Seagate 200GB External Drive Review

Seagate 200GB External Drive Retail Box
Reviewer: Tyler DeGiacomo
Category: 
Storage
Model: 
ST3200823A-RK
Price: 
$229

Most people wouldn't consider external hard drives "must have" technology. But, one look at the Seagate 200GB External Hard Drive will defiantly change your mind. This stackable external hard drive offers more than just attractive styling, it is a complete, portable backup solution. Excellent for transferring files from one computer to another, automating the archiving of crucial data or off-site safe storage.

Seagate suggests this feature rich external hard drive can accommodate any digital lifestyle. 50 two-hour DVD-quality movies, 200 hours of VHS-quality video, 136 days of around-the-clock MP3 audio, 50,000 high-rez digital photos or 288 must-play games. Rest assured Seagate has done their homework on this product and is one of the best put together external drives to date. All the Windows Operating System users out there will be happy to know the Seagate 200GB External Hard Drive comes with backup software titled BounceBack Express. This software is similar to native dump and/or GNU tar facilities backing up your entire drive, thereafter, only new changes are backed up with the push of a button.

Features

Platforms

  • Linux
  • Mac OS
  • NetWare
  • Microsoft Windows XP, Me, 2000 and NT

Drive configuration

  • 7200 RPM
  • 8Mbyte Cache

Interface

  • USB 2.0 and USB 1.1
  • FireWire (IEEE 1394a)

Performance

  • 8.5 ms average seek time
  • 58 Mbytes/sec transfer rate

Physical Specifications

  • Horizontal 7.125" D x 6.5" W x 2.25" H
  • Vertical with Pedestal 7.125" D x 2.5" W x 7" H
  • Weight of 2 lb, 9.5oz

Power Requirements

  • AC Input Voltage 90V to 264V AC

Software

  • BounceBack Express backup software (Windows and Mac O/S only)

Package

  • Push button drive enclosure containing the Seagate 200GB drive
  • AC adapter and power cord
  • One USB 2.0 cable
  • One Firewire (IEEE 1394a) cable
  • CD containing BounceBack Express backup software and Seagates DiskWizard
  • Plastic base used to stand enclosure up vertically
  • Quick installation guide

The unit

The drive is a 200GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 Plus 200, Ultra ATA/100 model number ST3200822A, incased in a stylish silver and black box with cool bright blue LEDS. The housing is made from plastic with a relatively small form factor of 7" x 2.5". As you can see from the photos bellow this unit has several slots to accommodate cooling and overall heat dissipation is fairly good leaving the unit slightly warm to the touch.

I have no negative comments on the physical qualities, it's virtually silent, excellent heat dissipation and structurally sound. The unit is hot-swappable, but you'll want to follow the obvious precautions to avoid data loss.

Turning the unit around, we have the I/O panel which has your power switch, AC input, one USB port and two firewire ports. Personally I like when the unit is on its stand, which is a small four pronged base that allows you the unit to sit in an up-right position. Alternatively you can lay the unit on its side since it has a thick rubber circle to prevent sliding and also a beveled area on the other side of the unit used for stacking additional units.

Use and performance

During my evaluation I tested the drive under three Linux distributions, Debian (Sarge), Knoppix 3.6 (Live CD), and also Mandrake Move 1.0 (Another Live CD) all of which recognized the Seagate 200GB external hard drive effortlessly. Most of you wouldn't be using a Live CD as your main system, but I thought I'd give it a whirl. Both Knoppix and Mandrake Move will automatically pick up the drive at /dev/sda1 (SCSI device 1) and mount it, but you'll need to tweak Knoppix since it mounts the drive as a read-only file system. Mandrake move will actually mount the Seagate 200GB external hard drive on /home, saving your sessions, sysconfig and any files you create while using the live CD. This is can be a good thing if you use a Live CD a lot, allowing for quick access to your work. Regardless of your Linux flavor, you should have no issues using this drive. I was literally making back-ups in less than 5 minutes with all three distributions.

It's rather disappointing Seagate doesn't provide an alternative to the Windows based BounceBack Express software. This particular software is what controls the 'one-touch back-up' button on the front of the unit, unfortunately it will be rendered useless under Linux. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though. With a simple a cron job and backup script of your choice you'll have way more control over the drive and back-up's than a Windows user could pray for.

Performance is everything you would expect from a drive that supports USB 2.0 (480 MB/s), USB 1.1 (12 MB/s) and FireWire IEEE 1394a (400 MB/s).

BounceBack Express 6.0 software (Windows and Mac only)

Please don't toss rotten vegetables at me. But, I'll have to admit I was rather eager to give the packaged Windows backup software a try. Even worse, I enjoyed it! This software package is named BounceBack Express. A simplistic backup and recovery tool you can use for scheduled and manual archiving. It's basically a scaled down version of the award winning BounceBack Professional (advanced features) software by CMS.

The BounceBack Express software is what drives the pushbutton back-up feature located on the front of the unit. Pushing this button launches a user defined subsequent backup where all new or changed data since the last backup will be backed up.

Though the BounceBack Express software is feature rich, the $49 upgrade to advance edition sounds more appealing and supports the following features:

Bootability: Replace your failed hard drive with your backup drive or boot directly from your external backup drive.

QuickRestore: Restore single files, folders, or complete hard drive volumes by selecting what you want to restore.

Backup Sets: Create custom sets of data to backup, and specify their backup destinations.

Scheduling: Schedule backup sets by date and time or date and connection.

Versioning: View and restore previously saved versions of files.

Incremental Backup: Saves time by quickly backing up only those files that have been changed or newly created since the last backup was performed.

Native File Format: All data is backed up in its original file format for easy access and data sharing.

Network Backup: Backup and restore to any local or mapped network drive.

Synchronization: Synchronize data between multiple computers/hard drives.

Drive Formatting: Automatically partitions and formats the backup drive to match your computers hard drive.

For more information on upgrading to the advanced edition, visit http://www.cmsproducts.com/seagate/upgrade/

Windows Operating System side-note: Make sure the supplied BounceBack Express CD is version 6.0 or higher if you're using Windows XP/2000 and 5.3 for Windows ME/98. Initially I had some difficulties with the BounceBack Express software, upgrading to the latest version rectified the bugs I encountered.

Gallery

Conclusion

The Good - Pros
  • Quality product
  • Minimal acoustics
  • Lifetime tech support
The Bad - Cons
  • Only a 1 year warranty
The Ugly - Problems
  • N/A
The Verdict - Opinion
  • External drives are great for storing large amounts of data weather it’s for work or play. But, with so many external hard drives on the market how do you know which is right for you? With the Seagate 200GB External USB 2.0/FireWire drive you can count on getting a quality product. All you Windows users out there will love the push-button backup feature and easy of use. For the Linux enthusiasts you will enjoy writing your own backup scripts without the limitations of the included software. Regardless of your operating system, this is an excellent product I highly recommend the Seagate 200GB External hard drive.

Innovation: 
3/5
Performance: 
4/5
Compatibility: 
5/5
Cost / Value: 
5/5

18/20

Overall score


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