Wednesday, 3 August 2022

New! IODD ST400 Disk emulator (2.5" SATA HDD enclosure)

IODD have brought out a new disk enclosure which allows you to add your own 2.5" SATA disk drive (spinning rust or SSD). The IODD allows you to select and boot from any ISO or VHD as long is it is bootable, so there should be no issues with Secure Boot failures as long as the ISO/VHD has signed boot files.

It is called the ST400 ( #ad). It is available from (USA) now for about $90 and you can add a cheap 1TB 2.5" SSD for about $100 (it does not need to be fast as the USB 3 transfer rate for the ST400 device seems to max out at around 140MB/s) - or add a spinning rust Seagate Barracuda 5TB drive for about the same price instead. The IODD Mini is approx. $130 for the 256GB SSD unit.

Insert your own 2.5" SATA HDD here!

It has almost identical function to the IODD Mini which had integral SSD memory but you can add your own SATA hard disk. For larger than 2TB drives, you will need to format the IODD Hard drive as GPT (you can have more than one partition). NTFS, exFAT and FAT32 are supported. The first partition should be NTFS or exFAT.

Don't forget to ALWAYS use the 'safely remove hardware' Windows icon (or Eject under Linus) before disconnecting the drive!

Some laptops and small devices have problems delivering enough power to some 2.5" enclosures. In this case a USB 3 data+power Y-cable such as this one (#ad) is useful to have in your kit bag!

You can compare the sizes...

Comparing the Mini with the ST400 (about same size as ST2541).

The ST400 User Manual is here and you can compare the specs here...

The ST400 appears to have better encryption, a text viewer and also allows Admin and User passwords to be set (see below). It also uses a USB Type C connector instead of a Micro-B socket. It uses the same screen as the Mini but has a larger button pad.

The ST400 page on the Korean site is here.

The ST400 seems to have a limitation of 32 files per folder and files must contain less than 24 fragments (tip: never download a file straight onto the IODD drive - it will be highly fragmented!).

If you protect the entire contents by setting a password, the ST400 has a feature that will not prompt you to enter the password again within 2 minutes from when you first entered it (even if power is turned off in that 2 minutes).

Note: Enabling password protection requires wiping and reformatting the entire drive. So you need to decide whether you want an encrypted drive first, before you copy your payload files to the drive. The whole drive is encrypted so that it cannot be removed and read using a USB different enclosure.

The ability to view text files is useful. For instance, you may have an encrypted password-protected drive which contains a confidential file with company Product Keys or passwords, it means you can view the file contents without needing to connect the ST400 to a computer.

From the manual:

Enhanced Encryption

The IODD ST400 has an AES256bit-XTS up to 38-digit double encryption and an administrator Mode so that multiple users (administrator + 4 users) can use one device.

2nd Password (2nd P.W)

2nd password is required when setting a password on the drive and when installing a drive with a password already set to another IODD ST400. Up to 38 digits can be entered.
If lost, the password cannot be retrieved or recovered in any way
This password is used only by administrator.

Admin mode

If there are multiple users using the same ST400, you can use the administrator
mode to set individual users' passwords and drive permissions.
Administrators can reset a user's password at any time.
Only administrators can unencrypt the entire device.


Up to 4 users, excluding administrators, are set as users,
Users can use internal data within the authority specified by the administrator.
When permission is granted, the user's password can be changed.

IODD Admin Manager(Windows Application)

It is an application that allows the administrator function to be used on a PC.
It has the same functions as the main body of IODD, and the password configuration file management function is added to make it easier to manage multiple users and passwords.
● If the administrator's password is changed, all user accounts will be deleted.
● When an administrator sets or deletes an administrator's password, all data on the disk is initialized and all user accounts are deleted.
1. Press the Menu button to select the [Encryption] [Admin] menu.
1.1 When setting the first password, select the [Set 2nd P.W.] menu and set the 2nd P.W
2. Select the [SetEncyrption] menu. Check the notification that all data inside will be deleted.
3. Enter the administrator password twice (4 - 38 digits)
3.1 The administrator sets the first digit of the password to zero.
4. Wait for a while to finish setting up admin encryption.
5. When IODD is reconnected, the 0+administrator password set in step 3 is requested.

Windows Admin Manager app

There is also a Windows Admin app. This allows you to access an encrypted IODD ST400 device by entering the correct password in the app. You can also set up the admin + 4 user accounts in the app. This is useful when you want to copy files to the ST400 as you don't need to fiddle with the keypad and enter a long password to unlock it first!

Of course, the app. cannot be on the IODD drive as it is not accessible until you have entered the password, so it has to be on the system you are working on or on another (unencrypted) flash drive.

Working with VHDs

As well as being able to boot from any bootable ISO file on the IODD, I find one of the most useful features is ability to load up to three different (fixed-type, not dynamic, not VHDx) VHD files. Fixed VMDK files and floppy image .IMA files are apparently also supported (untested). This means you can emulate up to three different hard disks at any time.

If you have a .img file which is intended to be written to a blank disk, you can try renaming it with a .vhd file extension.

Use a .RMD file extension if you want the VHD disk to appear as a removable disk (e.g. thumb drive).

For instance, you can create a blank 30GB VHD and install Medicat onto it as if it was a standard drive.

Or you can quickly create a blank VHD and install any OS you like onto it.

You can even boot to an install ISO on the IODD and then install an OS onto a blank mounted VHD on the same drive. Since up to 3 VHDs can be loaded at the same time, you could also add in a VHD with your useful utilities on it and another VHD with your company software and perhaps another with PortableApps on it.

Your IODD drive can thus contain dozens of bootable disks of full OS's, ChromeOS, Linux, Windows, , etc. or bootable USB drive images such as a Rufus-made drives, Ventoy or Easy2Boot drives, etc. and you can take it anywhere. For instance, you could make four different Ventoy drives and try each one if you are having BIOS compatibility issues on certain fussy systems:

1. MBR - non-secure boot
2. MBR - secure boot
3. GPT - non-secure boot
4. GPT - secure boot

You can also set the VHD to emulate a fixed disk (e.g. USB HDD) or a Removable disk such as a USB thumb drive. So if you are formatting and testing various bootable flash drive configurations, you don't need dozens of flash drives - just one IODD - and you can quickly change the VHD type from Fixed to Removable to test if both types of USB drive will work. There is no need for the old  'BootIt' type utility which could change some old USB 2.0 drivers from Removable to Fixed and vice versa.

The icons can tell you what the device type has been set to.

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