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289 of 295 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2011
Size Name: 500 GBColor Name: BlackVerified Purchase
I was expecting this drive to be like a spare drive to back up files and store data on and allow me to edit some files as I wanted. I really was expecting it to work just like a jump drive does, but have a lot more storage space. I didn't want to have to plug it into a wall, you know, portable. I wanted to be able to take it to several computers I have at home and at work. What I found out after I placed my order was that these drives by Seagate have pre-installed software on them that once connected to your computer will ask you to load, after a two minute wait. If you install this software "Dashboard" and whatever else is there, you may have some of the issues like all of the other negative ones I read. YOU DON'T NEED THIS SOFTWARE, SO DO NOT INSTALL IT!!! Seagate must think that the only purpose to buy this drive is to do a back-up on one computer and to have it auto run every so often, hence their software. I personnaly am not interested in their software, especially everything I have read to date on it.

So I started by removing the software from the drive, then just using the drive as a back up and to copy some work files to. All seemed fine, then took to work and tried to update a file and found out the the whole drive is read only format, no update capabilities allowed from another machine. Did some more reading and discovered that if I Format the drive completly, (don't do the quick format) do a full format which will take about 1 hour per 100 Gig, so make sure you have plenty of time to do this. When your done the drive will be free of Seagate's software and read only formats for file updates. The drive will work just like a jump drive allowing you to take it from one computer to another, update files as you see fit, back up files and so on...you get the picture.

I think if Seagate wants to keep their good name, they need to offer better instructions on their products and they should not pre-load this software on their drives. All of the issue, at least most of them, appear to be with this software and not really the drive itself. At least this is my finding after I performed this format, the drive is now what I expected to use it for.

So for a rating, out of the box, I give it a 1 STAR, because I had to figure this out, and spend 5+ hours to format the drive.

Rating after the format, I give it 5 STARS!

I hope others find this review helpful, as I am a little tech savy, but no comparison to most of you smart people out there.
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512 of 543 people found the following review helpful
Size Name: 1 TBColor Name: BlackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This drive has a large capacity (by today's standards) and is very portable. It is convenient and highly compatible, not fast, but no slower than others in its class.

I seriously doubt the claim that buying a USB 3.0 adapter for the drive will speed it up noticeably, and certainly not 10x. I discuss this point below. [Update 8/10/10] See below. A discussion in the comments has convinced me that the optional adapters may indeed make a difference for transferring very large files, such as video, but not a 10x difference.

PROS:
large capacity for portable drive by today's standards
small and not too heavy, similar to competitive products
USB 2.0 offers terrific compatibility (Win, Mac, Linux when drivers are available)
alternative interfaces available (eSATA, USB3, Firewire)
USB provides power, so no power supply needed
very standard USB connectors on both ends of cable
compatible with Windows and Mac, and probably Linux (not tested)
[Update] ability to connect directly to TV for playing audio and video without computer via new dock [see below.]

CONS:
misleading claims of value of changing cables [Update: maybe not, see Updates below]
slightly larger and heavier than WD Passport
glossy top attracts fingertips (like Passport)
black case is hard to find in my black computer backpack, but probably other colors will be available in the near future

NEUTRAL:
not fast, not slow, about the same as competitive products, slower than desktop drive or many 3.5" external drives, but far more portable

SPEED

The drive spins at 5400 rpm. This is not as fast as most desktop drives (which are 7200 rpm), but 5400 rpm saves power and runs cooler. It could be that 7200 RPM drives could not be used for an application like this without a power supply. Big drives make great archives, and archive drives don't need to be as fast as the drives that contain your system, programs, and files you are working on.

I copied my audio collection - over 50,000 files totaling 383 GB - to this drive, starting empty, and (separately) to an empty 500 GB WD Passport drive that had been freshly formatted. Both drives took about the same amount of time: a bit under 7 hours, with Windows 7 reporting 16-18 MB/second. The Passport was a little faster, but not enough to make a difference.

