Customer Reviews: (Old Model) Seagate Backup Plus 3TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STCA3000101)
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on August 3, 2013
I have masses of storage in my system and many years of experience with numerous hard drive brands. I have to say that honestly, Seagate is not one of my current favorites - but ironically I have owned many of them.

Consumer hard drives at this price point are not as robust as enterprise drives. You should expect to have problems from time to time, requiring replacing or repairing a drive, or restoring lost data. Believe it. Prepare for it. Not having backups of your important data is foolhardy and a disaster waiting to happen, no matter what brand of drives you use.

As with most people in the home market today, the amount of data and its importance to our daily lives is increasing. You must plan for and prepare to protect this vital asset.

Here are some tips based on my many years of experience, and trust me, I have made all the mistakes that I am warning you about:

- You must have a way to restore or regenerate any computer system that you consider critical to your life. This includes the data, operating system and applications. There are software products available that allow you to make a backup "clone" of your hard drive, and several products, such as Windows Home Server, that will automatically backup all your data and all your computers. Take a look, and find a product in this category that meets your needs and price point.

- You must make periodic backups of everything; all data and computer system drives. The products I just mentioned can be configured to do it automatically, or you can do it manually. The more often, the better.

- You should buy the highest quality hard drives you can afford ("Enterprise" or "NAS" quality drives are the most expensive). They will last longer, have fewer errors and have the longest warranties. This is a general statistical comment. Of course any given item can be an exception.

- You should have as many copies of your important data as practical for you. And store the copies in different places. At least one copy should be offline (not attached to any electronics while stored). Multiple separate copies protects you from accidental erasures. Even mirrored drives will not protect you from this.

- Heat, extreme cold and other adverse conditions such as dust and moisture are prime enemies of all electronics. Even a robust hard drive can fail if it stays too hot, too often, or is subjected to undue vibration and dust.

- Protect computers from power surges using the best surge protectors you can afford. Clean the airflow holes with a vacuum periodically, and if you have the skills and confidence, clean the insides of all computers of dust that impedes airflow.

All that being said, what does this have to do with this product?

I have found that even though Seagate is not my favorite brand, their recent pricing and product packaging have made them attractive. I just try to use them in a way, with my eyes open, that minimizes my risk - this is a good practice, regardless of the brand.

Here is why I like these units:

- The packaging is very clever and very useful. You can mix and match these drives across various connection methods (USB 2.0, USB 3.0, firewire, eSATA) just by switching adapters. Very handy.

- The USB 3.0 units are fast. They seem to deliver the expected much faster than USB 2.0 performance.

- They can be easily reformatted. I always reformat them, using the default allocation size before using.

- Price point: if you catch the frequent lowball Amazon prices, you can get these drives for less than $34 / TB. Enterprise drives can sell for up to $100 / TB. The best strategy for protecting data is having multiple copies, with the copies separated from each other - not on the same computer, not on the same controller, at least one copy offline, and best of all, at least one copy in a different physical location. The low price point allows me to have multiple "Consumer grade" copies for the price of one "enterprise grade" copy. My gut feel says that the probability of two copies, one of which is offline, failing at the same time is very low.

So, how do I use these units? I use them as 2nd / 3rd copy offline backups of my most important data. Their low price point affords me this luxury. And by keeping them offline, I mitigate the risks of overheating these cheap drives or subjecting them to 24x7 usage, which is not appropriate for consumer grade external drives.

I hope this wordy "review" serves as a help to others who are attracted to these low price points, but have reservations about risking their data.
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on June 20, 2012
Note: Dec 2013 Update follows the initial review
I bought the 3 TB drive to back up my Dell XPS 15 750MB hard drive as well as to store my ever increasing inventory of video files. It seamed like a great price for $149

The hard drive came with Seagate software called Dashboard for backing up user document files. It was easy and worked well. It created a backup of my document directory and gave me the option for having both added or changed files updated at a time of my choosing.

