Seagate FreeAgent Go

      Photo Review 9

      In summary

      An attractive, easy-to-use portable backup drive that comes with an excellent software package and a five-year warranty.Creeping into the portable storage market with a smaller footprint than its main competitors, Seagate’s FreeAgent Go drives have some advantages for photographers who want high-volume, highly-portable data storage. Although they’re available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, the Windows drives are USB 2.0 only, while the Mac drives are available with USB and FireWire connections. The highest (500GB) capacity is only available for Windows users. . . [more]

      Full review


      The blue version of the FreeAgent Go drive in the optional dock.

      Style-wise FreeAgent Go drives are elegant and ultra-slim. The brushed metal housing is smooth and sleek on top with a matte finish on the base plate that prevents it from sliding around on a desktop – or other hard surface. While the FreeAgent Go for Mac drives appear to be offered only in silver, the 320GB capacity FreeAgent Go drives for Windows come in four colours: silver, black, blue and red. The 250GB and 500GB drives for Windows provide a choice between silver and black. Each drive comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
      Supplied with the drive is a long (1.2 metre) dual-head Y-USB cable with standard USB A plugs at each end plus an additional mini-B plug that connects to a port on the end of the drive itself. One A-plug connects to the computer, while the other is available in case you need an additional powered USB jack for using the drive with a laptop.
      Power for the drive is supplied via the USB cable and once it’s connected, it runs silently. We found the USB hub we use for our other portable drive provided insufficient power for the 500GB FreeAgent Go for Windows drive supplied for us to review. In such cases, you must plug the drive directly into your computer. Once connected, the drive becomes part of your computer system and can be seen in the My Computer interface.


      The FreeAgent Go drive is circled in red on this screen grab.

      A cluster of tiny LEDs light up on the top panel to show the drive is connected and receiving power. Just under 80MB of space on the drive is occupied with the user manuals (18 languages) and supplied software, leaving 465GB free for storing data. Note: it’s wise to copy this software in case you unwittingly format the drive because no software disk is included with the drive.
      Seagate’s Manager software is an all-in-one application that lets you access all the drive’s functions. The software loads easily when you click on the InstallSeagateManager icon on the desktop, when you access the drive.


      Clicking on the circled icon installs the Seagate manager software on your computer.


      The software will identify the drive and provides access to backups, synchronisation and security functions.

      Facilities are provided for configuring and scheduling backups, synchronising files and folders, encrypting and password-protecting files and folders and changing drive settings. You can also control several drives – if you have more than one – and test drive performance.
      Two backup options are provided: Simple and Custom. The Simple setting is pre-configured to backup the My Documents (Windows XP) or Personal Folder (Vista) daily at 10.00 pm.


      The Custom Backup setting lets you select folders for backup and determine file types and backup destinations.

      Custom backup lets you select folders for backup – and choose which file types (All, Photos, Music, etc) to backup. You can also set a backup destination and schedule. Owners of several Seagate drives can use Drive Rotation to apply the same backup plan to two or more drives.
      Custom backup also lets you specify synchronisation protocols, determining whether to synch automatically or only via the Synch Now button.


      The Synch setting controls file synchronisation between hard disk drives.


      You can enable Encryption and specify passwords via the Security interface.

      Seagate provides a generous five-year warranty to insure FreeAgent Go drives against factory defects but you must register the drive to activate it. This is made easy by a link on the penultimate page of the software installation wizard. Since external drives rarely malfunction, the length of the warranty is helpful.
      Clicking on the Customer Support tag on the first page of the Seagate Manager interface connects you to Seagate’s Support website, which contains a comprehensive selection of forums, knowledge bases, driver downloads, installation help and FAQs to help you troubleshoot your drive.


      Clicking on the Customer Support tag on the first page of the Seagate Manager interface connects you to Seagate’s Support website.

      The sample drive provided for our review was silent and remained relatively cool throughout our tests. The dock, which was also supplied for us to evaluate, was a handy way to connect the drive to a computer but not really necessary – unless you’re using it to backup or synchronise files between several computers. In such cases, a dock should be connected to each PC for maximum speed and convenience and costs will rise with the more docks you need. (You’ll also end up with more drive cases than you require.)
      Seagate’s Manager software was easy to install and use and did everything we expected it to. It’s among the best backup applications we’ve seen to date. The drive itself is reasonably fast. With our 2.5GHz PC running Windows XP (Service Pack 3) it took 23 minutes and 52 seconds to backup a My Pictures folder containing 30.8GB of data, which works out at approximately 12.91MB second.
      This data transfer speed will be adequate for most backup requirements as there is seldom a need to transfer such a large amount of data at any one time and routine backups will take only a second or two and can be carried out in the background without interfering with other computer operations.




      Type: Compact, portable hard disk drive
      Capacity: 250GB, 320GB, 500GB
      Rotational speed: 5400 RPM
      Interface: USB 2.0
      Data transfer rate: up to 480 Mb/s
      Power supply: via USB cable
      Dimensions: 130 x 80 x 12.5 mm
      Weight: 160 grams





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      RRP: 250GB $169; 320GB $189; 500GB $369
      Cost per gigabyte: 250GB $0.68; 320GB $0.59; 500GB $0.74

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9
      • Ease of use: 9
      • Software: 9
      • OVERALL: 9