Time to Back Up – Hard Drive Review

Good, you’ve pressed save.

But have you backed up?

Chances are you have some involvement with computers at some point in your uni experience. Even when you limit access to writing up coursework and doing detailed research, you probably have a desktop or laptop that gets some use.

If your computer’s hard drive failed one day and you had loads of important files on there that weren’t anywhere else, it’s game over. Everything gone.

That’s why stuff needsĀ backing up.

Now, you can keep some of your data online through services like Dropbox. I use it for some files and it suits me well for certain tasks and backups. If you’re still not using Dropbox, sign up here and we’ll both get some extra space. Result!

I’ve only got 7 gig of space to use at the moment, so it’s limited to relatively small backups. Also, some people prefer a physical backup in their own hands for both safety and privacy reasons.

Enter the external hard drive. Lots of space, in your own hands, and as private as you wish to make it.

The people at Tesco Compare home insurance asked if I would like to review an external hard drive. Under the circumstances, I was happy to say yes to a review.

A black box. Nothing exciting to look at, but it's all about the treasures you keep backed up inside it.

A black box. Nothing exciting to look at, but it’s all about the treasures you keep backed up inside it.

The Seagate Expansion 1TB they sent is quiet and uncomplicated. It came with no software for making regular backups, so be aware if you want extra software as part of the package. For regular and automated backup sessions, you’ll have to provide your own methods. A good place to start is the consistently useful TechSupportAlert.

Shapes and Sizes

External drives come in portable and desktop flavours. Portable is smaller and doesn’t require a power socket as it runs off power from the USB cable. Desktop versions are larger and need plugging in to the wall. The desktop versions usually have a fan inside and are suited more to backing up your files, as they are less likely to overheat. The Seagate drive here is a desktop one, so let’s do a backup!

The device works in a simple plug and play job that takes no more than a couple of seconds to recognise and be ready to take on whatever files you want to throw at it. The drive wouldn’t provide an icon when I installed it, but that didn’t make a difference to the operation of the drive.

The Seagate I’m testing is a 1TB, but they come in capacities up to 4TB in size, in case you keep an insane number of large files.

Luckily, I don’t have a lot to store, so the 1TB is fine for me. And then some!

No frills doesn’t mean no value. What it means is easy use and easy access. I have used drives with software for security and one-touch backup and they come in useful for some situations. But when you just want to make sure your files are in more than one place and aren’t going to change all the time, a large amount of storage like this is great, especially as it’s USB 3.0, giving better speeds than previous USB 2.0 devices could. If you don’t have a USB 3.0 port, you won’t get the faster speed, but you can still use it in older USB ports.

Use and Never Use

I can’t comment on the life of this drive, but I’m not about to put it through a huge amount of use. Think of it as a drive you hope you’ll never need to seriously use. And if the worst does happen and your PC or laptop fails or gets destroyed in an unfortunate accident, you’ll be pleased you didn’t keep your head in the sand.

If you never need to use the drive, be thankful for that!

As a test, I transferred 327GB of data over to the drive, comprising mostly of photos in RAW and JPG formats. I also tested read and write speeds in CrystalDiskMark.

The 327GB transferred in 1 hour 6 minutes and 5 seconds. From comparative reviews of speeds when running at USB 3.0, this was pretty good. Given that this was a collection of photographs going back to around 2004, an hour of time is nothing for some extra peace of mind.

The benchmark testing was generally respectable. The CrystalDiskMark results (for those who like the numbers) are as follows:
CrystalDiskMark Test

Summing Up

Here are my general thoughts on the hard drive:

PROS

  • Plug and play, ready in seconds
  • Fast (especially if you have a USB 3.0 port available)
  • Quiet, no loud fan noises or clunky operation

CONS

  • No backup software with the device (although you may prefer to use your own choice of software or use nothing at all)

While I can’t vouch for its longevity, my oldest external hard drive is from Seagate too. A portable that I used to take around with me when travelling. It’s been going strong for years, with regular use. I’ve upgraded in the meantime, but I still use it for some older files and photos and it’s still whirring away like a champ.

All in all, if you’re looking for simplicity and pretty good speed for an external hard drive, the Seagate Expansion 1TB ticks those boxes.

Be safe. Press save AND back up.

4 comments

  1. Thanks for the review, I’m looking into getting a drive myself and this review was helpful. Have you ever owned Seagate Backup Plus 2TB Desktop External Hard Drive? If so, what do you think about it?

    1. Do you mean this one? I haven’t got one of these, no. Backup drives automate and schedule much of the backup functions so you don’t have to think about it much. I don’t have experience of this specific drive, but if you want to back up regularly and with little effort, a drive like this may help. Alternatively, you can get a basic drive and find independent backup software that will schedule most of the tasks you want to anyway. I hope this helps!

  2. My laptop decided to break halfway through second year a couple of days before my deadline, and I lost all my work! It was the most stressful experience ever, so I totally agree that it is super important to back up all your work! It is well worth investing in a hard drive!!

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