Greystone unit eases hard drive transfers

Greystone Peripherals Inc. next month will begin shipping a handheld device that can copy data from one hard drive onto another, a capability that company officials hope will be welcome among white-collar crime investigators as well as average systems administrators.

The device, the DataFast D-101, allows a user to insert a "master" hard drive. The user then can plug the device into a "target" computer and copy information to or from the master drive.

Karl Parks, director of sales for Greystone, said the D-101 should prove useful for users who want to upgrade to a larger hard drive and copy information to the new drive quickly and easily. He said larger devices for duplicating hard drives exist, but those devices make the process cumbersome.

He also said the D-101 should be useful to mobile computer users, such as law enforcement officials investigating computer-related crimes and searching for evidence on a suspect's hard drive. "In the field, it is where law enforcement has a subject computer but does not have the right to confiscate the computer but [does] have the right to make a copy," he said.

Agencies with investigative arms - such as the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, the National Security Agency, military intelligence agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration - would have uses for a device such as the D-101, Parks said.

Officials at Greystone, a subsidiary of publicly traded PubliCARD Inc., said the D-101 can be used with any PC operating system and can be connected to target hard drives via an Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) interface or a parallel port.

The D-101 also must be plugged into an electrical outlet. The device weighs 1.5 pounds and measures 6.5-by-8 inches. It will retail for nearly $900, Parks said.

The product, which Parks said was designed for mainstream markets, can handle hard drive transfers of up to 20G. It can transfer data at a rate of 400 megabytes/minute via IDE interfaces and 70 megabytes/minute via parallel ports, according to Khalid Siddiqui, director of engineering at Greystone.

But Scott Stevens, product support manager at computer forensics firm New Technologies Inc., said criminal investigators who use products like the D-101 should make sure that the device they buy can pull "every bit" of the data off a target hard drive, not just the visible files.

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