Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive (1.5TB)

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive review: A very versatile storage solution from Seagate.

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Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Flexibility to select your own connection, USB 3.0

Cons

  • No uninstaller for some parts of the included software for Macs

Bottom Line

The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive is a fantastically versatile storage system. It allows an investment in compact and portable hard drives up to huge capacities, that can then be easily connected to any computer with a USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire or eSATA connector. No other hard drive manufacturer has devised a system so simple yet effective.

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Also available to buy is a docking station that lets you stream your Seagate drive's video content to your TV.

The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player is a video adaptor which accepts one of these GoFlex drives and lets you play out its video files to a high-definition TV.

There's also a NAS-like dock adaptor, the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device, that lets you share two Seagate GoFlex drives over your local network, with a gigabit Ethernet connection.

The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive is finished in a black plastic case with shiny gloss finish. As well as picking up fingerprints all too easily, it is also easy scratched. There's no carry case in the packaging we'd advised you to pack it carefully when travelling so that it doesn't get too marked.

Included with the drive is additional software for Windows and Mac users. For Windows, there's the Seagate Dashboard management tool for backup and encryption, designed by content-management software developer Memeo.

For the Mac, there's a 30-day trial version of Memeo Premium software, with a full version of the basic Backup app also included.

There's also an NTFS file system driver from Paragon Software in the Mac software bundle, said to enable write as well as read access on NTFS Windows volumes for Mac OS X users.

This only seems to work with the connected Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive though — we still couldn't write to our Windows Boot Camp partition with this driver in place, nor another brand's NTFS-formatted external hard drive.

Install such freebie software with caution though. We can't vouch for the Windows version, but installing the default apps for Mac involves inserting Seagate kernel extensions and other low-level processes into the operating system, for which Seagate provides no uninstaller.

Lab Results

We tested the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive with both its original USB 3.0 interface adaptor, and a separately available FireWire 800 connection kit.

Windows testing was carried out on our Chillblast Antec Skeleton PC test rig, with Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard, Intel Core i7-920 and 6GB RAM. Operating system was Windows Home Premium 64-bit.

For FireWire 800 testing, we used an Apple MacBook Pro (4,1) with SATA SSD and 6GB RAM, running Windows Ultimate 64-bit and Mac OS X 10.6.5.

You Ess Bee Three

In the ATTO Disk Benchmark for Windows, the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive achieved a maximum read speed of 98.7MBps and write speed of 98.5MBps. In the CrystalDiskMark 3.0 test, we saw similar performance of 97.3MBps for both read and writes.

That's quick — in fact, we'd wager that's the native intrinsic speed of the 5400rpm disk drive inside the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive.

Turning to FireWire 800 on the MacBook Pro, the HD Tach benchmark showed us average read and write speeds of 65.6MBps and 24.7MBps for the quicker Short test; the Long test revealed similar read speeds of 65.4MBps, while the average write speed increased to 34.6MBps. Burst speed for both these tests was around 74MBps.

HD Tune Pro had a similar story to tell: reads and writes averaged 65MBps and 39MBps respectively.

Those are excellent FireWire 800 results, beating our previous-fastest G-Technology G-Drive mobile 500GB drive with its 59MBps read score; although that drive also does keep the record for writing speed, with its slightly faster write performance of around 50MBps in the same benchmark test.

To finish off, we tried some real-world file copy tests in Mac OS X. With a 872MB ISO test file, the Seagate drive could transfer the file to the Mac in 15 seconds, equating to a read speed of 58MBps; then was copied back to the drive in 19 secs, suggesting a good average write speed of 46MBps.

The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive is a fantastically versatile storage system. It allows an investment in compact and portable hard drives up to huge capacities, that can then be easily connected to any computer with a USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire or eSATA connector. No other hard drive manufacturer has devised a system so simple yet effective. We hope to test the network adaptor kit in a later review. In our tests, the 1.5TB version of the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive had incredibly quick performance, nigh-on 100MBps with USB 3.0, and it was also one of the fastest FireWire 800 drives we've tested too. This drive comes heartily recommended.

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