USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable Reviewed by Barry Little - March 9, 2006 Manufacturer: Usb.brando.com.hk Product Code: UCABL000100 If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to transfer data from one hard drive to the next, or clone a pair of hard drives without having to open your PC case, then you’re going to love the subject of today’s review—the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable from Usb.brando.com.hk.

When I first received an E-Mail from Brando at Usb.brando.com.hk about the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, I was both intrigued and a bit skeptical at the claims of what the product could do:

The USB 2.0 to SATA / IDE Cable allows you to connect SATA or IDE devices to your computer via USB port, a very useful tool for data transfer, backup and cloning. The Hi-Speed USB interface provides an easy plug-and-play installation. It supports all SATA / IDE devices such as CD ROM, DVD ROM, CD-RW, DVD-RW, Combo drive, 2.5 inch hard disk and 3.5 hard disk. This new version USB 2.0-IDE cable differs from the common one in the market; it has an extraordinary feature which is Serial ATA hard disk compatible. Now you do not have to worry about the data in your old hard disk because the new version USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE cable helps to transfer data from IDE hard disk to SATA hard disk; it can work with SATA hard disk and IDE hard disk at the same time! Brando was gracious enough to send a review sample, and a few weeks later, a FedEx International package from Hong Kong was delivered to my doorstep.

Here's the box.

The features are listed on the back.

Let's see what's inside.

Here's the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable.

The USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable has connectors for 2.5" IDE, 3.5" IDE and SATA devices. Although you can't see it here, the plastic in the center section is translucent. You'll see why shortly.

Here's the AC Power Adapter...

...the Power Cord for the adapter.

A SATA (Serial ATA) Data Cable is included...

...as is a Molex-to-SATA Power Cable

A Driver CD and User Manual are also included. The manual is printed on both sides a single sheet of glossy paper in English...

The USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable comes in a clamshell-style box made of glossy, blue cardboard stock with red and white letters. A photo of the cable on the front of the box is displayed against a glowing "atomic” backdrop, accompanied by the official “Certified Hi-Speed USB 2.0” logo and a list of supported devices. On the back, you’ll find the features of the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable. The conservative, tasteful styling is a welcome change over products with gaudier designs. Once you open the box, you’ll find the following inside: ● ● ● ● ● USB to SATA / IDE cable SATA Cable SATA Power cord AC Power Adapter AC Power cable

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● Driver CD ● User's Manual

 

The USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable is a dongle made of tough plastic, with a 40-pin female IDE connector on one side; a female connector for 2.5” hard drives on the other, and a SATA (Serial ATA) data connector on the top. The cable is almost 3 feet in length (31 inches to be exact). Although not immediately obvious, the area in the center of the device where it says “IDE SATA TO USB” is translucent. When there is drive activity, a red LED underneath flashes and shines through—a nice touch that is both cool and practical, since the LED is protected from damage.

...as seen here. The CD has drivers for Windows 98.

While they are not included in the box, I also received a pair of European Power Cords.

Now that we have everything unpacked, let's get started.

The devices we'll be using for the test: A Western Digital Caviar 160 GB IDE Hard Drive; a Plextor CD Burner, and a Western Digital Raptor 74 GB SATA Hard Drive.

Plug the Power Cord into the AC Adapter.

Next, plug the SATA cable into the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable.

Plug the other end of the SATA cable into the hard drive...

...then the SATA Power Cable. Now all you need is a power outlet and a spare USB 2.0 jack.

If you're only going to use a single SATA drive with the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, you can also use the AC Adapter's Molex plug to provide power for the drive.

Here's the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable connected to the 160 GB IDE drive.

Drivers for Windows 98 and Mac OS 8.6 and higher, are included on the Mini-CD. Native support is already built into Windows 2000, ME and XP; so if you’re using one of those operating systems, you won't need to install drivers to use the cable. Instructions for the cable and installing the Windows 98 and Mac OS drivers, are printed in English on the other side of the “User’s Manual.”

The one thing that should have been, but wasn't included with the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable; an inexpensive Molex Power-Splitter Cable—also known as a Y-Cable.

As you can see here, you can't provide power to both IDE and SATA devices using the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, without a Y-Cable.

Both hard drives connected to my Athlon 64 3500+ Rig.

The USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable has an Activity LED that shines through the device. Cool!

Here are the two drives under the Safely Remove Hardware System Tray applet...

