This is an old post, preserved for reference.
The products and services mentioned within are no longer available.
I frequently need to be plugging various hard drives into test machines, to wipe drives, to perform external disk tests and virus scans, and for data recovery. So one thing I used a lot is an external SATA dock. For the last couple of years, I've been using a pair of Akasa Duo Docks (AK-IC008-BK). I've found these very solidly built and useful. These sit on the desk and plug into the PC via an eSATA port, although there is also a USB 2.0 port. There is a slot on the top to insert 1 3.5" desktop or 2.5" laptop hard drive or SSD (but not at the same time as they share the connector). Then thanks to SATA AHCI hotplug, these appear as additional drives to the PC. Where they can be wiped, scanned etc.
IDE version I built a while ago, have served me well. But with SSD's becoming cheaper and therefore more prevalent, I've noticed I'm not getting full speed out of them. Further investigation has shown that the USB 2.0 port is the problem. Whilst on some external drives, there is a switch to choose between eSATA and USB, this uses a chip, and that chip seems to be limited to SATA 1. So even with the a SATA 2 or 3 drive and a SATA 3 capable motherboard, I'm seeing speeds limited to around 150MB/S rather than the 500MB/S some of the SSDs are capable of if directly connected to the same motherboard. I've had a look inside, and there doesn't look to be an easy way to bypass the USB (which I don't use), without cutting the tracks and trying to bodge what are meant to be balanced impedance tracks. So time for an alternative.