The Seagate Backup Plus is the first in the new line of Seagate Backup external hard drives that replaces the popular Seagate GoFlex family. While the GoFlex name is gone, the new drives remain flexible and can be used with the adapters made for the GoFlex drives. The Plus notion means that the drive can do more than just regular local backups, but also backing up users' online contents, such as Facebook profiles.
Similar to previous drives from Seagate, the Backup Plus portable drive comes in two parts: the drive itself and an adapter that determines the type of connections. Out of the box, the drive works with both Windows and Mac machines without reformatting, thanks to the included driver software that allows Macs to read and write NTFS.
In our testing, the Backup Plus offered very fast performance, both with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. The drive is bus-powered and comes in many different colours. It's also slightly more compact than the GoFlex drives.
If you want a good-looking and compact portable drive to back-up your computer or extend its storage space, at the suggested price of AU$155 for 1TB (or AU$115 for 500GB), the new Seagate Backup Plus makes an excellent buy. For owners of the existing GoFlex portable drives, there's no need to upgrade.
The new Seagate Backup Plus comes from the same concept as the portable drives in the Seagate GoFlex family. The hard drive is a 2.5-inch SATA internal hard drive that is housed in a plastic chassis and has a small opening on one side to reveal the internal hard drive's standard SATA female connector. The adapter part has a male SATA connector and a mini-USB 3.0 port. These two parts can be snapped onto each other to form a portable hard drive.
The drive comes with just one standard mini-USB 3.0 cable, which serves both as a data and power cable. However, you can purchase other adapters to use the drive with other connection types, including FireWire, eSATA and Thunderbolt (a note here: Thunderbolt is utterly useless to this drive — until there's an SSD inside, you're better off sticking to USB 3.0). If you already have those adapters for use with your existing GoFlex portable drives, they can be used with the Seagate Backup Plus, too. Conversely, the Backup Plus' included USB adapter can also be used with other GoFlex portable drives, as well as any standard 2.5-inch internal hard drive or SSD, instantly turning one into a USB external drive.
Despite the similar physical design, the new Backup Plus drive is different from any portable GoFlex drive. It's now slightly thinner and longer, and comes in multiple colours, including silver, blue, red and black. And the colours don't stop on the drive's chassis. The Seagate Dashboard Agent backup and management software that accompanies the drive also changes the colour of its interface based on the colour of the connected drive. This is not a huge deal, but considerably helpful for those who have multiple drives of different colours. It's always clear which drive they are working with.
The Seagate Backup Plus' backup software is effective and easy to use.
(Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET)
Out of the box, the GoFlex Turbo is formatted using the NTFS file system, making it work immediately with any Windows computer. On the drive, you'll find a customised version of Paragon NTFS for Mac. This software gives Macs running OS X 10.4, or later, full (read and write) access to the Seagate Backup Plus. Note that the included software is customised to work only with Backup Plus portable drives from Seagate, and might not work with other external drives. This implementation of the NTFS software driver is basically the same as found in the previous GoFlex family.
You can reformat the drive into FAT32 if you want to use it interchangeably between the two platforms without using any software. In this case, the drive won't be able to hold files that are larger than 4GB, though.
The biggest difference that the Backup Plus has from the previous GoFlex portable drives is the Seagate Dashboard Agent software, of which the installer is stored on the drive itself. Once installed, this software offers some nifty ways to do back-ups.
There are three main functions: Protect, Share and Save. The Protect part is basically the local backup; here, you can either customise real-time local backups or let the software, by default, pick what should be backed up for you. After that, the drive will back-up continuously when changes have been made to data. In my trials, this function worked very well.
The Share feature allows uploading of files to social-networking sites, including Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. The Save part does the opposite, enabling you to back-up photos currently stored in your Facebook or Flickr account onto the drive. Both of the Share and Save functions worked well in my testing. They are very straightforward, and there's nothing to learn.
Backup files are basically the exact copies stored in a folder, called Seagate Dashboard 2.0 on the drive. You do need to dig deep in this folder to find the backups you need in case of recovery. The Seagate Dashboard Agent comes in both Windows and Mac versions, with the Protect part being available to Windows only. This is because, Seagate said, Mac users are better off using Time Machine with the drive.
Additionally, the drive also comes with an online backup account that offers 4GB of storage for free.
The Seagate Backup Plus performed very well in my testing. Since the drive comes with a USB 3.0 adapter, I tested it with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.
When used with USB 3.0, the drive scored 91MBps for writing and 110MBps for reading — among the top three of USB 3.0-based external drives I've reviewed. When used with USB 2.0, which is still the most popular cross-platform connection type, the Backup Plus also did well where the GoFlex Turbo did much worse, with some 29MBps and 33MBps for writing and reading, respectively.
With flexible design, fast performance and helpful software, the new Seagate Backup Plus makes an excellent portable external hard drive for both business and home users alike.