This review is dedicated for those people who are always on the go, away from their desk and require a backup plan that perfectly matches their high demand lifestyle. Now just about everyone of us in the face of earth, computer, laptop or desktop owners, we mean, have always dreaded a situation – our system crashing down and we being refused entry into our own files or worse still distorted and bloated icons floating randomly and bouncing away from the screen’s perimeters. And what is it that hits you first in such a scenario “Gosh! I hope I backed up everything?” Now, for those of you who have a “No” for an answer to the above question, allow us introduce you to the Seagate Backup Plus External Hard Drive, which would practically be a boon in such a scenario. Picture this – what if someone asks you to decide between your “My Documents” directory and your FlickR/Facebook galleries. Tough huh??? No worries, as this hard drive from Seagate handles a situation as this perfectly well.
Recently Seagate have decided to do away with their line up of GoFlex drives with the Back plus replacing them. If you ask what is the difference? Well a lot and at the same time nothing much too. Akin to the FreeAgent GoFlex Desk, the specialty of this new lineup is the USB 3.0 adapter that is compatible with all nextgen computers and recent USB 2.0 as well. It is obviously not wise to recommend a HD without USB 3.0 these days as they are 3 times faster when it comes to drive transfers in comparison to USB 2.0. As we all know, the Seagate GoFlex line of drives are pretty much famous for their agile and flexibile performance. This newly-minted Backup plus HD is a successor of Seagates’ next generation of drives. Then again, not all successors manage to be successful and looks like the Backup Plus needs to fill in some really big shoes. So, how does it fare? As it turns out, fairly good, with its zesty performance, a flexible Universal Storage Module adaptor and an adept user interface that incorporates social networking. It looks to be a fully realized artefact that even manages to outshine its predecessor, the GoFlex line. Thus it proclaims itself to be the rightful heir of the GoFlex lineup.
In the box
- Seagate Backup Plus Drive
- Pre-loaded Seagate Dashboard
- Pre-loaded NTFS driver for Mac
- USB 3.0 interface adapter together with the capacity gauge
- A 4-foot USB 3.0 cable
- Quick start guide
- Power adapter
- 2-year limited warranty
- Windows 7
- Windows Vista
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port (obligatory for USB 3.0 transfers and is backwards compatible too with USB 2.0 ports for USB 2.0 transfers; compatibility varies based on user’s OS and configuration.
- Mac OS X 10.6 or higher (reformatting might be required) / Windows XP SP3 (32/64-bit) operating system
Features at a Glance
Available capacities – 500/750GB and 1TB
Dimensions – 4.86 x 3.19 x 0.6 in.
Weight – 0.44 oz
Drive Type – External 2.5-inch USB hard drive
Included software – Seagate Dashboard Agent (Windows/Mac)
Connector options – USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Thunderbolt, eSATA, FireWire 800
Supported operating systems – Mac OS 10.46 or higher and Windows 7, XP, Vista
Design and Feel
At first glance, the Seagate Backup Plus portable hard drive looks to be an elegant unit with a brushed aluminium finish to the front panel. What keep things interesting is, it is offered in four colors – red, blue, silver and black. Measuring about 0.6 x 3.19 x 4.86 inches its compact chassis is further complemented by its discreet -key and tasteful aesthetic. Being crafted wholly out of plastic, its primary visual treat is the Seagate logo towards the lower right together with the lid that has been given a brushed faux-metallic finish, as mentioned above. While there is some amount of sturdiness attached to this metallic drive, the Backup Plus is indeed a handsome drive which easily slides into a laptop bag without any fuss or noticeable heft.
Getting to the most unique aspect of this drive would be the detachable port which forms a part of Seagate’ s USM (Universal Storage Module) interface, where the drive comes with an adaptor that supports USB 3.0 connection, by default, together with a backward compatible USB 2.0 as well. Then again, there is always the option to buy additional adaptors if users are looking at support for faster FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt interfaces. So, getting back the USM adaptor, it clings securely to the drive’s rear akin to the GoFlex drives. Pretty much similar to the GoFlex Turbo there are USM adaptors available for USB 3.0, Thunderbolt and FireWire.
