The Good AutoBackup and FreeAgent Tools software are easy to use and highly configurable; drive offers good gigabyte-per-dollar value; smooth interface with Internet Drive and Shutterfly; eSATA connectivity offers fast transfer speeds; elegant design; generous warranty.
The Bad Mac users can't take advantage of the bundled software; software installation is a bit slow; accessing your data "anywhere" requires you to have the foresight to upload it to the Internet Drive and potentially purchase more online storage capacity from Seagate; Shutterfly is the only online photo service it works with.
The Bottom Line The Seagate FreeAgent Pro external hard drive is an elegant workaround for users who are intimidated by NAS drives. The bundled software is simple to use and makes copying your data to various location a cinch. We really like this external hard drive.
Seagate FreeAgent Pro
At first glance, the Seagate FreeAgent Pro looks like a NAS drive: all of the online literature talks about accessing your data anywhere. It turns out that it's a desktop drive bundled with a backup application that makes it easy to copy your data to a variety of portable devices or to Seagate's Internet Drive (the company's online storage service). We found the bundled software simple to use and although a remote-accessible NAS drive is a better device than the FreeAgent Pro for true "anywhere access," setting up such a drive may prove daunting to many users, as it requires futzing with ports on your router. The FreeAgent Pro requires some device and data juggling, but it's manageable. At $320 for the 750GB USB 2.0/eSATA version and $340 for the 750GB USB 2.0/eSATA/FireWire version, it's a good deal, too. If you don't mind the thought of messing with your router, you should consider a NAS drive such as the Maxtor Fusion. Otherwise, the Seagate FreeAgent Pro is a great device for storage, backup, and sharing.
The FreeAgent Pro family includes six members in three capacities: 320GB, 500GB, and 750GB. Each capacity comes in two versions: USB 2.0/eSATA or USB 2.0/eSATA/FireWire 400 (we reviewed the 750GB USB 2.0/eSATA/FireWire version). eSATA will give you the fastest performance, but you'll need the appropriate hardware to use that option. All capacities offer a 7,200rpm drive.
Seagate gave the FreeAgent Pro an unusually slick design. It's wrapped in a smooth, black case, and the narrow sides of the drive are trimmed in orange, which glows when the drive is powered on. Though the literature that comes with the drive talks about its "portability," the drive is a bit too heavy and unwieldy to be easily portable. It measures 7.5 inches tall, 1.4 inches wide, and 6.3 inches deep, while the base measures 1 inch tall, 3 inches wide, and 5.2 inches deep. The whole unit weighs about 2 pounds.