Review: FreeAgent Go Lets You Take Your Data Along - InformationWeek

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Review: FreeAgent Go Lets You Take Your Data Along

Seagate's consumer hard drive offers enough storage space to handle up to 160GB of data in a stylish, portable form.

External hard drives -- whether meant for backups or media storage -- have passed from the realm of business-only to that of consumer electronics. Seagate's FreeAgent Go portable hard drive certainly belongs in the latter category.

FreeAgent Go

As befits a consumer product, the FreeAgent Go is sleek and stylish; instead of the usual small LED to indicate power on, it has a side panel that emits a soft orange glow. Measuring .7 x 4.8 x 3.9 inches, and weighing 6.4 ounces (not including the included Y-shaped USB cable), it comes in three capacities: 80GB, 120GB, and 160GB.

That USB cable, by the way, is Y-shaped because the FreeAgent Go doesn't use an independent power source; it draws all its power via the USB cable. On the one hand, this means you don't have to schlep around a power cable; on the other, it means that you're plugged into two USB ports -- so a portable hub may have to be your next purchase. And while I don't have any figures on how much power it will draw from your notebook, be aware that it may have an effect on your battery life.

Product Info
FreeAgent Go
Seagate LLC
Price: $80 - $102 (80GB), $85 - $120 (120GB), $125 - $150 (160GB)
Summary: This stylish portable drive is ideal for carrying around your media files and documents.

The FreeAgent Go comes with two useful applications (along with some utilities); they conveniently come on the drive itself rather than a separate CD. The first, Ceedo, is an application that lets you use the unit as an independent environment (so that you have access to all your apps and data while plugging into other machines). Ceedo offers its own menu interface and comes with several applications that have been optimized for use on mobile drives, including versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. You can download others from Ceedo's Web site.

The other application, FreeAgent Tools, lets you sync the FreeAgent Go with your system. It installs quickly and easily, and is very simple to set up; however, you are somewhat limited in exactly what you can sync. For example, while you can sync the My Documents folder (or any part thereof), and any top-level folders that you may have added, and any files on the Desktop, I didn't see any way to sync folders or files below the Documents and Settings folder -- so, for example, I would have been unable to sync my Thunderbird Profile files (unless, of course, I chose to move them).

The drive syncs at a reasonable pace. The first time I started the process, it took about 6.5 minutes to synchronize a My Documents folder that held about 3.5 GB of data. As you'd expect, subsequent syncs were much quicker. To hold the data, the application created a folder on the FreeAgent Go called FreeAgent Sync -- the drive comes with its own My Documents folder already in place, presumably to hold any documents you don't want to sync with your main system.

I'm a great fan of portable storage products -- I don't go anywhere without at least one USB flash drive -- and the FreeAgent Go is a very nice example of the genre. It isn't small enough to just throw into your pocket, like Seagate's 12GB FreeAgent Go Small. It isn't a portable backup drive like the FreeAgent Pro, which can handle up to 750GB. But if you want to take a bunch of videos along with you, along with your entire My Documents folder, the FreeAgent Go is a stylish and handy way to do it.

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