By Mic Mell
Guest Writer, [GAS]
There’s nothing worse than that moment when you realize your data is gone. All the music, saved games, instrument presets, documents, and information that you took for granted are now lost forever. When my last hard drive crashed, there was the sickening moment when I realized the data was gone, and it was almost as hard to deal with as a break up.
Seagate has revamped its FreeAgent series of external drives. The drives now come with a five year warranty, and a fold out instruction page with less than 1,000 words.
I had the opportunity to test out all three of the drives in the line, The FreeAgent Go, FreeAgent Desk, and FreeAgent XTreme, and I am impressed. With a huge bang for the buck and more data storage than most people will ever need, the FreeAgent drives are definitely a choice to consider if you’re shopping for a portable storage solution.
The drives are sleek and have the coolest drive light I have ever seen. The display LEDs glow brightly when plugged, pulse in brightness when the drive is reading or writing data, and dim when it goes into standby. As an energy saver, all the drives automatically jump to standby after 15 minutes. The drives are simple to use. Simply plug them and start rocking. As if looks and ease aren’t enough, the drives are almost silent.
The FreeAgent Go is a tiny bit larger than an iPhone, and can easily fit in your pocket. The unit has a docking bay and leather case (sold separately) that eliminate the need to plug and unplug cables on your computer. While the included USB cable is only 3.5 feet, it’s a perfect carry along. I put the Go in my pocket and went to see some friends with my data, and found that the FreeAgent Go is the perfect portable drive. It took much less than I expected to pour my data onto their computers. The FreeAgent Go comes in several colors, and you can choose between three file capacities, 250GB, 320GB, and 500GB. You can get the 500GB for as low as $122, making this drive a cheap addition to your rig, and perfect for bringing the entire contents of your computer somewhere else.
The FreeAgent Desk and XTreme seem almost the same, with the exception of the casing and a coupe of features. They both have 7200 rpm drives, making them near the top of the line in speed. While the color is different (The Desk is silver and the XTreme is black), the only other feature that sets them apart is the interface. While the desk is USB 2.0 only, the XTreme also has ports for firewire and eSATA, giving it a leg up on speed. Both drives come in four storage sizes between 500GB and 1.5TB, and span in price from $140 to $280. You can also get them for much cheaper on Amazon.com.
The software that comes with the FreeAgent is easy to use. It includes some simple diagnostics, and automated backup controls, including setting specific folders and backup times. The software also includes an encryption option. While there are several steps to the encryption and decryption process, it’s nice to know that if someone takes my drive, they won’t get my data. I tested the drives by backing up my 168GB of media, documents, pictures, and studio sessions on all the drives… at the same time. In less than nine hours all three drives were complete When I Copied my music collection (50GB of MP3s) to the FreeAgent go, the transfer was complete in less than 90 minutes.
We’ve yet to see what the new drives’ reliability over time will be, but Seagate’s offerings look good, are easy to use, and are inexpensive – and that works for me! I’m impressed.
(Editor’s Note: [GAS] Contributor Brian Boyko had an earlier version of the Seagate FreeAgent drive – his hard drive crashed on him. However, Seagate promptly replaced the drive, and the replacement has continued working for 18 months so far.)