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Seagate Replica review: Seagate Replica

Seagate Replica

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

Seagate's Replica drives are designed to do one thing and do it simply: back up your entire Windows PC. They literally make a replica of your system, operating system and all.


Seagate Replica

The Good

The Replica backs up the entire contents of a Windows PC hard drive, operating system, and all; simple setup; restoring a system is easy; step-up 500GB model offers option for backing up multiple PCs.

The Bad

Only backs up your entire system; you can't selectively move files on and off the drive; no Mac support; supplied USB cable is unusually short.

The Bottom Line

While Seagate's Replica will seem silly and restricting to those looking for a flexible external storage option, others will welcome the singularity of its mission to back up your entire Windows PC.

The Replica comes in two configurations. The entry-level $130 250GB Replica is geared to single PC backup, while the $200 500GB version comes with a dock and is capable of backing up multiple PCs. (The dock is just a plastic housing that mounts the drive vertically; it still needs to be connected to PCs one at a time while backing up.)

The drive itself is fairly compact, measuring 5.61 inches high by 3.99 inches wide by 0.72 inch deep and weighing 0.57 pound. For whatever reason, the supplied USB cable is unusually short, but you can replace it with any standard mini-USB cable. The cable hardwired to the dock, meanwhile, is a two-headed model. That lets it get the proper amount of power from some laptop ports, but it also means that it might require you to sacrifice two ports rather than one.

We put the multi-PC Replica through its paces in our labs, pairing it with the HP Touchsmart TX2z laptop. The initial backup takes a while--a little over 2 hours in our tests--and if you have a PC loaded up with lots of files, it will take even longer. (To be clear, the Replica is not for Macs, which have their own built-in Time Machine software for backing up your system to a standard, Mac-formatted external hard drive.)

However, after you do the initial full-image backup, the Replica backs up your PC incrementally as files are added, deleted, or altered. You can leave the Replica connected to your machine or disconnect it and then plug it in when you're ready for another backup. If you're attempting to back up multiple PCs, the drive predetermines whether you have room to back up the second PC and won't start the backup process unless you do.

If your hard drive should crash, you can restore your system easily enough by running Seagate's restore utility and connecting the Replica to your system. (Seagate's software boots directly off the CD drive, so it should work even if your PC's hard drive is scrambled.) It took just over an hour to restore the system we tested. Again, we had a limited number of files on that system beyond the core components, so restoration will probably take longer in most cases.

The biggest knock against the Replica is that it's a one-trick pony: it only backs up your entire hard drive and doesn't allow you to back up select files. Alas, you can't drag and drop files onto the device like you can with one of Seagate's or another manufacturers' external storage systems. If you're looking for that kind of flexibility, the Replica is not for you.

However, if you're someone who just wants a copy of your system for safe keeping--and want to keep the setup hassles to a minimum--the Replica certainly has its appeal. Yes, most other drives are capable of doing full image backups of your Windows system, but the Replica keeps it simple and doesn't detour from its mission. That's both its strength and its weakness, and as such, it's hard to rate.

Bottom line: some folks will find the Replica too limiting and almost worthless while others will find it suits their needs perfectly.


Seagate Replica

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 8