Reviewed: Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive

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Data is gold. In fact, for many of us, it might even be more important. Memories can’t be bought back. Neither can time spent working on a project, or critical documents. Backing up is always the prudent thing to do, but it’s far from the simplest of tasks. Seagate, a trusted name in storage, has introduced the Backup Plus: a device that makes backing your digital life up easy. It’s a great idea on paper, but implementation is often a different matter. We took the drive out for a spin to see if they nailed it.

Design: 4.0/5.0

As far as desktop hard drives go, the Backup Plus is pleasantly plain. Its monolithic design is bare of anything save for the USB 3.0 port in the back, next to the AC jack; and a power and space indicator light at the front. It’s about the height and depth of a small paperback. There should be absolutely no problem keeping this on all but the most cramped of desks. It is designed to stand on end, with little rubber feet at the bottom to keep it steady. Vent holes at the top allow it to effectively dissipate heat. Keeping things off the top of the device might be a good idea.

Hardware: 4.0/5.0

The Backup Plus we reviewed was the 3TB model. To quickly, efficiently fill that space, Seagate has made the drive USB 3.0 compatible, for fast transfer speeds, even when you are moving a whole digital lifetime’s worth of photos, videos, music, and documents. A handy LED indicator near the bottom edge of the front of the device has four bars to show how much space has been used, alongside the status indicator, so you know at a glance if your device is live. The included multi-volt power adapter ships with various heads, so you should be able to find the exact one to fit whatever outlet you may have lurking behind your desk.

User Experience: 4.5/5.0

From the start, I was eager to see what the Backup Plus could do. Having lost data many times in the past, I have learned the value of backups, and keep my own. It has never really been easy or convenient to do so manually, so finding a device that does so automatically was intriguing.

Setup was easy. Unpack, plug the necessary cables, and the drive is detected. Inside, there is an installer for the companion software, which is really where the magic lies. Run the installer, do a quick update (with a download size of just around 100MB, if we recall correctly), and you’re in business. The software has a notification on the Windows Taskbar, nestled where you would find the volume, wireless, and battery icons, so it’s always within easy reach.

Launching the software brings up a dialog that asks you to choose which of several features you would like to use. You have a PC backup option, which takes all of your locally-stored content, and keeps it in the Backup Plus, a Mobile Backup option, which backs the files on your smartphone up on both the device and a cloud account, and a Social backup option, which won’t save you from your next faux pas, but will take all of the photos from Facebook or flickr, and save them locally.

The PC backup option allows you to make a live backup of your local files. It not only stores it on the drive, creating a redundancy when folders and files change. This is updated frequently, so you are likely to have a current snapshot of your device should something go wrong. You also have the option to create a specialized backup plan, and specify which folders should be backed up, and when it should do so. We made a few dummy folders to try this out, and it worked flawlessly, as expected. They put a lot of work into the software, and it really shows. USB 3.0 gives great transfer rates, though there could be other bottlenecks in the pipe, such as your internal HDD speed, or your own machine, that you have to be aware of.

Mobile backup, on the other hand, works in conjunction with a smartphone app (for Android and iOS) to back your contents up both locally and on the cloud. While this might be the most complicated of all processes, it remains quite simple. Just install the smartphone app, sign in on your device, and make sure your phone and computer are on the wireless network. The software takes care of the rest. It was rather painless, and did take a little while to complete, so it might be a good idea to do that overnight, as you catch some shut-eye. The cloud backup requires a separate cloud account to store files, but the software takes care of the heavy lifting, so after you pick a provider and a schedule, you’re all set. Do bear in mind that it doesn’t take the place of a system backup, so you should do that separately.

The last option is a backup of the media files on your Facebook or flickr page. This is an interesting option and one that a lot of “non-hardcore” users might appreciate. While off-site servers do a great job keeping data indefinitely, having offline access to that data is nice too, and really the point behind the process.

Value: 5.0/5.0

Like seeing the dentist, getting an annual checkup, or changing the oil in your car, making backups really isn’t something you would do just for the heck of it—a schedule makes it happen, and sans one, those might not even happen at all. The Seagate brand, great software, and even cloud integration make for a piece of hardware that you’ll thank yourself for having someday (though we hope it doesn’t come to that.)

Bottomline:

Like a fire extinguisher, a great backup drive is something you’ll hate yourself for not having when you need it. Do yourself a favor and get the best.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE April 2015

Words by Ren Alcantara