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Thread: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

  1. #1

    Default Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Whether you like it or not, External hard disks one of the most important gadget a travelling photographer needs. There are many brands and are all pretty similar in terms of storage capacity, design of the case and bundled software. With the GoFlex line of products, Seagate has came up with an interesting design for FreeAgent GoFlex, the interface to the computer is swappable now.



    Standard external drives used to come with USB or FireWire built into the chassis of the drive. With FreeAgent GoFlex, the chassis connector is replaced by a standard SATA data and power port. Included in the package is an USB to SATA adaptor. Connect the adaptor connector to the drive, and the whole thing looks like a standard external drive with a cable attached.

    The benefit of this is the GoFlex drives are upgradeable to higher performance interfaces just by swapping the attachments. We can have one drive with different interfaces such as USB2.0 for the current machines and upgrade to USB 3.0 in the future just by swapping the interface adaptor as and when needed. There are a total of 4 interfaces available, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, eSATA and Firewire 800.



    Performance of the standard drive with USB 2.0 is typical of what you would expect from the rest of the market. About 30MB/s data transfer limited by the USB 2.0 interface. I will try out the USB 3.0 interface once I get my hands on a machine that can do USB 3.0.



    As you can see from the picture below, the interface connector for the GoFlex drive is just the normal SATA interface. I tried connecting that to a bare 2.5”drive and it also worked flawlessly. So, if you have any spare 2.5”drives laying around, you can turn them into external harddisks too! Really cool feature.



    In conclusion, this GoFlex idea by Seagate is something nice and makes the common storage that we use much more versatile. The standard SATA interface that they used for hotplugging the various connectors and other GoFlex docks makes for many expandability opportunities with Seagate or drives from other Vendors. If you are looking for more storage, you should seriously consider this over other competitors.

  2. #2
    Senior Member CS TAN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Thanks for the review.

    I didn't know Seagate has come out with the various adapters so this review really help me catch up with the technology. From my understanding, I can just attach any sata hd to the adapter without getting the Seagate GoFlex drive? I recently bought a desktop PC that comes with USB3.0 ports so this adapter can really 'upgrade' my removable hard disks to match the USB 3.0 speed.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Quote Originally Posted by CS TAN View Post
    Thanks for the review.

    I didn't know Seagate has come out with the various adapters so this review really help me catch up with the technology. From my understanding, I can just attach any sata hd to the adapter without getting the Seagate GoFlex drive? I recently bought a desktop PC that comes with USB3.0 ports so this adapter can really 'upgrade' my removable hard disks to match the USB 3.0 speed.

    Yes, you can attach any 2.5" SATA HDD to the adaptor, does not work on the bigger 3.5" ones though as the power requirements for the 3.5" is more then what USB can provide.

  4. #4
    Member gymak90's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Innovative design!

    I wonder if USB3.0 has performance similar or better than FireWire 800. If not, I might need to get both for fast read/write? Because nowadays not all computers come with FireWire, less Macs.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Quote Originally Posted by gymak90 View Post
    Innovative design!

    I wonder if USB3.0 has performance similar or better than FireWire 800. If not, I might need to get both for fast read/write? Because nowadays not all computers come with FireWire, less Macs.
    On specs, USB3.0 is definetly faster than FW800. At this stage, we may be limited by the performance of the drive rather then the interface.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    sorry, i'm a little confused.

    you start off the review by saying that : "Whether you like it or not, External hard disks one of the most important gadget a travelling photographer needs. "

    i would have thought most people would choose between: Portable Media Device (vosonic, epson) - this is a hard disk that can read cards and sometimes has display; or netbooks, or laptops. without a means to transfer the images between what seems like a standalone hard disk and the card... unless this is actually a portable media device (not apparent from the review), maybe you could explain more clearly how a travelling photographer actually needs external hard disks of this sort to help out with my understanding here.
    Last edited by night86mare; 1st December 2010 at 09:25 AM.

  7. #7
    Member hotwork77's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    sorry, i'm a little confused.

    you start off the review by saying that : "Whether you like it or not, External hard disks one of the most important gadget a travelling photographer needs. "

    i would have thought most people would choose between: Portable Media Device (vosonic, epson) - this is a hard disk that can read cards and sometimes has display; or netbooks, or laptops. without a means to transfer the images between what seems like a standalone hard disk and the card... unless this is actually a portable media device (not apparent from the review), maybe you could explain more clearly how a travelling photographer actually needs external hard disks of this sort to help out with my understanding here.
    Besides agreeing with your disagreement...one other thing often overlooked: Hard disk is susceptible to damage especially if packed together with check in baggage.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    External harddisks are very cheap solution for backups of the images from the notebooks most of us travel with. You can easily have 2 copies of the files 1 on the notebook and 1 on the external hdd.

