Seagate 160 GB FreeAgent Go

Admin - 2007-05-18 19:01:42 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: June 4, 2007
Seagate Technology
Seagate Technology
Price: $117.99 USD

Introduction:

Do you like the James Bond movies? Have you ever thought it would be great to be in his shoes during some of his missions? There is something about the whole spy scenario that intrigues me. Espionage, counter-intelligence and spying, all sounds like fun in the fantasy world.

Well, what if you were to go to your buddy’s house, plug a device into his computer, do what you need to do and remove your device, all without leaving behind a trace? That sounds a little like what Mr. Bond would pull off on one of his missions. Today I'll be reviewing the Seagate FreeAgent Go, which could make it entirely possible.

Seagate Technology has been a leader of the storage industry for more than 25 years. Its corporate offices are in Scotts Valley, California. Seagate employs more than 56,000 people. Seagate has pioneered new industry standards such as the first 5.25 inch drive for a PC and perpendicular recording. Seagate prides itself for its leadership and innovation. With Seagate products, it is easy to maximize the potential of your digital content. The need for more performance, greater mobility and reliable media become more and more important to users every day. Seagate makes great products for desktops and laptops, as well as for devices such as PDAs.

Closer Look:

As you can see, the box is very sturdy and well designed. On the front, there is a picture of the FreeAgent itself along with the Seagate name and logo. It is boasting a five year warranty. The back of the box has a few descriptions of its capabilities, as well as the dimensions of the device itself. It is small enough to fit into your shirt pocket. I have included a shot of the drive next to a floppy drive for comparison. The dimensions are 4.8 x 3.9 x 0.7 (L x W x H) inches.

 


One edge has the contents of the box listed, along with the product description, serial number, part number and model number. This particular drive came in the size of 160 GB. They are also available in sizes of 80 GB and 120 GB.


Once the box is opened, you can see that the drive is securely packaged in a protective bag, which is nestled in a cardboard carrier. The bag is sealed shut with a sticker that greets the user with a hearty “Hello”. A nice personal touch on Seagate’s part.

 

Closer Look:


The Contents:

Once everything is out, we have the FreeAgent Go data mover drive, a quick start guide and the USB 2.0 cable. The reference sheet alludes to the fact that this can be installed in one minute and nineteen seconds. It actually took less than that for me.


This portable device connects to your PC via the USB ports. That’s right; I said ports, as in plural. If you’ll notice on the cord, one end plugs into the device and the other end is split into two, so it will require plugging into two USB ports.


Once plugged in and working, the side of the drive illuminates to indicate activity.


This drive comes with the FreeAgent software and a way to register your product electronically already installed on it. Its performance is rated at USB 2.0 speeds of 480 Mb/sec and the drive inside the case has a spindle speed of 5400 RPM. The included encryption option uses 256 bit AES.

If you are a Windows user, this drive will work for you only if you are running Windows XP Home, Windows XP Pro, Windows 2000 Pro, or Vista. If you are a Mac user, you are out of luck, as the software will only work on Windows. The file system on the drive uses the NTFS file system, which makes it unusable for anything earlier than Windows 2000. Mac users can use Disk Utility to format the drive and still use it for storage.

Installation:

Installation was a simple matter of connecting the two USB cables to my PC. It was auto-detected, installed and ready to go by Windows. Then, the software on the disk is auto-detected and the install process is started. You will have to accept the License Agreement to proceed.



 


Configuration:

This software is called Ceedo. Think of Ceedo as your Windows start menu along with the shortcuts to your installed applications, such as your web browser, email client, folders for My Documents, My Music, etc. Once you start Ceedo, you have basically a virtual environment of your PC desktop and all your applications. You can launch your applications or search your folders that are on the drive and use the host PC’s internet connection to check your email or browse the web. Once the drive is removed from the host PC, all of your data is taken with you, including internet cookies, email, web favorites - everything!


The Ceedo environment is already set-up by default, with links to various items. There is also a link to “Add Programs”. When you click on this link with an internet connected PC, you will be taken to the Ceedo website which has a list of many, many, programs you can download to add to your system. I chose right away to download Firefox. The Ceedo installs it for you.

 


Here, you can see that it is now on my menu. I also installed the Mozilla Thunderbird email client. Notice here that once the program is opened, you can be assured that it is indeed running on the portable drive and not the host PC by looking at the Ceedo icon next to the minimize button at the top right of the screen.

