TrekStor DataStation duo w.u. 1TB Review

TrekStor DataStation duo w.u. 1TB

“The TrekStore DataStation duo w.u. 1 terabyte USB 2.0 hard drive is a strong performer.”
  • Well built; runs cool and quiet; comes with backup software
  • Lacks FireWire support; expensive compared to comparable drives

Summary

TrekStor, a respected hard drive and MP3 player manufacturer from southwest Germany, recently announced their DataStation duo w.u. 1 terabyte USB 2.0 hard drive. TrekStor makes excellent use of the age-old German-engineering stereotype by producing an external hard drive that looks sleek, can easily store a few thousand home movies, and feels like it could, with one solid blow, disable a Panzer tank. We took the $329.99 USD DataStation duo w.u. on a test drive to see if it’s something we’d recommend to you. Continue reading for specifics on the drive, its storage and performance results, and our final opinion.

Features and Design

TrekStor’s DataStation duo w.u. 1 terabyte USB 2.0 drive is a sleek, satin-black, monolithic external hard drive. It has a slightly trapezoidal shape — just slightly wider at the top than the bottom — and bears an accidental resemblance to a metal brick. The drive is, of course, made of aluminum, so it’s sturdy and can dissipate heat quickly. On the front of the drive are two buttons: one for power and one for quick backup functions tied to the included software, Nero’s "BACKitUP 2 Essentials." On the back side of the drive, you’ll find the power input, a single USB 2.0 port, and the fan vent. Yes, a fan vent — this means that the DataStation duo w.u. dissipates heat through its aluminum body AND gains extra cooling from a built-in fan. Danke, TrekStor!

Packaging

A very important part of product marketing (aside from the quality and function of the product itself) is packaging. Apple and Nespresso, for example, are two companies that completely understand and excel at quality packaging. The TrekStor DataStation duo w.u. drive comes in a plastic-coated cardboard box (common to most external hard drive packaging); however, the coating process looks like it was done on the cheap, because the plastic was peeling away at every crease. Again, this is really only a cosmetic issue, but it’s a slight letdown when packaging looks tattered and cheap. 

Power Supply

The DataStation duo w.u. has two Samsung 500GB hard drives inside, and therefore requires a solid dose of electricity to power everything up. Because of this, the external power brick is rather large, weighing 1.25 pounds. The cord length (from wall to drive) extends roughly 13 feet.

For reference, the drive itself weighs just under 5 pounds. When you hold it in your hands, you can really feel the weight of all those documents and photos stored on the drive! 

High Speed USB

The DataStation uses USB 2.0 for its conection to your computer(s). This is a positive selling point for most consumers, but for some folks — Mac-using audio/video specialists, for example — an external drive needs to have Firewire 400 or 800 connections to be considered 100% robust. If you rarely (or never) touch Firewire, then the DataStation duo w.u. will probably be an excellent choice for your voluminous storage needs. If Firewire is important, or if you think it’s in your immediate future, you’ll need to look for another drive.

Trekstor Data Station
The DataStation duo w.u. has a minimalistic look

Setup and Use

As with most external hard drives, setting up the DataStation duo w.u. drive is very easy. Remove all the components from the packaging and set the drive on a desk or table. Plug the power adapter into the back of the drive enclosure and then plug the other end of the cable into a wall outlet. Connect the drive by USB (cable included) to an open USB port on your computer. To power the drive up, push the large black button on the front. The button will light up blue to indicate that it’s powered up. A few moments later, the "TREKSTOR" drive will show up in Windows Explorer (Windows systems) or on your desktop (Mac systems).

Software & Drivers

As mentioned above, the DataStation duo w.u. comes with Nero "BACKitUP 2 Essentials" for use with Windows systems. As for drivers, if you’re using an older operating system like Windows 98SE or Windows Me, you’ll need to install drivers from the included CD. You’ll also want to consider coming out of the Ice Age with your software. No need to jump to Vista — you can get XP Pro or XP Home really cheap these days. For those of us not using 98SE, Sansabelts, and 8-tracks, the DataStation duo w.u. will instantly show up as an available drive. 

While the BACKitUP software isn’t obligatory, you may find that it’s very helpful and convenient for making automatic backups of your Windows system. If you find yourself struggling to wade through the long and arduous task of backing up multiple directories, certainly check the software out. Once configured, it scales a tedious, mind-numbing process down to a painless, brainless push of a button.

