If you need to back up your data for work, school, or play, there are loads of hard drives out there waiting to be filled to the brim with your precious files. And I’ve got some good news for you: they’re getting cheaper and smaller – like Seagate’s offerings for 2019.
The new Backup Plus Slim is compact enough to fit into the front pocket of a men’s shirt, store 2TB of data, and comes in at just $60. Its slightly heftier sibling, the $110 Backup Plus that the company sent me, is thicker and weighs a bit more – but manages a whopping 5TB in its relatively diminutive form factor. And they both work with Windows or Mac right out of the box.
But like I said, there are several options out there, and it’s worth knowing a bit more about what you’re paying for. Let’s get into it.
For starters, these are mechanical disk drives which run at 5,400RPM and connect to your computer via USB 3.0. They use the exFAT file system, which makes them good for using on both Windows and macOS, so if you share files across platforms, these are a good way to go. Just don’t expect to use Apple’s Time Machine feature with them, as that requires drives to be formatted with the HFS+ system.
So these aren’t the fastest portable drives out there. If you’re looking for speed, you’ll want to check out SSD-based options like Samsung’s T5 ($328 for the 2TB model) – and shell out many more dollars per GB.
But they’re still awfully compact, don’t require an external power source like some larger and faster drives, and they’re cheap enough for you to affordably get into the habit of backing up your stuff. The 2TB model is especially pocketable, at just 125g and a thickness of 11mm (most phones are about 7-8mm thick).
These drives come with short USB 3.0 cables, which means you’ll need a full-size USB port on your computer to use them out of the box. I’d have liked a USB-C option for modern laptops, but as a user of larger machines myself, I didn’t miss this much.
Seagate’s drives come with the company’s free Toolkit software that’s easy to use for configuring regular backups. You can set your drive to back up files with just a couple of clicks, or even choose which folders you want backed up when you plug the device in. Plus, you’ll get a free two-month subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud (granting access to Photoshop and Lightroom), as well as a year of free photo storage on Mylio (after which it’ll cost you $50 per year).
The 2TB Backup Plus Slim features an aluminum body with a brushed metal finish (there are other neat colorways available, including a cloth-covered one), and is the quicker of the two drives. It maxed out at a read speed of 123MB/s, and had similar write speeds.
That’s not bad at all – but you should know that SSDs like the Samsung T5 manage 212MBps, and some other mechanical disk-based options, like Western Digital’s $65 My Passport, reportedly runs at speeds of 174 MBps read, and 168 MBps write.
The larger Backup Plus didn’t perform quite as well. Read speeds were just over 120MBps, but write speeds were around a disappointing 45MBps. It’s not quick, but it’s among a small number of drives that can fit 5TB of files in an enclosure this small – and it’s almost certainly the cheapest of its kind.
Who are these drives for?
If you’re looking for an affordable local backup solution for your home or work computers, this is a great way to get started. They’re cheap, look cool, and should fit easily in your backpack – and in the 2TB Slim’s case, in your laptop sleeve’s pocket too.
If you’re on the road a lot, you might want a more rugged option that can handle being bumped around and dropped without risking the fidelity of your data. This $80 option from Adata looks like it can take a bit more roughhousing, and this $70 one from Silicon Power stores its own cable – but you’ll need to reformat it before using in order to store files larger than 4GB.
And if you work with a lot of high-resolution photographs, video, 3D models, and audio, you’ll likely want something faster and more reliable – at which point these SSD-based drives from Samsung (the $328 T5 we mentioned, and this rugged model for $340) and Western Digital ($343) are good ways to go.
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Published June 7, 2019 — 11:29 UTC