What happened next was more of a Microsoft issue than Seagate. When trying to use Windows 7 backup to create a disc image on the Seagate, it kept failing halfway through giving me error messages. This happened to me before on other large external hard drives over 2TB, so I thought I would fix it by partitioning the drive into a 750GB and 2.25TB drives. I then tried to back it up on the 750GB partition but had the same problem. It took me 2 hours to figure out Windows 7 backup will not work with these hard drive because of the way the sectors are sized. I did however find a free Seagate program called Seagate Disc Wizard that you can download for free at Seagate's website that will create a disc image backup without this issue.

- Seagate Dashboard is great for backing up and recovering individual user files and Disc Wizard for creating disc images in case of system failure
- Its quiet
- Its fast. Created a 320GB disc image in about 45 min.
- Runs cool after 1 hour of continuous backup
- Great pricing
- There are 5 lights on the front that illuminate sequentially as the hard drive fills up

- Will not work with Windows 7 image backup utility (cant create backup image of your hard drive using Windows 7)
- No stand so if you stand it upright it can easily tip over
- There is an activity light on the front that is supposed to tell you when the unit is in use, but it only flashes from full brightness to 75% brightness (instead of going fully out) so its hard to tell when the hard drive is in use when viewed from over 2 feet away.

IMPORTANT Dec 14 2013 Update.

Not so happy anymore. Just went through hell and back with this hard drive. The summary? My Dell laptop internal hard drive crashed. I needed to rely on my mirror image which was created on this Seagate 3T external hard drive. The hard drive worked but the software (neither Seagates Disc Wizard nor Dashboard) worked. Bottom line, buy this as a hardware backup only if your going to use third party software for backup (like Acronis) as Seagates software doesnt work, and Windows 7 will not recognize any backup files on a hard drive >1T (Windows 8 may have fixed this problem).
The details? I will only add that I booted from the Seagate boot disk (when reinstalling a disk image, the only way to get the computer to recognize this Seagate external hard drive is with the Seagate (or Acronis) boot disk, ... the computer WONT RECOGNIZE THIS SEAGATE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE IF USING WINDOWS 7 AS A BOOT DISK!), then tried to re-image the new hard drive that Dell installed (it was still under warranty) with my tib file (image backup) that was created using Seagates disk wizard on this hard drive, the recovery (or "Recovering Partition" as Seagate calls it) would take 3 hours to reach 99% completion, and then in the last 20-30 sec, always finish with a big red "X" with the message "Recovery Operation Failed", No explanation. No error anything. I then ran Windows 7 repair off the Windows boot disc and it said my new hard drive: Partition table is corrupt. Error code = 0x490

I tried reinstalling the tib image and repairing the new hard drive using the windows boot disk several times and wanted to pull the hair out of my head as, unless you have the CD disc's for all the programs installed on your computer, a disk image is the only way to recover your PROGRAMS (not user files). I called Seagate text support and they said my tib file must be corrupt, even though it consistently checked out as valid backup when scanned by Disc Wizard (ie, the Seagate tech didnt know what they were talking about as you will see). After countless hours I realized Seagate licenses a "lite" version of Acronis backup software that they re-title "Disk Wizard" or "Dashboard" that is really not up to the job. The problem was Seagate's version of the software was deleting the partition and, once I bought and created an Acronis boot disc, I used it to undelete the partition and voila, my hard drive had been re-imaged on the new drive all along, Seagates software just couldnt "see" it. Seagates software was deleting the partition and making it "appear" as though the image hadnt been installed and the partition table was corrupt! And if I listed to the Seagate tech "expert", I would have deleted the tib file and lost most of my programs.

Then I tried to reinstall my user files that were backed up using Dashboard (as the tib image was about a month older than my Dashboard user files backup), but Seagates Dashboard didnt recognize the latest backup version of my files, only the version that was 6 months older. So I had to manually go into the hundreds of backup directories to recover my latest user files (which took hours).

