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Posted on February 8th, 2012 by David Bayon

BytePac: the cardboard hard disk enclosure

BytePac

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.

BytePac

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?

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Posted in: Green, Hardware, Just in

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35 Responses to “ BytePac: the cardboard hard disk enclosure ”

  1. Gilbert Midonnet Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    It’s an excellent temporary solution. In a few years we’ll all have a 100 million terrabyte drives in our pockets and hopefully that will be enough space. On second thought 100 million terrabytes might not be enough – make that 100 million petabytes.

    So how long will it take us to get there? 20 years? 10? OK, the BytePac will hold me until then.

     
  2. Tim Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    It’s a good idea – especially if you keep your MacBook in a manilla envelope.

     
  3. Ralph Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Cool, just what I have been waiting for. I still have 2 hard disks from my old PC’s somewhere at my desk. Very messy – my wife will love this box ! And it seems easy to handle. Something where I do not need a screwdriver for. Is it a USB 2 or USB 3 connector that comes with it.

     
  4. JeffG Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Just make sure you don’t put it in the cardboard recycling bin

     
  5. Pat Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I do believe this is a great solution. I will go directly to buy one for me and one for my boyfriend… St. Valentine’s is approaching..

     
  6. JohnAHind Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Given that a HD typically costs less per GB that a tape CARTRIDGE, this is a great idea. Is there any reliable data on storage longevity of powered-down HD units?

    Even if the box just provides some mechanical protection and a surface for labelling, this seems an excellent idea.

     
  7. JohnAHind Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    @Pat,
    And they say romance is dead!

     
  8. WilliamW Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Perfect – and not just for shelf storage. I sometimes have had a spare disk hanging off a motherboard (eg when rescuing a system or transferring data) and a cardboard box would have been ideal.

     
  9. Bob M Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Terrific idea, love it!

     
  10. Robert Weiss Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    It is a very clever Idea. A simple solution to a common issue.

    Not only is it neater but the box provide protection to the PCB on the underside of the drive. I have several spare drives ranging from 320GB to 500GB. They are big enough to make it worth my while keeping them but buying conventional caddies would be quite expensive. This is a cost effective solution and such a simple idea.

     
  11. Andrew S Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    No PATA connectivity, I was getting all excited until I realised most of my old HDs were parallel!!

     
  12. Philipp Werlenheimer Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    This is actually a really great and at the same time simple solution. I have a lot of hard drives I only use from time to time, so I consider buying it. Interesting is also the fact you can use it like a digital book.
    I like it <3

     
  13. Stuart Halliday Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    OK, why does he pronounce it SAD-TA, when it’s SAT-A.
    :)

     
  14. Ronald A Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    If this was posted on April 1st I’d say pull the other one :)

     
  15. Marcel Benoit Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Looks cool, will the test results be published here ? I would like to know how easy the handling is. Is it really just pick the pack from the shelf, plug the cable and access the data ? Or is it more complicated.

     
  16. John Vickers Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I love the idea – keeps everything neat and tidy. Also, should help keep the drive from collecting dust and decreasing the connector connection quality (as well as ensuring the PCB is safe).

    Now, if only they made them for the various sound card and graphic cards I have laying around…

     
  17. Josefov Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Not only a great idea for storing and utilising drives but have you ever seen a product that is its own packaging? :D

     
  18. JohnH Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Wish I’d thought of it. Such a simple and cheap solution

     
  19. lgm Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Great idea. Currently I have four old computers all maxed out with hardrives and for most of their lives, parked in the loft. When needed they are put next to my current computer which has splitter cables for keyboard etc.

    This must be a better life!

     
  20. AlexC Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Not convinced, what about the fire risk.

     
  21. Tom Adamson Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Cute
    BUT
    not safe (fire risk)
    not CE marked (can’t pass the relevant safety standards)
    not legal to sell in the UK

    Interesting that they are selling them, I wonder if trading standards are aware of this?

     
  22. Steve T Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Hmmm.

    So, it’s still a SATA connector and PSU, but with additional cardboard boxes.

    I like the idea – I’ll probably look at buying these in the future, but…

    You can also buy the same, without the cardboard box, as a SATA (and PATA) dock station. So, that’s the same amount of plastic and circuitry, without the cardboard box – which is even greener! :)

     
  23. Katsu999 Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Good idea, but if you really need a PATA version, just get the stanley knife out and make the flap bigger. Oh, and like a box of matches it’s as fire-proof as it needs to be – except maybe in the hands of arsonists or idiots. You can’t legislate against every possible human action surely? Maybe keep it in a bucket of water if you’re that worried?

     
  24. Steve A Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Lol,

    “and it won’t look like it’s worth nicking if the burglars come round.”

    Apart from the fact that it’s got BYTE PAC emblazoned all over it.

     
  25. NPB Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    @SteveA: However, you now know how to make your own, as plain or over-decorated as you like…

     
  26. Steve A Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    @NPB

    What do you think this is, Blue Peter?
    ;-)

     
  27. Marcel Benoit Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    @Tom Adamson
    Tom – fire risk ??? Come on, paper does not start to burn before 230° C – if your drive heats up to that temperature then well – not safe, CE mark ??? on a carton box ??? That’s even new for me. The electronic components should have a CE mark – I don’t even think that the cables need one. But I’m not the CE expert.

     
  28. Peter Colin Says:
    February 12th, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Amazing! I will order one now at Amazon.

     
  29. Andrew Cruze Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    It’s different but I cant help but think its an ecomentalists dream rather than an actual practical solution.
    I certainly wouldn’t want to spill a cup of tea anywhere near it.

     
  30. Auden Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    @Andrew, I do not even want to spill coffee on my Seagate drive. Coffee, Tea or Water is never good on any electronic device. But I belief that the impact on a bytepac will be less then on an traditional external disc drive. Since the complete electronic is outside of the box your coffee or tea will only do a limited impact on the pac. I googled for bytepac and water and found a German website called TechReview – with google translator I did understood that they made several tests. Throw the box 7 times from a table and then hold it for several seconds under a running water tap. I’m sure no one ever would try this with a traditional external housing, but surprise – the bytepac managed all these torturers. The pictures and the test can be found here (remember you may need to activate the google translator) http://http://www.tech-review.de/include.php?path=content/articles.php&contentid=13717&page=3 – I think this is a great product ! By the way, the pack comes with a 5 year warranty. Thats 3 years more then my old Seagate external disk drive has.

     
  31. Auden Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Sorry – typo …

    http://www.tech-review.de/include.php?path=content/articles.php&contentid=13717&page=3

     
  32. david Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    As i am rather good at Origami i don’t need to buy one.

     
  33. Tim Says:
    February 23rd, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Great.

    Except that all my old hard disks are IDE, of course….

     
  34. Ralph Says:
    February 24th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    @Tim, you just need to use the IDE kit instead – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007BDLV1Q

     
  35. Armchair General Says:
    March 26th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    As for the comments on durability, safety, CE marking, and so on… Nobody in the UK cares about these things now, they only care about price. These “troublesome” and “expensive” manufacturing standards are very 1990s/2000s.

     

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