With hard drives becoming cheaper, you may find yourself in need of an external storage enclosure. And why not take advantage of all the RAID has to offer at the same time? We take a look at the S354UFER External SATA Raid Enclosure from StarTech.
Here is how the StarTech website describes the RAID enclosure:
StarTech.com’s S354UFER External SATA RAID Enclosure is a high-performance external RAID storage solution, supporting up to 4 high capacity 3.5″ SATA hard drives (supports SATA, SATA II and SATA III-6Gbps).
The 4-bay RAID enclosure can be connected to the host/source computer through USB, eSATA or FireWire and automatically builds your SATA RAID array based on your selection (Spanning, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 1+0, RAID 3, and RAID 5 supported), delivering a simple, yet flexible external storage solution.
Designed for convenience, the enclosure features front panel LED indicators that provide RAID information and simple hard drive status and activity monitoring. The enclosure also features a built-in 3-speed 80mm fan with automatic or manual controls that allow you to customize the speed of the fan as necessary, ensuring suitable operating temperatures for optimized drive performance.
The StarTech.com Advantage:
- Support for up to 4 drives provide large amounts of storage with a choice of high speed interfaces from USB 2.0, FireWire400/800 or eSATA
- The removable front cover and accessible drive bays allows drives to be replaced easily in case of failure or upgraded
- Built-in support for numerous RAID modes for most personal/business needs and an 80mm controllable cooling fan to keep drives from overheating
Who Are StarTech?
According to their website:
StarTech.com is your one-stop source for every connectivity part you need. From the latest technology to legacy products — and all the parts that bridge the old and new — we can help you find the parts that connect your solutions.
We make it easy to locate the parts, and we quickly deliver them wherever they need to go. Just talk to one of our tech advisors or visit our website. You’ll be connected to the products you need in no time.
Warranty : 1 Year
Carton Quantity: 4
Color : Black
Drive Connectors : 4 – 15 pin SATA Power Female
Drive Connectors : 4 – 7 pin SATA DATA Female
Enclosure Type : Aluminum
Fan Bearing Type : Ball Bearing
Fans : 1 – 80 mm
Host Connectors : 1 – 7 pin eSATA DATA Female
Host Connectors : 1 – USB B Female
Humidity : 90%RH
Input Voltage : 115 ~ 230 AC
LED Indicators : 1 – HDD error indicator
LED Indicators : 1 – Power indicator
LED Indicators : 1 – RAID rebuild indicator
LED Indicators : 2 – Connection indicators
LED Indicators : 2 – Fan mode indicators
LED Indicators : 3 – Fan speed indicators
LED Indicators : 6 – RAID Mode indicators
Max Drive Capacity : Tested up to 2.0 TB
Operating Temperature : -20°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F)
Output Current : 5000mA
Output Voltage : 12 DC
Power Adapter Included : Yes
Product Height : 170
Product Length : 215
Product Weight : 1.8 kg [3.98 lb]
Product Width : 126
RPM : Low – 1200rpm, Med – 1800rpm, High – 2500rpm
Shipping (Package) Weight: 3.31 kg [7.32 lb]
Storage Temperature : -25°C to 70°C (-13°F to 158°F)
Number of Drives : 4
Compatible Drives : 3.5″ SATA
Chipset ID : PLX – OXUFS936QSE
Supported RAID Modes : BIG (Spanning or Concatenation)
Supported RAID Modes : RAID 0 (Striped Disks)
Supported RAID Modes : RAID 1 (Mirrored Disks)
Supported RAID Modes : RAID 10 (1+0; Striped set of Mirrored Subset)
Supported RAID Modes : RAID 3 (Striped set with Dedicated Parity)
Supported RAID Modes : RAID 5 (Striped Disks with Parity)
Host Connectors : 1 – 6 pin FireWire Female
Host Connectors : 2 – 9 pin FireWire 800 Female
Type and Rate : FireWire 400 IEEE-1394a – 400 Mbit/s
Type and Rate : FireWire 800 IEEE-1394b – 800 Mbit/s
Type and Rate : SATA 3 Gbit/s (SATA II)
Type and Rate : USB 2.0 – 480 Mbit/s
The maximum supported partition size for some 32-bit Windows systems is 2 TB. These versions of Windows cannot detect multiple drives in any RAID mode if the total size exceeds 2 TB.
Some operating modes of the enclosure require an eSATA host port to provide Port Multiplier (PM) support. Without PM support, only one of the drives will be accessible.
What’s in the Box?
The box contains the enclosure, a screwdriver and screw set, hard drive handles, a power supply with 3 different power cords, eSATA cable, USB cable, 6-pin and 9-pin Firewire cables and a manual and CD.
A Closer Look
In order to add a drive, or several drives you first have to fit the drive handles to the front of each drive.
Then you have to open the front panel and then remove the inner panel to gain access to the drive bays.
Then just slide the drives into the drive bays and refit the inner panel and then the front panel.
One thing to note, if you are only installing two drives, you are advised to fit one of them in the bottom slot.
Using the Enclosure
Once you have added the drives, you need to set the hard drive dip switch (which is located on the back of the unit under a little cover) to reflect what you want (and also depending on the number of the drives). In my case I wanted to use RAID0 (Spanning) so I flicked both switches down.
Powering up the enclosure is simple and the various status lights on the front tell you what’s going on.
My Windows 7 machine quickly found the enclosure and installed the relevant drivers.
The drives were showing as “not initialized” though, but that was to be expected.
A couple of clicks later and the drives are ready to be used.
931 GB free on a two x 500 GB span.
The CD contains the User Guide if you want to review it.
I decided that I would see how fast the enclosure would operate. I had the enclosure connected to my computer via eSATA and I had two 500GB hard drives operating in SPAN mode (which provided no performance or redundancy benefits).
A read test:
A write test:
Overall I was quite happy with the read and write speeds, and I am sure I could get more out of it depending on which RAID mode I selected.
It was relatively easy to add drives to the enclosure, although there were certainly enough steps in order to do it. But it wasn’t too time consuming and once it’s done it’s done.
My only negative comment about the enclosure is that it felt a little “cheap”. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s very plasticy, the front panel falls off every time you open it (not that this is a problem because you won’t be opening it very often) and I really didn’t like the hard drive handles very much.
That said, it does exactly what it says on the tin and it works well, so don’t let what I just said put you off at all.
Just make sure you read the instructions as I decided to skip the dip switch step in favour of using the menu options on the unit itself, only it didn’t work as expected, but that was my fault, not the enclosure’s fault! Simple a case of RTFM!
As for the price, it retails for £294.99 plus VAT.
I would have liked to see the price a little bit less than this as you can pick up a Synology box for the same price which has a lot more features built-in. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this enclosure, far from it!You can learn more about the enclosure from the StarTech website