Most helpful positive review
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Fast and affordable for Windows and Mac users alike
on July 1, 2012
If you're looking for an affordable USB 3.0 portable external hard drive that performs well and has a decent warranty, the Seagate Backup Plus is worth a look.
- Runs quiet
- Stays cool
- Very good USB 3.0 performance
- Backwards compatible with USB 2.0
- Compatible with Mac OS 10.6 and up
- 2 year warranty
- Reasonably priced
- Enclosure attracts dust
DESIGN & BUILD
The all plastic drive's top has a brushed metal appearance, while the bottom of the enclosure has a matte finish. While the enclosure looks sharp, it attracts a lot of dust on the sides and on the top. Also, I can't think of a reason why Seagate chose to not put rubber feet on the bottom of the drive. It slides around on flat surfaces rather easily. The 18" SuperSpeed USB 3.0 cable is short for use on desktops, so it's best suited for laptops.
CrystalDiskInfo identified the internal drive as a Seagate Momentus Spinpoint M8 (ML500LM012). It's a SATA II (3Gb/s) drive with a 9.5mm height, spinning at 5400 RPM and an 8MB cache. 5400 RPM drives are ideal for portable external storage drives, because they tend to stay cooler than 7200 RPM drives.
I tested the sequential transfer rate of the drive using CrystalDiskMark and got 117 MB/s read and 116 MB/s write, which is slightly better than the cheaper Seagate Expansion drive. It should be plenty fast for transferring large multimedia files, such as photos, videos, and music. The formatted capacity of the drive is 465 GB and comes pre-formatted in NTFS.
The Seagate Backup Plus drive comes with Seagate's Dashboard software for backups. It's basically replication software, so the backups are exact duplicates of the files you choose to back up. I actually prefer this method, as opposed to archiving files into a proprietary backup file. Seagate Dashboard also comes with some interesting social network functionality, but for the most part, I didn't find them all that compelling.
You can also use Seagate Dashboard to backup your files to Seagate's own cloud backup storage service, but I'd avoid doing so. If you want to back your files up to the cloud, use a well-known service like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Box, or Google Drive. At least with those services, you can access your files using different devices, like your smartphone or tablet. Also, the Seagate cloud service isn't compatible with Macs.
A few drive utilities are included in Seagate Dashboard as well. I don't know why you'd want to, but you can disable the drive's LED light, as well as set power saving options. You'd probably be better off letting your operating system handle power savings, however. Lastly, you can run a non-destructive drive test to check the health of the drive.
The Seagate Backup Plus drives have a two year warranty. Drives do have a tendency to fail over time, so the longer the warranty, the better.
The Seagate Backup Plus works with Mac OS X 10.6 and up. When I plugged it into the USB 3.0 port of a MacBook Air (June 2012), a Time Machine prompt came up asking me if I wanted to use the new drive as a Time Machine backup drive. I was also able to browse the contents of the drive in Finder, without having to reformat the drive. Since I use both Windows and Mac OS X, it's nice not having to reformat the drive for use with one or the other (or even worse, FAT32), but I'm not entirely sure how stable the NTFS driver is for Macs. I believe Seagate may be using Paragon NTFS, though I can't say for sure.
Also, I wanted to briefly mention that the Seagate Backup Plus portable hard drive uses a new port technology called, Universal Storage Module (USM). Basically, the back end of the drive where the USB 3.0 port is, can be removed and a new "module" can be connected, so you can convert the drive's interface for use with Thunderbolt or FireWire. Most people, including myself, won't have any use for USM. I'm not even sure where you can buy the different modules at this point, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Out of curiosity, I removed the module and connected a bare internal notebook drive to it. It powered up and worked fine on my Windows PC. So, if you needed to, you could remove the module and use it as a portable dock for a SATA 2.5-inch hard drive.
The Seagate Backup Plus 500GB USB 3.0 portable external hard drive is a great little drive. Its USB 3.0 performance is fantastic and the drive works interchangeably with Windows and Mac OS X, due to the NTFS driver. I'm not a big fan of the enclosure, due to how easily it attracts dust, and because Seagate forgot to attach rubber feet to the bottom. I do, however, like that the drive has a two year warranty and is reasonably priced. I recommend the drive, but suggest you spend a little more for the larger 1 TB drive and also buy some 3M rubber feet to attach to the bottom of the case.