    Dump the notebook in the hotel safe for the day, bring the lightweight external hdd with all the images in it and you can be sure that no matter what happens to the notebook, you would still have all your images or data with you.

    I don't see the reason for checking it in as small enough to put into carry on bags. Same thing with the hotel example, you can lose a few kg of carry on weight by checking in the notebook and just keep the external hdd with you.



    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    Besides agreeing with your
    disagreement...one other thing often overlooked: Hard disk is susceptible to damage especially if packed together with check in baggage.
    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    sorry, i'm a little confused.

    you start off the review by saying that : "Whether you like it or not, External hard disks one of the most important gadget a travelling photographer needs. "

    i would have thought most people would choose between: Portable Media Device (vosonic, epson) - this is a hard disk that can read cards and sometimes has display; or netbooks, or laptops. without a means to transfer the images between what seems like a standalone hard disk and the card... unless this is actually a portable media device (not apparent from the review), maybe you could explain more clearly how a travelling photographer actually needs external hard disks of this sort to help out with my understanding here.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CS TAN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    I think unless you go to those out of reach places with no power or Internet connection, PSD is being slowly replaced by netbooks or light weight notebooks. One of the advantage of PSD is that they can operate on battery for a much longer time than netbook/notebook. But most of us when traveling, we always have a place to go back to in the evening so recharging battery is usually not a problem for us. The other advantage of PSD is that you can make copies of your memory cards in the field when you run out of memory space but with the large capacity memory cards, most people can also wait until they get back to the hotel before doing the backup.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Managed to get my hands on a machine with USB3.0 to do some tests.
    The USB3.0 specs the maximum theoritical bandwidth to be 5Gb/s, which is 640MB/s. This is 10 times the speed of USB2.0 and 5 times the speed of FW800.

    Here are the HD Tune graphs for your comparison. Bear in mind that the HDD in the FreeAgent GoFlex casing is a 5400RPM 2.5" drive.







    From the results above, USB3.0 does improve the performance of the data transfer by a lot. Due to the limitations of the drive, the max we can go is about 80MB/s If we put in an SSD, speeds in the region of 200MB/s can be easily achieved.
    The file benchmark also shows that write performance is also as good as the read performance of the drive.

    If your motherboard supports USB3.0, go grab 1 of these GoFlex USB 3.0 cables, take out all your portable harddrives from their casings and use it bare with this cable.
    Kudos to seagate for making this GoFlex cable compatible with harddisks from all other vendors.

  11. #11
    Member gymak90's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Thanks for all the analysis.

    But from the top left graph, if you use a 500GB USB3.0 disk, the transfer rate is only around 20MB/s. Isn't that worse than USB2.0? Or am I interpreting it wrongly? Pls enlighten. Thanks
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  12. #12
    Senior Member CS TAN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    Top left graph is using USB 2.0. I believe the HD rpm will also play a part in how fast USB3.0 can go.
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    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    My apologies. I meant top right graph.

    Yes I read somewhere before that the larger the HD, at same rpm, there will be a decrease in read/write speed.

    However with GoFlex, both are same in rpm and capacity, only difference is the interface. So USB3.0 500GB has lousier transfer rate than USB2.0 500GB?
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive Review

    All the graphs on the right is USB3.0 if you see the numbers on the top right, the min transfer is 37.4MB/s compared to the left 20.7MB/s

    The reason the top right graph tapers down from close to 80MB/s to 37.4MB/s is because of the harddisk. On the USB2.0 graph, the Harddisk is faster then the interface, therefore you get a horizontal graph. But when it is USB3.0, the limitation becomes the harddisk.

    Quote Originally Posted by gymak90 View Post
    My apologies. I meant top right graph.

    Yes I read somewhere before that the larger the HD, at same rpm, there will be a decrease in read/write speed.

    However with GoFlex, both are same in rpm and capacity, only difference is the interface. So USB3.0 500GB has lousier transfer rate than USB2.0 500GB?

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