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Dual-drive external USB storage for £20 - really?

Posted on 24th Mar 2010 at 11:46 by Richard Swinburne with 21 comments

Everyone needs a bit of extra storage, right? For those who can't afford expensive RAID arrays or want something more portable than just throwing in another internal hard drive, USB drives are always accessible.

While the Tsunami Ultimate II 3500 might look like any other USB drive caddy out there it does have one appealing hook: it's the cheapest dual-disk drive caddy on the market. At just £21, Tsunami assures us we'll find nothing cheaper - and as far as we can tell, it is right.

Dual-drive external USB storage for £20 - really? Tsunami Ultimate II 3500 two drive USB external storage
Click to enlarge

That said, being the cheapest doesn't always mean worth buying, and while we didn't expect much for an Adam Smith and some change, the Tsunami does in fact have a few interesting features.

Dual-drive external USB storage for £20 - really? Tsunami Ultimate II 3500 two drive USB external storage
Click to enlarge

The box says it sports both RAID 0/1 or JBOD for two SATA hard drives, however neither setting really worked like we expected. There's a strange switch on the back that selects between "big" and "JBOD" yet we couldn't actually find how to select either RAID mode. Instead of the JBOD setting morphing all the drives into one big one, it just shows them both independently - and they work separately as intended. Both can even be written to/read from at the same time, although you'll sacrifice performance because of the limited bandwidth USB 2 provides. There's no eSATA or USB 3 support, but to expect that for £20 would be unrealistic.

Dual-drive external USB storage for £20 - really? Tsunami Ultimate II 3500 two drive USB external storage
Click to enlarge

The outer shell is a lovely brushed aluminium finish, and in the box there's even a couple of replacement front and back covers in case you fancy something flashier than black!

Dual-drive external USB storage for £20 - really? Tsunami Ultimate II 3500 two drive USB external storage
Click to enlarge

It does have a fan in the back, but it's not too noisy - with a 7,200RPM drive inside you'll probably notice vibration more, especially given that the internal steel shell is directly screwed into the outer aluminium tube, which in turn just sits on your desk bare as there are no legs or rubber feet.

The Tsunami might not be the Ultimate product the name suggests - but it does provide some form of two disk external storage and it's undeniably great value.

21 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
yakyb 24th March 2010, 12:17 Quote
umm why would you want to use raid 0 over usb?

when you used the big switch what was the available drive space?
Krikkit 24th March 2010, 14:07 Quote
That looks pretty good to me, most folks aren't bothered for a fancy HDD caddy.
flibblesan 24th March 2010, 15:14 Quote
Seems alright for the price
Tuthmose 24th March 2010, 15:18 Quote
So, what happened when the switch was set to RAID? Anything different?

-Tuthmose
Yemerich 24th March 2010, 20:21 Quote
If it really can make a RAID 1 it would be a very worthy buy.
The_Beast 24th March 2010, 20:33 Quote
Very cool. I was going to buy a RAID 1 enclosure but considering RAID 1 isn't a backup I decided against it.
capnPedro 24th March 2010, 23:01 Quote
Quote:
Instead of the JBOD setting morphing all the drives into one big one, it just shows them both independently

Isn't that the point of Just a Bunch of Disks? Or am I misunderstanding the sentence? "JBOD" for independent drives, "big" for one big drive...
Farfalho 24th March 2010, 23:08 Quote
So... can it manage RAID or Big stands for Big Disappointment?
scott_chegg 24th March 2010, 23:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnPedro
Quote:
Instead of the JBOD setting morphing all the drives into one big one, it just shows them both independently

Isn't that the point of Just a Bunch of Disks? Or am I misunderstanding the sentence? "JBOD" for independent drives, "big" for one big drive...

Traditional JBOD presents the bunch of disks as one volume.
rickysio 25th March 2010, 05:25 Quote
What's the point of RAID over USB 2.0?!
MaverickWill 25th March 2010, 08:49 Quote
I'm guessing "big" is just JBOD as most people understand it - where multiple disks are stitched together as one big logical drive, but written to independantly. The "JBOD" setting of the switch sounds like no RAID whatsoever - just as if you'd plugged 2 hard drives into a machine.

So where does the RAID0/1 come into play?
Xir 25th March 2010, 09:11 Quote
How big is the power brick?

seeing i can get a single enclosure for less than half the price (10euros) it's not really that cheap.
Bindibadgi 25th March 2010, 11:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
How big is the power brick?

seeing i can get a single enclosure for less than half the price (10euros) it's not really that cheap.

But you can't buy a *dual* enclosure in the UK for this price. The power brick is a normal size. Not particularly big, but not very small either.
l3v1ck 25th March 2010, 12:01 Quote
When it comes to external drives, it's either got to be small and portable (this isn't) or be network attached (this isn't).
No sale here.
goldstar0011 25th March 2010, 14:01 Quote
Perfect product for me I think, have several spare HDD's about and always wanted reduce number of plugs in the wall, 2 HDD's in 1 box, WIN.
Performance not so important, for that I use the ones in the computer
capnPedro 25th March 2010, 21:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
But you can't buy a *dual* enclosure in the UK for this price. The power brick is a normal size. Not particularly big, but not very small either.

Since there doesn't seem to be any actual RAID going on, two enclosures, a USB hub and some duct tape on the other hand might be more price competitive...
BLC 26th March 2010, 06:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnPedro
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
But you can't buy a *dual* enclosure in the UK for this price. The power brick is a normal size. Not particularly big, but not very small either.

Since there doesn't seem to be any actual RAID going on, two enclosures, a USB hub and some duct tape on the other hand might be more price competitive...

But that needs two USB ports, this only needs one.

I gave up on external enclosures, no real need for them. I'd rather have the disks in my PC. USB sticks are large enough these days for any files I need to transport.
MrP 26th March 2010, 14:08 Quote
shame its too small to put a itx motherboard in :(
Jipa 27th March 2010, 12:05 Quote
Really I'm struggling to find patience to use even my 2,5" external HDD over USB, and that's only 120 GB. Maybe some people actually have use for painfully slow, huge external drive, but not me. Give a cheap dual drive box with Gb-ethernet or e-sata and I'll be impressed.
CampGareth 27th March 2010, 17:11 Quote
I don't see why people are complaining about USB bandwidth, I've got a cheapo HDD dock with a USB connection and I get 33.3MB/s from it, bearing in mind the drive in it normally goes at 60-80MB/s that's really not bad. As I use it over the network the bottleneck is usually in the network or sometimes it's some flash based device that I'm copying to.
johnny_wallace_uk 5th August 2010, 23:44 Quote
I've just bought and setup the Big / JBOD version of this enclosure (the RAID 0/1 this article talks about is on another version of the enclosure) for use with 2 x 2TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 EcoGreen drives.

In my case while it works fine in JBOD mode making both 2TB drives independently accessible, it does not appear to work as intended in Big mode.

In Big mode all Windows shows in Disk Management is a single disk of only 1678.03 GB in size, not the 3726 GB I was expecting. The 1678.03 GB is a very strange figure as it is less than the size of a single disk in JBOD mode (1863.02 GB). This happens whether the disk is set as an MBR disk in Windows XP or a GPT/GUID disk in WIndows 7. Same thing happens in Windows 7 if it's set as an MBR disk too.

Maybe it just doesn't like my 2TB Samsung Spinpoint F3EG disks in Big mode, so for me it's JBOD mode only - at least it saves on a power socket and a USB port compared to having two enclosures.
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