Using the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable couldn’t be easier. Plug the device into the appropriate connector—3.5” ATA/EIDE hard and optical into the 40-pin connector; 2.5” hard drives into the smaller connector on the opposite side of the 40-pin connector; and SATA drives via the enclosed SATA cable to the SATA connector on the top. Plug the 4-pin Molex connector from the AC Adapter into the drive. If you're only going to connect a single SATA hard drive to the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, using the supplied Molex-to-SATA power cable is optional, as you can also use the AC Adapter's 4-pin Molex plug with SATA drives as well. Plug the AC Adapter into an outlet and the USB cable into an available USB 2.0 port on your PC, and you’re all set once Windows detects the drive. The USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable can save you some work when upgrading. For example; your old system has a 200 GB IDE drive, and you’ve built a new system that will use a 400 GB SATA drive. Being cautious—as you should with upgrade of this type—you want to leave your old system intact and ready to fall back on, “just in case” an issue develops with the new one. Most retail hard drive kits include software that allows you to transfer everything from your old hard drive to the next. In order to do this, you must first remove your old hard drive and connect it to your new system. You’ll need an available data connector port on the new system's motherboard the appropriate data cable, and

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an available connector from the power supply, which usually isn't a problem. Although it doesn’t happen often, things can go wrong when moving hard drives between two machines.

...the Disk Management snapin under Computer Management...

...and under My Computer.

Let's see what happens when I boot the system with an Acronis True Image Rescue CD.

Here are the drives under the Backup Wizard.

...and the Disk Clone Wizard.

With the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, you simply connect your new hard drive to your old PC with the USB cable; transfer the contents of your old hard drive to the new one; pop the new drive in your new system, and you’re good to go. If a problem arises with the new system, you’ve old system is still up and running, so you’re not looking at any downtime while you troubleshoot any issues at your leisure—a much less stressful and aggravating scenario. Best of all, you never even had to open your old box, thanks to the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable. Here’s another example of how the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable can save you some grief. You’ve got important information burned on a DVDROM that you’ve got to get transferred to your laptop; but when you insert the disc into your laptop’s combo CD/DVD drive, it can’t read the disc. You try another disc that you know works—and it doesn’t—plus the drive is making this funky mechanical sound. Not good…

Let's try the Plextor CD Burner now.

Here's a closer look at how it's hooked up. Again, note the necessity of having a Y-cable if you're also going to have a second device connected.

Here's the Plextor Burner under the Safely Remove Hardware System Tray applet...

...Device Manager...

...and My Computer.

The data you need to transfer to your laptop is too big to fit on your USB Flash Drive. But you do have a DVD-ROM drive in the closet salvaged from another PC—and the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable. In minutes, you have the DVD-ROM drive from the PC connected to your laptop. Windows detects it in less time than that. You insert the disc into the drive, and copy the data to your laptop. Incidentally, the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable with your favorite disk cloning software is perfect if you’re planning on upgrading your current laptop hard drive with a larger, faster one. Where the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable really shines, is its ability to transfer data between two drives with different interfaces. Here’s one last example.

Using the File System Benchmark under Sandra Professional 2005, this is how the Western Digital 160 GB drive performed when connected to the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable.

Here's how the 10,000 RPM 74 GB Raptor SATA drive made out.

Let's see how the Plextor Burner stacks-up. I'll use a CD from Maximum PC, which has a good mix of both large and small files for the benchmark.

I used the Nero CD-DVD Speed utility to benchmark the Plextor.

Here's the results.

You’re cleaning out your stockpile of computer “junk” to toss or donate. You’ve got a 200 GB IDE drive and one of the original Western Digital 36 GB 10,000 RPM Raptor SATA drives (okay, you’ll put the drives—especially the Raptor—up for auction on eBay). You recall that there’s still data on both drives, and there’s no way you’re letting either one of them out of your possession until they’ve been wiped right down to the last bit. Normally, you’d have to open up your PC and hook each drive up and to run your disk clean-up software on them. Since you have the

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USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, you connect both drives to a USB port and run your disk-wiping software on both drives in the background to make sure they’re blank and squeaky clean, while you check eBay to see what a 36 GB Raptor will fetch on the market… Before we move on, I should point out that there’s just one catch to that last scenario: you’ll need a Molex Power Splitter Cable (or Y-Cable as it’s also called) to connect two devices to the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable. The good news is, most people who ticker around with PCs usually have one or two lying around. The bad news is, if you don’t ticker around with PCs and don’t have one or two lying around, you’ll have to get one—because it’s not included with the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable. Scrounging around in my “Spare Parts” inventory, I dug out the following hardware to test with the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable: ● Western Digital WD1600BB-00GUC0 Caviar 160 GB EIDE Hard Drive (5400 RPM, 2 MB Cache) ● Western Digital WD740GD-00FLA0 Raptor 74 GB SATA Hard Drive (10,000 RPM, 8 MB Cache) ● Plextor PX-W4012TA 40x CD-RW Drive My Athlon 64 3500+ Rig was used for the tests, along with the following: ● ● ● ● Acronis True Image 9.0 (Build 2337) SiSoftware Sandra 2005 Professional (Service Release 3) Nero Express 6 (OEM Version 6.3.1.26) Nero CD-DVD Speed (OEM Version 3.32)

In Sandra 2005, both hard drives were compared against a single 120 GB 7200 RPM ATA100 drive; several ATA100 drives connected to a USB 2.0 interface, and a 60 GB Firewire drive in Sandra’s database.

