Seagate Backup Plus review

The Seagate Backup Plus is fast, easy to use and versatile, making it a worthy successor to the formidable GoFlex line of portable hard drives.
Photo of Seagate Backup Plus

In a world teeming with portable hard drive choices, Seagate’s GoFlex line is noteworthy for its versatility and sprightly performance. As successor to the venerable GoFlex line, the newly-minted Backup Plus line represents Seagate’s next wave of drives. But not all successors are successes, and the new Backup Plus (1TB) ($139.99 direct) has some big shoes to fill. How does it fare? As it turns out, quite well. With brisk performance, a smart user interface that uniquely incorporates social networking, and its versatile USM (Universal Storage Module) adapter, the Backup Plus is a fully realized product that ultimately outshines the GoFlex line and, accordingly, is the rightful heir of the Editors’ Choice for portable hard drives, previously held by the Seagate GoFlex Turbo (750GB) ($169.99 list, 4.5 stars).

Design and Features

Measuring 0.5 by 3 by 4.75 inches (HWD) with the USM (a proprietary interface) adapter (and 0.5 by 3 by 4.4 inches without), the Backup Plus’s compact chassis is complemented by its tasteful, low-key aesthetic. While our test unit was black, it also comes in silver, blue, and red. Constructed entirely out of plastic, its primary visual flourish is the brushed faux-metallic finish on the lid, with the Seagate logo on its lower right side. While I prefer the sturdiness of a metallic drive along the lines of, say, the Western Digital My Passport Studio (1TB) ($179.99 list, 4 stars), the Backup Plus is nonetheless a handsome drive that, at either 5.4 or 5.9 ounces (depending on whether the USM adapter is attached), can easily slip into a laptop bag without adding any noticeable heft.

The real draw is the USM adapter, which securely fastens to the rear of the drive in the same manner as the GoFlex line. As was the case with the GoFlex Turbo, the USM adapters are available for USB 3.0 (tested), FireWire, and Thunderbolt. While some may find fault with having to shell out the extra cash for additional adapters, it’s nonetheless a cheaper option than purchasing a new drive altogether, not to mention the added convenience of using the same drive rather than transferring your data over another for the sake of employing a different connection method.

Once you plug the drive into a PC, you see a revamped version of Seagate’s Dashboard program. The new Dashboard was clearly designed with simplicity in mind, as its clean interface presents three options: Protect, Share, and Save. The Protect category allows users perform a back-up manually or automatically, as well as create customized back-up plans. The Dashboard’s true gem lies in the Save category, where files uploaded to a Facebook or Flickr account are either manually or automatically stored in a folder within the Backup Plus. Sure enough, after posting some test snapshots to my Facebook wall from my smartphone, they showed up in my Backup Plus. It’s an innovative and simple method to store all your pictures or videos on a single location. The Dashboard’s Share feature is somewhat less impressive, as it simply allows you to upload files from your Backup Plus directly to your Facebook account. While I typically appreciate the notion of skipping the Facebook interface to upload images, this function is not nearly as impressive as the Share feature.

The Backup Plus comes formatted for NTFS but can be reformatted for Macs. The only shortcoming in this regard is the “Protect” feature of the Dashboard, as it’s not Mac-compatible. This isn’t necessarily a fatal flaw since Mac users can perform the same task via Time Machine. Mac users can still utilize the rest of the Backup Plus’s abundant set of features. In comparison, the Clickfree C6 Portable (1TB) ($150 street, 4 stars), is not compatible with Macs.

Performance

Although the drive we received from Seagate came equipped with USB 3.0, Seagate’s USM adapters come in three flavors—FireWire, Thunderbolt, and USB 3.0. Using USB 3.0 (via the USM adapter’s Micro B Port), the Backup Plus outpaced every portable drive in its class. It copied our 1.22GB test folder in a blazing 15 seconds, sprinting ahead of the Clickfree C6  (17 seconds) as well as the GoFlex Turbo (750GB) (18 seconds). Although a difference of a few seconds may initially seem negligible, the distinction becomes more pronounced when multiple large files are transferred. The Backup Plus’s USB 3.0 speeds resoundingly trumped the WD My Passport Studio (1TB)  using FireWire (31 seconds). Although USB 2.0 predictably yielded slower speeds for the Backup Plus (40 seconds), its USB 2.0 speed nonetheless surpassed that of the WD My Passport Studio (44 seconds) and the Clickfree C6 (41 seconds).

In the PCMark05 test, the Backup Plus yielded remarkable scores of 6,463 (via USB 3.0) and 3,125 (via USB 2.0), handily edging out the GoFlex Turbo’s USB 3.0 score (6,025). The Backup Plus likewise yielded excellent results in the PCMark7 test, finishing with 1,449 (via USB 3.0) and 1,244 (via USB 2.0), easily edging out the Clickfree C6 Portable’s scores of 1,406 (via USB 3.0) and 1,232 (via USB 2.0). The GoFlex Turbo’s PCMark7 score of 1,498 with USB 3.0 was the lone instance in which the Backup Plus was outpaced, and since it was by a scant 49 points, it amounts to little more than a light drizzle on the Backup Plus’s otherwise triumphant parade.

While the Seagate Backup Plus bears the imprimatur of the GoFlex line, its numerous attributes prevent it from standing in the lengthy shadow cast by its formidable GoFlex forebears. With its better user interface, faster performance, and innovative incorporation of social networking, the Backup Plus manages to outshine its predecessors, and sets the standard for future drives in the process, earning our Editors’ Choice for portable hard drives.

Specifications
Rotation Speed 5400 rpm
System Type Notebook
Type External
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 1000 GB
Ports USB 3.0

Verdict
The Seagate Backup Plus is a worthy successor to the venerable GoFlex line, offering a killer combination of speed, ease of use, and versatility, all while innovatively incorporating social networking.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc