Fast. Fast and cheap. In a nutshell, that describes Seagate’s latest duo of mobile hard drives. In a world where SSDs are still (unfortunately) too pricey for most, mechanical hard drives are (mercifully) becoming increasingly affordable. The thought of carrying around 2TB of photos, videos, and love letters that you just can’t part with for under $120 would’ve been a pipe dream just a couple of years ago.
As the latest race to the bottom plays out, Seagate’s 2TB Backup Plus Slim is a compelling option. It strips away practically everything except a USB 3.0 connector, but fancies itself up on the software front.
The true selling point of this drive is the company’s inbuilt backup program, Seagate Dashboard. At long last, these backup suites are realizing that cloud storage is a real thing, and it effectively leverages your existing Dropbox and Google Drive accounts to store material that’s saved on your iOS or Android device. Yes, this is the storage equivalent of Inception.
Here’s how it works: smartphones owners download a free Seagate app, which can transfer files over to the connected device assuming that the phone and the host computer are on the same Wi-Fi network. Failing that, it’ll redirect saves to Drive or Dropbox until you’re back at home. Plus, it works in the other direction; Facebook and Flickr albums can be backed up to your drive once you punch in your credentials. Believe it or not, it all works fluidly in practice.
The 4TB Backup Plus Fast (~$235) possesses all of the same software amenities, but comes in a much thicker (and heavier) enclosure. Essentially, Seagate has piggybacked a pair of 9.5mm 2TB drives in a RAID 0 arrangement, giving users access to 4TB of space at rates that truly do best most everything else in this price range. In testing, I saw average transfer speeds of around 200MBps. (Oh, and in case you’re wondering, you can’t reconfigure it for use in a different RAID array, which may or may not be a deal breaker for you.)
All in all, it’s clever and sensible to tap into cloud storage space than many aren’t maximally exploiting, but I still wish external HDDs didn’t have such woeful failure rates. The USB 3.0 connector is dangerously fragile and too easy to unplug when used in transit, but that’s hardly the company’s fault. If you’re looking for a drive to tote around in the event that you need to archive material on the go, at least this one offers a software suite that’s useful.