Seagate FreeAgent XTreme


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Edmund

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#1
In the digital photography era, digital storage is a major concern of many photography enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Recently, Seagate sent us a unit of their popular 1TB FreeAgent Xtreme drive for us to do a user review. Having personally owned its predecessing 500GB FreeAgent Pro, I decided to put it through its paces in comparison to see how the new-comer did.

Unveiling The Package

The Xtreme comes with everything you need to quickly get up and running:

  • power adaptor
  • USB cable
  • FireWire cable
  • quick start guide
  • software for automated backup, synchronisation and encryption




Old versus New

Outwardly, I must say that the old and the new drives are very similar yet different:

  • the 500GB FreeAgent Pro feels more solidly built (due to aluminum like materials)
  • the 1TB FreeAgent Xtreme is less troublesome as all the available interfaces (FireWire, USB 2 and eSATA) are built right into the back. With the 500GB FreeAgent Pro, the desired interface module has to be selected, plugged in and secured first before first use, making it less flexible if you are the type who needs to share the device between multiple machines (e.g. between notebooks)
  • asthetically, both have nice lights - the 500GB one has orange lighted logo and edges while the newer 1TB drive has a white lighted logo - that turn on when the drives are connected to your machine





The following photo shows the 500GB drive standing vertically with the FireWire module selected while the 1TB drive has the whole spectrum of interfaces that it offers built into its back (from right: 2x FireWire ports, USB 2 port and eSATA port).

 

Edmund

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Performance

I also decided to run a quick diagnostic (connected via FireWire) to see how the drives compared in performance. In doing so, I used the internal harddisk (a 2.5", 7200rpm 200GB SATA hdd) as a "benchmark" for comparison of external versus internal harddisks.

I used the freeware version of HD Tune 2.55 running on Vista Ultimate x64 for this quick test and did not daisy-chain the 500GB and 1TB for the tests. I also re-ran each test twice and displayed the results from the better performing run.

First, the transfer statistics of the internal 2.5", 7200rpm 200GB SATA hdd:


Transfer statistics of the older, 500GB FreeAgent Pro:


Finally, the transfer statistics of the 1TB FreeAgent Xtreme:


As the results show, the 1TB drive is decidedly faster than its 500GB brethen and of note is its 12.8ms access time which meant it reacted (note that this is different from throughput, meaning overall, the internal harddisk should finish transfers sooner) faster than my internal harddisk, impressive!

In real world use, without any scientific measurements, I found copying files to the 1TB drive faster than the 500GB drive.


Software

As with the 500GB FreeAgent Pro, the 1TB FreeAgent Xtreme comes pre-loaded with a nifty software that allows the user to schedule automated backups, synchronise and encrypt data. I do not intend to cover the software as I am already using another software for synchronisation and do not need to encrypt my data since all I store are my photo and video (especially my HD video files which are really huge!!) archives.
 

Edmund

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Conclusion

With everything neatly packaged and good looks on top of its credible performance, I would heartily recommend the 1TB FreeAgent Xtreme to anyone who needs the extra storage space. While I did not use the pre-loaded software, I have seen it in action and it would have been something that I would have found really useful if I did not already have my own workflow for backup and archival.

The collation of the various interfaces on its rear won an additional thumbs up for me as I often found myself alternating between FireWire and USB interfaces (on other storage devices that I own) due to the fact that I backup from a handful of notebook computers for different purposes. With the 500GB FreeAgent Pro, I never bothered as it was simply too much hassle swopping out the interface modules, but with the 1TB FreeAgent Xtreme, I can now toggle with ease. :heart:

Highly recommended. :lovegrin:
 

Sep 18, 2005
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#4
Thanks for the review. May i know if the results are through esata, usb2 or firewire interface?

And THE ONE thing i dislike about seagate/maxtor is their lack of support for 64bit OS. :thumbsd: Think twice about buying if u are using vista x64.
 

Edmund

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Thanks for the review. May i know if the results are through esata, usb2 or firewire interface?

And THE ONE thing i dislike about seagate/maxtor is their lack of support for 64bit OS. :thumbsd: Think twice about buying if u are using vista x64.
Opps.. so sorry, I thought I mentioned that I used FireWire but looks like I only mentioned not daisy chaining them during the diagnostic tests. I have updated my article to reflect this. Thanks!

Oh and one other thing, I forgot to mention that I was running Vista Utimate x64 on the machine that I tested the both the FA Xtreme & FA Pro on... so no worries about lack of support on this in terms of hardware. However, I did not test the pre-loaded software on my Vista Ultimate x64 machine so I cannot confirm but from past experiences with other 32bit software running on my machine, I think it'll most likely work.
 

Sep 18, 2005
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#6
I might be on the verge of going OT, but here's my experience:

I was using my maxtor external hdd before i switched from xp to vista x64. No problem reading/writing on the drive manually, but the packaged software just fails to work. Searched up the seagate/maxtor forums and am appalled that apparently there is no software support for x64 for both seagate and maxtor drives. And the worst part is... they even said that there are no plans for x64 s/w support.

Here's the link to the forum. (thread is on maxtor products, although a search will reveal that seagate's software support basically has the same problem)
http://forums.seagate.com/stx/board/message?board.id=onetouch&thread.id=3260

That said, if you manage to run the software properly on your x64, do let me know as i'll be very keen on this product if that's the case!
 

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Edmund

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#7
Just a quick note to say that I haven't forgotten about this... I too am curious. I will try to have a stab at it as soon as I can afford the time.
 

Edmund

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#8
I have finally had the chance to install the Seagate Manager software and the good news is that everything works as expected on my 64bit Vista Ultimate. However, prior to my trial, I had read reports on problems encountered after updating the software to the latest available version online so I chose NOT to update mine. So do note that I have no idea if the latest version works on 64bit Vista Ultimate but the included version certainly does.

As far as backups are concerned, irregardless of the reputation of the manufacturer, I think it is good practice to always have more than 1 copy of your precious data residing on physically separate storage media. Call me kiasu or whatever but I personally have
- working copy
- backup copy
- backup of backup
and these are always on different physical drives.

I know the pain of losing precious data so IMHO, its a small price to pay for being disciplined about performing regular backups in duplicates. In the unfortunate event that my working copy crashes and my backup follows it, I know that the backup's backup will usually survive.. hahaha :p

Oh and.. having a RAID system in place is no substitute for this cos if the damage is not a hardware failure, the "backup" will get mirrored over by the one with problems.
 

boyboy

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Oct 15, 2007
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#9
Oh and.. having a RAID system in place is no substitute for this cos if the damage is not a hardware failure, the "backup" will get mirrored over by the one with problems.
true.. now u make me feel better abt my "poor man's raid" :D

manually copy the contents of one HDD into another. tt's RAID for me ;p
 

jessicax

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Dec 8, 2008
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#10
I think I'm one of the lucky ones, I have a Seagate External HDD (200gb) that I bought 5 years ago and still functions fine to this day....
 

Sep 18, 2005
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#11
great! may i know which version of the software are u using now?
 

Dec 23, 2008
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#12
Hi, I owned a Seagate FreeAgent 500Gb and so far it has served me well. Am seriously considering the 1Tb.
May I ask; in terms of portability, the 1Tb is on its own rite? without a 'flat base' like its predecessor 500Gb? Btw, how much is 1Tb?
 

Apr 26, 2007
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#13
Thanks for the review, may i know if you tried esata with the xtreme one?
 

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