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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2010
Verified Purchase
My goal was to purchase a 4 drive USB enclosure that supported the latest 2TB drives. I have a bunch of these drives so I can test right away.

My first attempt was the Sans Digital TowerRAID TR4U-B 4 Bay SATA to USB 2.0 JBOD/Spanning Enclosure (Black):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LF40OU/ref=oss_product

Based on the reviews you would think this would work well, and also based on the description "Supports the latest 2TB Hard Drive. Up to 8TB in storage capacity. (*Max. 2TB volume when in Spanning mode)." You would think it's the best choice. Think again. I owned 2 of these, one from newegg and one from Amazon. I got one from newegg tried it with a few 2TB drives, and it does NOT recognize them. I thought that maybe the newegg model was older so I contacted Sans Digital for support, they replied promptly asking me for the makes/serials of the drives that I used. I sent them high resolution pictures of the drives that don't work. No reply. I ordered another one from Amazon, thinking that it must support 2TB drives, because it says so in the description. Wrong again. Returning as we speak.

So I popped the Sans Digital from newegg open to find the chipset that it's using. It was an IDE chipset and had the markings "D8927GC-002" on it. Strange, because this is a SATA box. I tracked the company that makes these to a Japanese company named Workbit. The chip is also called the USAT-3.

Sans Digital Chipset Datasheets:
[..]

60Mhz whoopie! It's kind of old.

Then, the Sans Digital uses an IDE to SATA bridge made by CFI. CFI no longer exists ([..]) and so I couldn't find any specs on that.

This was not the storage box I was looking for, it had no chance of supporting the 2TB drives that I wanted. Right now I'm trying to return both of these.

So I did some research on this StarTech model and their website clearly states what chipset they use. A sure sign that these guys are not hiding anything.

Here is the datasheet:
[..]

I am very impressed with this model.

Advantages over Sans Digital:

* Properly supports 2TB drives.
* Modern chipset.
* Smaller form factor. Yes, this houses 4 drives but is significantly smaller that the Sans Digital model.
* Better design. No comparison here from the finish on the outside to all the details inside, this is a FAR superior unit.
* Drives have attachable handles for easy removal. These also provide padding and ensure a secure connection then the spring loaded front bracket is closed.
* Has a metal bracket that ensures the drives are well secured in the unit, screw-less design here. The drive handles are however attached once using 2 screws, but once attached, drive can be swapped in and out very easily. Brilliant.
* Front spring push-locked door. This is actually removable, if you need quick access to swap the drives often. Again, brilliant.
* Detailed indicator lights on the front.
* Can connect both esata and USB at the same time to 2 different computers. Swap between which computer will see the device with a push button on the front (I did not try this).
* Silent fan, controlled by a thermistor (temperature sensor). Also can be put into manual mode.
* Each drive has an activity indicator light. It's integrated in a very slick way with the front bezel.

Cons:

* There MUST be a drive in the TOP slot or else the USB will not connect. This is probably what one of the reviewers was experiencing.
* Drive handles may be a problem if swapping drives often between different make enclosures. This is not the case for me, and you can actually not use them if you want to.

Just to reiterate the above point, if there is no drive in the first TOP slot, the unit will not power on properly and will not be recognized by your computer.

This seems like a great unit, they should be selling more of these.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2010
Verified Purchase
If you have a home theater pc (ie low wattage, 24/7 computer) this is exactly the storage solution you want.

This is a very solid piece of equipment. The hard drive arrangement, fans, metal case all feel very well constructed. If you are connecting with USB2, this baby is literally plug and play.

This enclosure is perfect if you just don't have enough external enclosures for all your hard drives. I leave this device connected to a server 24/7 and it is significantly cheaper than a 4 bay NAS or separate enclosures.

There are only 2 downsides to this device:
1. ESATA: if you don't have something called "port multiplier technology" on your computer, only one hard drive will show up when you are connected to the ESATA port. It seems like this is a deficiency on the computer and not the enclosure, but still, it's a downside.
2. Be very careful when plugging in the usb cable to this device. It uses the larger square-like USB connector but since the enslosure's USB port is not as solid as the rest of the unit, it is possible to put this cable in upside-down if you are not paying attention. This will short out the device and USB won't work anymore. I think this happened to one of the other reviewers. It happened to me but I just sent this back to amazon and got another one the next day. No big deal; just something to be aware of.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
Verified Purchase
I purchased 2 of these hoping to consolidate individual USB drives into 1 to 2 enclosures.
1 of them came in DOA, returned.
The other two just would not work correctly. I had all the bays filled with drives including the top slot (using USB) and it would only find 1 drive in either enclosure.