OS Neutrality

The TrekStor DataStation duo w.u. works equally well with most common operating systems, including Windows Vista, XP, 2000, Me, and 98SE, Mac OS X 10.3.x and above, as well as Linux systems using Kernel 2.6.x and above. No matter which OS you use, you’ll simply need a USB 2.0 port. 

One Terabyte

The DataStation duo w.u. 1TB drive offers 931.52GB of actual useable space when given an NTFS format. When formatted in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) mode, the DataStation duo w.u. gives 931.40GB of storage space. This post-format discrepancy is normal. Even though you don’t get 1,000GB of actual storage space, the 1TB drive offers plenty of room for most storage needs. 

Trekstor DataStation
The back of the Datastation reveals the fan, USB and power interface

Der Maximale Datentransferrate

According to the all-German documentation, the maximum Lesen (read) rate is 24.5MB/s and the maximum Schreiben (write) rate is 16MB/s. The drive has a 16MB buffer (8MB per drive) and an average seek time of 13.7 ms.

When we tested the DataStation duo w.u. transfer speeds, here’s what we experienced:

Write to TREKSTOR:
700MB video file (1 file) – 40 seconds = 17.5MB/s (109% spec)
2.4GB RAW & JPG photos (331 files) – 2 minutes, 33 seconds = 16.4MB/s (102% spec)
1.0GB DOC & small JPG files (17,600 files) – 2 minutes, 2 seconds = 8.2MB/s (51% spec)

Restore from TREKSTOR:
700MB video file (1 file) – 32 seconds = 21.9MB/s (91% spec)
2.4GB RAW & JPG photos (331 files) – 2 minutes, 1 second = 20.8MB/s (87% spec)
1.0GB DOC & small JPG files (17,600 files) – 1 minute, 59 seconds = 8.4MB/s (35% spec)

These speeds were achieved with a MacBook Pro, 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM, and 160GB perpendicular HDD at 5,400rpm. Transfers to/from different types of computers may result in varying speeds.

Noise Factor

While there are no specific stats on noise levels produced by the DataStation duo w.u., it runs very quietly when transferring data and when at rest. It’s audible, but certainly not loud. In comparison, the DataStation duo w.u. is slightly louder than a LaCie mini drive we tested, and it’s much quieter than a Maxtor external drive tested. TrekStor’s website says that it’s "silent while operating." I think "very, very quiet" is more accurate.

Skid Marks

One minor annoyance with the TrekStor DataStation duo w.u. is the little skid marks left all over my desk after moving the drive around. It seems that the rubber feet placed on the bottom of the drive housing to dampen noise and vibration are a little softer than average. The skid marks are easy to clean up; a little wet wipe or paper towel does the job. But, still — this shouldn’t happen.

Parallels

Using the DataStation duo w.u. 1TB drive under Parallels ended up troublesome. The DataStation duo w.u. was recognized as an external drive by XP Pro, but never showed up in Windows Explorer or XP’s Disk Management utility. This may be an issue with Parallels reading 1TB drives. Under Windows XP Pro (not virtualized), the DataStation duo w.u. instantly showed up and was accessible.

Conclusion

The TrekStore DataStation duo w.u. 1 terabyte USB 2.0 hard drive is a strong performer. Even though it costs about 20% more than other USB-only 1 terabyte drives, the DataStation duo w.u. has a greater feel of solidity and stability than the competition. This may not matter to some budget-minded folks, but others are willing to pay a few extra dollars for peace of mind.

The DataStation duo w.u. looks good, would probably survive an air raid, and keeps a relatively slim profile for such a large amount of storage space. It’s easy to recommend the DataStation duo w.u. to folks who need a terabyte drive.

The lack of Firewire ports was certainly a disappointment; however, USB 2.0 is arguably the most common type of data connection worldwide. Given this fact, a USB-only drive like this is perfect for many consumers.

Pros:

• Solid and well built
• Runs cool and quiet
• 931GB usable storage space
• Comes with backup software (Windows) and USB 2.0 cable

Cons:

• Occasional sub-par write speeds
• No Firewire ports
• Rubber feet leave skid marks on desks
• Higher price than other 1TB USB-only drives

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