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A hard drive duplicator is a stand-alone device used to clone hard drives quickly, easily, and with complete accuracy. It can transfer the data to a new hard drive or store it for archival purposes. A hard drive duplicator might also allow for renaming partitions or remapping drives to avoid corrupted areas where data might be lost.
A hard drive duplicator can be a tower-like module capable of cloning several hard drives at once, or a mobile handheld device. Some models require the hard disk to be removed from the PC or laptop and inserted into duplicator. Alternately, a 40-pin IDE cable, USB, PCMCIA, or parallel interface comes with many models, providing more flexibility by allowing the user to simply plug the duplicator into the computer. Operating system-independent, a duplicator works equally well cloning any environment, including Unix, Linux, Windows and Macintosh. It can copy RAID arrays or conventional single or multi-drive systems and reproduce the content faithfully, whether the source disk is FAT (File Allocation Table) 16/32 or NTFS (New Technology File System) formatted.
With the 40-pin IDE interface, transfer speeds on some models can reach three gigabytes per minute or more. This makes a hard drive duplicator an ideal tool for computer technicians. In the shop or on site, an HDD duplicator allows a tech to swap out failing or troublesome hard drives and replace them with fresh, reconstituted drives. Dealers, system builders, data recovery departments, and MIS/IT (Management Information Systems/Information Technology) departments also benefit from hard drive duplicators.
Law enforcement makes use of hard drive duplicators for forensic purposes. Models sold specifically for this target market include chain of evidence features and the ability to scan for words, phone numbers, or other information on the fly.
A hard drive duplicator can be used for a multitude of applications and is reliable, fast, and convenient. Prices vary between models according to features, capacity, speed, and other considerations, but start at about US$500 and extend all the way to several thousand dollars. As with other computer products, hard drive duplicators are likely to come down in price as the cost of technology decreases.