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I currently own five of these. If that isn't a recommendation I don't know what is

I currently own five of these.

If that isn't a recommendation I don't know what is.

One of the problems with recommending a specific disk drive is that drives change, capacities increase and what I might tell you about today may not even be available next year. The external drive I recommended some years ago is no longer even being made.

With that having been said, today the FreeAgent Go is an incredibly handy and valuable device.

The version I use has a capacity of 500 Gigabytes, all in a package that's smaller than a paperback book.

One of its most appealing features is that it does not need an additional external power supply; this model is powered completely via its USB connection. As a result, it's perfectly portable. One of my five drives sits in my backpack for backup as I travel, for both data and photographs I take when on the road.

I use the other four for data storage at home.

Even though these drives are small and rugged, I take no chances. Since they're relatively inexpensive I actually have them set up as two pairs: one drive of each pair as the "primary", or drive that I actually use on one machine, and the other as "backup" on another machine, mirroring the primary via a script run automatically each night.

Now, while the drives are small and portable and convenient and relatively inexpensive, they're not particularly fast. They're perfect for backing up, for portability, and for redundant data storage, though, and that's exactly how I recommend using them.

If you're wondering what kind of external drive to get for your backups, it's hard to go wrong with the Seagate FreeAgent Go 500GB external drive.

I recommend it.

Article C3834 - August 8, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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27 Comments
bill
August 11, 2009 8:30 AM

one of the comments said it would not work with 64bit. is the comment...
Works great so far BUT...3
I am using this hard drive to back-up my computer and so far it works great. The only thing that prevented me from giving it a 5-star rating is that software updates won't install on my computer because I'm running Vista 64-bit Home Premium. Seagate only supports Vista 32-bit. No where on the packaging or in the specs for the unit is this poined out, in fact it specifically says that it is compatible with Vista.

For the record: I do not use any of the software that comes with the drive. After archiving a copy I actually erase the drive before using it.
Leo
12-Aug-2009

vincent
August 12, 2009 2:28 AM

Personally I can recommend the western digital passport drives.
Same concept as the freeagent and they work very well.
I use the included backup software which has saved my life on a couple of occasions :-)

Robert ODonnell
August 12, 2009 8:51 PM

Hi Leo, I have a Seagate and was wondering. Can you save Appplication such as Programs. I want to move Photoshop and Dreamweaver to another machine? Help and thanks in advance...Bob

Susan
August 12, 2009 9:11 PM

I personally have a seagate and would not do without it! When I purchased it, my purpose was to put all my music, photos and pictures there. It more than came in handy when my computer was discovered to have more than 100 viruses!

Two important things to keep in mind:

1) the external drive could fail - it happened to me. That means that if your data is only on that external drive, you could lose it all. The solution: backup. Make sure you have at least two copies of your data on different drives and/or in different places.

2) viruses can and do travel to external drives. If your machine had 100 viruses, it wouldn't surprise me at all if some had migrated to the external drive, and then migrated on to the next system you plug that drive into. Recent viruses have been known to propagate this way extensively.
Leo
13-Aug-2009

Steve
August 15, 2009 11:37 AM

I use Seagate FreeAgents to backup Windows 2003 Servers. I've tried other ext usb drives and have had problems. The FreeAgents work great! I do a complete backup each night (over 72 gigs) and it takes about 2 hours using Backup Exec 12.5. (Note: Seagate said they don't make an ext hard drive for Windows severs - but FreeAgents work great!)

June Holt
November 24, 2009 7:10 AM

I tried the Seagate external drive, but my computer would not recognize the drive after the first use and would not back up my files because of "hidden files" in my system. I returned the drive and can't get the software off my computer. I uninstalled it, but the Seagate icon is still in the navigation. The program does not show up in my remove programs area. How can I get this junk off my computer?

Carl Jackson
November 26, 2009 9:42 AM

I use a Seagate Freeagent Go for my backup. Should I leave the Seagate drive plugged into the computer?I also use Win7 and it seems to work fine. I have not tried a restore.

There are arguments for leaving it plugged in (you don't have to remember to plug it in to backup), and for leaving it unplugged (certain types of failures could corrupt the backup), so there's no single answer here. I leave mine plugged in.
Leo
27-Nov-2009

Richard
March 2, 2010 8:49 AM

I have three of these drives which I move between my 64 bit, 32bit and my laptop. They are wonderful - never any problems in swapping between systems, or your problem, June.

Dave Bressette
March 2, 2010 8:59 AM

Will this work on windows 7 64 bit as is? Or do I have to erase the sofrware first? If I erase then will it work on win 7 64 bit?

