Review Posted 4-25-16

Xcellon HDD-202 Introduction


Photographers, Videographers, visual creatives of all types are needing more and more storage on their computers these days in order to store their art. While there are certainly steps one can take to increase the storage capability of their computer, at some point, that is no longer an option or is prohibitively expensive to do so.

This is where nas solutions, portable drives, and drive bays like the Xcellon HDD-202 come in. The Xcellon HDD-202 is a RAID enabled 2 drive bay that allows users to add up to two hard drives or solid state drives to their computer externally.

Xcellon HDD-202

Design Tour

Xcellon HDD-202 Tech Specs

2 x 2.5″/3.5″ SATA I/II/III Drive Bays
Supports Drives Up to 8TB
1 x USB Type-C External Interface
RAID 0/1/JBOD/Span/Port Multiplier
Includes USB Type C-C and C-A Cables
UASP Support
Windows / Mac / Linux Compatible


The Top

The top of the HDD-202 is pretty simple; just two drive bays with plastic white flap cutouts for 2.5″ drives. These flap doors fold down into the unit completely when you insert a full size 3.5″ hard drive.


The Front

The front of the HDD-202 feature just four items; the Xcellon brand logo and three LED indicator lights. One for power and one for the status of each drive bay. The drive bay LEDs blink when that drive is being written to or read from.


The Back

The back of the HDD-202 is where you find all of its buttons, switches and connection ports. This unit features a power button, set button, 3 RAID switches, a USB-C port, and a power port.


Xcellon HDD-202

The Good & The Bad

 
The Good

HDD-202 Pros


As far as external hard drive docks go, the HDD-202 is about as standard as they come in most ways. The two real defining characteristics of the unit at this point are the RAID capability (which is not completely unique, but sets it apart from the more standard non-raid units) and the utilization of a USB-C connection, which sets it apart currently as most docks have USB-A or Thunderbolt. This will of course change as USB-C becomes more mainstream, but for now it’s a unique feature to this drive bay.

I really enjoyed my experience with the HDD-202, but here are some things that stood out:

  • Simple, minimal design
  • Bay cutouts for 2.5″ drives to better support those drives when connected
  • Excellent build quality
  • Built-In RAID compatibility
  • Future proof with USB-C connection


The Bad

HDD-202 Cons


Given the simplicity of the HDD-202, there is really not much to pick out about this unit as a con. That said, if I wanted to be nit-picky there are a few things that stand out as possible issues that one might encounter.

First being the RAID switches on the back. They are solid, yet unprotected, so if something hit them with enough force, you run the risk of losing all your data when the unit starts to reformat your drives to build the new RAID setup. In all reality, I feel like on a standard desk, with standard usage, this is a really unlikely scenario, that said; it is possible, so one could make note of that.

Another downside, but this is really a downside of most open air hard drive dock bays, is that when mechanical drives are in use they can get noisy. This depends on the drives you are using, but some drives can get quite loud when used in an open air bay like this. Noise is of course not an issue if you decide to use SSDs in the unit, but for mechanical drives, it’s something you should note.

The cons are few, but here they are listed out:

  • RAID switches unprotected, possibility for data loss if flipped accidentally
  • Mechanical drives can be loud in an open air unit like this
  • Included cables are too short, you will likely need to buy longer ones if you have your computer tower on the floor.


 

HDD-202 Speed Test Results

via Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
Kingston SSD Now V300 – 240GB

SSD Speed Test


SSD Specs: Kingston SSD Now V300 (Buy), 240GB Capacity, Advertized Max Speed 450 MBps Read & Write

The test was performed using this Kingston SSD. The drive was freshly formatted and contained no data. The HDD-202 was connected to my PC via a USB 3.0 Port.

According to Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test the HDD-202 was able to access this drive at:

Read Speed

420MB/s

(averaged after three test runs)

Write Speed

401MB/s

(averaged after three test runs)


So, slightly slower than the advertised drive speeds, but I would call it close enough that you are unlikely to notice the difference in all but the most demanding of situations.

HDD-202 Speed Test

HDD Speed Test Coming Soon

Xcellon HDD-202 Review

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

 

There are a ton of use cases for a drive bay like the Xcellon HDD-202; from simple storage expansion to data redundancy or data backup. A drive bay as simple and painless to use as the Xcellon HDD-202 is something that all creative professionals should consider when it’s time to consider new storage solutions.

I have found that I rarely use the RAID function on this drive bay, not because there are any issues with it, but because my workflow for the bay makes more sense without a RAID setup. You see, I use this as a way to separate out my image collections. One drive hold all my Lightroom catalogs for clients (yes, I set up a unique catalog for each client shoot) for a given year, and the other all my general Lightroom catalog for all my general and personal work in a given year. The data is backed up elsewhere on my system, but I use this enclosure to access images from previous years once they are no longer on my main system’s storage array.

This way if I need to access images from a client shoot two years ago, I can just grab my ‘archive copy’ of that years data drive and pop it into the HDD-202. Then simply allow the drive to be read and loaded up into Windows and voila’ access to those old files. Quickly and easily, too.

Obviously, there are other ways that one could utilize the HDD-202 to increase their storage, backup their data, or have some data redundancy but this is the way that I like to utilize this drive bay currently.

My experience with this unit has been flawless, I have had no issues accessing data, no problems with the RAID configurations when I tested them, overall it was about as painless of a product review as I have ever had.

This is definitely a product that I would recommend to anyone looking for something like this.

MSRP $99

HDD-202 Purchase Links

Order The HDD-202 Now From B&H Photo

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