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Storage

Introduction

Updated 22 June 2010: Corrected Auto Backup cable and other info.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex system

At a Glance
Product Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Net (STAK100)
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex USB 3.0 Cable (STAE104)
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 500 GB Drive (STAA500100)
Summary New generation of portable hard drives with multiple attach and networking options yielding faster performance
Pros • SATA drive interface yields higher performance
• USB 2.0, 3.0, eSATA, FireWire 800, networking options
Cons • Adapter cables are bulkier than simple USB and single-sourced
• GoFlex Net performance could be better

Seagate, WD and others have made miniature portable hard drives a cheap and cheerful way to carry lots of digital stuff around for lots less than the equivalent in flash-based storage. But USB 2.0's days as the go-to connect-stuff-together standard are waning, and USB 3.0 is coming on strong.

So Seagate has made a smart move, replacing the mini USB 2.0 connector on its FreeAgent Go drives with the SATA power and data connector of the 2.5" drive itself on its new FreeAgent GoFlex line (Figure 1).

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex standard SATA drive connector

Figure 1: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex standard SATA drive connector

The basic product consists of the GoFlex drive, which comes in an assortment of lovely colors and 320 GB, 500 GB, 750 GB and 1 TB capacities. You can also step up to the GoFlex Pro, which comes with a USB 2.0 dock, USB 2.0 interface adapter cable, "premium" backup software (with encryption & synchronization) and 7200 RPM drive (Figure 2). The actual drives used are the Momentus 5400 RPM in the GoFlex drives and Momentum 7200 RPM in the GoFlex Pro.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro in dock

Figure 2: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro in dock

If you want 2 TB in a box, there's the GoFlex Desk version (Figure 3), which uses 3.5" drives. It's less flexible than the smaller GoFlexes because it uses an eSATA connector instead of the drive's SATA connector. So your only connection options for it are the USB 2.0 dock it comes with or optional USB 3.0 adapter and adapter kit (that includes a PCIe USB 3.0 card).

 

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk in dock

Figure 3: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk in dock

The star of the lineup, however, is the smaller GoFlex drive, which has the broadest line of accessories. Each GoFlex drive comes with a USB 2.0 adapter, which has a connectorized 18" mini-USB to USB cable and can also be purchased separately (STAE100 - $20). Other connection options are purchased separately and include (all prices are U.S. list):

  • FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable [STAE104] — USB 3.0 ($30)
  • FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable [STAE102] — FireWire® 800 ($40)
  • FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable [STAE103] — Powered eSATA ($20)
  • FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable Kit [STAE101] — USB 3.0 ($80 - includes USB 3.0 Express card adapter)
Updated 22 June 2010

You can also buy an STAE109 "Auto Backup" cable ($30). I couldn't find a detailed description of this product. But it sounds suspiciously like something that could come from Clickfree, like their Transformer dongle. Seagate let me know that it actually uses the same technology as their Replica drives.

Also coming soon is the FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player (STAJ100 - $130). This is a version of Seagate's Free Agent Theater + media player [reviewed], which will accept GoFlex drives, instead of the Go drives the FATs accept.

Finally, if you want to get the GoFlex drives on your network, the GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device (STAK100) will do the trick for around $100.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device w/ drives

Figure 4: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device w/ drives

The rear view above shows a single USB 2.0 port and 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN port. And, as we'll see shortly, the GoFlex Net's performance is fast enough to take advantage of Gigabit. Both the GoFlex and external USB drives can be FAT, NTFS, HFS+ or EXT2/3 formatted. The USB port will even accept a hub so that you can add more than one external drive.

Like the FreeAgent Dockstar [reviewed], the FreeAgent GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device lets you share the contents of its drives with any networked devices that support SMB/CIFS file sharing via Cloud Engines' Pogoplug OS. Sharing is done both locally and via secure remote acess through via the my.pogoplug.com web portal.

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