Seagate is moving away from its GoFlex branding with a new series of external drives dubbed Backup Plus, which will store not only your photos, videos and files, but some social media data as well -- users can back up or share documents to Facebook and photo-sharing site Flickr. And as far as I know, it is also the only single hard drive backup device that offers an uber-fast Thunderbolt connectivity option.
Lightweight and adaptable
The new Backup Plus portable drive is remarkably slim and light, weighing a little less than half a pound and measuring just .57-in. thick. It's 3.19 in. wide and 4.86 in. long. It comes in one of four colors: black, red, blue or silver.
Like its predecessor, the GoFlex, the Backup Plus portable line comes with a Universal Storage Module -- a removable SATA interface adapter. The drive comes standard with a USB 3.0 adapter snapped in, but that can be removed with a quick tug and replaced with a FireWire 800 or Thunderbolt adapter -- if you're willing to part with some additional greenbacks. The Thunderbolt adapter will run you $99. The FireWire adapter for the Backup Plus won't be available until the fall, but you can still use the GoFlex model of the adapter with this drive; it just won't match new drive's look. That sells for $24.99.
One of the nice features of Thunderbolt is the ability to daisy chain up to five devices. Unfortunately, if you have other Thunderbolt-enabled devices, Seagate's Backup Plus portable model will have to be at the end of the chain -- it's got no Thunderbolt output port. On the other hand, the desktop model has two Thunderbolt ports, so it can be used as a "pass-through" device.
I had problems with my adapter, which had a loose connection to the drive's SATA interface. This caused the I/O interface to my computer to disengage more than once with little more than a slight movement of the USB cable. I'm not sure if that's a design flaw or a manufacturing glitch with my unit.
Right off the bat, I formed two opposing impressions of this drive. In the plus column, the Backup Plus is whisper-quiet and versatile.
In the minus column, however, the setup is a bit kludgy. It took a couple attempts to get the drive to set up so that I could use its Protect data backup tool and dashboard menu. A colleague of mine had similar problems getting his Backup Plus Portable drive to save his Facebook data properly; after a couple of calls to the support folks at Seagate, he got the drive to work.
I tested the Backup Plus using a MacBook Pro. The drive's software auto-detected my OS (Mac OS X version 10.6.8, a.k.a. Snow Leopard) and asked if I wanted to use the drive with Mac and PC or Mac only. Choosing both operating systems required installation of the included Paragon NTFS for Mac driver to enable two-way Mac OS and Windows use. Some applications, including Time Machine and the included Mac backup software from Seagate, will not work since they cannot make use of a drive that uses the Windows (NTFS) file system.
Choosing "Mac only" will erase PC-related functions on the drive and prepare it for use with all your Mac applications, including Time Machine and the included Mac backup software from Seagate.