I will be the first to admit I’m a digital hoarder. I buy a ton of digital movies, music, and e-books. And while I don’t expect Apple or Amazon to go out of business, I don’t trust them to have the only copy of my digital purchase sitting in their cloud. I’m also a fan of local regular backups of our computers and devices. Our digital photo library? Backed up multiple times, onsite and offsite. So that means a lot of hard drives. At the moment, a quick survey shows nine external drives in active use in my office alone, with capacities ranging from 2TB to 6TB.
And while I pretty much stuck to Western Digital drives for many years, last year I decided to try out a Seagate Backup Plus Hub drive to store my iTunes media library.
Mordechai had a look at one a few years back, and he seemed pretty happy with it.
Why make the switch instead of sticking with the usual? Well, the dual USB 3.0 ports on the front of the drive enclosure were a big reason. The iMac that serves as the iTunes media server for the house does double-duty as my photo and video editing system. That means a lot of thumb drives and a USB-powered mic, but the iMac’s USB ports are around back and a big pain to access. I don’t want a USB hub cluttering my desktop, but adding the Seagate Backup Plus Hub to the existing external disk array behind the iMac isn’t a big deal.
I only gained one additional port, but it’s all in the positioning because there are now two USB 3.0 ports that are easy to reach. And that makes a huge difference in usability.
And as Mordechai pointed out, the Seagate drives have been very reasonably priced. That certainly helps.
My first version was a 4TB Backup Plus Hub for Mac. That was kind of an impulse purchase because I should have chosen a higher capacity.
However, after using it for six months, I’m pretty happy. That’s six months of fairly heavy duty use. There are five Apple TVs and countless iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Macs in the house that regularly stream content from this drive—much of that HD video. Often with multiple simultaneous streams.
It’s performed perfectly. That’s not surprising since its predecessor (the Backup Plus) regularly placed at or near the top of consumer hard drive speed tests.
Seagate doesn’t publish what type of drive is actually in these things, but given the relatively compact physical size and low price, it’s safe to say you won’t find BarraCuda Pro inside if you crack the case open. Whatever it is, the read (and write) speed—which the company says maxes out at 160MB/s—is more than zippy enough for this purpose.
Cooling is passive, so there’s no fan noise. And although the only cooling is through vents in the bottom (that grill pattern you see on top is cosmetic), I haven’t noticed the drive getting particularly warm. Power is supplied via a modestly-sized power brick, which means needing an electrical outlet, but it does help reduce heat inside the drive case. The front USB ports have worked well, with full speed data access and the ability to power accessories like the Blue Snowball Mic.
When I needed to move to a larger capacity drive, I went with a 6TB Backup Plus Hub for Windows, which is currently priced at $115 on Amazon (MSRP is $229). Great price, but they don’t offer a Mac version in that capacity. I have to put up with a shiny black finish instead of matte white, but after re-formatting it for Mac there’s no functional difference. Seagate does include a cross-platform driver, but I’d rather not complicate my system any more than I need to.
Speaking of inclusions, Seagate also offers free backup software and two months of free Adobe Creative Cloud, but I wasn’t really interested in either of those. It was all about the storage. And the ports.
Downsides? The only issue I have with the Backup Plus Hub drives is that they use Seagate’s proprietary USB connector. Naturally, a “Seagate to USB-A” cable is included in the box, but while I have a shoebox full of regular USB cables, I don’t have any spares of that proprietary Seagate variety.
If you need to pick up some cheap and speedy mass storage, the Seagate Backup Plus Hub (available in 4TB, 6TB, 8TB and 10TB) capacities is worth considering—especially if your computer setup could benefit from a pair of easy access USB 3.0 ports.