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Where to buy: SD Duplicators, Some Say “SD Copiers”

SD cards are so popular today because the gigabyte capacity in relation to the form factor size is such a great trade off.  The average user on the street would associate an SD card with a camera, but we know heavy users of SD cards use them for embedded operating systems, GPS systems and hand-held point of sale systems.

With that said, for those who need to mass data load content to Secure Digital cards, you might be looking for options on where to buy the gear. The following article, which has no affiliate links for commissions, lists some house-hold names who offer on-line purchasing of SD duplication gear.

SD duplicators manufactured by Nexcopy are available from a variety of different on-line retailers.  The models available from the manufacturer range in different sizes.  The models also range between systems running from a host computer and systems which are stand alone. The following content will talk about both, PC based and standalone duplicators.

Wal-Mart is a growing on-line destination for purchasing technology equipment.  Yes, Wal-Mart.  For example, a user can buy a 20 target SD duplicator from Wal-Mart.

20 target SD duplicator from Wal-Mart.  A PC Based system for data loading to SD cards

This system is PC based and requires a very minimal Windows computer to run the software.  You might ask, why a PC based system?  What advantages are there with a system like this?  Here are some bullet points on why a PC based system is a benefit:

Six copy modes where as a standalone system has two copy modes.  The six copy modes are:  File Copy, Copy Add, IMG Copy, Short Device Copy, Full Device Copy and Unique Data Streaming.

With these six copy modes you may glean other benefits as well.

For the IMG Copy mode, the PC based system from the link above includes a utility to create binary image files.  This utility captures all binary code of the master SD card.  To be clear, the imaging utility will capture the boot strap code, the partition table, the file system and the files and folders.

The advantage with duplicating from a master IMG file is reliability.  The IMG file sits on the hard drive, the most stable type of memory, and will copy out the binary to all SD cards.  This archive IMG file can be used again and again, without failure of it going bad (as doing a device copy from a master SD card could).

Another bit of information you can glean from the copy mode list, is the unique data streaming feature.  This function allows the user to copy different files to each SD socket of the SD duplicator.  This feature allows several variants of unique data streaming.  What is meant by this statement, is the feature will allow you to copy only unique files to each card, or you may copy static files to all cards, then follow up with unique data to each card.

The unique data streaming feature is of particular interest to those who load encrypted licenses to the SD cards.  This data streaming feature gives equipment manufacturers complete control over which key code is loaded to which SD card.  Convenient!

This particular SD duplicator (model number SD200PC) can also collect data from SD cards.  The software gives you the ability to collect data from each SD card.  The software allows you to data dump everything into one folder, or create a unique folder for each card is sucks data from.  Of course, the software gives you the option to delete the data (or not) after the data collection is finished.

Up to this point, the system in question was a 20 target PC based system.  However; if you need bigger production, there are options.

The next size up for a PC based SD duplicator is the SD400PC, which is a 40 target SD copier system.

SD400PC, Wal-Mart offes SD Duplicators by Nexcopy

This system carries all the benefits of the 20 target system.  The 40 target system gives you two configuration options.  Since the SD400PC is really two boxes of the SD200PC, you can use the two boxes independently of each other to perform different tasks, or you may run them together as a 40 target system. 

This type of flexibility in technology is very convenient for the changing demands of a production floor or manufacturing process.

The PC based systems do not stop there.  However; they do stop at the SD600PC model.  This is the largest of the PC based models we are aware of.  This is a 60 target SD copier system comprised of three 20 target boxes.

SD Duplicator with 60 tarets

As with the 40 target system, this model can also be used in a variety of ways.  Three 20 target systems, a 20 target and 40 target system or a fully configured 60 target system.

Let us circle back to the Windows computer needed to run these types of systems.  The type of Windows machine does not need to be particularly powerful.  The reason, is that most of the heavy lifting of the copy process is done by the USB host controller.  In the past, the host controller was a chip on the motherboard, but these days, most of the host controllers are embedded into the processor chip. 

Here is a good example of a small, powerful PC that can do the work, this pocket PC, or also called a “compute stick” is no larger than a flash drive;  yet has Windows 10 installed, and all the computer power to run the SD copier system. 

