Sub-Terabyte External Hard Drives

Seagate FreeAgent Pro 750 GB

FreeAgent Pro is the top line of Seagate's external storage product family. While there is the Maxtor OneTouch 4 aimed at ease of use, FreeAgent Pro is meant to be the more flexible product. In this context we would have liked it to have a hardware power switch, which we missed; just like the Maxtor drive, it will power off the drive once the USB connection has been disconnected.

Unlike the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus, Seagate supports USB 2.0 or Firewire, and even eSATA. However, all three interfaces cannot be used at the same time, as the connector block is laid out modularly in the bottom of the device. One interface module offers USB 2.0 and eSATA interfaces, which both provide good performance, although the eSATA interface is bottlenecked at 40 MB/s, even though Seagate's Barracuda 7200.10 at up to 750 GB is capable of transferring well over 75 MB/s. The other option is the Firewire module, which replaces the USB/eSATA interface module. As you can see in the photos below, the device has to be laid down (it should only be operated vertically), so the interface module can be unscrewed and exchanged. Once you finished installing it, you can put the FreeAgent Pro back on its feet and power it on using Firewire 1394a (400 Mbit/s).

While the exchangeable port does make a lot of sense from a flexibility standpoint, we wonder how often users would actually switch from one interface to the other once they selected their favorite one. eSATA clearly is the fastest choice, followed by Firewire. USB 2.0, while being most flexible, is the slowest connection possible. For stationary use, the exchangeable interface is nice to have, but most likely only an advantage on rare occasions. Mobile users will have to make sure they don't forget the alternative interface module prior to beginning a trip.

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