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Seagate FreeAgent Go Review (2008 Edition)

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The new Seagate FreeAgent Go sports a slick new brushed metal design that is both slim and lightweight, weighing in at just 5.6 ounces. The device itself measures 0.49″ in H x 3.15″ in W x 5.12″ in Length. It’s lightweight and small enough so that you wont mind carrying it around with you, yet at the same time it’s available in capacities as big as 500GB, so that you can carry tons of data around with you without feeling like you’re lugging around a brick.

What’s included:
The FreeAgent Go is totally USB Powered, a double headed USB cable is included in case you are using a computer with a USB port that isn’t powerful enough to power the FreeAgent Go alone.

Software:
When you plug in the FreeAgent Go the front of it lights up to indicate its connected. If you’re using Windows you are prompted to install the Seagate Manager software. Macs can use the FreeAgent Go as well, but the included software is for PC only. However, if you ever have to format your FreeAgent Go for some reason because you know that never happens, you’ll actually loose the software because there is no tangible CD included.We’ve seen drives that come with several software applications for different functions, which we personally think is a pain in the a$$. Fortunately the Seagate Manager includes access to all of the drives functions under one roof. From Seagate Manager you can schedule and configure backups, set-up folders to sync, access all of your Free Agent drives (should you have more than one) and you can also changes drive settings and specify a password for files that you might choose to encrypt. The Seagate Manager is very simple to use, with an interface that is intuitive and uncluttered. Under the My Drives section you can access the settings for your drive(s) which includes testing your drive to see if it’s performing properly, adjusting power settings, and accessing the option to turn off the display status and activity lights on the drive.

Under the Backup section you can choose to set up a Simple Backup which will backup the My Documents folder everyday at 10PM. Of you can choose a custom backup which lets you manually select which folders you would like to back up, which file types, and when to backup. As for what file types to back up you can choose from – All, Photos, Music, etc, or you can choose Custom which lets you specify which file types to include in the backup. You also can choose to Enable Encryption on the backup.

Next is the Sync section which lets you set up a Simple Sync which will automatically sync your My Documents folder. Or you can choose Custom Sync which lets you choose which folders to sync with the FreeAgent Go. You can also choose which file types to sync, you can specify whether to sync automatically or to sync using the Sync Now button, you can specify to Always Copy & Replace, and whether or not to Enable Encryption.

Finally, the Encryption section lets you specify an Encryption password and it gives you access to the Encryption folder.

Performance:
Using HD Tach the FreeAgent Go turned out an average read time of 10.2MB/sec. Unfortunately we were not able to test the write speeds using HD Tach due to some conflict which we didn’t quite understand. However, we did do another test using XBench which is a benchmarking app for Mac. XBench came up with a 16.86MB sec write speed, and a 10.99MB/sec read speed. In a “real world” test, a 700MB movie file took a minute and 5 seconds to write to the hard drive. A 1.9GB file took 3 and a half minutes to write to the drive. Overall, performance is ok for backup, syncing and basic needs, but this is no speed demon. To its credit the drive doesn’t get very hot and it runs quietly.

Optional Dock:
A USB cable is supplied with the FreeAgent Go but there is an optional dock that you can purchase that is especially designed to work with the FreeAgent Go. You can slip the hard drive in to the dock instead of plugging it in to the USB cable. This way you don’t have to fumble for wires, and your desk definitely looks more organized and put together with the hard drive situated in the dock. The plastic white dock with a brushed metal front panel, is very reminiscent of an iPod dock and goes handsomely with my iMac, even though there is also a FreeAgent Go for Mac as well.  Along with the dock which costs $29.99, you also get a snug fitting leather case which should help cushion and protect the hard drive while traveling with it.

Conclusion:
The new FreeAgent Go has a great new slim design that comes along with good performance. It’s also priced affordably and is overall a no-brainer to use. The available color choices are a nice touch as well, even if we are shocked that they didn’t throw in a pink one just for good measure. The included software is also quite superb, the best we’ve seen come with an external hard drive to date. The Seagate FreeAgent Go is available in blue, red, black or silver in the capacities of 250GB for $119, 320GB for $149 (blue and red versions only) and 500GB for $239.

The Good:
Slim & Lightweight design, Easy-to-use software, Reasonably Priced

The Bad:
Software is PC Only so you need to buy the FreeAgent Go for Mac if you want to take advantage of the programs. No Software CD is included, so if you format you’re out of luck.