Seagate is a specialist when it comes to storage. From 3.5-inch hard drives on consumer desktops to M.2 solid-state drives to external hard drives made for game consoles, Seagate has done everything. We’re going to look at one of the most basic offerings in the lineup, though, in this Seagate Portable review.
A Seagate Portable drive is all about simplicity, offering large amounts of storage at a cheap price. Seagate goes beyond that, though, with extra utilities worthy of our best external hard drives guide. Even so, the slower speed may push you toward another option.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Backup utility
- Quick start guides for Windows & macOS
- Inexpensive recovery service
- Large activity LED
- One-year limited warranty
- Inconsistent transfer rates
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Seagate Portable drives are things of simplicity. The blank, black box is adorned only with a small Seagate logo in the bottom right corner and a long, thin activity LED on top. Otherwise, it’s bare, even omitting the rubber feet or pads other external drives have to separate the drive from the surface it’s on.
Seagate Portable Hard Drive Setup
Our Seagate Portable drive came in a blank cardboard box, which was filled with a plastic shroud, the drive and a USB micro type B to USB type A cable. Though we prefer the firm bubble wrap of Toshiba’s Canvio Basics for shipping, the plastic shroud seemed to protect the drive enough (read our Toshiba Canvio Basics review).
On Windows 10, the drive was immediately recognized as “Seagate Portable Drive” and even assigned an icon that matched its look. Unlike other basic drives we’ve seen, such as the Toshiba Canvio Basics and the Western Digital Elements, Seagate included a few goodies preloaded (read our Western Digital Elements review).
There are several items, including a .pdf on warranty information, but all you’ll need to pay attention to is the “start here” application. Thankfully, there’s an app preloaded for Windows and macOS, but you’re left out in the cold if you’re using a different operating system.
That said, the application is simply a link to the product registration page. It’s important to register your drive, especially if you’re concerned with it failing, but we were hoping for more when we launched the app. Even so, the fact that you don’t have to hunt for a serial number to register your drive is great.
Seagate Rescue Plan
After registering your drive, you’ll be brought to a page that allows you to purchase Rescue Plan and view the extended user manual for the disk. Rescue Plan is Seagate’s data recovery service that restores or replaces your drive in the event of failure, infection or software issues. Two years of protection is only $10 and three years is only $15.
There’s also a getting started guide that’ll walk you through copying, moving and removing files from the drive. Seagate doesn’t leave you hanging after purchasing a Portable disk, which is nice to see. Toshiba, for example, doesn’t even include a setup guide for macOS.
One of the benefits of purchasing a Seagate drive is that you get a long list of utilities. In most cases, the utilities offered by hard drive manufacturers are reserved for higher-end models, such as the Western Digital My Book (read our Western Digital My Book review).
Thankfully, that’s not the case here. Seagate allows you to install and use all of its utilities with your Portable hard drive, and there are a lot to choose from. There are tools for backing up your data on the drive, mirroring data on the drive, diagnosing issues and, if you’re willing to pay extra, even recovering lost data.
Those extra tools make the Seagate Portable drives stand out because many of Seagate’s competitors don’t include anything with their respective options. Plus, Seagate includes extra functionality while still keeping the price lower than the rest of the market.
Seagate Portable Features Overview
|Capacity||1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB|
|Hard Drive Type||Spinning|
|Warranty period||12 Months|
Considering the extras, it’d make sense for Seagate to charge more than the options at Western Digital and Toshiba. Despite that, a Seagate Portable drive is cheaper, and that’s true across all capacities.
The drive is available in 1TB, 2TB or 4TB capacities, oddly skipping a 3TB option. If you’re looking for more storage space, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable goes up to 5TB, but at the same price per gigabyte as the 4TB Portable option (read our Seagate Backup Plus Portable review).
When looking at price per gigabyte, Seagate is cheaper than Western Digital and Toshiba, but after doing the math, the differences in price are minimal. The comparable Elements drive is $5 more expensive for the 1TB and 4TB models, while Canvio Basics drives only deviate by a few cents.
