Style has become a vital element in notebook design, but accessories and peripherals haven't exactly kept up in that department. Seagate changes that with the FreeAgent Go, an external portable hard drive that sports a sleek design, good overall performance, and intuitive backup and encryption software.
Measuring 5.1 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches and weighing just 0.4 ounces, the 320GB Seagate FreeAgent Go may not be the most pocket-friendly external drive, but it's thin and light enough to slide into a bag with ease. Our model is certainly one of the more attractive portable drives with its blue and white exterior, and a series of white lights underneath the colored shell that pulsate when the drive is active. The lights aren't particularly useful, but admittedly, they're quite cool. The Seagate FreeAgent Go also comes in a number of colors; while the Blue and Red drives are only available in 320GB capacities, the Silver and Black models are available in 250GB, 320GB, and 500GB sizes. Seagate also offers an optional $29.99 FreeAgent GoDock, which lets users position the drive vertically, in style.
The Seagate FreeAgent Go proved to be one of the faster portable hard drives we've tested. It was able to read a 4.97GB folder of mixed media (videos, photos, music, and documents) in 3 minutes and 55 seconds, a rate of 21.7 MBps; that's a hair swifter than the 320GB Fabrik SimpleTech Signature Mini (20.6 MBps), but slower than the category average of 22.9 MBps. It was able to write the same files in 4 minutes and 5 seconds (20.8 MBps), which, while also faster than the Fabrik (13.5 MBps), was much slower than the 320GB Buffalo MiniStation TurboUSB (26.12 MBps). When we duplicated the 4.97GB folder on the drive, the FreeAgent achieved a write speed of 20.2 MBps.
Software and Warranty
The Windows-only Seagate Manager software, preinstalled on the drive, was up and running in less than a minute. We were able to select the files that we wanted to back up along with the day and time that we wanted backups to occur. From then on, the software did everything automatically.
Seagate Manager also let us create a password-protected folder that safeguards files with 256-bit AES encryption. Lastly, the Sync option lets us update and access our data when we plugged the FreeAgent Go into another PC, so we always had the most current versions of our files when moving from PC to PC. As the software is Windows-only, Mac users may want to purchase the FreeAgent Go for Mac (starting at $159), which not only has FireWire ports but is compatible with OS X Leopard's Time Machine backup solution. Seagate covers the drive with a lengthy five-year limited warranty.
Overall, the 320GB Seagate FreeAgent Go is one of the better portable hard drives we've tested. For $149, you're getting a drive that offers style, very good performance, and easy-to-use software.