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I figured it would be easier to get a multi-bay docking station for my hard drives instead of buying separate enclosures for each one.

My question is this: if I docked two hard drives and wanted to transfer data between them, would the transfer speeds be any better/worse than if I was using two separate enclosures connected to two separate usb 3.0 ports?

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3 Answers 3

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USB bandwidth is shared among all the devices connected to each Hub. Thus, two drives connected to a single docking bay have to share that bandwidth to and from the computer. If you had the two drives connected to two separate USB ports (not on the same hub) you would see faster transfer speeds, since each drive would get the full bandwidth available to each USB port/hub.

Note, most USB port pairs on a motherboard are on the same hub. Sometimes even 4 ports together are on the same hub.

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If you are using USB 3.0 it is unlikely the two HDDs will saturate the bus, as such transferring between them should be similar to if they had dedicated bus to each device.

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Depends on the usb chip and firmware that is in the multi-bay docking station what actual transfer rate you will get from drive to drive in the same dock. This is next to impossible to determine unless you have the docking station to test.

Fortunately someone did this for one model of multi dock. Drive to drive in the same dock are in Bold

My experience shows that I get about a maximum of a gig or better per minute on large file transfers from one usb hard drive to another usb hard drive on separate hubs, so it looks like for this particular dock it is about twice as slow.

All files used in my test were .mp4 movie files.

Acer computer to Hitachi Drive 253MB copied in 19s 699MB copied in 34s

Acer computer to Western Digital Drive 253MB copied in 15s 699MB copied in 35s

Acer computer to Hitachi Drive using multiple files 1.35GB copied in 64s

Acer computer to Western Digital Drive using multiple files 1.35GB copied in 63s

Hitachi to Western Digital using multiple files 1.35GB copied in 119s

Western Digital to Hitach using multiple files 1.35GB copied in 122s

Hitachi Drive to Acer Computer 1.35GB copied in 59s

Western Digital Drive to Acer Computer 1.35GB copied in 59s

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