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Portable hard drives are everywhere these days. Everyone has one, and most people are looking for something with greater capacity. One deterrent to purchases, though, is that interfaces keep changing as faster ones come to market. Happily, Seagate’s GoFlex portable hard drives feature a standard USB 2.0 interface, but can be upgraded later on.
The USB 2.0 interface is about the most ubiquitous interface ever. It’s more or less universal, especially on recent computers and peripherals. But interfaces come and go, and USB 2.0’s days are probably numbered. That’s because USB 3.0 is starting to appear on new computers and peripherals.
If you’re hesitant to purchase a portable hard drive with a USB 2.0 interface because you see faster interfaces on the horizon, you don’t have to hold off any longer. Seagate’s FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive comes with a USB 2.0 interface, but optional interface cables allow you to add USB 3.0, FireWire 800 or eSATA connectivity whenever you need it—whether it’s today or a year from now.
For comparison purposes, let’s examine the maximum throughput speed of each type of interface. Remember that these are theoretical maximums, which are much faster than what you see in real-world use. USB 2.0 is limited to 480 Mbps (megabits per second), or 60 MBps (megabytes per second), while USB 3.0 tops out at 4.8 Gbps (gigabits per second), or 614 MBps. FireWire 400 provides 400 Mbps throughput, or 50 MBps, while FireWire 800 doubles the throughput to 800 Mbps, or 100 MBps. eSATA provides 3 Gbps, or 384 MBps. So, in theory anyway, FireWire 400 is the slowest, followed by USB 2.0, FireWire 800, eSATA, and USB 3.0.
B&H carries the 500GB FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive in red, blue, silver and black. The drive is pre-loaded with backup and encryption software; the Seagate Dashboard management tool makes it easy to schedule backups, encrypt files and check drive statistics.
I recently bought a 1TB external drive with a USB 2.0 interface because my data had outgrown my older drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy a GoFlex drive, because if I did, I would doubtless enjoy faster transfer rates when I buy my next computer, which will likely feature a USB 3.0 interface.