The drive will work with almost any OS. The software that's included on the drive is not required to use the drive. I typically save it off somewhere and then erase it from the drive.
Leo
03-Mar-2010

Maurie
March 2, 2010 2:45 PM

Recently purchased one of these Seagate 500gb drives for backup purposes and find it absolutely wonderful and easy to use, especially not having to use an external power source.

Sukhdev Taneja
August 21, 2010 10:34 PM

I have just bought this external harddisk today from market. But My system cannot read the information on the my 500 GB Seagate Freeagent go external hard drive using the supplied USB cable. The external drive does not come up at all. Is a required driver missing out on my system? When I connect my 500 Gb Seagate Freegent go External Hard drive, it always ask for drivers and show message at last “The hardware was not installed because the wizard cannot find the necessary software.” I think that my Windows have some missing driver for this products. I have successfully running Freecom External 160 Gb Harddrive and Enter 2.5” HDD External Case without Drivers on my computer.
Please help

Depends on your version of Windows. Should work seamlessly with XP or later. Contact Seagate if you're running earlier - you may indeed need drivers.
Leo
23-Aug-2010

christy
September 20, 2010 1:18 PM

I just bought my 350 GB hard drive today and everything was working well until I got to backing up my files manually. It will say its backing up and less than 10 seconds later, it says it has completed backing up my files. Needless to say, the files are not there when I look for them. My files are simply not backing up. What is going on?

Joe
October 7, 2010 12:11 PM

i bought a seagate freeagent go 500gb drive last year.one morning i plugged it in and it came up as something else and wouldn't open.i bought another thinking it would recognise it then from the new one but it didn't.i don't recomend these drives.once the computer doesn't recognise them, you cannot download any drivers for them.

Mark
October 27, 2010 10:09 AM

I have installed my "Seagate FreeAgent" and it worked fine for a while now when I begin the download process the "memo board" says "please connect your storage device to resume backup"...what is that all about? it is connected and even when I run a device test the test reports that everything is working fine...????

Not sure what you're refering to when you say "memo board" - I presume that's supplied by the backup program you're using. Without knowing what program that is, I'd have you look at its documentation, or perhaps it's manufacturer's web site for support.
Leo
28-Oct-2010

Shah Faisal
November 10, 2010 3:07 AM


I bought Seagate 500GB Free Agent Portable hard Disk drive about a month ago.
Set up was easy and I moved all my music, photos & all my videos.
Today when i copying some data from it to another PC,
suddenly there comes a problem while copying that suddenly its icon vanishes from my computer,
i pluged it out after safely removes & tried to re-connect it again,
and then shows "external drive detected".but i m unable to access it because Its icon does not show up on My computer.
Now every time when i connect it, its light is glowing - but no icon displays & I cannot access it!! Please help.

Frank D
December 29, 2010 9:15 AM

@Shah Faisal: I had this same problem. I solved it by opening Start > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. Locate your plugged-in disk (the one with the problem), right-click on it and choose Change drive letter and paths. In the dialog box, click on either Add... or Change... (as appropriate) and assign a letter to the drive. Click OK and close the Disk Management window. You should be OK to go now.

Sha Rahim
March 16, 2011 8:16 AM

I plugged in my Seagate 500GB Free Agent Portable hard Disk and it doesnt even recognize it and I am even unable to find it in "my computer"

Skipperjack
October 25, 2011 9:19 AM

I've have a 1 TB Go-Flex from Seagate for a little over a year now. Having worked in the disk drive industry for 15 years (3 different companies-not Seagate) Seagate was always the top competitor and best engineered of all by comparison. HDDs are extremely high technology, and Seagate always seemed to have the best of all designs and well engineered quality. My Go-Flex is unbelievably quiet. I've never heard a drive as quiet as this one. How they've done it I don't know, but the only way to tell if it's running is to either hold it directly against your ear, or believe the lights. Great drive. I had difficulties when I first got it. Not the greatest of instructions, and extremely difficult to contact Seagate for help. But now, it works flawlessly (knock on wood).

Gabe Lawrence
October 26, 2011 8:38 AM

I like to mention this when the topic is about external storage. Be cautious when plugging and unplugging them. One little "tick" of static discharge on the USB port can damage them. In fact, I've seen static discharge damage computers through the USB port too. Always keep your fingers back a good distance. I used to be in the habit of "feeling" with my finger which way to plug in the cable or device into the port #who's idea was it to make that thing symmetrical anyway, didn't they learn anything from the PS2 connectors...but I digress#. Just be cautious. Two mobo's and one external USB drive later, I no longer put my fingers close to the port. Computer Habits 101...always touch the metal case to discharge any static before plugging in peripherals.