I tried Windows 2003 Server, Windows 2008 Server, Windows 7 laptop, Windows XP laptop -- all of them acted in the same fashion.

Returned both and hope to find something that works better.

Amazon rocks, but StarTech is not the way to go for this solution.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2011
Verified Purchase
I needed extra storage for my home network. I liked the design and the price. All was great until after 4 months. At first the device started shutting down on its own; then it to failed to recognize my 4 drives one by one until it shutdown and never worked again. I was disappointed to find out that it only had about 45 day warranty from Amazon. I bought it brand new and I did not even get 90 days. I contacted the manufacturer Star Tech, Inc and they could not help either, the device was out of warranty. In my opinion, some say it works well, but in my case, it did not.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2012
Verified Purchase
I ordered one of these yesterday and had it overnighted. I was excited about the idea of consolidating several drives. I'm trying to connect to a MacMini via USB. I screwed on the handles (a bad and annoying system to begin with) and then took off the front cover door (yes, it doesn't just fold down, it comes completely off) and then took off the protective grill inside. I then inserted 4 hard drives and replaced all of the covers.

I excitedly pushed the power button and blue lights came on....for about 20 seconds. Then the unit powered itself off. It does not allow me to switch interfaces to USB. I tried removing and reseating all of the drives numerous times.

Basically the only thing I can do with the unit is adjust the fan speed during the 20 seconds or so that it stays powered on.

Terrible. I guess I'll await advice from Startech technical support before I return it to Amazon.

Well, at least Amazon makes returning stuff super easy.

Update:

I found that it didn't like my USB hub, but when plugged straight into my computer it runs well. Note, that to switch to USB you have to hold the button down for a few seconds. It's been running like a champ for a couple of years now with no problems.
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on March 19, 2014
Verified Purchase
I Now have six of these NAS units and love them. We needed to call the factory to find out how to solve a problem.
The guys at the response phone were very helpful.and courteous.

Highly recommended.

B. Davis
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on November 15, 2013
Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, I have to give the particular unit a low review. I have a StarTech S354UFER with Firewire that has worked perfectly for two years and I bought this unit from Amazon SAT3540U2E, s/n 120000621 because it was less expensive and I didn't need raid. This model is not a raid device.

This particular unit appears to function normally in both USB and eSATA modes, it will mount drives and small files can be copied and read. However, when a drive is erased or repartitioned or a large file or large directory is copied onto one of the 3540U2E's drives, the drive unmounts (blue led front lights do dark) and the operation fails. Eventually, the drive will remount. The symptom occurs on both ports. Unit was configured to stay powered on (it has a sleep function).

This behavior was observed on two Mac's: one running 10.6 and one running 10.8

Amazon accepted a return under their defective item policy. I plan to order another S354UFER with Firewire to reduce the possibility of a logic design flaw.
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on October 18, 2013
Verified Purchase
I use this as an external storage bay with four 2tb drives in it. I keep them mounted separately on my system. Never had an issue with it. This is actually the second one of these I have purchased. The first one failed after about 2.5 years, but that was with very heavy use. I stream a lot of data from this device to several other computers for multiple hours each day. I wish the first one hadn't died, but overall I am very happy with this product.
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on June 5, 2013
Verified Purchase
Good power supply on these systems and simple drive holders. Most appropriate for eSATA backup (USB is a little slow for 4 drives).
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on December 10, 2012
I purchased one of these through another vendor, along with 4 drives to use in a raid 10 array, plus a multiplexing sata card.
After a lot of trial, error, and heartache, I came to the conclusion that Raid 10 (stripe+mirror) simply was not going to work. Neither did raid 5, nor would simple mirrors paired to JBOD. All of these on SATA.
The problem was simple, constant corruption of data stored on the drive. We were trying to use this as additional storage for a video editing station; we constantly had video clips becoming corrupted during editing. I swapped drives with known good ones, and different brands. I purchased two additional cards for the unit, including a fairly pricy 'hardware' eSATA card (with it's own backup battery and cache memory). I used the raid cards to configure the drives, I used windows to configure the arrays as soft arrays. Nothing was reliable. I replaced the eSata cable twice. I even put a new UPS on the machine/drive. I spoke to startech and got very little real help but I think they were as confused as I was. They did at least try to help.
I could not even get reliable operation by running the drives as individuals on the eSata chain.
USB worked perfect but wasn't fast enough for my application. I ended up using it as a big offline backup drive and it works well for that. As others say, the lights are bright, the fan is quiet. The powersupply is a bit odd.
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