Verbatim 2-Disk Hard Drive review

£177
Price when reviewed

High-capacity storage devices are de rigueur these days, but this unassuming black box from Verbatim is the first personal desktop drive we’ve seen to offer an immense 2TB capacity. That’s more storage than you’ll get from any internal drive on the market.

As the name indicates, this feat is achieved by using a twin-drive array — in this case a pair of Western Digital WD10EAVS units. That’s a common trick, but Verbatim’s unit gives you an unusual degree of control, letting you choose between three array modes. By simply flicking a switch at the back you can select RAID0 striping for maximum speed, RAID1 mirroring for data redundancy or Verbatim’s own BIG mode, which concatenates the drives into one big logical volume.

The option of RAID1 is particularly welcome. Naturally, it halves your usable space, from 1.8TB down to 930GB under NTFS, but it adds another layer of data security that makes this a very attractive unit for local backups — perhaps using the bundled Nero BackItUp 2 Essentials package. Should one of the two drives fail, all you need to do is prise the cover off the unit and replace it with a new one of the same capacity and the array will be automatically recreated.

So, how does this huge drive perform? In short, very well. We tested it first with a USB connection and found that regardless of whether we chose RAID0, RAID1 or BIG mode the results were identical — no surprise, since here it’s the USB controller that’s the bottleneck. The drive was able to write 1,000 files totalling 100MB in eight seconds and read them back in five seconds, while a single 650MB file took 22 seconds to write and 20 seconds to read. Those are absolutely standard results for a desktop drive, and indicate that the Verbatim’s USB performance is effectively identical to that of our A-Listed Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus.

But you’re not limited to USB: the Verbatim 2-Disk Hard Drive is also equipped with eSATA, which as always provided a huge speed boost over USB in our tests. In RAID0 mode our 1,000 files were written in a preposterous 0.8 seconds, and read back in a mere 2.1 seconds — in both cases around half a second faster than the quickest performers we’ve previously seen, those being the Plextor Portable Hard Disk for writing and the Buffalo DriveStation Combo 4 for reading. The 650MB file took 5.0 seconds to write and 5.7 seconds to read, again a very impressive score.

And, pleasingly, switching to RAID1 or BIG mode yields only the tiniest slow-down, with our thousand-file test taking just a tenth of a second longer in both directions. The 650MB file took 6.4 seconds to write and 7.1 seconds to read — practically speaking, a negligible difference. For that reason, we don’t see any reason to choose the RAID0 setting. BIG mode gives you the same capacity, and while Verbatim is careful not to make any promises about fault tolerance, should a disk error befall you, you’re more likely to be able to salvage your data from a concatenated array than from a striped one.

Despite the Verbatim’s impressive performance, we’re left with two small reservations. One is about the switch that changes array modes: it’s recessed to reduce the risk of accidents, but if it does somehow inadvertently get flicked while the device is switched off, the next time you power up the unit it will immediately reconfigure the drives to the new array format — ditching your existing data in the process. The chances of that happening in everyday use may be extremely remote, but we’d be a lot happier if they were nonexistent.

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