Bottom line, the HARDWARE was fine, but dont plan on using Windows 7 or Seagate's software if you are planning on using this for a disk image or user file backup. If your not using it for disk imaging, or not using Dashboard to backup user files, its fine. Changing this from 4 stars to 3
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on October 10, 2012
I understand that there's some back and forth over whether or not this unit is compatible with Windows Backup (due to sector sizes and blah, blah, blah). I don't use Windows Backup and have no intention to do so (I like to keep track of my files myself), therefore, I can't comment on the compatibility issue one way or the other. Other reviewers have also commented on the the Seagate Dashboard...I haven't used it either. So, you might be wondering why I'm bothering with this review.

I'm writing this for one reason...all I wanted was oodles of storage space, and this External HDD delivers in spades.

Seagate has been the only brand of External HDD I've ever used, and every drive I've purchased has functioned as intended (even my first Seagate External HDD, a 120gb model that's nearly 10 years old now, still works to this day). I don't mean to sound like a brainwashed fanboy, but I've never been disappointed with a Seagate drive.

I've seen some people mention their HDD not showing up as a single drive (enough so that I was worried mine would do the same)...but I'm running Vista 64 Home Premium on my laptop and Windows 7 Professional on my desktop and both PCs read the entire disk as one 2.7tb drive.

It's really fast as a USB 3.0 drive, and works just fine in USB 2.0 ports.

Aesthetically, it looks nice. I could have done without the 4 bar "fill" meter on the front (and the math needed to determine how 3tb [or rather, 2.7tb] is divided equally between the 4 bars...*joking*), but I'm not complaining about it either. The base of the unit (the obvious "this end down" part) is detachable, allowing you to plug in separately purchased adapters for (I think) firewire and/or lightningbolt.

My particular unit has been in service since the very beginning of August 2012. I've used it every day moving all sorts of files (videos, music, games), and I've never had even the slightest hiccup.

Final Thoughts:

I don't know about all of the extra (and, in my opinion, useless) bells and whistles, but, used purely as storage, this thing has tons of room, and I've been very happy with it.

Update: 5/20/13 My 3tb is still chugging along without a problem. I recently purchased the 4tb model, and it's doing just fine as well.

Update: 12/2/13 Both my 3tb and 4tb drives still perform as expected. I've had absolutely zero problem with either drive.

Update: 8/22/14 (For the record, that makes my 3tb drive 2 years old case you didn't notice) Both drives still work. No issues or complaints.
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on June 18, 2012
I have been happy with my 3TB GoFlex drive for keeping my active iTunes Library and other multimedia files. I was backing it up onto a 2TB GoFlex to store off-site where it would be safe, until 2TB was too small to hold everything. For a while I split the backup across a pair of 2TB drives, but wanted to give one of the 2TB to my daughter for college. I have a multitude of portable Seagate GoFlex drives as well, and none have failed me yet. So I bought the new 3TB Backup Plus so I could simply clone the 3TB iTunes drive in one step.

I used the Mac OSX Lion Disk Utility to re-partition the Drive as "HFS+ Journaled", instead of the NTFS that it came formatted with. Then I did a test and copied a 16GB folder to it and it was pretty speedy (under 10 minutes on an old iMac). But this time I installed the Seagate software for the extra features, which I never did before with my other Seagate drives. BAD IDEA. I couldn't clone my first drive without the receiving drive switching to READ ONLY after between 2-16 GB transferred. Sometimes the drive would just stop responding.

I did a search and found that this is a universal problem with people all over - the drives work great on Mac unless you install the Seagate Dashboard software. I found instructions to manually remove the software, and every thing is fine now. On a faster Macbook Pro with Caldigit USB 3.0 Express Card from Amazon (1/3 - 1/2 the speed of Native USB 3.0) I was able to see speeds over 180 GB/hour copying files from another Seagate drive on the FW800 port, and approximately 270 GB/Hr from the internal drive.