CHANGEABLE INTERFACES: QUESTIONABLE VALUE, MISLEADING CLAIMS [see UPDATE in this section]

The included "Personality Cable" allows this drive to be used with USB 2.0. You can get others for USB 3.0 and eSATA, and they CLAIM that this will speed performance by up to 10x. I haven't tried to be certain, but I sincerely doubt that this is true.

You see, USB 2.0 is capable of 57 MB/sec, yet my drive runs at 16-17 MB/sec, so it is performing at only 29% of the maximum USB 2.0 speed. I think the disk itself is the limiting factor. Although eSATA and USB 3.0 are faster interfaces, they can't make a 5400 RPM drive go 10x faster. By comparison, copying files from my internal 7200 rpm drive to an internal 10,000 rpm drive with direct SATA interface maxes out at 66-70 MB/sec, which is about 4x the speed.

By analogy, your car may be capable of 100 mph, but on a lot of roads you're only going to be able to go 25 mph. Putting a faster engine in the car won't help. In this analogy, the disk is the road, and the interface is the car.

Many manufacturers have been very misleading about disk speeds. They often rate the performance as that of the interface, when the device itself is significantly slower. The ONLY time any drive reaches the interface speed is when the data you wanted is already in the cache - that is, you just read it or wrote it, and now you're reading it again. Because the cache is tiny compared to the disk capacity, this is an uncommon situation.

In summary, I doubt the optional interfaces are worth buying.

UPDATE 8/10/10: This section triggered considerable and interesting debate in the comments, and I stand corrected. The upshot is that when transferring "smaller" files (jpg's, mp3's), the transfer rate may be limited by drive performance, but for "large" files (video files, say ~200 MB and larger), sustained reads may indeed mean that the drive is pumping out data faster than the interface, and using a faster interface such as firewire or USB3 could improve performance for transferring large files.

Also, I ordered an eSATA interface kit. For a system with SATA drives, I suspect this interface will be faster than Firewire or USB3, but I'm guessing. I will run some new tests and probably rewrite this review with the results.

CONNECT THIS DRIVE TO YOUR TV!

UPDATE 8/10/10: This is a cool innovation. A dock for this hard drive, which you connect to your TV to allow playback of photos, audio (including SPDIF digital audio), and video (including HD), is now available. See: Seagate FreeAgent Theater+1080P HD Media Player STCEA201-RK. That dock would be handy for people who don't have a computer connected to their home entertainment system but want to play back their media library there.

RELIABILITY

This is the most important feature, and only time will tell. New drives rarely have any problems, and I saw none. The drive has a 3-year warranty, less than some. *Many* years ago I had a Seagate drive fail and I lost data, and I have always held a grudge. With massive changes in technology and manufacturing, this grudge amounts to superstition, but I still normally prefer WD, because they have never failed me.

UPDATE 11 Feb 2011: I started experiencing some serious problems with the drive, amounting to USB failures. At times it would not be recognized; sometimes Windows said it needed to be reformatted; sometimes it did not appear at all; in all cases there were times that I could not access files, and later I could. Then I noticed that I was using a cable that was not the one that shipped with it, but was plug compatible. Now I'm using the original cable. So far, none of these errors. I'll update again if that changes. Lesson: not all USB cables are created equal, even when they are plug compatible.

THE CASE AND WEIGHT

Early drives are always boring black, and they are hard to find in a black computer bag. The comparison drive I used was a red Passport, which is easy to find, and I like the color.

The case is slightly longer than the Passport 1TB, and the drive is a little heavier 9.9 oz vs 7 oz for Passport 1TB, or 41% heavier) , according to the manufacturer's specs.

PRICE

1 TB is currently the largest size for this kind of disk. Starting with the 250 GB drive, these drives have started at the same price when new, and then decrease as larger ones come out, which is a good thing for consumers. Now we get 4x the capacity of the original 250GB drive for the same price.

BOTTOM LINE

Drives like this are now commodity items, with little to differentiate them aside from their size, so you can choose based on color/style or price. Seagate is a name brand and the drive should last. The WD Passport is somewhat lighter, slightly smaller, very slightly faster, and a little more expensive. The product is very good but does not excel, hence 4 stars.

