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Seagate FreeAgent Go 500 GB (ST905003FGA2E1-RK)

Roundup: Hand-Held Hard Drives With Up To 500 GB

The FreeAgent Go is one of five FreeAgent products: FreeAgent Classic units are simple 3.5” external drives, FreeAgent Desk and Desk for Mac are more advanced versions, FreeAgent Xtreme caters to enthusiasts, and FreeAgent Go or Go for Mac are the portable devices.

We received a 500 GB FreeAgent Go. Seagate has a nice Web site that presents this product: ten different colors are available, and the design combines a plastic bottom with a brushed aluminum top. Seagate offers 250 GB, 320 GB, and 500 GB capacities. Not all capacities are available in all colors, but all are based on Momentus 5400.6 hard drives.

The difference between the FreeAgent Go and other portable drives is the optional docking station called FreeAgent Dock, which is used instead of a conventional cable connection. The drive is available a few seconds after popping it into the dock, and the bundled software supports automatic synchronization, making this task a no-brainer. The drive features a fancy LED-powered display on its top, which can be disabled using Seagate Manager. It also allows configuring the idle time until the power management kicks in, and supports data encryption and synchronization.

Impressive Software Bundle

Seagate’s custom Manager software is the one-stop solution for controlling the FreeAgent Go. You can select between the two different backup modes Simple Backup, which, by default, creates daily backups at 10:00 AM, and Custom Backup, which lets you define all of the important backup details. The synchronization feature has to be configured the same way, but there is only one “backup set” that is used to keep system data and FreeAgent Go data current.

Once you create a FreeAgent Go password, the Seagate Manager also supports encryption, which isn’t specified any further on the Web site. The Seagate Manager will create an encrypted container and encrypt all files you drag and drop into it. However, the feature doesn’t work in the other direction, as you’re forced to specifically pick the decryption feature instead of being able to drag and drop a file to another window if you want to access it. Although the encryption tool works well, tools such as TrueCrypt are more flexible and powerful.

Seagate provides an impressive five-year warranty on its FreeAgent Go drives.

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  • 8 Hide
    JaguarOne , May 15, 2009 8:25 AM
    Nice article although 2.5" cases with e-sata and no external power supply (they use the USB for power) have been in the market for some time. I wouldn't consider a USB-only hand-held drive when for the same money i can get one of those. AC Ryan, ThermalTake and Akasa for example have such cases and you can pair them with practically any 2.5" 5400rpm drive (or in some cases an SSD drive).
    Would love to see an article on these cases
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2009 11:30 AM
    I love my Freeagent Go drives. Just one thing. When they "wake up" from powersave my NAS can't find them anymore. So if you are having issues, first set the powersave to "never".

  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2009 11:51 AM
    Nice article, but it's a fact the WD Elite offers a warranty period of 5 years in EMEA. This is a nice USP for this product. The other tested vendors aren't offering this if I'm not mistaken!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2009 12:27 PM
    Sounds like Fujitsu actually bundled Acronis Disk Director with the drive instead of True Image. At lest, that's what it sounds like from the way the reviewer described it.
  • -2 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , May 15, 2009 1:59 PM
    Personally, I wouldn't buy or recommend Seagate for anything. Reliability is non-existent. At one point, last year, I had 9 dead ones in the shop at one time. That 5 year warranty doesn't mean much when the replacement is the same junk. I recently returned 2 for warranty replacement. One of the warranty replacement drives was DOA. Nuff said.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2009 2:51 PM
    I love my WD drive, but make sure you get a good cable (non retractable cable for sure). I was having issues using what I thought was a good cable (brand new, my guess maybe it was too long?) but it would not supply the WD with enough power to run the drive. Make sure to use the cable the came with the device, if you're having trouble powering it on, it may be the actual cable's fault.
  • 0 Hide
    erichlund , May 15, 2009 3:14 PM
    One suggestion for your charts. A casual glance at the last chart page would lead one to believe the Seagate had the highest read throughput, yet it's scale is different than the other charts, topping out at 30MB/s. Normalize the scales so they are all the same, and then a casual glance delivers the difference in performance.
  • 0 Hide
    tjhva , May 15, 2009 4:21 PM
    Does anyone have any experience with the My Passport Studio? I'd love to get one, but the reviews on New Egg are poor.
  • -1 Hide
    NocturnalOne , May 15, 2009 4:30 PM
    I think enthusiasts should consider building their own 3.5" external drive. Pick the enclosure and hard drive you like and combine them. Use TrueCrypt for encrypting if needed and you did already have a backup app, right? :) 

