It used to be that segregating project assets was a real pain. Sure, some of us (and you know who you are!) would install removable hard drive cases, but confess: Most of us never went to the trouble. As a result, one hard drive (or several) would become a morass of media, project files, graphics, and all the assorted detritus that goes along with non-linear editing. But help is here.
When SATA drives started replacing IDE drives about three years ago, we all rejoiced with the increased throughput, but initially the drives were locked inside your computer case. Then came external SATA (abbreviated as eSATA) and suddenly the power came out of the box. (Of course, with power comes responsibility and potential danger, as this article by Adam Wilt attests to.) Still, the potential offered by external SATA drives and plummeting hard drive costs is irresistible to a messy, disorganized guy like me. And the Vantec eSATA Hard Drive Dock makes it all work.
The Vantec is a plastic box, about 5″x3″x4″. On the top you’ll find a slot that is just about the same dimensions as a raw hard drive, with an insert that mimics the size of a 2.5″ laptop hard drive. There are only three connectors on the Vantec – a plug for the external power supply, and USB2 and eSATA jacks. While USB2 is certainly ubiquitous and easy to use, if you want to edit directly onto this drive, you really should use eSATA, which has been shown in real-world testing to have over twice the throughput as USB2. Of course, few computers feature eSATA ports right out of the box, so you will probably have to invest around $30 for a PCI Express eSATA card (advice: Get a card with more than one eSATA port – once you start using these things, you are going to want more, and they are not chainable.)
There is basically nothing to using the Vantec box – with both the computer and the Vantec’s power off, plug in the eSATA connectors, power up the Vantec and then your computer. If you are using a virgin hard drive, you will likely have to format it, but once you do there is nothing else to think about. I use the Vantec and several hard drives to keep all my various client’s work segregated and backed-up, so once you get into this routine you will sleep easier. (And it should go without saying that this would be a neat and easy way to do regular OS backups of your computer as well.) For a measly sum of $40, this is a great way to get your editing more organized and more backed up as well.