 


You may have also noticed the option to install the FreeAgent Tools. Once you start this install, a normal Windows install wizard will guide you through the process with you having to accept a license agreement and choosing the install directory. These tools I chose to install onto the host PC as they contain a tool to test the integrity of the portable drive. The first tool gives you specific information about the drive itself, such as serial number, size, firmware, etc. The next tool is used to sync information from a particular folder on your host PC to the portable drive, and you can choose the sync method used. The last page of tools contains the drive diagnostic utility, an option to change for how long the drive has to be inactive before it goes into sleep mode to conserve energy, and an option to turn off the light that indicates drive usage (in my book, also known as stealth mode). I ran the diagnostic tool to be sure I had a properly functioning drive.

 

Specifications:


Specifications
160GB

Model Number

ST901603FGA1E1-RK
Interface
USB 2.0
PHYSICAL
 
Capacity
160GB
PERFORMANCE
 

Spindle Speed

5400 RPM

 

Features:

Key Features and Benefits

Compatibility
Interface
USB 2.0/1.1
O/S PC

Windows Vista, Windows 2000 Professional, XP Professional, or Home Edition

O/S Mac

FreeAgent Go software and drive formatting works only with Windows, but drive can be reformatted for Mac using Disk Utility:

  • Power PC G3, G4, or G5 processor running OS X 10.3.9 (or higher), or
  • Intel Core Duo or Core Solo processor running OS X 10.4.6 (or higher)
 

Inside the box

Testing:

Besides testing this device by downloading and installing my favorite applications, I set up the email client and retrieved my email with it. It worked seamlessly and I could not tell it was running off of the small drive. I then removed the device from my PC and took it to another PC in the house and connected it there, and all of my settings were still there with the web browser favorites and all. Even the folder sync option worked great as I added files to the “My Documents” folder on the original host PC and then reconnected the FreeAgent to it.

Now what about hard drive performance? This device uses the USB 2.0 interface to connect to your PC and claims to provide 480 Mb/sec of data access. Lets test that out with the following system specs.


Testing Setup:

I will use HD Tune to test the FreeAgent Go drive, the host PC's internal HDD - a Western Digital 250GB SATA drive - and a generic USB one GB flash drive as a comparison from the “Benchmark” tab. You can see in the drop-down box at the top of the HD Tune window the drive that is being tested and along the right hand side of the window are the results. The “Info” tab shows a lot of information about the drive as well.

 

 


Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

Now I will test the transfer rate of the USB connection by compressing some files into a 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB file with Winrar and transferring them from the host PC to the FreeAgent Go and then to my 1GB thumb drive that was bought at the local PC shop and which also connects to the PC via USB. To add the Western Digital HDD to the mix, I will then transfer them back to the HDD from the FreeAgent Go. The results are shown below and are measured in seconds.

Lower is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

The Seagate proves itself to be a very good performer against the generic thumb drive. USB 2.0 speeds are around 480 Mb/sec. This Seagate FreeAgent Go drive transferred 500MB of data on its USB interface in 27 seconds, by me making a folder on the drive and dragging and dropping the file. This translates into 18 MB/sec.

Conclusion:

Using the Seagate FreeAgent Go was really simple and a pleasure. Once I had the drive installed on my PC and chose to add applications, I was really impressed with the amount of applications to choose from on the website. There are several categories with multiple applications in each. Each application has a short description with it, which comes in handy. There were so many applications there that I had never even heard of.

Imagine this scenario: you have all of your favorite websites bookmarked in the web browser of choice. Your Start menu is arranged to your liking and all of your favorite applications are installed. Your music folder has all of your favorite hits, the DVD movies are in the movie folder and all the family photos are stored in your special folder. Now, what if you need to access that information while over at your friend’s house, in the library, or visiting family half way around the world? I think the FreeAgent Go is the remedy for your situation. I am looking forward to my next trip to visit my family up North, when I can take this with me to share some photos and also have all my favorite data and applications with me. The amount of software on the Ceedo website is impressive. There is evidently a lot of development going on here. The only thing that I found to be somewhat of a problem was the fact that the USB cord was rather short. It makes it difficult to connect to the rear of a PC tower. On the other hand, if it was longer, it would be that much more cable that needs to be carried.

Nowadays, you can get small drives like that in the FreeAgent Go with faster spindle speeds of 7200 RPM. I wonder if they can make one with a 7200 RPM drive in it? It would be interesting to see if a faster spinning drive would transfer data any faster, or if it was indeed the USB connection that held this drive back. All in all, I think this would satisfy my needs for the counter-intelligence games I intend to play. Just think - no more worrying about the browser history or cookies you forgot to delete and your better half finding out about that sweet gift you just ordered for them for that special occasion.


Pros:


Cons: