Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB review

World's slimmest portable external USB3.0 drive
Photo of Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB
£70

There are plenty of options available for those who want to carry their data around with them. But Seagate’s GoFlex Slim combines portability with sleek good looks to create what its maker claims is the world’s thinnest portable hard disk drive. Better still, it comes with USB3.0 connectivity, enabling users to take advantage of super-high file transfer rates when getting files on and off the device.

Design and features
The GoFlex Slim’s solid black steel chassis is just 9mm thick. What’s impressive about this slimming feat of is that inside, the GlFlex Slim actually boasts a 2.5in external drive rather than a solid-state device. A simple activity LED is found at the rear, along with a USB 3.0 port. It’s also worth noting that the rear of the drive (aka the GoFlex Adaptor) can be detached so that an alternative type of connection, such as FireWire or eSATA can be utilised without replacing the entire device.

Installed software
The GoFlex Slim is compatible with PCs and Macs, and comes bundled with the Seagate Dashboard interface, supported by Memeo’s versatile range of backup solutions. Once installed and set up you’ll find access to the Premium Backup suite, which requires a short, free registration but then offers 1GB of online storage as well as local and network backups of entire drives or selected files and folders. Each of these options includes multiple file version support and optional encryption, which if used requires Memeo Backup Premium to restore.

It’s a simple three-step process that is described in detail by a helpful wizard, and includes the ability to select files types such as emails, bookmarks, documents and media as well as specific folders. Any files that are backed up can be refreshed with new versions automatically provided the drive is connected, and if it is detached this information is stored so the files can be copied when it is reattached. In short, it’s an excellent solution that’s nicely automated and could save a lot of time.

There’s also Memeo Sync, which allows you to set up two folders to be automatically synchronised whenever the drive is connected, which is a nice way to ensure that any content that is modified is reflected on each device. Finally, trial versions are included of Memeo Send, which allows you to send large files to anyone securely via a weblink; and Memeo Share, which helps you share media with friends and family via an online website.

One issue we did encounter with the installed software is that if the drive is formatted, there’s no facility to re-download the utilities to get it up and running again. Instead, a request must be put through to Seagate technical support which involves an inevitable delay. This isn’t a massive problem, but it’s worth bearing in mind, particularly if you’re using the supplied encryption and need to access files in a hurry.

Performance and price
Predictably the GoFlex doesn’t get close to the purported “10x faster than USB2.0” speeds that are claimed of USB 3.0, but does do fairly well compared to the competition.

Using 1GB and 5GB packages we managed an average of 42MB/s read and 48MB/s write speeds – which, while hardly groundbreaking, is certainly up there with some of the faster USB3.0 devices we’ve tested. We were also pleased to note that the drive is very quiet during operation, which may be a consideration for some considering the benefits of solid-state alternatives.

There’s a bit of a premium to pay for the slimline design and portability of the GoFlex, however – at around £70 for the 320GB drive (rival USB3.0 devices of this size which don’t offer these benefits currently cost around £45) you are paying a bit more than you could be, but when you consider the excellent software support we think many users will find it worth the outlay.

Company: Seagate

Website: http://www.seagate.com/

Positives
  • Slimline design and excellent software support.
Negative
  • More expensive than many (larger) rivals.

Verdict

The GoFlex Slim is an impressive portable drive that offers decent speeds and impressive software that'll help automate and streamline the often tedious process of backing up files - both locally and online. It's a little more expensive than the competition, but in this instance we think the benefits are worth it, particularly if portability is a concern.