Tech Blog‎ > ‎

BytePac recyclable HDD casing - is the environmental greenness really reaching ICT?

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 1.4.2012 klo 8.30   [ 8.4.2012 klo 5.31 päivitetty ]
BytePac Kit opened and ready to use.
I stumbled upon this really interesting product a couple of weeks ago; an external hard disk drive (HDD) casing and archiving solution made out of recycled cardboard! I have several old hard disk drives lying around and I've been looking for a suitable solution to connect those to my laptop, thus I got interested in BytePac. See more:

For years we have all been used to energy saving monitors and power sources and in recent years acronym RoHS (the EU Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment) has been popping up on manuals and stickers. But otherwise all computer stuff has been traditionally made out of plastic and metals. Then these gadgets are scratch protected with plastic films, packaged in brown cardboard boxes, repackaged in retail boxes and finally packaged into additional cardboard boxes for shipping – and if you choose to use some courier service that shipping box might still be once again packaged into the courier company's own plastic bag!

Picture 1 (on the right): BytePac Kit opened and ready to use.

Especially in this light, receiving the BytePac Kit from post was really really positive surprise. There is practically no shipping waste! The product's own cardboard box acts as a shipping box and only the tear-away-stripe and the front part of the box is discarded. All the rest of the packaging is used as a part of the actual product. Ok, we must note, that if the parcel really gets rough handling during the shipping we might end up with some cosmetic issues with the product, but even in this case the smudges and scratches will most likely be hidden behind the product when it's placed in a bookshelf.

BytePac Kit unopened right from the post.
Picture 2: BytePac Kit unopened right from the post.
Opening the package.
Picture 3: Opening the package.
That's all packaging waste there is! Great job BytePac!
Picture 4: That's all packaging waste there is! Great job BytePac!

So, what does BytePac Kit include?

One BytePac Kit includes three HDD casings and a bookshelf box for them - all made of cardboard. One of these HDD casings include all necessary cables and a power source (connection kit). Additionally the package also includes stickers for the HDD boxes as well as to the HDDs themselves. There are versions available for both computers with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 bus.

Connection Kit can be found from one of the HDD boxes.
Picture 5: Connection Kit can be found from one of the HDD boxes.
HDD boxes and stickers.
Picture 6: HDD boxes and stickers.

What's it for?

With BytePac Kit one can conveniently store up to three serial ata (SATA) hard disk drives (HDDs) and connect them (one at a time) to a desktop or a laptop computer or for any device needing external USB mass storage device.

How to use it?

Using the BytePac Kit to connect your hard disk drives to a computer is a breeze! All you have to do is to follow the very easy provided connection illustration. See picture 8 below.
  1. Put a hard disk drive into empty BytePac box. Close the cardboard box, put the covering sleeve on and fold the connector door and the small leg open. The leg rises the box a bit and allows better air flow. (Picture 7 below)
  2. Plug the wide end of the data cable to the hard disk drive and the other end to the ByteSpotter branded Powerbox. (very small foot print: 3,5 x 4,5 x 1,8 cm)
  3. Plug the power adapter's cable to Powerbox. When you plug the adapter to wall socket the hard disk drive starts spinning.
  4. Finally connect the Powerbox to your computer with the second cable. My BytePac Kit included a separate usb stick that was needed to connect this second cable, but the manufacturer's illustrations show a cable that has usb connector directly at the other end. I guess this depends on the version of the product.
After this there really isn't anything else to do! The computer now sees the hard disk drive in the BytePac box just like any other usb mass storage device – like a regular usb memory stick! I tested the BytePac with my Vaio laptop running Ubuntu and with a Sony's flat screen TV. Both devices accepted the BytePac immediately out-of-the-box without any issues.

Data port door and leg folded open.
Picture 7: Data connector door and small leg folded open.
How to connect diagram.
Picture 8: Very easy to read how-to-connect diagram.

Recommendations and notes

If you are looking for a solution to connect standard hard disk drives through usb BytePac is a really good option. I do recommend it especially as it offers unique green approach as well as a visually very agreeable way to store the ugly HD disks in plain sight.

BytePac looks good and hides ugly hard drive in plain sight.
Picture 9: BytePac looks good and hides ugly hard disk drives in plain sight.
Platform independent solution just works - no drivers are needed. Here connected to television.
Picture 10: Platform independent solution just works - no drivers are needed. Here connected to television.

On the practical side, when you are deciding about how many BytePac Kits you need, I would recommend you to reserve one of the BytePac Kit's HDD boxes for the storing of the cables and connection boxes. So the first BytePac Kit offers you boxes for two HDDs (as the third box is needed for the cables). This is of course only needed when the HDDs are only used every now and then, for example for backup copies. If you are planning to use the HDDs on daily basis and (especially) using a desktop computer, where the connection cables can be connected all the time, there surely is no need to reserve any HDD boxes for the cables.

Additional BytePac 3-packs (the HDD boxes) without the connection kits are available, so one can have practically unlimited amount of hard drives.

Before placing your order, make sure to check the type of your existing hard disk drives! You can use 3,5” or 2,5” serial ata (SATA) disks with the cables that are included in the BytePac Kit, but you will need to order an additional IDE-to-SATA adapter in order to use older 3,5” IDE drives. Unlike with some other vendors' adapters BytePac's IDE-to-SATA adapters are screwed to the hard disks, so you will need a separate adapter for each IDE drive, which can be a bit costly.

If you don't know which connector your HDD has, check these:
You have IDE drive, if your HDD's data connector looks like the one on this page: Wikipedia
You have SATA drive, if your HDD's data connector looks like the one on this page: Wikipedia

It might get messy with all these cables.
Picture 11: It could get a bit messy with all these cables. Note the 90 degree angle between the stiff cable and the usb dongle.


 + No packaging waste, which is a huge advantage! (see picture 4)
 + Made out of recycled materials
 + Can be recycled after use
 + Platform independent, no drivers needed. Works with all systems: Linux, Mac, Windows, embedded systems.
(see picture 10)
 + Disguises the ugly HDDs nicely for example in a bookshelf. (see picture 9)
 + You can download a HDD box sleeve design template from BytePac's web site and make the HDD boxes look just the way you want
 + The price is right


 - The cables and connection boxes create quite a mess on the table if used with a laptop.
 - 'No packaging' might cause cosmetic issues (during shipping) to the product itself.
 - The DeLock branded usb stick that connects to computer and offers SATA and eSATAp connectors seems and feels a bit “cheap”, especially when compared to other ByteSpotter / Convar branded "high quality feel" components provided. The 90 degree angle between this adapter and the thick connection cable also puts strain to the computer's usb port.

Purchasing a BytePac Kit

The BytePac Kit can easily be purchased from Convar's web shop ( ) as well as from Amazon. And there is also a selection of different HDD box sleeve designs available. The Convar's web shop is clear and easy-to-use, but unfortunately there are two major, but normal, Internet shopping problems:
  1. they do not tell you the shipping costs before you have registered and
  2. you have to register to purchase.
My opinion is that if I want to buy milk, I should get my milk for my money and there should not be any requirements to join the retailer's loyalty program. And what comes to shipping costs, I can't even remember how many times I have left a web shop because there is no indication about shipping costs or whether the product is shipped to my country at all. Oh, by the way, BytePac Kit's shipping to Finland costs 8,69€ (spring 2012), so I guess it's probably pretty much the same to all EU countries.