8.3 Frame/Carrier-Based Removable Hard Disk Drives
Before you buy a cartridge-based removable hard disk drive, consider instead buying a chassis that converts a standard 3.5" hard drive into a removable drive. Such products as the StorCase Data Express, shown in Figure 8-2, are available for IDE and SCSI hard drives (http://www.storcase.com/dexpress). Antec manufactures similar removable hard disk enclosures, called the DataSwap series (http://www.antec-inc.com/data_swap.html). These products comprise a drive carrier into which a standard hard drive is inserted, and a receiving frame that installs in a standard 5.25" drive bay and accepts the drive carrier. If you need to move data between systems, you can purchase additional receiving frames separately. Similarly, if you need to use multiple hard drives in one system, you can buy drive carriers separately.
Figure 8-2. StorCase Data Express DE-100 frame, with carrier partially inserted
Relative to cartridge-based drives, the chief advantages of frame/carrier removable hard disk drives are that they provide the capacity and performance of a standard hard drive because they use a standard hard drive, and that there are no special compatibility or configuration issues, again because they use standard hard drives, which are recognized as such by the computer. The disadvantage is that each "cartridge" comprises a carrier and a standard hard drive, which together cost more than a Jaz cartridge and much more than an ORB cartridge, albeit while providing much higher performance and up to 50 times the capacity.
Our favorite frame/carrier system is the StorCase Data Express, which is available in all standard hard drive interfaces, and with various options such as support for hot-swapping. The Antec DataSwap units are a step down from the StorCase units, both in price and functionality, but are readily available and quite usable if your needs are modest.
There is considerable overlap in application between cartridge-based and frame/carrier units. The frame/carrier units are clearly inappropriate for laptop applications or where low cartridge cost is paramount, but for all other uses we prefer the frame/carrier units to the cartridge-based units.