Eight Portable Hard Drives Compared: USB 2.0 Lives On

Seagate FreeAgent Go (640GB, USB 2.0)

There are two Seagate FreeAgent Go models, the regular model and the Special Edition. Apart from some cosmetic trim, the only difference between them is that the Special Edition includes a basic USB dock, allowing you to seat the drive in an upright fashion, like an iPhone dock.

Seagate sent us the 640GB model of the standard FreeAgent Go for this review, but Seagate's site is already listing 750GB, 880GB, and 1TB models, as well. The 640GB model is priced at $159; the new 1TB model lists at $229.99. It’s interesting to follow the colors and their corresponding capacities. The 1TB, 880GB, and 750GB models are only available in black. The 640GB can be obtained in black, red, or gray. Seagate's 500GB is offered in six different colors, and there are as many as ten color choices for the 320GB and 250GB capacity points.

The Web site doesn’t list weight information for the 640GB and higher versions, but we found a spec of 160 g for the 500GB model. The 640GB variant should be very similar. Note that this is half as heavy as LaCie's aluminum drive.

Seagate calls the FreeAgent Go the thinnest portable drive available. The basic dimensions are quite compact. However, Seagate doesn't bundle any case or carrying bag, and the requisite mini-USB cable is not integrated into the drive. Seagate impressed us by providing a strong five-year warranty for the FreeAgent Go family.

Seagate Manager

Seagate’s Manager is the one-stop application for managing the FreeAgent Go. You can select between the two different backup modes: Simple Backup, which creates daily backups at 10:00 a.m., and Custom Backup, which lets you define all important backup details. The synchronization feature gets configured in the same way, but there is only one “backup set” for keeping system data and FreeAgent Go data up to date.

Once you create a FreeAgent Go password, Seagate Manager can create an encrypted container and encrypt all files you drag and drop into it. However, the feature doesn’t work in the other direction; 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 app works well, tools such as TrueCrypt are more flexible and powerful.