Jim Marris
October 26, 2011 10:10 AM

I use a Seagate Go Flex Home for 3 computers. Big Box setup...
A Memeo error occurs thus
Memeo Background Service.exe Application Error
"Instruction @ 0x74985dfe ref memory at 0x00000020 memory could not be read. click OK to terminate program.
Support wants me to uninstall the program..
As I did not setup the computers I do not wish to try to "fix" it as I do not know what is going on...and I have asked too.
So I "terminate the program" until it reappears sometime in several days.

Mike Dalgleish
March 13, 2012 11:18 AM

This primary drive and backup technique sounds OK, but two comments:
a). If you simply mirror automatically each night, what happens when you make a user mistake say deleting a primary file, and dont realize it until a day or two later. You have lost your backup. I use a package called ViceVersa which keeps copies of updated files in their original form in an archive directory of the backup drive; its easy to roll back with that.
b) I wonder about making a USB drive the primary drive. I'd feel more secure using the internal drive, especially when out and about with a laptop.

Mark J
March 13, 2012 2:23 PM

@Mike
That's one of the reasons why Leo recommends taking incremental backups, so that you can always go back a few days and get what you may have accidentally deleted prior to backing up
What's an incremental backup?.
Normally a computer won't allow you to use an external disk as your system drive.

Carol Marston
March 13, 2012 10:15 PM

I can't say enough good things about the Seagate company! Almost five years ago I got a Seagate Free Agent external drive as a gift. It quit working about three months ago. I thought, "well, so much for that; I'll have to buy a new one." On a hunch, I called Seagate and when they heard the serial number they told me it was still under warranty! They sent me a new one and I sent the old one to them in a prepaid mailer. They were extremely courteous. Many businesses could take a tip from this company!

Michelle G
March 17, 2012 11:04 AM

Along with a large-capacity external Seagate drive that I keep connected to my main desktop system, I also have 3 Seagate FreeAgent Go drives. Since I use Macrium Reflect, I don't usually bother with the included software. I do, however, use one of my Go drives for simple copies of various in-process project documents and, on that one, I also have backups created with the Seagate Manager utility. Not only does this give me an extra layer of protection for my data, but it backs up files in their native format, so when I need to grab a copy of one of them, I can simply drag and drop in Windows Explorer. Quick and easy!

Chris
June 15, 2012 8:46 PM

I have a FreeAgent Pro, which is similar to this drive. However, I always notice the drive runs very hot whenever the computer has been on for some time. Is there any way to cool it down?

Jonathan
August 31, 2012 12:47 PM

I've always been a fan of Western Digital, but with the aftermath of the flooding in Thailand leaving few drives available, I finally picked up a few Seagate 3TB FreeAgent drives. So far I'm very pleased with them. The only negative aspects is they are very unstable when standing - make sure they are firmly supported to keep them from falling over, and it would be nice if they all didn't have that shiny, smooth case that allows them to slip right out of your hands. Some rubberized armor or even dots on the outside would be great...so jest be careful handling them. Beyond that, excellent drives.

rrose
December 25, 2012 3:42 PM

I have a question about a Seagate portable hard drive. Hopefully someone can give me advice. I purchased one around Sept 2011. My computer had a bad virus coincidentally the next month. I ran Norton AV on the drive and it said I had no virus. Anyway, the virus on the pc was so bad, that I had to reformat and start over. A tech guy at my office who is very knowledgeable did everything for me...long story short....it appears that the same virus attacked my pc again because every problem seemed the same right before it finally died. I had just "backed up" to the Seagate a few days before and was opening files "on" the Seagate and so I am thinking that the original virus was indeed still there and somehow "restarted" when I opened a file on the drive. I gave up trying to "repair" the pc because I cannot even reformat - it wont recognized the repair/startup disk or the norton cd. I dont want to pay to have it repaired so I bought a mac. My question is: how can I be sure to "safely" access my files from the Seagate now and not infect my mac? Can anyone help me? My Seagate is out of warranty now since I bought it in Sept 2011. Thanks in advance.

Most viruses target Windows, so to be honest there's nothing I'd recommend you do - you're likely safe. That being said what you describe doesn't feel like a virus. A virus, for example, shouldn't cause your computer to be unable to boot from CD. My money is on there being an underlying and slowly-failing hardware issue in that PC.
Leo
26-Dec-2012

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