Seagate has an extensive list of external drives, with everything from basic black boxes to massive, 10TB archival solutions. The Backup Plus Portable line is a slimmed-down version of the desktop Backup Plus drives, allowing you to keep your machine protected when you’re on the go.
That comes with a higher price tag compared to a standard Seagate Portable drive, though, with little to no difference in performance. Though the flashy brushed aluminum exterior may be enough to pull the extra $5 or so from your wallet, the higher cost seems to go into looks more than anything.
That said, it might be the right option for you because it’s a great way to archive your machine for little money. In this Seagate Backup Plus Portable review, we’re going to detail our experience after ordering a sample from Amazon. At the end, we’ll deliver our verdict, so you’ll know if it’s one of the best external hard drives or just an overpriced dud.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Attractive exterior
- Solid backup utility
- Access to SeaTools
- Easy to setup on Windows & macOS
- Up to 5TB capacity
- Two-year limited warranty
- Mediocre speed results
- Little performance benefit over cheaper drives
- Few security features
Alternatives for Seagate Backup Plus Portable
If anything’s clear from looking at a Seagate Backup Plus Portable drive, it’s that they look good. No matter which model you go with, the drive is pure eye candy, coming in many colors with a brushed metal top. Outside of that, there’s a Seagate logo, an activity LED and a large “S” that’s embossed on the back of the drive.
It’s a far cry from a LaCie Rugged Mini (read our LaCie Rugged Mini review), but looks can be deceiving. Though your Backup Plus Portable drive will likely hold up better than a Western Digital Elements disk, it won’t be able to handle the falls of a solid-state drive in a metal shroud, such as the Samsung T5 (read our Samsung T5 review).
Plus, the Backup Plus Portable is a spinning drive, so despite the metal top, you need to handle it with care. Besides the drive, the box includes a USB type A to micro type B cable and warranty information.
Seagate Backup Plus Portable Setup
Setting up our Backup Plus Portable drive was similar to setting up our standard Seagate Portable drive, which is a good thing, as you can see in our Seagate Portable review. The drive was automatically detected by Windows, assigned a drive letter and even given an icon to match.
There are two applications stored on the drive, in addition to a .pdf containing the warranty information. Those applications, appropriately labeled “start here,” will get you started on Windows or macOS.
Launching the application will open a registration window that’ll tie the drive to you and allow you to download the Seagate Toolkit. Toolkit is one of the major reasons to choose a Seagate drive, so we recommend going through the setup process, even if you usually skip registration.
While that’s downloading, you can go to the last step in the three-part registration process. On the final page, you can view the extensive “getting started” guide or head to the Rescue data recovery page, where you can buy two or three years of data recovery for under $20. We were given an option to redeem two free months of an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, too.
Seagate Toolkit is what sets the Backup Plus Portable drives apart from other inexpensive, small external hard drives. It’ll walk you through setting up the drive to backup your machine or mirroring an existing hard drive. If you don’t want to get started right away, you can skip the process.
It also allows you to restore backups, making it an excellent tool for a 3-2-1 setup, where you’re using a Backup Plus Portable drive alongside an online backup service, such as Backblaze (read our Backblaze review). Plus, you can set custom durations for the backup, including continuous.
That said, the portability of the drive doesn’t fit into that configuration. It isn’t a bad thing, but it’s unnecessary, making it clear some of the cost of the drive goes into the form factor. Compared to a Western Digital My Book, the difference is clear. As noted in our Western Digital My Book review, that drive requires external power and is much bulkier, but it comes with more features.
If you need to take your backup on the go, a Backup Plus Portable drive works, but they’re usually meant to take some files on the go or expand the storage of a laptop. Though larger, a Western Digital My Book or standard sized Seagate Backup Plus offers more storage for around the same price, and they come with more features, to boot.
Seagate Backup Plus Portable Features Overview
|Capacity||1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB|
|Hard Drive Type||Spinning|
|Warranty period||24 Months|
We reviewed the Seagate Backup Plus Portable Slim 2TB, but Seagate has other variations. In addition to different sizes, there’s a standard Backup Plus Portable drive and an Ultra Touch version. The Ultra Touch has a woven fabric texture and additional features, such as hardware encryption and USB-C, but the Backup Plus Slim and Backup Plus Portable are the same.
In fact, the only difference between the two models is the available capacity. The 1TB and 2TB models listed above the Slim version and the 4TB and 5TB models are not. Despite being slightly thicker, the higher-capacity models are still portable.
