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