- Supported Specification: 2.5/3.5 inch HDD and SSD
- Output Interface: USB3.0/Type-B
- Dimension: 148 x 113.8 x 60mm
- Power Supply: 12V 3A
- Supported System: Windows/MAC/Linux
- Accessories: 1m USB3.0 Type-B to A Data Cable; 12V3A DC Power Adapter
“ORICO Type C USB 3.1 Dual Bay External Hard Drive Docking Station featured in transparent color and support up to 24 TB (2x 12TB) hard drives. Support 2.5 / 3.5 inch HDD SSD SATA I/II/III Hard Drive Enclosure. Perfect solution for backup and processing IT data, batch processing data, formatting, file transfers, data recovery, gaming data backup, etc.“
The ORICO Dual Bay Dock
This dock is part of ORICO’s Transparent Series, a family of products with clear plastic construction that range from drive docks like this one, various drive enclosures, USB hubs, and more. As to the design and construction of this dock, we’re looking at a simple design that gets the job done.
The openings at the top are sized for 3.5-inch hard drives, though of course 2.5-inch SSDs (and any other SATA drives) are compatible. Unlike some top-loading docks that feature flaps for both 3.5 and 2.5-inch drives, sing a 2.5-inch drive with this open design means that there won’t be any lateral support for the drive while docked. This isn’t really a big deal since SSDs are so light, but I’d be mindful of this if you plan on using 2.5-inch hard disks – particularly during a drive clone operation.
The controls on the rear of the dock are as simple as possible, with a physical toggle to go between clone or PC (USB) operation and a button to initiate a drive clone when it’s in that position. There is also a power button, 12V DC input for the included adapter, and USB – which is either a Type-C or Type-B depending on the model you choose.
One note on the power cord, which I’ve seen mentioned in Amazon reviews: it’s very short (a little over 3ft long). It was long enough to go from the power strip on the floor to the dock on my desk, but if I tried to set this up on a standing desk the plug would not reach the floor. The included USB cable is about the same length, which is fine.
One of the first questions I had was drive compatibility – as in, capacity limit, does it work with WD drives with the 3.3v pin thing (not that anyone would shuck a 10TB drive from an enclosure just to put it into a USB dock, but still), etc…
ORICO advertises up to 24TB of capacity, meaning dual 12TB drives are supported. My largest drives are 10TB, so I put a pair of these into this dual-bay dock and sure enough, Disk Management saw them both and I could initialize and format them without issue.
Both of the installed hard drives mounted after initialization and formatting, and were both online and available for simultaneous use. (More on the actual usefulness of concurrent drive use in the next section.)
A pair of 480GB SSDs, which were previously partitioned and formatted, were immediately recognized and mounted normally. One question I had was TRIM support, particularly with two SSDs installed. Would the dock present these as solid state storage to Windows and permit drive optimization?
Turns out, yes. The SSDs were properly detected as such, and optimization was completed without issue.
At the heart of this ORICO dock is a JMicron JMS5601U chipset, which provides the dual SATA to USB bridge as well as the unit’s offline clone functionality.
JMicron JMS561U is a Super Speed to Dual SATA GenIII Ports bridge chip with specific feature: high performance standalone CLONE function. It integrated 2 independent SATA channels and a micro-processor. With proper setting, the chip can be configured as 1:2 Serial ATA III Port Multiplier or hardware 1:1 CLONE function. The JMS561U is able to reach a data transmission rate Up to 1000GB/hour or 300MB/sec copy performance.
With a single 480GB SSD installed in the USB-C version of the dock, I tested maximum throughput using a laptop equipped with a fast 10 Gbps USB-C port – though this drive dock is limited to 5 Gbps. In fact, there is no difference between the USB 3.0 and USB-C versions of this dock beyond the interface on the rear of the dock, as these are equipped with the same chipset.
Large files were copied to and from the SSD in the ORICO dock, with a total transfer size large enough to exceed available memory from the system (16GB in this case) and provide a better look at actual transfer speeds beyond the Windows cache effect.
Speeds stabilized at around 370 MB/s for reads and 400 MB/s for writes, which is not the fastest we’ve seen from a SSDs with a 5 Gbps USB interface, but not far behind external drives such as the Samsung T3 (~450 MB/s). In short, this dock won’t give you the fastest possible speed from a connected SATA SSD, but it’s still not going to hold you back to any significant degree.
Another aspect of performance is simultaneous drive operation. Yes, this product can be useful for dual-drive usage beyond cloning, but any time both drives are reading or writing there will be only half of the potential speed available, as the drives must share the single 5 Gbps connection. Here’s a situation where traditional hard disks make more sense as SSD performance would be chopped in half.
Speeds with the 10TB hard drives hit 200 – 210 MB/s on writes, but fell to less than 100 MB/s on reads – with cache playing a role here for write performance. I saw only one instance of a stall during simulanious use in my testing, though it’s worth noting that this is apparently possible from this JMicron chipset:
The first drive’s transfer stalled after the second transfer was started in this scenario – though it resumed once the second transfer completed. I was unable to immediately re-create this, and it may have been an outlier.
Offline Clone Mode
Cloning is a big part of the offering with this dock, as this model offers an offline drive-to-drive clone mode in addition to standard USB operation. I generally use Clonezilla for this, but it’s convenient to have dedicated hardware for a simple drive clone. For this test I decided to make a full backup of my GPU testbed SSD, which is something I should have done long ago.
I placed the SSD to be cloned in the first slot (labeled “source”), a blank SSD in the other (“target”), and hit the clone button on the back of the dock. I used identical SSDs for this test, but that isn’t a requirement – though the destination drive needs to be the same capacity or larger.
The only thing that threw me during the cloning process was the behavior of the status lights. You can clearly see through the top case a “25%”, “50%”, “75”, and 100% label next to each of the four activity lights, yet these all blink in a scrolling marque pattern when the clone operation is in progress (I was expecting a blinking light on 25%, followed by a solid 25% and blinking 50%, etc.).
The website description verifies that this marquee effect is correct, however:
Blue When Power On, Blue and Red Light Flicker When Reading and Writing; Marquee is on when clone, four lights are on after finishing clone
And, as indicated, all four lights were on when the clone operation did finish. The result? A perfect clone. No complaints here (other than the progress lights not actually showing percentage of completion, as mentioned).
Orico’s Transparent Series Dual-Bay USB Dock (full product name “3.5/2.5inch 2 Bay Transparent USB3.0 Hard Drive Dock with Offline Clone Function”) is a capable option for under $40 that has the added value of an offline drive clone appliance.
Performance was more than adequate, though it doesn’t hit the full potential of its 5 Gbps USB connection with max observed transfer speeds of around 400 MB/s. My only real complaint was the length of the power cord, which at just over 3ft was barely enough to reach the floor from a taller desk.
I like the value proposition from Orico here, with both USB and offline clone modes working as expected. My minor hiccup with simultaneous HDD transfers was an outlier, as the remainder of my testing was pleasantly uneventful.
Bottom line, this is a solid little product that hits a price point and does what it is designed to do. It even looks nice. The short power cord might be an issue for some, but the rest of this design is hard to fault. Recommended.