CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Samsung S2 review: Samsung S2

Samsung S2

Justin Yu Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals
Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.
Justin Yu
4 min read

The Samsung S2 Portable hard drive is almost identical to the company's S1 Mini that we reviewed in 2009, except that the S2 Portable is slightly larger because of the 2.5-inch hard drive spinning inside. With capacities reaching 640GB ($120) and being available in a variety of bright colors, the Samsung S2 Portable not only looks good, but it also has a low per-gigabyte price--a combination we like well enough to recommend it.


Samsung S2

The Good

Simple, compact design; fast transfer speeds; generous three-year warranty; inexpensive; available in a rainbow of colors.

The Bad

Included backup and password protection software doesn't support Mac OS.

The Bottom Line

Although we dinged its predecessor because of its inflated price tag, the Samsung S2 Portable hard drive earns high marks and our recommendation for being reasonably priced, having fast file-transfer speed, and for having a generous three-year warranty.

Design and features
The S2 Portable chassis is the same rectangular shape as the S1 Mini, but at 4 inches long by 3 inches wide and less than 1 inch thick, the S2 is a bit larger than the S1. The S2's weight varies slightly depending on its capacity, but most people won't have a problem with its size--especially if the drive winds up in a carry-on bag or a laptop case.

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB flash hard drive
Connector options USB 2.0
Size (LWH) 4.4 inches by 3.2 inches by 0.7 inch
Weight 0.38 pound
Capacity of test unit 640GB
Supported operating systems Microsoft Windows (2000, XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.4.8 and later
Software included SecretZone and Auto Backup

The S2 Portable is available in six colors that are not only visually pleasing but also help to distinguish the drive from the sea of external-storage solutions floating around the office. Each color wraps around the front and sides of the device, and a circular lattice pattern embellishes its top with speckles of glitter that accent its features. Similar to the grip on the Transcend StoreJet 25f, the back of the S2 Portable is covered with a slightly sticky plastic that prevents the drive from slipping on smooth surfaces.

The S2 Portable is USB-powered, so the only cable you need is included in the box. The drive has a soft blue light on its top that signals when it's transferring data.

Samsung bundles two supplementary Windows-only programs with the drive: Samsung SecretZone and Auto Backup software. The former is a simple imaging program that acts as a digital lockbox for your passwords and other private data. The executable file is already loaded onto the stock drive. Its installation is as easy as choosing a password and specifying how much space on the disk to dedicate to the new image.

The Auto Backup software is a file-based system, which means you have to specify which files and folders you want it to save. Its layout is easy and intuitive to set up, giving you full access to version control, backup scheduling, and file compression. The program also installs a small icon in the Windows taskbar that shows detailed information about the existing data on the drive. Unfortunately, neither program works with Mac OS X.

Cost per gigabyte
The S2 Portable offers an excellent deal across all capacities, and we calculate the 500GB model to cost 20 cents per gigabyte--enough to push the LaCie Rikiki out of the first place position for affordable drives. At just $120 for the 640GB model, the S2 still offers plenty of storage for gigabyte gobblers on a budget.

Cost per gigabyte
Samsung S2 Portable
LaCie Rikiki

We did a simple data transfer test and compared the Samsung S2 Portable with four other external drives in a similar price range. According to our stopwatch, the S2 Portable read our file at 28.89MBps and wrote it back at 25.26MBps, earning a top spot on write speed and coming in a close second behind the G-Tech G-Drive Mobile to read our 6.61GB media folder. Still, the differences between the top scorers are so marginal that you won't be able to tell the difference unless you're transferring a file that's 10GB or larger.

Performance (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
USB read test  
USB write test  
Samsung S2 Portable
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex
LaCie Rikiki

Service and support
Samsung protects the S2 Portable with a generous three-year warranty that guards against manufacturer defects. If you have a problem with the drive, Samsung will ship you a replacement drive while you send the defective drive to the company for testing. For general troubleshooting issues, Samsung provides a comprehensive list of FAQs, a glossary, a user guide, and even a self-diagnostic chart to check your drive for common errors before contacting the RMA service. The company also provides an e-mail form that puts you in direct contact with a Samsung technician.


Samsung S2

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Support 8