UPDATE: My claim that the drive works for Mac is based on what Seagate says; I did not test that. I have read in other reviews people who have said that it did not work for their Mac. In one case, the review said he was running OS X 10.3.x. Someone suggested that this drive is said to require a later version of OS X, like 10.4.6(?). Please note: I am not a Mac user and my memory of OS X version numbers is not exact. The point is, Mac users might have more luck when the latest OS is installed.

DISCLOSURE: This product was provided to me by Amazon free of charge in return for a review. All of my reviews are written honestly - exactly as I see them.
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195 of 209 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2010
Size Name: 1 TBColor Name: Black
I've had my eye open for one of these since before they existed. I work in the Multimedia industry and require a large amount of space to store my data. I purchased this drive on August 8, 2010. Yesterday, Sept. 2, 2010, it failed. I contacted Seagate and they referred me to their data recovery team who offered to recover my lost data for up to $1500. Not expecting to have the hard drive fail immediately, I was still in the process of backing up my files and lost almost all of them.
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108 of 119 people found the following review helpful
Size Name: 500 GBColor Name: BlackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The design of this external drive is excellent. The enclosure itself is tiny, just a centimeter longer and about a half centimeter wider than the 2.5" 500gb hard drive it houses. It is made of piano-black plastic that is matte on the bottom (to prevent it from sliding around as well as to avoid scratches) and shiny on the top and sides. This is actually my only complaint with the device: these days it seems like every peripheral device needs to be polished, and these surfaces are finger print magnets. I blame Apple for making their wildly popular i-Pods shiny. I prefer matte surfaces that absorb use better and don't need to be polished constantly.

Functionally the drive is excellent. The hard drive included is a slower 5400rpm drive, but for a back-up drive that's adequate. It also allows the use of a single USB connection for data and power, unlike many other portables that need two connections to function properly. Windows 7 immediately recognized the drive and installed the appropriate drivers. There is a proprietary back-up software that comes with the drive which I did not spend much time messing around with simply because I intend to use the drive as media storage for my notebook, not as a back-up solution.

Where things really get interesting is in the design of the enclosure, which has a separate USB connector piece that plugs directly into the SATA connectors of the hard drive itself. This allows for you to swap out the connector once USB 3.0 is released, or even a eSATA connector if Seagate releases one (this drive is too new to be on their web-page but I can only assume they will release one). It also allows for you to dock the drive in a Seagate hard drive dock. This open-ended design is fantastic and I'm surprised it's not available on more external drives. I suspect Western Digital will soon follow suit with their portable drives, as this is a much appreciated improvement.

The provided USB cable is a bit short. Thankfully, it is a standard mini(b)-usb connector so you can easily swap the short cable out for a longer one like this one. Thank you Seagate for not using some proprietary connector type.

I've always been a fan of Seagate hard drives and use them in most of the system builds that I've assembled in the last few years. The only issue I ever had with their drives was with a pair of 500gb 7200.11 drives which began to fail (both failed the SMART test). Seagate replaced both of them through their RMA process quickly and painlessly--earning my repeat business in the process.

The warranty is for 2 years for the hard drive and 1 year for the other parts. This isn't as good as WD dries which have a 5 year warranty.

PROS:

1) Small form factor

2) Only requires 1 USB connection

3) Novel design allows for forward compatibility with USB 3.0, as well as a hard drive docking stations, and potentially eSata connections

4) Aesthetics are great

5) Seagate makes good hard drives (and backs them up with good customer service)

CONS:

1) Shiny finish is a fingerprint magnet

2) USB cable provided is only about 18 inches long

3) Warranty is only 2 years (standard warranty on hard drives is usually 5)

Final Thoughts:

This truly is a portable drive. It's very small, light, and only requires a single USB connection. It's a wonderful option for a back-up drive as well as for extending the storage of your notebook.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Size Name: 1 TBColor Name: BlackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Okay. I'm in love. I was expecting a huge package with a drive needing an external power supply as well as a USB cord. Nope.

