Seagate Backup Plus Fast review: The fastest and most capacious portable drive

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4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Seagate Backup Plus Fast is indeed extremely fast, and includes helpful backup software. The drive also provides top capacity, and is bus-powered.

The Bad Users can't change the internal drives; the RAID 0 setup might result in a higher risk of data loss.

The Bottom Line The Backup Plus Fast is an excellent choice for anyone, especially those for those needing lots of storage space or the ability to edit videos on the go.

8.8 Overall
  • Setup and ease of use 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 10.0
  • Service and support 8.0

The Backup Plus Fast is by far the speediest and highest-capacity hard-drive-based USB 3.0 portable storage device to date.

This latest member of Seagate's Backup Plus family of compact external hard drives achieves that by combining two internal hard drives on the inside in a RAID 0 configuration, effectively doubling both the current capacity and performance.

The only drawback of this drive is the fact that RAID 0 generally has higher risk of data loss. On top of that, the device itself is also thicker than others.

But as a drive designed to host a backup copy of your data, the Backup Plus Fast makes an excellent choice for those who need lots of storage space as well as top performance on the go. All things considered, at the current price of $270 for 4TB, it's really a great deal. Looking for other storage alternatives? Check out CNET's list of best hard drives and storage devices.

The new Backup Plus Fast (left) is much thicker than the original Backup Plus drive.
The new Backup Plus Fast (left) is much thicker than the original Backup Plus drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0-compatible
Dimensions 4.6 x 3.2 x 0.8 inch
Weight 0.68 pound
Available capacities 4TB
Warranty 3-year
OSes supported Microsoft Windows (XP or later), Mac OS 10.4.6 or later
Software included Seagate Dashboard (Mac and Windows)

The Backup Plus Fast bucks the trend of going slim in portable drives. At 0.8 inch, it's almost twice the thickness of other drives, such as the Backup Plus or the WD My Passport Slim. But it's thick for a good reason: it's the first portable drive I've seen that houses two internal hard drives on the inside, stacked one on top of the other. These two hard drives are combined into a single volume in a RAID 0 configuration to offer the total storage space of 4TB. That makes it the highest capacity portable drive on the market, doubling the amount of space any runner-up can offer.

Generally, RAID 0 heightens the risk of data loss because if one of the internal drives fails, you'll lose data on both. For this reason, you shouldn't use the Fast to store your only copy of data. Rather, use it to store a backup of your original files. If you use it to host hot data, such as movies or photos that you're working on, make sure you back them up to another drive as soon as you're done. Note that you can't open the Fast to service the internal drives by yourself, and you can't change it to a RAID 1 setup, either. However, this is quite normal for portable drives.

Other than its thick profile, the drive itself is still very compact. In fact, it's slightly shorter, or narrower than some other thinner drives. On one side, it has a standard Micro-USB 3.0 port. Despite having two internal drives, the Fast is still bus-powered, meaning it doesn't require a separate power adapter. This is a must-have feature for a portable drive, since it saves you from carrying too many things.

The drive itself includes two USB cables. One of them is a standard USB 3.0 cable, similar to those accompanying other portable drives. The second cable is a Y-shaped cable that can draw power from two USB ports of a computer. This cable is needed only when you use the Fast with a computer that can't provide enough power for the drive to work from a single USB port. In my testing, I didn't need to use the Y-shaped cable at all, but you might need it if you plan to use the Fast with older laptops.

Despite having two internal hard drives, the Backup Plus Fast is still bus-powered and comes with just one USB port for both power and data connections.
Despite having two internal hard drives, the Backup Plus Fast is still bus-powered and comes with just one USB port for both power and data connections. Dong Ngo/CNET

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