Fstoppers Reviews the 5TB Seagate Backup Plus Portable: An Affordable Drive with One Caveat

Fstoppers Reviews the 5TB Seagate Backup Plus Portable: An Affordable Drive with One Caveat

Seagate released the 5TB version of the Backup Plus Portable series. Available for $100, this hard drive represents a great value for backup and cold storage application. However, the SMR technology comes with one disadvantage.

Bundle and Design

The Seagate 5TB Backup Plus is a standard 2.5” spinning hard drive compatible with Mac and Windows computers as it comes preformatted in exFAT. It is a compact, albeit thick at 0.83” (21mm). The small box includes the drive and one USB cable along with the usual warranty and user manual booklet. A few bloatwares are pre-installed on the drive but a quick format allows to start fresh and reveals 4.54 TB of usual space. The aluminum case comes with an USB 3.0 interface: a type A connector on the computer side and slim Micro USB 3.0 connector on the drive side. In 2019, Seagate should have implemented a USB Type C connector.

The Slim Micro USB 3.0 connector on the hard drive side. We wish that modern storage devices could drop this type of unusual connector and switch to USB-C instead.

Finally, the Backup Plus drive can be found in several colors such as black, red, light grey, and silver blue

The hard drive is nicely designed and comes in several colors.

Technology and Performance

The Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) is a recording technology designed to increase the storage density. Without being too technical, the SMR technology consist of writing on three tracks in parallel. This overlapping-lane architecture permit to cram more data per platter. But this technology comes with a catch: while the reading speed is not impacted (up to 130 MB/s), the writing speed tends to slow down significantly as the disk becomes full. Past 70% or 80%, the writing speed can decrease below 30 MB/s. When the hard drive is not full, the reading and writing operations can reach up to 130 MB/s.

Pros

  • Excellent value: $100 for a 5TB portable hard drive
  • Decent reading speed performance (130 MB/s maximum)
  • Small and light
  • Self-powered via USB connector
  • Good build quality with aluminum casing
  • Available in four different colors

Cons

  • Writing speed drops significantly as the hard drive becomes full, especially on long sequential writes
  • No USB C connector

Conclusion: A Great Value for Cold Storage and Backup Application

Not much has changed since 2016 and this new edition of the Seagate Backup Plus Portable drive is a good product. Of course the SMR technology tends to limit the writing speeds as the drive fills up but this product shouldn’t be used as a primary editing drive anyway. With the advent of affordable SSD, old fashion spinning disks like this one have only one purpose: storing a large amount of data for little money. Nowadays, active editing files should be located on a SATA or NVMe SSD. On the other hand, writing speed is not a critical factor when it comes to cold storage and backup. Once full, the reading speed are acceptable and future file transfer won’t be negatively impacted. I personally purchased three to make redundant backups when traveling.

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9 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

I've left the classic HDD way behind. They're all in a drawer, unused. All the backup - travel solutions I use are SSD now. Samsung T5s to be precise. Light, compact, no moving parts.

Stuart Carver's picture

Good advice Rob, I have HDD at present and basically want to get rid of it for SSD.

Oliver Kmia's picture

SSD are superior to classic HDD in every aspect: size, reliability, resistance, weight, performance.
But in terms of cost, the HDDs are still king:

- Samsung T5 2TB= $350 for 2TB, price per TB is $175
- Seagate Backup Plus 5TB = $100 for 5TB, price per TB is $20

So for less money than a single Samsung T5, I can get triple redundancy and 2.5x more storage space. But if you can afford full SSD solution, go for it. However, don't forget that SSD fail too and you should get at least two units for backup.

PS: +1 for the Samsung T5, got the 1TB version and I love it.

Deleted Account's picture

Cost yes. Totally. When I see the word 'Affordable' though, that's completely relative. For me, someone who's doing this for a living, I can't afford not to have those SSDs travelling with me.

Javier Gutierrez's picture

I have been using these for the past three years. They are great. I use them only for back up / storage.
I have them all bit encrypted. I have four of them. Two old models and two new ones.

David Staggs's picture

Wonderful review for being a day late and a dollar short. These drives have been available for like 2 years. That in the IT world is old news. Must have been a slow news day on the beach.

Oliver Kmia's picture

1. The traditional CMR version is actually 3 years old (announced late 2016)
2. I'm reviewing the latest SMR version which came out less than a year ago (mid 2019)
3. Back to the beach

Jon The Baptist's picture

Cold Storage would be the only thing I'd use these for. Big fan of these small, high capacity drives. I use these as my Production backups, and at the end of each year, that backup goes into a safety deposit box in the bank. These little drives ensure I'm not wasting more space than I need to in that box.

For daily use though, it'd probably be the worst option available.

Cedric TOSONI's picture

Why is there no 6tb portable external hard drive?