Sans Digital MobileSTOR MS2UTN+
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 04-19-2008
Provided by: Sans Digital

The only quirk I discovered with the MobileSTOR device is that any drive mode that uses some form of mirrored RAID1 volume (SAFE, SAFE33, SAFE50) takes forever to initialize the second drive. Any time you change the storage type using the rear selector dial you must then reset the device for the change to take effect. Once the "boot up" is complete and the self test passes, the RAID array will begin building. This only happens with RAID1 types, not RAID0. During the building process, the bottom mirror drive light will alternate between blue and red LED status and access speed to the volume is significantly reduced. With the 300GB drive I used, the build took somewhere between two to five hours to complete. I don't know for sure because after two hours I got tired of watching the light blink blue, red, blue, red and went and did something else. When I came back three hours later both lights were blue and I was able to access the drive as normal. This seems an unusually long time to wait for an array to build given that the drives were empty of data and there should have been nothing to copy.


I am thoroughly impressed with the Sans Digital MobileSTOR product. Unlike most external drive manufacturers, who only seem to offer multiple versions of the same product with different size, shape, style and color cases, Sans Digital seems to be focused more on offering features, not looks. Not to say that the MS2UTN+ is unattractive, in fact I think the silver finish aluminum case and locking drive trays offer a very clean, stylish appearance. If you check out some of the other MobileSTOR product line you'll see that all of the models share pretty much the same styling. They even use the same drive trays in all of them, although some of the models do offer a black finish in addition to the silver version. But what they do give you is a variety of features, anywhere from one to four drives, with or without RAID, different interfaces such as USB only, USB/Firewire, USB/eSATA, etc.

There are two RAID options on the MS2UTN+ that aren't commonly found on most other manufacturer's storage devices which I have not encountered before: SAFE33 and SAFE50. These split the total drive capacity into two volumes, one RAID1 array of either one third or one half of the disk space, with the remaining used for spanning. This is handy for those who need some room for critical data but don't want to sacrifice half of their disk space to do it. This is also useful if you have small important files and large not-so-important ones. Also I would like to point out that Sans Digital's definition of JBOD treats each disk separately as an individual logical volume, and uses the term BIG to indicate a spanned, concatenated array. Other manufacturers seem to have taken to referring to JBOD in this way lately as well, so this is just something to be aware of if you are used to JBOD being a single logical volume.

I found the MS2UTN+ available online for around $130 which is probably a little less than average cost for a dual drive RAID enclosure. For the high quality and attractive styling of the MobileSTOR line as well as the features the MS2UTN+ offers, including all the bundled accessories and software, that price seems very good indeed. Other MobileSTOR products range in price anywhere from around $60 up to a high-end $500 model that offers quad drives with RAID5 and 10 options. Sans Digital also has other product lines for enterprise users with standalone and rack-mount storage devices, both DAS and NAS, so if you're in the market for an external storage drive enclosure, chances are they have something that fits your needs.

The Sans Digital MobileSTOR MS2UTN+ earns the Seal of Approval.

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