Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex: Modular External Storage

Should you pick a 3.5” or 2.5” drive? USB 2.0 or FireWire? USB 3.0 or eSATA? There are plenty of storage options, and sometimes it seems hard to find an ideal solution. Seagate’s FreeAgent GoFlex emphasizes modularity so you can mix and match drive form factor, capacity, interface, and features into the configuration that’s best for you. We looked at the GoFlex family to see if spending more on Seagate’s "universal" drive makes sense in an environment where storage prices are continually falling.

GoFlex Separates The Drive From Its Features

The GoFlex concept looks very complicated when you see the many different products listed on Seagate’s home page. However, the idea is actually quite simple. There are two basic drive types, 2.5” and 3.5”, named GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive and Desk External Drive, respectively. Both consist of Seagate hard drives in SATA-enabled shells.

With the 2.5” drives, you can attach one of four Upgrade Cables to equip the GoFlex Ultra-portable with one of four popular interfaces: FireWire 800, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or eSATAp (bus powered). The GoFlex Pro Ultra-portable Drive comes with integrated and encrypted automatic backup and synchronization. Alternatively, you can insert the Ultra-portable drives into Seagate’s TV HD Media Player or the Net Media Sharing Device. The 3.5” drives have to be plugged onto one of three possible GoFlex Desk Desktop Adapters: the FireWire 800/USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or USB 3.0 with a PCI Express controller kit. All GoFlex drives use SATA interfaces, which means that all of they may be directly connected to internal SATA controllers and SATA power, but you need the Seagate cables or adapter solutions to operate GoFlex drives as external or portable storage.

If you purchase a FreeAgent GoFlex drive, you’ll have to pick one interface option. All others can be added later. We looked at the 1 TB 3.5” Desk External Drive, the 2.5” Ultra-portable Drive, along with every Upgrade Cable and Desktop Adapter, to check usability and performance. We also included the Auto Backup option and GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device for data distribution across networks.