CRU WiebeTech Forensic ComboDock v5
Strengths: Fast and knowledgeable support team. Tool that performs as expected.
Weaknesses: Perhaps a bit expensive for its feature set.
Verdict: It’s a bit pricey for being just a write blocker, but otherwise great for using with a disk imager.
The Forensic ComboDock is a read/write blocker. It makes it impossible to unintentionally turn off write-blocking. Every time it is turned on, it asks the user to choose either write-blocking or read/write mode, avoiding problems that can occur when the user forgets to change the mode to write-blocking. Its LED indicator light and a screen menu also clearly identify the work mode.
We found setup straightforward. The solution comes with an array of accessories for multiple types of drives, including world-compatible AC adapter, FireWire 800 cable, FireWire 400 cable, eSATA host cable, USB 3.0 cable, cables for SATA drive and cables for IDE drive. All were tested and proven effective, none of which affected the speed of the unit when different wires were used.
The device performed as advertised. We tested by connecting several hard drives to it, and attempting to write block them. One feature that stood out was when we tried to delete a file. The ComboDock appeared to delete it from the hard drive, but then when we turned the tool back on, the deleted file showed up back in the original file location. There is no prompt that tells users that files cannot be deleted. It is important to be aware that the ComboDock is hardware, and has minimal interaction with the software provided.
Documentation provided was minimal. The Forensic ComboDock came with a two-page quick guide that explained the steps needed to properly operate the unit. The manual was basic and covered the necessary procedures for operating this device, but it did not give solutions to problems. The quick guide did mention the Forensic Software Utility - needed to access hidden areas found on the attached drives. If more in-depth information is needed to operate the device, users are directed to an online manual, which provides more detailed information. We found the manuals were complete and easy to read, and the online manual provided more detailed diagrams to guide the novice user to a more complete knowledge of the solution.
Support was helpful, and provided us with the information we requested. The personnel we spoke with were responsive and as efficient as possible. Any questions we had about the quick guide, or use and implementation of the product, were quickly clarified by the support team - demonstrating their familiarity with the product. WiebeTech can be reached through email or by phone. The FAQ section on the website was beneficial in answering some of the more common questions that came up along the way. The company posts about the tool's capabilities and possible solutions to common problems. Unfortunately, it does not provide a carrying case for its array of cables, making travel difficult.
Overall, at $299, the ComboDock is, perhaps, a bit pricey for the limited number of features it provides. But what it does, it does well. The ComboDock was originally promoted to us as a write blocker/disk imager, but after talking to tech support, the company edited its site to reflect the ComboDock's further capabilities. Perhaps its biggest advantage is a polite and knowledgeable technical support team willing to walk one through any problems or questions.