Combo Hard Drive Tutorial


Historically removable storage was limited to technology such as floppy disks, ZIP, REV, and SuperDisk. These types of storage media quickly began to show their age through low storage capacities and high price per megabyte ratio. More recently, flash memory cards such as Compact Flash, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick became the standard form of removable data storage for all kinds of digital peripherals, including cameras and camcorders, cell phones, and digital audio players. While these forms of flash media featured much-improved storage capacities up to 128GB (Compact Flash), the limited capacity and price hardly satisfied the tremendous storage requirements of modern computer users.

On the other hand, hard disk drives constantly increased in speed, storage capacity, and cost efficiency. The maximum capacity of a 3.5" Serial ATA hard drive is now at 2TB, a 2.5" Serial ATA hard drive at 750GB, both of which can be purchased for below $200. Unfortunately, a traditional hard drive is designed to be installed as permanent data storage inside of a computer, and does not support the external connectivity options and hot swap capabilities of removable storage. Many data storage vendors have attempted to circumvent this limitation with removable drive systems, which provide the convenience of inserting and removing bare hard drives or hard drives installed onto drive trays. While this approach improved the usability of a hard drive by allowing them to be used on any desktop system with a compatible drive cradle installed, these removable drive systems cannot be installed into notebook computers, or smaller desktop computers which do not contain any open drive bays. There are also concerns that bare hard drives are not designed for portability due to the circuitry beneath the hard drive and the risk of electric shock.

Addonics Combo Hard Drive

With the introduction of the Addonics Drive Cartridge (ADC), hard disk drives placed into drive cartridges became removable storage media with the benefits of the latest computer interface standards such as SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) and USB (Universal Serial Bus). The Addonics Combo Hard Drive takes the flexibility of the Drive Cartridge a step further, enabling hard drives to be used both as part of a removable drive system as well as a standalone external hard drive. Depending on the hard drive kit used, both IDE and SATA hard drives are supported in the standard 3.5" (Desktop) and 2.5" (Notebook) form factors. When used as an external drive, a hard drive can connect to computer via USB, Firewire, or even the latest eSATA and USB 3.0 interfaces which meets the high throughput requirements of modern data consumers without requiring the hard drive to be installed internally.

Combo Hard Drive as a removable drive system   Combo Hard Drive enclosure used externally

Designed with modular concept, the combo hard drive components are similar to Lego blocks that can be mixed and matched in endless possibilities to meet practically any storage applications. Since all the components are interchangeable, no matter what solution you start with, you can always expand or change by adding the same or different components as needs arise. You can use the drive enclosure as an external hard drive, as a removable hard drive or as a drive cartridge. You can even mix SATA and IDE hard drive, with or without encryption, into the same drive bay, totally transparent to the user. The design philosophy of the combo hard drive solution is to enable you to read/write to your hard drive with practically any computing device, both legacy and new systems.

Depending on it's configuration, a Combo Hard Drive can be:

  • Drive Cartridge System - Hot swappable removable drive cartridge, connecting to the computer internally through SATA or USB.
  • Mobile Rack - Cold swap removable drive cartridge, connecting to the computer internally through IDE or SCSI.
  • External Hard Drive - Standalone drive enclosure connecting to a computer externally through eSATA, Firewire, and USB.

An excellent choice for data backup and safe storage

The Combo Hard Drive is an excellent choice for backing up data and keeping it safe from loss or theft. With the drive cartridge installed into the drive cradle, data backup software or RAID configurations can be configured to backup important data onto the drive cartridge. The drive cartridge can then be easily removed from the system and taken home for safekeeping. At home, data on the drive cartridge can still be accessed as an external drive by connecting a power adapter and an external data cable. With an encrypted drive cartridge, the contents of the hard drive cannot be read unless the correct cipher key is inserted, preventing confidential information from being stolen.

Support for encryption

The convenience of external hard drive, portable storage and the increasing amount of data stored onto hard drives have also introduced an increasing risk of exposing sensitive data. To safe guard the sensitive confidential and personal information, many private and public organizations have implemented various software and hardware encryption. Most software or hardware data encryption products in the market are based on the industry standard proven data encryption algorithms - AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), DES (Data Encryption Standard) and TDES (Triple DES) that are certified by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) of USA and CSE (Communications Security Establishment) of Canada. To learn more detail on data encryption and its various industrial standards, please visit the following URL link

The hardware encryption solution implemented by the Addonics Combo Hard Drive is by far the most secure and simplest to deploy, particularly for large organizations. Below are some of key benefits of Addonics hardware encryption products:

  • High performance - Data is encrypted and decrypted on the fly by a certified cryptographic engine inside an ASIC without taking any CPU resources as in the case of software encryption. There is no noticeable performance difference between an Addonics hardware encrypted hard drive and a regular hard drive.
  • Platform independency - There is no software or driver to install to use Addonics encryption products. As a result, it can be deployed in any system running any OS. This is important in organization with multi-platform computing and legacy systems.
  • No training required - There is no password to remember nor running any special program commands. The Addonics encryption solution is truly plug and play. Encryption and decryption are all controlled by a physical key (Cipher key).
  • Data portability - Unlike many software or hardware products that limit accessing the encrypted hard drive to certain specified computer system, Addonics encrypted storage device can be accessed by practically any system while still maintaining high level of security. For example, the Addonics' Diamond Cipher or Ruby Cipher drive enclosure with an encrypted hard drive can be attached to any systems externally via eSATA or USB ports. As long as you have the Cipher key with you, you can access the hard drive.
  • Low TCO (Total cost of ownership) - With hardware based encryption, there is no IT maintenance required, no software version to maintain nor any updates to keep track of.