What makes the difference is the features. Unlike Western Digital and Toshiba, Seagate includes all the backup tools that are normally reserved for pricier drives. Though the SanDisk Extreme Portable will deliver faster transfer speeds, it’s a lot more expensive, making Seagate look all the more impressive (read our SanDisk Extreme Portable review).
As far as inexpensive, 5,400-rpm drives go, the Seagate Portable disks may look like just another option. Though that’s true in terms of performance, rigidity and specs, the extras make the overall package look attractive.
Speed & Performance
We run four tests on hard drives to measure their performance. They include two speed tests and two error checking tests, with each category having a benchmark and a rudimentary test.
|Seq Read||Seq Write||Random Read||Random Write||2.3 GB Transfer|
For speed, we started by using CrystalDiskMark to run five passes with a 4GB test file. Our test consists of sequential and random reads and writes, so we can see how the drive performs in all scenarios.
Seagate disappointed with sequential read and write speeds, coming in below the Western Digital Elements and the Toshiba Canvio Basics drives. It performed better at random reads but still struggled with random writes.
That was reflected in our hands-on speed test, where we copied a 2.3GB folder filled with photos, videos and documents. The Seagate Portable 1TB drive we tested not only clocked in slower than the competition at 21.83 seconds, but it also struggled to keep a consistent transfer rate throughout the test.
During all our tests, we run CrystalDiskInfo to monitor the drive’s health, temperature and error rate. In most cases, there’s nothing out of the oridarinary, and, thankfully, that’s true here. The Seagate Portable stayed cool under pressure and kept a “good” health status throughout.
Not satisfied with simply scratching the surface of error checking, we also ran the “chkdsk” utility on Windows, scanning the drive with the “/r” command, which checks for bad sectors and clusters. The lengthy process, which took around two and a half hours, resulted in a clean record, showing that the drive we tested was free of issues.
Even so, the speed issues remain. Seagate Portable drives are impressive in other regards, so it’d be great to say speed was excellent, too. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but Seagate isn’t off by a significant margin. It can go toe-to-toe with competing drives at Western Digital and Toshiba, but it can’t go against an SSD like the Samsung T5 (read our Samsung T5 review).
Warranty & Support
Finding the warranty information for our Seagate Portable drive was difficult, despite there being a .pdf on the drive. The .pdf directed us to the quick start guide, and the quick start guide sent us back to the .pdf. Both say EU customers will get a longer warranty window of two years. Because offering a one-year limited warranty is required in the U.S., that seems like the safest bet.
The only way to confirm that is to go to a specific URL in the user guide, enter your serial number, model number and country and look up your drive. Seagate still didn’t tell us the warranty period, only that we were covered for at least another year. This could change depending on the packaging your drive arrives in, but regardless, Seagate should be more clear.
Finding support for your drive is simple, though. After googling “Seagate support,” we were directed to a page where we could select our product, no serial numbers required. There were no knowledgebase articles relating to our drive, but considering Seagate provides a link to an extended user’s guide on the drive, we’re not too upset.
There’s also live chat available for troubleshooting technical issues with the drive. Given that Seagate has a free backup and mirroring utility and offers an inexpensive recovery service, we’re not sure how useful it is, but it’s there if you need it.
Seagate Portable hard drives are inexpensive, packed with features and easy to get up and running. They’re cheap, but you’re trading a few dollars for performance. Though miles away from G-Technology G-Drive (read our G-Technology G-Drive review), Seagate isn’t far behind Toshiba and Western Digital.
It’s a suitable disk for taking files on the go or backing up your computer externally. If you’re looking to, say, edit video off the drive, though, you’ll probably want to read our other external hard drive reviews.
What do you think of the Seagate Portable hard drives? Is the slower speed a deal breaker for you? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
Seagate Portable FAQ
- You can open the drive enclosure by wedging a thin screwdriver between where the two pieces of plastic meet. Doing so will permanently damage your drive and void your warranty, though.
- The Seagate Portable hard drive works with Windows and macOS. Simply plug it into a free USB port using the included cable and follow the setup instructions located on the drive.
- You can backup your computer onto a Seagate Portable drive by downloading the SeaTools utility and selecting the files and folders you want to backup.