Again, more importantly the Backup Plus drives come with the ability to swap interfaces similar to its big brother, the GoFlex lineup, and can be set up with both Firewire and even the most latest standard plug, Thunderbolt, via the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt adaptor (Backup Plus adapters are pretty much on the way, which would be the best Thunderbolt deal that one can lay their hands on). Better yet, if you are already possess any of the GoFlex interfaces from your last purchase of a Segate EHD, then your new BackPlus works just fine with it, thus saving you tons of money. What’s more is that Thunderbolt adaptor of yours will also allow Mac users to daisy chain any number of displays, drives etc., together without the need to worry about running out of plugs or the interface running out of steam. Well, the other way of looking at it would be having to shell out extra bucks for the adaptor over and above the cost of the drive, plus a couple more on the cable too, which works out costlier indeed. But come to think of it, aren’t dedicated Thunderbolt drives way costlier than the Backup plus and a Thunderbolt Adaptor put together. Also if it is of any consolation, the drive can always be upgraded to Thunderbolt at a later date because though the Thunderbolt is way faster than the conventional USB 3.0, one might still not have money to purchase both the adaptor and the drive in one shot, would they? Even as the Backup Plus comes preformatted with NTFS, it can be reformatted for Macs. But the only hitch here would be that Mac users are deprived of the Protect option in the Dashboard, which leaves them only with the Share and Save option. Well, not a fatal flaw though, as there is still the Time Machine that performs the same task for Mac users. But for this, rest of the abundant features of the Backup Plus is very much available for Mac users (more on that later).
How it works
This Backup Plus not just focuses on providing backup of all of your data that is on a home PC, but has been crafted to make the backup process automatic for the photos that are being uploaded in the image sharing and social networking sites. To be more precise, this drive is capable of automatically detecting when new photos get uploaded in media sharing sites like Flickr and Facebook and grabs a copy of the same, thus saving them on the local drive (provided the account details are given for such sites allowing the Backup Plus software to access them).
Seagate feel that many users don’t bother retaining a local copy of the photos taken on their phone and directly upload them on the media sharing sites. This drive has been designed keeping such users in mind in an effort to safeguard their precious moments, just in case they get lost or deleted from the site that it is being uploaded to or from the phone. So as soon as the Seagate drive detects new photos being updated to an account, it grabs a copy of the same to be stored locally. But off note, it doesn’t grab photos that you have been tagged in, only those that are uploaded by users in their respective accounts. On the other hand, it also helps with sharing of media in sites like Facebook allowing upload of numerous files in a single hit, with the addition of your comments too.
Along with continuously backing files, the drive also helps with constant backup of local files, storing incremental copies of files via a simple restore processes, which includes a timeline. In case you don’t wish for continuous default backups for local files, then you may go in for scheduled backups, all of which is made possible via the Dashboard software onboard. Restoration of files is achieved via a tree directory interface which is fairly simple and straightforward with the files backed up from other image sharing sites and Facebook appearing in a folder named “My Online Documents.”
Once the drive is paired up with a PC, you will be welcomed by Seagate’s revamped Dashboard program, which has been crafted obviously with simplicity in mind. It boasts of a neat interface that presents users with 3 options: Protect/Share/Save. The Protect option basically works a local backup by creating custom-made back-up plans or allowing the software to pick on the stuff that needs to be backed up. Once this done, the drive takes over by backing up data continuously as and when changes are made. The Protect function is super easy to be used with its basic and uncluttered interface, which proves to be extremely handy for non-savvy users in performing one-click backups and wouldn’t have to bother seeking help every now and then. This will help users run a complete backup of their photos, docs, videos and music or opt for a more customised backup. The backup can be set on a continuous basis or hourly, monthly, weekly or daily basis. A quick reminder though – the Protect option becomes unavailable if users choose to format the drive to Mac only.
But then, the real star of the Dashboard would be the Save option that stores files within the Backup Plus uploaded in the FlickR or Facebook manually or automatically. Indeed a simple and innovative technique to store all your precious photos and videos in a single place. Now while the save option helps backup data, the Share works the other way round by helping you upload files to the social networking sites like YouTube, Flickr or Facebook. Now, the Share option looks kind of superfluous, because it makes us wonder why would users want to share stuff from a backup drive as the same can be done directly from their very own social networking sites, which is pretty much straightforward, huh? Nevertheless, all of the above options have been kept pretty much straightforward and simple and there is nothing much to learn here.
Getting to the performance of the Backup Plus - it just about as fast any single-drive storage alternative in USB 3.0, 2.0 and Thunderbolt. While the Backup Plus USM adapters are available in 3 flavors — Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and FireWire, it comes with the USB 3.0 by default (which is connected to the Micro B Port), and looks to outpace just about every drive in its capacity. It manages to copy 1.22GB in a lightning 15-second speed. It gets more distinct in comparison to other drives with transfer or multiple large files. Its USB 3.0 speed thrashes the WD My Passport Studio drive hands down by about 30 seconds. Again, it manages to score 110MBps in terms of reading and 91MBps in terms of writing. Nevertheless, the write/read speeds tend to drop down to 35MB/S with the drive being connected via the USB 2.0. Then again with the USB 2.0 still being the famous cross-platform connection, the Backup Plus indeed fares well in comparison to the GoFlex Turbo.