This is a 1TB external hard drive that is truly portable, and powered with only a USB cord. So you don't have to plug this external drive into a wall socket to use it. Installation was as simple as plugging the USB cable into a slot on my computer. No software, no extra work, just plug and go.

My one very minor complaint - software designed to be used as a backup shouldn't have been the default installation choice, because in order to use the software you have to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, after of course, a brief 'free trial.' This feature really should be turned off by default.

The drive worked flawlessly on a test run, copying files from my hard drive to the Seagate FreeAgent. Everything works as expected, and I recommend this product.

Update after first 24 hours of use:

I still love this drive and consider it a great product, but I do agree with the other reviewers who suggest this item isn't really designed for permanent use as a backup drive. I'd use the drive on the go, switching back and forth between a laptop and a desktop, but if you're looking for high-quality continuous storage, look for a heavier drive with a power supply.

My 500 GB external drive that plugs into the wall has a much faster copying/reading/writing speed than this Seagate GoFlex. Because the GoFlex is powered only by a USB cable and no external power source, it will be by design far slower than a high-powered drive. This shouldn't matter for the needs of most users, however, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this Seagate Goflex for a corporate or heavily demanding computing environment.

Update after several months of use:

I am using this 1 TB hard drive daily to back up files, and completely forgetting its 'only' powered by USB, without an external power supply, and the drive has worked perfectly. I did use double-sided foam tape to fasten the drive to the top of my computer - this hard drive has such a small profile, it would be easy to accidentally knock it off the top of the computer.

Specifically, I have a huge music collection, and I've just 'ripped' the last music CD I own to this external hard drive, so I can put away the original CDs in a safe place. This 1 TB drive hasn't even belched or wheezed and it's nicely holding 70 DAYS worth of music CDs and other backed-up audio content. Even at 220 GB, that isn't enough data to fill a quarter of the storage space on this gorgeous 1 TB hard drive. Highly recommended? You bet.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2011
Size Name: 500 GBColor Name: Silver
After about two months the drive is no longer recognized by the computer. The drive just spins and spins, making little clicking noises. I have tried downloading new software, diagnostic software, uninstalling and reinstalling, but none of this succeeds in halting the little dervish inside the silver box.

Nothing on the Seagate website of remote use. It seems that people either love or hate this product. I would not be in the first group.

And the pre-loaded software is pretty hard to figure out, the users' manual notwithstanding. I frankly don't like automatic backups, but it seems like you don't have any choice. I also could not turn off the auto feature.

Groan.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2010
Size Name: 500 GBColor Name: Blue
One advantage with the Seagate STAA500102 FreeAgent GoFlex is that it can be upgraded to USB 3, Firewire 800 or eSATA. This option to customize my hard drive is appreciable. I have a MacBook Pro so bought a Firewire 800 adapter for it. Though it is USB 3 compatible, the adapter is not included in the package and the USB 2.0 cable that is included is really too short.

I guess the software is pre-configured for Windows machines. Being a Mac user, I had some problems with the software installation, which was solved after customer support.

The design is good and being a portable device is a benefit.

Being compact it is really nice.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 8, 2010
Size Name: 1 TBColor Name: BlackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What I love most about this drive is it's portable size despite the huge capacity. The largest portable external drive I have previously owned was a 640GB Western Digital, a brand which I think has a better reputation than Seagate. I have read and heard of problems with Seagate drives suddenly failing, so I am hesitant to use this as a backup using Time Machine for my Mac, and instead just use it to store files.

This drive is Mac and PC compatible, and as a Mac user after plugging in the drive I was asked whether I would be using it primarily for Macs or Mac/PC. If you select Mac only, it will format the drive to HFS+, which is incompatible with Windows computers without additional software. If you select Mac/PC use, it will install Paragon NTFS to your computer so your Mac can write files to the drive (normally NTFS is read-only with Mac OS). I decided to not go with either of these options and wipe out the drive completely using Disk Utility, then repartition it with 975GB HFS+ (Mac only), and 25GB FAT32 (Windows/Mac compatible, for sharing files between the two operating systems). Keep in mind that FAT32 has a 4GB file size transfer limit, which can be a problem for some but since I am mostly a Mac user it's fine for me.