    I built one using a Vantec USB2/eSATA enclosure and a Fujitsu hard drive. Sorry, I don't have the part numbers here. Also got a PCMCIA (or whatever they are called these days) eSATA interface for my laptops. eSATA is sooo much nicer for external storage it *must* be considered by anyone who intends to move massive amounts of data. Because the enclosure still comes with USB capablity you retain backwards compatibility for when eSATA is not available. Since I used a 7200 RPM drive I do always need the USB power cord but it's worth the extra zip (pardon the pun).

    I use this external drive for astronomical image processing which combines literally hundreds of 11MB files into a single image. Works great.
  • 0 Hide
    vgdarkstar , May 15, 2009 6:29 PM
    JohnMD1022Personally, I wouldn't buy or recommend Seagate for anything. Reliability is non-existent. At one point, last year, I had 9 dead ones in the shop at one time. That 5 year warranty doesn't mean much when the replacement is the same junk. I recently returned 2 for warranty replacement. One of the warranty replacement drives was DOA. Nuff said.

    I have a vastly different personal experience, I've had 2 Seagates for 4 years now, they've been running constantly, basically 24/7 since then. I bought a 7200.11, updated the firmware on that one, no problems, and now I have two 7200.12s in RAID0, I love them.

    It's all personal experience, I don't think it matters what brand it is, it's the other variables that HDD makers can't do anything about that cause failures.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 15, 2009 6:51 PM
    one thing about portable hard drive is, you drop it accidentally and you can say bye bye to it. thats why i no longer use a 2.5inch portable hard drive anymore, substitute it with a 16GB thumbdrive makes sense :D . It was few times smaller than the 2.5inch drive and I can drop it anytime I want :D .
  • 0 Hide
    fausto , May 15, 2009 6:59 PM
    I need an article just like this one right now...but on 2 Terrabyte backup options...comparing prices options and different connection types.
  • -1 Hide
    cadder , May 15, 2009 8:21 PM
    How many different computers were these tested on? I've owned and used several different portable drives, and used them on at least 3 desktop and 2 laptop computers. I think only one of the computers was able to operate the drive completely on the power from only one USB port. Most of the time I had to connect with a special cable to two USB ports.

    I'm not sure of the benefits of ESATA, with a fast computer running USB 2.0 the data transfer rate seems plenty fast.
  • 0 Hide
    chefjw , May 16, 2009 1:51 AM
    I use a rocketfish 2.5" esata enclosure I picked up at goodwill for 5 bucks. Plug it into the USB and ESATA so it has power/esata speed and not had a single problem in over six months using the drive daily.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 29, 2009 12:43 AM
    Seagate FreeAgent Go does NOT back up music album art.
    I just bought a Seagate FreeAgent Go 250 GB today (20090628) after a WD Passport Essential 160 GB failed. First backup went fine, but when I looked at the log I found it does NOT backup any file with both system & hidden attributes on, which leaves all the music album art behind. Bummer, I'd have to refresh every album after a recovery, say a couple of months of work. I don't get it. That is a truly major oversight.
  • 0 Hide
    dddesilou , July 5, 2009 7:27 AM
    I'm having trouble sorting through info in various articles reviewing portable hard drives. I need a 500GB hard drive that has software that is pretty easy to use, that is super dependable, and that is not too fragile. I'm a basic computer user. I have a laptop from work and want to store my personal stuff. Just music, pics, and documents. Advice?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 3, 2009 8:26 AM
    Hi. Am using free agent 500GB portable hard disk.I am having a problem in the file transfer.For accessing the stored files too it takes much time and it gets hanged often. Wats the solution for this? Should i have to go for the replacement as i have bought this before three months?
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , September 30, 2009 7:44 AM
    I like the Samsung 1.8" drive.
    Small, sexy, and a decent amount of storage.

    That, or a 64GB flash drive... hmm. (Smaller, not as sexy, more durable.)