September 01, 2012, 7:03 AM — With the release of the Backup Plus Portable Drive for Mac, Seagate has reinvented its line of portable hard drives, incorporating a number of desirable features into its new design.
Taking technology from its previous Go-Flex line, the Backup Plus uses Seagates Universal Storage Module, allowing the drive to easily swap out interface adapters. This capability makes the Backup Plus customizable, allowing you to purchase and use Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, USB 3.0, or USB 2.0 adapters.
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Along with its versatility, the Backup Plus comes with a few features that will certainly entice social media enthusiasts with its Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube backup and upload options. Not only does the Backup Plus save photos and videos from your Facebook and Flickr accounts, it also allows you upload content directly off of your drive. With the Backup Plus, you can also schedule automated data backups, making it that much easier to share and protect your valuable media.
The size of the Backup Plus makes it easily portable; at a pocket-sized 4.86-by-3.19-by-0.57, you can take this drive anywhere you need to go. Its design is simple, featuring a small, white activity light on the interface adapter at one end, and the Seagate logo emblazoned on the opposite end.
Because the Backup Plus uses Seagates Universal Storage Module, we tested it using Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. In comparison to drives of similar capacity and price, the Backup Plus posted similar transfer speeds to WDs My Passport Studio ( Macworld rated 3 out of 5 mice ) and My Passport For Mac ( Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ) when connected via USB 2.0 and FireWire 800.
However, when testing the USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, it appeared as though Seagates ran into a bottleneck, posting performance numbers around the 110 MBps mark. Overall, the transfer speeds between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt were comparable to each other; as neither interface demonstrated superiority over the other. Take note though, in order to benefit from the USB 3.0 connectivity you must have either a 2012 Mac laptop, a Mac Pro with a USB 3.0 expansion card, or a 17-inch MacBook Pro and a USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34 express card adapter (we used Sonnets USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34). Moreover, if you opt to use the Thunderbolt interface, you must purchase Seagates Go Flex Thunderbolt adapter ($100), as well as a Thunderbolt cable from Apple ($50). If you dont want to spend the extra money for boosted speeds, the Backup Plus is backwards compatible with USB 2.0, even though the drive comes stock with a USB 3.0 interface.
Macworlds buying advice
Seagates Backup Plus is flexible, easily portable, quiet, and affordable. However, its not an impressive speed performer, and if you want the added transfer speeds provided by Thunderbolt or USB 3.0, youre going to have to spend some extra cash. By far, the most intriguing attribute of this drive is the dashboard software that comes on it, which enables you to automatically backup your Facebook and Flickr photos and videos, as well as share your content directly from your drive to Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. If youre a frequent social networker who infrequently backs up your media, this drive may be just what youre looking for. However, if you dont care much about your online photo albums, the Backup Plus is a pretty ordinary external drive.