Hardware and software can both be used for copying and transferring data. Both also have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. The need for each does depend on a case to case basis. The disk duplicator is a hardware device used for such functions. The disk duplicator was primarily used for manufacturing. Nowadays, however, schools, organizations and businesses alike also have the need for many computers. It would be surprising if some organizations exist without the use of computers and technology.
Computers do need to be updated and upgraded at certain points. Technology is progressive and it does move fast. Thus, the need for archiving old data from hard drives and refreshing it with something new are common processes.
Hardware devices, like the disk duplicator, can be used by itself. Unlike software, it does not need to be installed in a computer. A disk duplicator is rather easy to use. Just connect a device to it and press a few buttons. It will then start wiping, copying the disk or transferring to another disk.
Its speed can go from 2GB/min (gigabytes per minute) up to 18 GB/min. Some disk duplicator models can copy windows operating systems in just 2 minutes. This speed is constant even if it is processing many devices at a time. It makes it ideal to use in mass duplication and system roll-outs.
As far as disadvantages go, the price of a disk duplicator can be bit steep. From less than US$50 to several thousands. Depending on the features and capacity. Capacity in terms of the number of drives it can process at a time. Another possible disadvantage is that it does need to be physically connected to the media it is processing.
Software does have the same capabilities as hardware. Using networks, some can also perform mass duplication processes. However, it does need more technical knowledge. Knowing about networks and computers becomes a requirement in using programs to copy and transfer data.
For single drive duplication, it does cost less. Software solutions cost less than US$50. Using freeware, it will cost nothing. If it has to deal with many computer units at a time, software licenses can end up costing much more.
As far as speed goes, it cannot be as fast as a disk duplicator. Working through a network does limit the speed.
So hardware or software?
Back to the main question, it usually is a matter of choice and preference. Not to mention, the situation. How often are there mass system rollouts? Or how often does the data need to be archived?
It really depends on how often they have to be used and on the number of units involved. For not so many computer units, software is more cost-effective. If it involves many, then hardware is more ideal. If speed is a big issue, then hardware should be the choice. They each have their own sets of pros and cons. The most suitable for specific organizations would depend on the factors discussed. Most definitely, the budget.