Just to make sure everything works, I'm going to clone the two 74 gig Raptors striped together in my rig to the WD 160 GB hard drive connected to the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable.

The Acronis Disk Clone Wizard.

Both drives check out OK. The cloning process will take place with a reboot.

Acronis Clone Disk running immediately after the reboot.

The cloning process completed successfully without error.

Finally, I'm going to test the Plextor burner and the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable with Nero Express.

First we'll select the Plextor for the target drive.

Next we'll select some files; a mix of digital photos, videos and MP3's.

Burning the files to the CD-R.

The files burned successfully and passed data verification. I was able to read the CD in all three of my systems without a problem.

Unlike some USB data transfer cables I've used before, I had absolutely no issues using any of the test drives together or individually with the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable. They were all detected as soon as they were plugged in, and I was able to stop and disconnect each one with the Safely Remove Hardware applet without a hitch, although it did take a bit longer for the applet to give the “OK to Remove” prompt with two devices connected to the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, than with a single device connected. Acronis True Image detected all of the test drives as valid target devices in Windows, and when booting from the True Image Rescue CD. The Nero OEM Suite installed on my rig had no problems with the older Plextor Burner. Cloning the 138 GB RAID 0 array in my Athlon 64 3500+ Rig with True Image, to the single 160 GB 5400 RPM EIDE hard drive through the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable took twenty minutes. Burning a 234.5 MB CD with Nero Express took 3 minutes and 2 seconds—including the data verification process. Not bad. In both instances, there were no data-corrupting glitches or problems I had experience with using other USB kits in the past. Benchmarking the hard drives with Sandra 2005 and the Plextor with Nero CD-DVD didn’t produce any surprises in terms of performance, or any problems, either. Overall, I was impressed with the results I got with the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable, which only has a few minor drawbacks. First, you cannot use it with two drives without a Molex Y-cable to power them. As cheap as Y-cables are, it makes no sense why one wasn’t included in the box. Again, it’s no big thing for someone who builds their own rigs, tinkers around with them on a regular basis who has a few on hand, but it should not be assumed that the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable will only be purchased by those types of users. Better to throw in a Y-cable and
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add whatever miniscule amount to the selling price, than inconvenience a first-time user who will find that he or she now has to go through the inconvenience of running down to the local computer store to buy one—or order a Y-cable online and pay shipping charges that usually cost more than the cable itself, just to get the promised functionality out of the product. Finally, if you want the added flexibility to be able to clone or transfer data between two hard drives with identical interfaces—two 3.5” SATA or two IDE drives—you’re going to need two USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cables, which will set you back seventy bucks. Not as expensive as a dedicated, hardware solution, but not “cheap” either. If you’re tempted to compare the functionality, performance and cost of the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable with a typical USB drive enclosure, keep in mind that’s not what the cable was designed for—its strength lies in its ability to backup, transfer or clone data between drives without having to go into your PC case to undo all those power and data cables you worked so hard to tuck away make neat, improve airflow and cooling. There are a lot of gadgets on the market that are nothing more than “solutions looking for a problem” hoping that you’ve got some spare cash burning a hole in your pocket. For thirty-five bucks and the convenience of not having to open your case and having the ability to work with a wide variety of devices, the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable is one of those truly useful tools that will pay for itself the first time you use it.

Barry's Rigs 'n Reviews would like to thank Brando at Usb.brando.com.hk for providing a USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable for review!

Final Score:

Summary: Highs: If you've ever wanted a quick and easy way to clone or transfer data between two hard drives without having to open your case or worry about whether you have enough available IDE/SATA/power connectors available, then the USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable is for you. Also supports CD/DVD-ROM drives, burners and 2.5" drives. Lows: A Molex Y-cable, which is necessary for powering a SATA hard drive and another IDE device at the same time, is not included in the kit. You'll need to buy two USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cables if you want to clone or transfer data between a pair of SATA drives.

USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Cable Manufactured by: Usb.brando.com.hk (usb.brando.com.hk) Distributed by: Usb.brando.com.hk (usb.brando.com.hk)

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Available at: Usb.brando.com.hk (usb.brando.com.hk) Specifications: ● USB 2.0 interface, 480Mbps high speed data transfer rate, 52x CD-ROM supported ● Hard-disk, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, CD-RW, COMBO device, DVD-RW supported; ● Plug and Play ● AC power can be used with input voltage AC 100v-240v; ● Support Windows 98SE, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP, Mac OS ● Under Windows 2000/Me/XP, no driver needed. Package: ● USB to SATA / IDE cable ● SATA Cable ● SATA Power cord ● AC Power Adapter(100-240v, 50-60Hz) ● AC Power cable ● Driver CD ● User's Manual Operating System: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 8.6 and higher. Important: an available USB 2.0 port is required. CD-ROM drive required for Windows 98 and Mac OS 8.6 driver installation.

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