Seagate Expansion Portable Drive review: Large drive for a low price

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Seagate Expansion Portable Drive quickly copies files and offers a ton of storage for the money. It's also compact enough to fit in your pocket and its no frills approach makes it easy to use with both computers and game consoles.

The Bad There is no backup software included and it's lacking any security features. It carries a short warranty of just a year.

The Bottom Line Though it offers little in the way of bells and whistles, the Seagate Expansion delivers a ton of storage for cheap.

8.1 Overall
  • Setup and ease of use 9.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 9.0
  • Service and support 5.0

The new Seagate Expansion is a fast and affordable drive that will comfortably fit into your purse or pocket. At just $90 (£61 and AU$118, converted) for the top capacity 2TB drive, it's an easy recommendation for anyone who needs extra storage to carry on the go. If you can settle with less storage space, the drive is also available in 1TB and 500GB versions at $60 and $54, respectively (converted, about £40 or AU$77 for the 1TB and £36 or AU$69 for the 500GB).

(Note that there's also a legacy version of the Seagate Expansion that costs $85 for 2TB. Other than the slightly different looks and costs, the two versions of the drive are essentially the same.)

This frills-free storage device comes with no added value, however, as there's no backup software or encryption support. It also carries a short warranty of just 1 year.

But if large storage space and fast performance are what you need, the Seagate Expansion is an excellent way to add more storage to your laptop. And thanks to the straightforward design, the drive is especially good for a non-computer host, such as a game console or media player. For more options, including those with more features, check out our list of top portable drives on the market.

The new Seagate Expansion drive (left) and its legacy version. Josh Miller/CNET

Simple design

You can call the Seagate Expansion a typical portable drive. Measuring 4.8 inches by 3.2 inches by 0.6 inch (12.2 by 8.1 by 1.52cm), it's as big as you'd imagine a squarish plastic box holding a standard 2.5-inch hard drive on the inside would be. Basically, it's small enough to be easily tucked in inside a purse or your back pocket.

The Expansion's internal storage is a low-power drive that spins at just 5,400 rotations per minute, and not at 7,200rpm. The slow spin speed generally translates into slower performance (not in this case though; more on that later) but at the same time also means lower power consumption.

The Expansion ships in a spartan retail package that includes the drive itself and a foot-long standard Micro-USB 3.0 cable. But that's all you need to get up and running. Like all portable drives, the Expansion is bus-powered, requiring just one cable for both data and power.

Out of the box, the Expansion is preformatted in the NTFS file system so it works right a way with a Windows computer. You can also easily reformat it into HFS+ in order to work with a Mac, a process that takes just a few seconds. In fact, I generally find that buying a drive like this is a much cheaper way to get storage for your Mac than buying a Mac-designated drive, which are generally much more expensive.

If you want to use the Seagate Expansion interchangeably in a mixed Windows and Mac environment, you can also format it using the exFAT file system. Apart from computers, the drive will also work with other popular hosts, such as game consoles or media players. Just make sure you first format it into the supported file system. I tried it with the Xbox One and it worked very well. The drive was recognized quickly and I could use it to save games and apps, as well as to store media for playback.

Seagate Expansion Portable Drive Specs

Drive type Bus-powered portable hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 500GB, 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB
Internal drive speed 5,400rpm
Capacity of review unit 2TB
Dimensions 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches (12.2 x 8.1 x 1.52cm)
Weight 5.9 ounces (167.2 grams)
Software included None
OSes supported Windows XP or later; Mac OS 10.4 or later
Warranty 1 year

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