In Summary - This is a great drive but I MUST WARN MAC USERS TO AVOID THE SEAGATE SOFTWARE FOR NOW, unless you think you are experienced enough to trouble shoot issues afterwards. If the Software hadn't bungled things up this would be rated a 5. If I hadn't figured out the software issue it would have been a 1.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on September 23, 2012
At first I was happy with my recently-acquired Seagate Backup Plus 1 TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive STCA1000100 and would have given it five stars. Operation was quiet and reliable and the Dashboard software backed up my Windows 7 files dependably and unobtrusively.

But then I noticed something odd was happening to my Internet browsers, both Internet Explorer 9 and Google Chrome (so the problem was not the browser). I'd be reading the screen and suddenly and for no apparent reason the browser was no longer the active window. Or I'd pause between typing and the browser went dead until I clicked on it again. This happened repeatedly each browsing session and got pretty annoying! I figured--correctly--that a background program was taking "focus" away from the active window.

So the question was, what program? I installed a utility that logged the foreground window and--boom!--every time my browser went dead a program called Seagate.Dashboard.Uploader.exe appeared in the log. So it was evident to me that this Dashboard file was the cause of my browser woe.

Now the question became, how to stop Seagate.Dashboard.Uploader.exe from doing this? By turning something off in Dashboard? By changing a setting in the browsers? A specific answer was beyond my knowledge, so I emailed Seagate a query and am hoping for a reply. Meanwhile, I disabled the social media part of Dashboard, thinking this might be where the file resides. No effect! And I saw the file was in the startup folder and disabled it there. It persisted! I Googled the problem and came up with nothing useful.

Just this moment I started to do a cut and paste within this review and lost control of the window. Yep, the logger flashed Seagate.Dashboard.Uploader.exe.

If I can't find a way to stop this Dashboard file from continuing its annoying habit, my plan is to uninstall Dashboard and instead use Windows Backup with my Seagate Backup Plus drive. I don't really know if this will work, but I need to act soon because I can't keep using the drive the way it is and my opportunity to return it to ceases in a few days.

I'm pleased if Seagate's Dashboard software has been good to other users, but it is causing me a repeated and annoying problem I can't solve. This review is semi-negative, but I'll be glad to upgrade my rating if the situation improves.


Follow-up to the preceding review. Seagate Support responded laconically with the suggestion of uninstalling and reinstalling Dashboard. I did so--but the problem with Seagate.Dashboard.Uploader.exe reappeared immediately. So I decided to uninstall Dashboard once and for all. This time something went very wrong with the uninstallation process, because I ended up with a blue screen, my first ever. I had to restart in Safe Mode and do a System Restore to get my computer back. After that, I tried uninstalling Dashboard again and succeeded. Then I set up Windows Backup, which seems to work.

At the time I ordered my Backup Plus it sounded like a great idea. Now I'm not sure it was worth the trouble, even though I have decided to keep it as a vehicle for Windows Backup.


Six months later, the Seagate drive still works fine for Windows Backup. The drive has proven itself dependable--no problems at all. I never reinstalled Dashboard.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on December 5, 2013
This is a fine drive but beware of the drives ABOVE 2 TB (i.e. the 3 TB and 4 TB as of this writing) if you use Windows 7. The 3 TB and 4 TB drives use 4K (4096 byte) sectors and they do not emulate 512-byte sectors. Windows 7 only supports 512-byte sectors and 512-E (emulation) drives that have 4K sectors AND emulate 512-byte logical sectors. Microsoft has stated this is their position. (Google "microsoft windows 7 4k sector support" without the quotes to find their position statement.) You can also find statements about this in Seagate's site in the support section.

How does this affect these drives, and all other drives that are higher capacity than 2 TB? You CAN still connect the drive and use Windows Explorer or any similar application to transfer files to and from the drive.

You CANNOT use the high-capacity (more than 2 TB) drives with Windows Backup. This would be important if you want to use Microsoft Backup to create an emergency restore image of your system partition (C:). This image file could be used in case of a hard drive failure or some other major problem along with a Windows repair disk or the Windows 7 installation DVD to restore your entire system partition.

So if you want to just copy files to the high-capacity drives the 3 TB and 4 TB drives are fine. If you want to create emergency backup image files, stay with the 2 TB or smaller drives.

