BytePac: the cardboard hard disk enclosure

8 Feb 2012

Say hello to the BytePac. It's a hard disk caddy made entirely out of 100% recyclable material (yes, cardboard), but before you jump to any rash, mocking conclusions - as half the office did when it arrived - let me explain how it works.

Pull off the outer sleeve and open the box, and inside there's room for a 3.5in hard disk (or 2.5in with the included card "adapter") to sit snugly. At the connection end the box has a flap through which you plug the combined power-and-SATA connector, the other end of which goes to both the mains and to either an eSATA or USB port on your PC. That's all you need to get the drive running, then simply fold back a ventilation flap on the rear of the box, which doubles up as a stand to prop the drive up off the desk.

This video shows it off neatly. For a cardboard box, it's actually rather elegant.

The question you might be asking is: why? The BytePac is billed as an alternative to external hard disks, but it's not as robust as proper external drives, nor is it particularly thin and light. Few people will buy a disk specifically to use in a BytePac when far sleeker solutions are so common.

However, it's best viewed as an attractive and simple archiving system. Once you've bought your first kit with its power box and set of cables (three empty boxes, one cable set, £34), you can simply buy more empty boxes (around £4 each) as and when you need them. Put an old disk in each, sensibly label the side of the box and stack them on a shelf as you would a collection of books. When you need some old data, just pull out the relevant BytePac and plug the cable in - the disk itself need never see the light of day.

You may already have your own archiving setup, and you may be wary of entrusting your valuable data to a cardboard box. But the BytePac is a cheap way to archive a large number of disks, it's environmentally friendly, and it won't look like it's worth nicking if the burglars come round.

I've got one here that I'll be playing with this week, and several people in the office have already made their minds up one way or the other, but I'm interested to hear what you think. Is the BytePac a neat archiving innovation or a piece of cheap tat?