Akin to couple of GoFlex drives, the Backup Plus is backed up by Seagate with a 2-year warranty. There is a comprehensive list that talks of FAQs, knowledge bases, installation help, forums, driver downloads etc in the official Website that walks users through troubleshooting the drive. Additionally, there is also technical support made available via e-mail, chat and phone on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Three are 3 different variants of the Backup Plus drive on offer – a portable 2.5-inch version named the Backup Plus Portable Drive which comes in the capacities of 500GB, 750GB and 1TB; a desktop version named Backup Plus Desk that is offered in the capacities of 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB and finally a slim variant named the Slim Portable Drive that comes in the 500GB capacity. As the name goes, the slim drive is the lightest and portable of all and has been crafted exclusively for users who are constantly on the go. While the Backup Plus Desk drive comes in USB 3.0, the Slim and Portable drives are available with adaptors compatible with FireWire, Lightning Bolt or USB 3.0 connections. The drives come in different colours, but what is really impressive is that that the Dashboard Software is capable of detecting the drive’s colour that has been paired up with the PC. Well, it has more to it than looks, as there are various drives supported by the Dashboard and it is actually good to know which drive is currently being plugged and used to backup files.
Now, if you are someone that shuffles a lot between a Mac and a PC, then read on. The drive can be formatted to be compatible with both a PC and a Mac. Well, there are many non-savvy users who get confused when it comes to formatting the PC, particularly with formatting a drive. Fortunately, for them Seagate offers to make life easier for such users by simplifying the process with this drive. Hence when you use it for the first time on a Mac, the Seagate Dashboard Mac Setup Utility comes to your aid in configuring the drive to be used on both Mac and PC by getting it formatted it to NTFS. Your other option would be to utilise the Dashboard Mac Setup Utility in formatting the drive making it compatible with Time Machine and changing it to an exclusive Mac compatible drive.
The drive is compatible with both Windows and Apple, as mentioned above, and there is a driver provided by Seagate that gives access to Apple’s OS to write/read the preloaded NTFS partitions in the drive. Seagate claims that the drive can be paired up initially to be used by an exclusive Mac PC/Windows PC (Windows XP SP3 or more/Mac OS X 10.6 or more) – meaning users owning both a Mac and Windows at home/office can now be conveniently served by a single drive now. Additionally, Seagate offers 1 year free Seagate Cloud Storage Service on the Backup Plus drive that is powered by Nero. This 4GB of cloud storage can be accessed via the dashboard and users will have to create an account as well as register the drive’s serial number with Seagate. This storage works together with the hard drive like an additional backup providing extra security for those fearing to lose their precious moments captured.
The Good: Expeditious performance, Exchangeable USM interface, Novel social networking feature, Admirable user interface.
The Bad: A sturdier plastic chassis would have been appreciated, it is very unfortunate that the Protect feature is not Mac-compatible, Thunderbolt is offered only via an adapter, but the brighter side to it is, it does help in bringing down the heft of the drive.
The Seagate Backup Plus sure does look to be a laudable successor to the admired GoFlex line, that presents users with a killer combo of ease of use, speed and versatility, even as it has innovatively incorporates social networking to the package. With its various fascinating attributes, it has managed to move away from the lengthy shadow that the GoFlex predecessors had managed to cast, outshining them in every possible way along with setting a standard for the future drives.
|Model Name||Backup Plus|
|Drive Type||Portable External Hard Drive|
|Capacities Available||500GB, 750GB &, 1TB|
|Colours available||Red, Blue, Silver and Black|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||123.4 x 81.1 x 14.5 mm|
|Rotating Speed||5400 rpm|
|Interface Type||USB 3.0|
|System Requirements||Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP3 (32-bit and 64-bit)
operating system or Mac OS X 10.6 or higher
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port (required for USB 3.0 transfer speeds or
backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports at USB 2.0 transfer
|Included accessories||Preloaded Seagate Dashboard on drive
18-inch USB 3.0 cable
Quick Start Guide
Preloaded NTFS driver for Mac
USB 3.0 interface adaptor
|Warranty||2-year limited warranty|