How to Choose the Best Data Duplication System

Data duplication systems not only protect company data, but also enable easier access and duplicate sensitive data with integrity.  So how do you know if you are purchasing the right system to ensure the reliability and safety of your company’s information?

Before you begin on your quest, you should first determine the intended application for your data duplication needs.  Are you purchasing a system for a company tasked with creating and maintaining a large quantity of portable and desktop computers, or are you an agency needing to perfectly clone a hard drive without compromising the data?

What to consider for large data duplication needs

Businesses, not matter what they are, thrive on data. Gathering information helps companies make informed decisions, improve production and help their customers. Hard disk duplication and cloning ensure a physical, and exact, copy of a drive or operating system. This type of data duplication is perfect for organizations with ever-growing datasets that need to be replicated across large volumes of computers. This method also ensures that an organization maintains the rights and easy access to its own information.

  • For high volume needs, consider a system capable of performing multiple operations simultaneously also known as “Multi-Session”
  • What is the maximum number of Suspect/Source drives that would need to be captured for any given assignment? Once you know this, be sure to choose a solution that can adjust to a growing need if necessary.

What’s right for error-free cloning and duplication

We live in a high-tech world, where much of our interaction is conducted through computers and technology.  And although this is a very positive thing, the digital realm is not without its problems, and can be a victim of malicious, criminal activity.

Today’s digital forensic duplication tools help capture, preserve and analyze evidence on digital devices, so connections between recovered information can be made, validated and then used in the chain of evidence.

When it comes to choosing the right disk duplicator to handle sensitive data, having full confidence in your data seizure and analysis process is crucial.  The following list gives you things to consider when choosing this type of system:

  • Do you need audit trail functions, which record and log results of the operations performed?
  • Does the system have a method of previewing a Suspect’s drive data in a write-protected environment?
  • Does the system offer a method to encrypt confidential data during duplication? If so, what methods are available to decrypt data on an encrypted drive? Is encryption performed using proven hardware acceleration or using software?
  • What Hash functions available? These functions assist with data integrity verification. Which Hash methods are available? How do the functions effect transfer rates?  Are the functions implemented through fast hardware or slower software?

Also, if your organization requires some special features not commonly available, like a special interface connector, choose a company that’s able to customize a solution for your particular needs. Make sure that the listed features and options come standard with original purchase, so you are getting the functionality you expect. And if you are a global company, choose a company with long term experience that offers support in the USA and internationally.

No matter what your application, these general considerations will give you the confidence to choose the right data duplication system:

Drive Technology:

  • Which drive interfaces need to be supported? Common drive interfaces, include PATA, SATA, SAS, USB, SCSI (Wide, Narrow, SCA80), FireWire, MicroSATA, ZIF and Fibre Channel. Choose a duplicator that can duplicate between the different drive mechanical and protocol formats, as well as physical electrical interfaces.
  • What mechanical form factors do the drives use? The most common form factors today are 3.5″, 2.5″, 1.8″ and M.2. Choose a duplicator that is flexible and can accommodate drives with proprietary form factors, like enclosed drives.
  • If ease of use is important, select a duplicator with an intuitive user-interface touch screen display and sophisticated software.

Technical Features:

  • Do you need a system that offers network connectivity, allowing images to be stored locally and on a shared Network folder?
  • Are tools available to capture data without the need to remove the storage system from the laptop, notebook or desktop PC?
  • Does the duplicator’s interface provide multi-language support?
  • For all current and future data acquisition tasks, the system transfer rate capability should be designed for current and future advanced drive technologies.
  • List the required capture formats that would be needed to perform the assigned tasks. Choose an acquisition system that offers the common capture formats, including Segmented and Encase file formats.
  • Do you want a system that provides a fault-free, write-protect environment for all ports where drives can be connected?

Mechanical Features:

  • If portability is important, is the system lightweight, compact and able to store most of its accessories in one hardened transport case?
  • Does the duplicator offer a cooling mechanism for the drives in use?
  • What is the duplicator made of? Is it metal or plastic? Metal provides improved EMI/RFI shielding.
  • Is there a way to secure adapter cables to the duplicator to avoid accidental disconnection during operation?

Service & Support:

  • Ask about the warranty and repair options offered. Be sure that repairs can be performed within a reasonable amount of time and spare parts can be obtained with short notice.
  • Find out what method is used to update the system’s software and Firmware. The upgrade process should be user-friendly and free of charge.

No matter your application, choosing the right data acquisition system is important.  It not only helps you to obtain valuable information and provide better control over your company’s performance, but it also helps to increase profitability and offer a quicker response to issues that may arise.

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