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Hardware Review: Seagate Expansion 3TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

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Sure, the holidays are upon us, but any time is a good time for more storage space.  Enter the Seagate Expansion series of USB hard drives.  They feature USB 3.0 connectivity with speeds up to 4.8Gbps, up from 480Mbps in USB 2.0.  If you or your computer are not quite ready for that, it does support USB 2.0 as well with the same included cable.  It comes in 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB sizes and currently range from $90 to $139, so there’s something to suit everyone’s needs and budget.

What’s to like?  Well, speed is a big factor.  In one test, a 1GB file copied from my internal C: drive to a USB 2.0 hard drive in 29.13 seconds.  The same file copied from the same drive to the 3TB Expansion drive copied in 9.92 seconds.  Keep in mind that the Expansion drive must be connected to a USB 3.0 port to attain these speed improvements.

Stability has also been solid so far.  The case is completely enclosed with some vents to let the drive inside breathe a little, and heat has not been a problem.  The case will get warm with regular use, but never get too hot to touch.  Rubber feet on the bottom give it just enough clearance so some air can get underneath it as well.  The one blue LED indicates the drive is powered on and pulses during read/write operations.  Other than that, no bells or whistles.  It doesn’t have its own power switch, but will automatically power off when the computer it’s connected to shuts down.  It does use an independent power supply; this does not run solely on USB power.  That may be an issue for some with the rise of portable drives that draw juice from the system, but this ensures that faulty USB ports won’t damage or cause the drive to perform inconsistently.

The only thing I’m not 100% crazy about is the little chirp noise the drive makes when it wakes up from being idle.  There is no noticeable lag or wait time returning from standby, which is great, but any time a hard drive makes noise anymore, it worries me that there may be a problem.  The chirp has been happening since I got it, and the thing has performed like a champ without nary a problem, so I have to assume this is not something to be concerned about.  If it is, the one-year warranty will hopefully cover anything that comes up.

All in all, I’ve been pretty happy with this drive, and the space allows me to back up multiple hard drives and systems onto one.  Other external drives the same size could go for twice as much, but they will throw you capacity meters, LED displays, network connectivity, and other options.  If you want that, this might not be the best drive for you.  However, if you just need a big place to put all your stuff with no frills, the Seagate Expansion is a solid choice.

About Mark Buckingham

  • Rob

    Thanks for the review