Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System Review
Seagate’s new FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System plugs into your wireless router so that you can wirelessly backup, store and access files on all of the computers in your home – even if some are Macs and some are PCs. The GoFlex Home Network Storage System allows up-to 3 PC and Mac computers to be connected to it at once. The idea here is that you only need one backup system for all of your computers in your home, and that each of your computers can simultaneously access the files on the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System.
Setting up the GoFlex Home Network Storage System is a cinch on both Mac and PC. All you need to do is plug the device into the an AC Adapter and then connect the included ethernet cable from the FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System into a port on your wireless router. From there you need to run the GoFlex Home Installer software on the included disc which automatically detected the network storage system on our network. The whole process only took a couple of minutes and we didn’t encounter any problems during set up.
For Windows PCs, Memeo Instant Backup is included as a backup solution. However, it’s just a 31 day trial. This is pretty disappointing, since a device used for backups should come with its own backup software! Fortunately for Mac users, the GoFlex Home Network Storage System integrates seamlessly with Time Machine. After installing it, the software even detected that we had another hard drive set to do backups with Time Machine and it asked if it can switch Time Machine over to the GoFlex.
The GoFlex Home Network Storage System’s software is pretty easy to use and even a novice should be able to manage it, although more advanced users are more likely to take advantage of the FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System Share features. On PCs, the included Seagate Dashboard software lets you load content, create new users, and access Seagate Share. However, Seagate Dashboard is not available for Mac, so you’ll have to access Seagate Share directly from your web browser to do all of those things. The disc does however include GoFlex Home Agent which basically offers the option to connect to Seagate Share or to explore your GoFlex Home Folders. The Seagate software needed to get each computer up and running with the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System needs to be installed on each computer on your home network, even though you can accomplish most functions through the SeaGate Share interface.
From Seagate Share you can view your file content just like you would in Apple’s Finder or Windows Explorer. The Seagate Share interface is simple and uncluttered, but not quite very slick. Seagate Share also provides you with the option to create “Shares” with up-to 5 different options: 1. Share with other user accounts – this lets you share files with other accounts on your GoFlex Home. 2. Share with Friends – This lets share a file with a friend via email. The file can also be optionally password protected. So yes, it’s kind of like having a built-in YouSendIt.com or drop.io. 3. Share with everyone – This option creates a url for your share, and you can optionally set an expiration date for it. 4. Share with Media Devices – Lets you share your file with video game consoles and media devices like the GoFlex TV. 5. Allow downloads for this share – This final, option allows anyone with access to your share to download its contents.
The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System also lets you stream media files to game consoles, along with the GoFlex TV HD Media Player. Our Xbox 360, PS3 and GoFlex TV HD Media Player all aumatically recognized the GoFlex Home Network Storage System on our network and we were able to stream movies, photos and music files from the FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System right onto them without a hitch.
Finally, the FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System has one last trick up its sleeve. At the back of its base there is a USB port for connecting a USB printer to it for sharing a printer with all the computers on your network. Alternatively, you can use this USB port to increase the system’s storage space by connecting an external USB hard drive. If you should ever need to upgrade the capacity of your drive, unlike many other consumer NAS systems which have hard drives which can be difficult to upgrade without using tools, the GoFlex Home Network Storage System’s unique design lets you easily swap in another FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System drive. However, the only issue we have with the GoFlex Home Network Storage System’s design is that the drive itself is useless without the base since it has no ports on it, not even a single USB port!
The optional Seagate Share Pro trial unlocks several more features for the device, including the ability access its files from the internet and from your phone (besides just being able to access the file from anywhere on your home network). But it certainly would have been nice if that feature would’ve come standard. A pro account also lets you extend the number of user accounts you have from 5 to unlimited, it also lets you use the neat Coollris picture wall view, share your media with digital photos frames and as RSS, it offers secure FTP as opposed to just regular FTP, and lets you push your GoFlex Home photos to your Facebook and Flickr accounts. The unit comes with a 30 day trial of Seagate Share Pro, after that a yearly subscription costs a very reasonable $19.99.
The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System is easy to set up and pretty easy to use system that makes it simpler for average folks to share files and wirelessly backup the computers on their home network. Having both Mac and PC compatibility is much needed at a time where so many homes have Macs and PCs sharing the same network under the same roof. We can even see the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System being useful for small businesses who don’t have the resources to invest in an enterprise level NAS system, but want to be able to easily backup and share files. The ability to stream media files to game consoles is also much appreciated, since that means you can go green and turn your computer off while streaming files to your game consoles or to the GoFlex TV. It does however seem a bit odd that Seagate neglected to include free dedicated backup software for the PC, and instead they included a trial of Memeo. Putting that gripe aside, overall the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System is robust and works peppily. We were even impressed by its speed for a consumer NAS. Using Apple’s Finder, it took just 41 seconds to copy a 1GB file onto the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System. However, uploading the same file directly through the Seagate Share interface was much, much slower. But if you stick with your operating system’s own file explorer for transferring files, the speeds are great. But as always, if you have really important data, we still recommend getting even yet another dedicated backup drive to compliment the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System – especially since the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System is not configured as RAID for an extra level of backup security. You can pick up the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Home Network Storage System retails for as low as $151.99 for the 1TB version, and $214.99 for the 2TB version.
The Good: Easy to set-up, tons of Sharing features, works on both Mac and PC, seamless integration with Time Machine, streams media files to your game console without having your computer turned on, speedy file transfers
The Bad: Free Backup software for PC not included, a bit pricier than comparable NAS devices, need to spend $19.99 a year to unlock pro features