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

Seagate FreeAgent Go 500 GB (ST905003FGA2E1-RK)

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.