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

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

Features
The Fast comes formatted in the NTFS file system and works immediately with any Windows computer. However, like other portable drives from Seagate, it also comes with a customized version of that enables Macs to read and write to the drive without reformatting. If you plan on using it exclusively with a Mac, however, you can also reformat it into NFS+. In this case, you can also use a software driver to make Windows able to read and write to the Mac file system.

Preloaded on the drive is a new version of the Seagate Dashboard backup software. There are three main backup functions: PC Backup, Mobile Backup, and Social. The PC Backup part is basically the local backup; here you can either customize real-time local backups or let the software, by default, pick what should be backed up for you. After that, the drive will back up continuously when changes have been made to data. In my trials, this function worked very well. Note that this part is available only for Windows. The Mac version of the software has only the other two parts.

The Social feature allows to share your media on to social-networking sites, including Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube and, conversely, back up media from those sites to the portable drive. Both of the Share and Save functions worked well in my testing. They are very straightforward and have no learning curve.

And finally, you can also back up content stored on your mobile device with the Mobile Backup function. You can do that with the Fast by using the free, downloadable Seagate Mobile Backup app that's available for both iOS and Android devices.

Additionally, you can also use the Seagate Dashboard to backup content to a cloud backup service.

The new Seagate Dashboard software now includes Mobile Backup options.
The new Seagate Dashboard software now includes Mobile Backup options. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

Performance
The Backup Plus Fast's performance blew me away. I tested the drive with USB 3.0 -- which you should use the drive with -- and it registered a sustained write speed of 220MBps and a read speed of 230MBps. These are by far the highest numbers I've seen in portable drives. In fact, the only portable drive that registered a higher speed is the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+, which is SSD-based, is much more expensive, and has just 512GB of storage space at most.

CNET external hard drive USB 3.0 Performance Scores
(In MB/sec; longer bars indicate better performance)
Read
Write
Seagate Backup Plus Fast
232.74
222.5
Toshiba Canvio Slim II
118.49
118.8
WD My Passport Ultra
117.87
118.5
Seagate Slim
111.49
110.4
IoSafe Solo G3
110.98
109.1
WD My Password Slim
107.89
107.7
Canvio Connect
97.1
97.4
Seagate Backup Plus
110.1
90.94
Drobo Mini
76.79
59.26

When used with USB 2.0, the drive has about the same speed as other USB 2.0 portable drives, around 30MBps.

The Fast also worked well in my testing, emitting no noise, vibrations, or heat.

Conclusion
The Seagate Backup Fast is an excellent portable drive for anyone, and especially those who need lots of space and superfast performance. Just make sure you use USB 3.0 with it and, most importantly, that you don't use it to store the only copy of your data. On the other hand, it's so fast that you can use it to host high-def videos that you want to edit. In this case, make sure you back up the content to another drive when you're done with the editing. While the chance is low, RAID 0 always results in a higher possibility of data loss compared with portable drives that have just a single internal drive on the inside.

Its speed performance makes the Fast an excellent alternative to SSD-based portable drives, such as the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+, and its top-end 4TB of storage space, as well as its budget-friendly pricing, are just extra bonuses.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
    External hard drive
  • Capacity 4 TB