I have only been using the drive for a couple of weeks so I cannot yet speak to its stability, but it's definitely a great portable drive so far.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2010
Size Name: 500 GBColor Name: Black
My old portable Hard Drive died on me after many years of use and my Dad bought me one of these to replace it. The thing was nothing but a headache from the very beginning.

The Instruction manual basically said, "here's your hard drive, plug it in and install it," thanks for stating the obvious, but can I get a little more direction than that? Apparently the install is supposed to be automatic when you plug it into your computer for the first time, however, forwhatever reason it wasn't for me.

With little help with the installation my Dad told me to not worry about it for the time being and just use Time Machine with it, which if anyone is planning on doing DO NOT!! The minute you erase everything on the drive it becomes only good for use with Time Machine. I really think there should have been a warning about this in the instruction manual, it would've saved me an entire semester of having to cut down file sizes to fit them on my Thumb Drive while I waited to be able to replace the Hard Drive.

As a college student I needed it to be able to transfer work that I do in the computer labs,both Macs and PCs, to my macbook and vise-versa and downloading Time machine makes it completely incompatible with PCs. My dad ended up buying me a SECOND one in hopes that this time we could simply not use time machine and all would be fine- It wasn't.

Once again there was no automatic install and the web address they give you to go to in case it doesn't automatically install didn't work either, so I had to go searching around their website for help. The website was nothing but confusing and never had the answers to questions I had and was anything but user friendly in my opinion.

Eventually we get the installer going and in order to share files between a Mac and a PC they tell you to download the Paragon driver. But then I just ran into more problems. The biggest issue being that once I downloaded it to my mac book pro and set everything up I could only copy over files to the drive using that mac. Any other Mac was set as read only and I couldn't figure out how to change it. Downloading the software to other macs made no difference and even if it did it would only render the drive unusable for the purpose I bought it for. I just need to be able to transfer large files, and having to install this software each time I get on a computer at the labs is not an option since students aren't given the authority to download/install software in the labs.

Again I found myself stuck trying to find answers on the website and to this day I have yet to see anything related to the problem I was having. I know Macs and PCs are generally not compatible because they use different file times, but I couldn't even get this thing to work from one Mac to another.I tried calling customer support but I got a message saying they were not there (even though it wasn't a special occasion or after normal work hours). After hanging up the phone I gave up entirely on the whole situation and just returned the stupid thing.

I'll be honest I'm not the most knowledgeable about computer technology, but I get along pretty well when it comes to this kind of stuff, and if a product is this difficult to use for some one like me then it's a waste of time and money. Had there actually been something useful on the website or good instructions in the little piece of paper that came with it as a manual I would feel differently.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2010
Size Name: 1 TBColor Name: Black
Windows XP users beware. I've got a couple hours into this piece of crap (probably just the software) and it's DOA. The error message I get when I launch from the dashboard icon needs a little better English. "Seagate Dashboard Service is not started. In order to start the application needs this service installed and running."

Their web site support is crap. Try to get a new download, no dice, must register and send an email. I just registered the product, how many times am I going to register?

On initial set up the install asked if I wanted an update installed. "Yes" sends you down a path to inoperable software. Try to reinstall from the external drive and you get a message the software installed is a newer version so it won't reinstall. So I removed it with Windows and then reinstalled and said NO to the update. Same stupid result. Clicking on the dashboard icon gives the same meaningless error message.

Later edit:
OK, I registered and sent my problem. I get an email response of thanks and I need to log back in to escalate my case out of SELF SERVE. Like I'm going to fix this? Click on link and log in - THERE IS NO DROP DOWN THEY DESCRIBE TO ESCALATE MY CASE.

Was able to escalate my case at a later date. Got a response a couple days later. Gave it a try tonight (7/16). Basically told me how to fire up the service manually. No dice, I get a new error message on top of the previous error message. Wish these guys would look at my messages: the software failed to install completely or correctly- they've got me trying to start what isn't there.
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