Side note: This issue relates to ALL hard drives with a capacity above 2 TB. They will only work with Windows Backup if they emulate 512-byte logical sectors.

If this review was useful, please let me know by voting for it.
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on November 7, 2012
I have both Mac and PC in my home so it's important for me that the ex HD works for both. I've tried other models and they don't work as smoothly as this Seagate. I formatted this Seagate to exFAT32 and it has been working flawlessly on both my Mac and PC. FYI, Mac products default format is "Mac Journaled" or "HFS". If you format your HD to this, then your HD wont work on your PC. Conversely, PC products default format is NTFS. If you format your HD to this, then your HD wont work on your Mac. The only format that both Mac and PC use is exFAT or FAT. Therefore, if you want to use your HD interchangeably with both Mac and PC then you must format to FAT
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on June 28, 2012
Simply stated, do not purchase this if you would like to backup with Windows Backup & Restore. Why? (Warning: Nerd speak ahead, skip the following paragraph to proceed to rant)

The drive is formatted in a way that causes the windows backup and restore to fail when creating a system image because it uses a native 4k sector size. Native 4k drives are not supported by Windows 7 ([...]). Although, it seems as though windows is beginning to support 4k sector drives([...]). The hot fix previously referenced does not seem to fix the known compatibility issue referenced in the first URL resulting in Error code: 0x8078002A. I tried everything from reformatting to sharing the drive on another computer and attempting to save the back up through the networked drive. The result of 9 hours of troubleshooting == null.

Now some may blame Microsoft for "Error code: 0x8078002A". However, Seagate is truly to blame. Why? Well, first off if you take a look at one of their Tech "Insights" articles, which in my opinion should be changed to Tech Hindsight, titled Transition to Advanced Format 4K Sector Hard Drives ([...]). The writer actually goes through and describes in detail the compatibility issues that exist with the native format of this drive. However, mentioning the problem once was not sufficient because they proceeded by describing the "obstacles" in another Tech Insights article titled Beyond 2TB on the Desktop([...]). Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this straight. So what your telling me is you know about the compatibility issues yet you continue to provide this product? Really? Ok, ill let this slide for now.

Let's continue onto the Second thing, Seagate could have been proactive about this Advanced Format. A perfect example of pro-activeness is Western Digital's solution which pretty much requires three steps to fix. Those steps are: (1) download this file, (2)install it and (3) press enter a few times. Voila!

Reason number three, and by the way this three is bigger than the big three in Miami, the name. Backup Plus, really? My thought process after reading the name was something along the lines of, "Well this sure sounds like the perfect hard drive to back up my PC." Followed by this line of thought after I saw the price, "Wow! What a great price! If that's the case, I'll take two kind sir!" $300 later and I'm left with a massive amount of useless storage.

Overall, my problem is mainly how Seagate went about it. They knew about the compatibility issues, they weren't and have not been proactive about fixing it as far as I know, and they were extremely misleading with the name. So this tech in hindsight should probably be called Backup Minus because if Amazon had negative stars (Would that be black hole ratings?). Then this drive would be getting a whole lot of those!
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on July 19, 2013
I bought this unit on July 5, 2012. It failed by June 2013. Seems to be a power supply problem. I would say this is unacceptably poor quality! Lucky I backed up what I saved.
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on March 23, 2013
For those of you considering this drive for the same reason I did, I'll tell you what's inside. It is a Seagate ST4000DM000, the latest generation 4TB HDD. It is a 64MB Cache, 5900RPM, SATA 6.0Gb/s drive. I installed it in my HTPC as the primary drive and it is functioning perfectly. Do not let the 5900RPM fool you, as the drive does not appear in any way to lag. It has performed solidly while using some fairly HDD intensive video editing programs. Make sure to load your OS install CD/DVD in UEFI mode or the installer will only see 2TB available.

It should also be noted that the ST4000DM000 is the exact same drive as the STBD4000400. The difference in model numbers simply reflects the different channels the drive went through to make it into your hands.
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