Compared to black box portable drives, such as the Western Digital Elements, a Backup Plus Portable drive is more expensive per gigabyte. That said, the Western Digital Elements drives have little to no features, as you can see in our Western Digital Elements review, while the Backup Plus Portable drives have many.
As mentioned above, though, some of the Backup Plus Portable’s price is figured into the form factor, and though having something slim and small is nice, it might not be necessary, especially if you’re using the drive solely for backup. If you just want to move files around, it might be better to stick with, say, a Toshiba Canvio Basics drive (read our Toshiba Canvio Basic review).
Speed & Performance
We tested the performance of our drive by running four benchmarks: two for speed and two for errors. We employed CrystalDiskMark to measure sequential read and write speeds and random read and write speeds first, using a 4GB test file and running five passes.
|Seq Read||Seq Write||Random Read||Random Write||2.3 GB Transfer|
|Seagate Backup Plus Portable|
Unsurprisingly, our drive mirrored the performance of the regular Seagate Portable drive, which isn’t a good thing. It was slower than cheaper black box options from Western Digital and Toshiba, despite being faster than its younger sibling in the Seagate line. Sequential read and writes weren’t impressive, but random reads were solid.
Our other speed test, in which we copied a 2.3GB folder filled with videos, music and documents, was equally unimpressive. It took our drive 20.98 seconds to transfer, but with a high level of variability. The drive dipped as low as 90 megabytes per second and went as high as 130 MBps during the test, which isn’t great for a blank disk.
Error checking was fine, though. While speed testing, CrystalDiskInfo showed that the drive stayed at a reasonable temperature and didn’t register errors. We also checked the drive using the “chkdsk” utility on Windows, and after the four-hour scan, it was clear that there were no bad clusters.
Warranty & Support
Seagate includes a .pdf with warranty information preloaded on the drive, but it isn’t helpful. It simply redirects you to the product packaging, which could spell trouble if you received the drive in non-standard packaging like we did with our standard Seagate Portable drive. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here.
Backup Plus Portable drives come with a two-year limited warranty, and like most drives, the stipulations are many. Seagate won’t honor the warranty if the drive was used for commercial purposes or failed because of accident, abuse, neglect, heat and more. Plus, the warranty doesn’t cover data loss, with Seagate going as far as to recommend backing up a second time.
Though we’d echo that recommendation, it’s clear that Seagate wants to sell Rescue subscriptions, and with how cheap they are, it’s hard for us to fault Seagate for that. Three years of data recovery for $14.99 isn’t bad because recovering a damaged drive after the fact is usually an endeavor that costs multiple hundreds of dollars.
As far as support, Seagate offers a lot. From the product page, click the “support” tab to find help. Seagate offers videos for setting up Toolkit on Windows and macOS, a few knowledgebase articles and a USB troubleshooter. You can also find firmware downloads and SeaTools, which you can use to run diagnostics on your drive.
You can also contact Seagate by clicking the “get support now” button on the “support” page. Phone and email support are available, as well as warranty support and data recovery questions, on the “contact” page. The recovery option is interesting because it provides a few choices for restoring lost data.
There are the Rescue plans, but you can also submit a request for in-lab recovery. It’ll run you a pretty penny, but, thankfully, you can go at it yourself, too.
Seagate offers a free version of Pixel8, which is a data recovery tool. Though it isn’t one of our picks for the best data recovery software, it’s decent for a free tool. If you want to go the DIY route for data recovery, though, we recommend Stellar Data Recovery (read our Stellar Data Recovery review).
What’s most shocking about the Seagate Backup Plus Portable is how similar it is to the regular, and cheaper, Seagate Portable. Outside of the, admittedly attractive, casing, the drives are similar in features, performance and support. It seems the only difference between them is price and that you can purchase a 5TB model of the Backup Plus.
Even so, they’re not too far apart in terms of cost, and the choice in color and finish may be enough to warrant the extra $5 or so. If you don’t pay much mind to aesthetics, or just think you need to shop around more, read our other external hard drive reviews.
What do you think of the Seagate Backup Plus Portable? Is the enhanced look enough for a higher price tag? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
Seagate Backup Plus Portable FAQ
- You can attempt to open your drive by wedging a screwdriver between the top and bottom pieces. That’s difficult to do, though, and will likely damage your drive and void your warranty.
- Simply plug the drive into your computer using the included cable and find the application labeled “start here.” Seagate will walk you through setting up and using your drive from there.
- You can reset, or format, your drive on Windows by right-clicking the drive and selecting “format” in your file explorer.