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This thing is rebuilding my faith in Seagate hardware products
on 2 November 2016
I have to admit that I haven't been much of a Seagate fan for a number of years as I have had so many of their drives fail on me. Because of the past high failure rates we standardized on WD drives in all of our production machines. But, like with everything else it's always good to revisit things again after a period of time.
The Seagate Backup Plus Hub 4TB is a nice looking item and I wanted to see if it performed as well as it looks. I was intrigued by the front mounted USB ports, will they work like a hub or just provide power for charging other devices? How warm will it run and how much noise will there be?
Setting up the drive was simple enough, remove the power adapter, USB 3 cable, and drive from the box, power the drive up (no switches here) and connect the USB cable at both ends. The only indicator on the drive is the Seagate icon, it lights up when the drive has a connection to a computer indicting its active. Windows 10 immediately recognized the drive and added it. I tried it on Windows Server 2012 R2, Server 2008 R2, Windows 7 laptop, a Windows 10 tablet and in each case there were no connection issues. The drive was identified and added in less than 30 seconds. Ok maybe Seagate deserves more attention.
I checked to see how the drive was formatted and to my surprise its NTFS. Ok I'm now starting to warm up to the thing.
Running the startup program located on the drive launches a browser that takes you to a page where you register and download the Dashboard Application. I appreciate that you need to download the program rather than getting a CD with the unit as it's a simple fact that software by the time it gets to you on a CD is four versions behind already which means you need to download the updated version anyway. The program may take you a little while to download depending on your internet connection, its 140MB. Installation was simple with no glitches or hitches.
Once installed the software allows you to set up your PC data backup plan. You can choose to back up everything or only select the folders you want, very much like Windows B/U. While here it will also allow you to back up any other EXTERNAL drives connected to your machine. Once you've set that you can select from various options for how frequent you'd like the backups to happen. Now you can select between local backup to the drive or the cloud service options, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. Local back up choices are Snapshot, Monthly, Weekly, Daily, Hourly, or Continuous which is my choice as I get a little paranoid about losing data as this is used mainly on my business laptop. You can at any time edit the set up later if needed or cancel an ongoing backup.
I won't rely on this as a sole back up option and will continue to use Acronis to clone my OS drive but for everything else it so far seems like a viable option. Keep in mind that this is a rather amateurish piece of software and it seems Seagate through it in just so that it could be advertised as coming with backup software, it's not something that any kind of SOHO will want to rely on.
While automatic backups are happening other transfers are of course slowed down and I found that the first backup process which is a major one also lagged my machine on a couple of occasions bringing it to a halt twice meaning I had to wait for it to catch up before being able to resume something like browsing or opening up a Windows Explorer window. Transfer rates are excellent and at definitely USB 3 speeds, please view the image below of the Windows transfer dialogue box.
While my laptop was backing up I installed the Android app. Again installation was simple and there are a few questions during install asking what files it should have access to. I like that it never responded that unless I gave it unbridled access it wouldn't work, it simply set itself up to back up only those files I wanted it to have access to. Again, if you so desire there are options here to have it back up to cloud services when on the road.
The app connected with the Dashboard running on the laptop without any tinkering, nice maybe I should buy shares in Seagate. And... Here's where I ran into a glitch. After setting up the app similarly to the laptop application I waited for an hour as it indicated a backup was in progress but the indicator showed 0% and never changed. Two hours later still at 0%. Looking at the backup directory on the drive it showed only the laptop, no other backups logged. Here I noticed something that annoys me. Rather than placing all folders for this machine under on folder it created multiple folders that need to be traversed of your looking for a particular file. I'm sure it has the Seagate engineers have a reason for this but at the user level this is a bugger to deal with when looking for certain files.
After running for several hours at a time backing up various machines the drive got warm but never to the point where I was worried I should have a fan on it.
I did find it made a low level fast grunting kind of noise periodically that reminds me of when wiper arms are swinging back and forth but this occurred even during transfers of large gigabit sized files not small files that would normally be associated with such arm swinging.
The front mounted USB ports are there only for charging purposes and current available on these ports is sufficient for rapid charging my PRIV which is the biggest power hog we have in the house. There is no connectivity back to the PC through the drive from other devices attached to the ports. This is ok as its getting to the point where there are never enough USB charging ports but it would have been very nice to have the ports act as actual connected USB access points.
Fit and finish of the drive is nice. It has clean lines and is oriented so that it sits on your desk on its long edge.
When searching for documents on the drive seek times were very good. I'm still warming up to this thing but I'm going to shave half a point because the Android app doesn't work and the backup software is really not worth running. So 4 1/2 stars for the STEL4000100 Seagate Backup Plus Hub 4TB External Hard Drive.