The pocket PC connects via any display device which has an HDMI output socket… so any monitor or TV will work for your display.  With an additional wireless keyboard and mouse, you are ready to go.  The pocket PC is a little over $100 dollars and has everything needed to drive a duplicator like what we are talking about.

If a PC based system gives your team to many options, the alternative would be a standalone SD duplicator.  The big advantage with the standalone SD copiers is their speed.  They are fast.  There are two models listed below and for either of these models you can copy 1GB of data to each card in under one minute.  This means a data load of, say, 14GBs would take about 14 minutes.  The standalone systems copy data to the SD cards faster than the memory of the SD cards can write the data.  So the real bottleneck for these guys is the SD card itself.

The smallest model available is the SD115SA unit.  This is a one master to 15 target SD duplicator. 

smallest standalone SD duplicator by Nexcopy available at Wal-Mart

The standalone systems will copy anything.  Meaning the SD duplicator will copy FAT, FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, HFS, Linux distros and even proprietary file systems.

Quick tip:  The PC based system can also copy all the above types just mentioned through either the IMG Copy or the Short Device Copy or Full Device Copy modes.

The standalone systems have two copy modes.  The gear can be set to Files and Folders or can be set to Whole Media. 

Under the Files and Folders setting, the SD master must be a file system the duplicator can read.  From our understanding this would be FAT, FAT32, exFAT or NTFS.  If the SD master is any other type of file system, like Linux, HFS or proprietary, then the Whole Media setting must be used.

If you are still unclear between Files and Folders and Whole Media, here is an example which might help:  Under the Files and Folders copy setting, if you had an 8GB SD card, but only 2.2GBs of data, that setting will only spend the time to copy 2.2GBs of data.  Since the SD card master is a file system it knows, the duplicator will only copy the data since the duplicator knows where the data clusters sit.

However; with file systems the duplicator cannot read, like Linux or HFS, the SD duplicator needs to copy the entire card, regardless of how much data is on the master.  This is true, because the duplicator system cannot discern where the data clusters are.  So it requires that everything be copied.

Although more time is required to copy these file system types under the Whole Media setting, the fact you get a perfect binary copy is probably worth the difference.  It’s also worth noting, all the standalone systems available in the market, regardless of manufacturer, work this way.

The next size standalone SD duplicator is the SD131SA.  This is a larger system with one master socket to 31 target sockets.  The copy speed is the same, 1GB to all sockets in under one minute.

Both standalone systems have a verification function the user may toggle On or Off.  The verification technology is CRC and very accurate for flash memory.  Here is a previous article about CRC verification and how CRC is great for flash memory products.

There are some additional features and functions with the standalone SD duplicators, the PC based systems do not have.  Probably the most valuable is the speed testing feature.  This feature will write random bits of data to the SD card.  The duplicator system will write to different locations of the card and then report back the average write speed from it’s test.  This is a great tool to quality control a new order of SD cards to insure the write speed is what you paid for.  The write speed is the defacto standard defining the quality of flash memory. 

Quick tip: A good piece of information to keep in mind is that any flash media device that writes under 5MB/second is not that great of product.

These standalone systems are great for global companies looking to deploy the same model gear to multiple locations.  I say this because the duplicator LCD display can be configured for Spanish or Chinese languages.

The last feature mentioned for the standalone SD duplicators is the ability to set a password to the duplicator device.  Clearly this feature is meant to limit those who use the equipment to those who have authorization.  A company can never be too diligent about their intellectual property.

From today’s products listed it is important to note, these duplicators work within the guidelines of the Secure Digital Association set out for public and private use of Secure Digital technology. 

To  learn more about the different formats of SD cards in general, such as SD, SDHC and SDHX we find Wikipedia is a great resource.

This post talks about Wal-Mart being an on-line retailer, there are others!  These products are also available on Amazon and NewEgg.

Here are links to SD systems via the NewEgg website:

SD200PC  – PC based SD duplicator

SD400PC  – 40 target SD copier

SD600PC  – Largets PC connected SD duplicator

SD115SA  – Standalone SD Duplicator

SD131SA  – Standalone SD Copier from Newegg

The products mentioned in this post are manufactured by Nexcopy Incorporated. There are no commission affiliate links in today’s post.

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