Once turned on and plugged into a PC running Windows 2000 (or later) the drive will automatically be installed and you will be prompted to install the software included on the drive. There are two parts to the software, FreeAgent Tools and AutoBackup. Both pieces of software are only compatible with Windows 2000 or later but the drive can be formatted for normal use with Macs or Linux PCs.
FreeAgent Tools is completely free and provides you with a simple interface for managing your FreeAgent drives. You can run diagnostic tests, adjust the drive's lights and sleep settings, control system rollback settings, manage backup/restore, and go to your Internet Drive.
Clicking on Backup & Restore just opens up AutoBackup which is a Seagate branded version of Memeo's backup utility. When you purchase a FreeAgent drive you should get a code for activating this software otherwise you just get a 30-day trial.
Clicking on Internet Drive will open your default browser and go to the Seagate Internet Drive webpage. If you've already setup an account you can just log in and access your uploaded files, otherwise you can sign up to the service. Using the same code you used to activate AutoBackup you get a free 500MB of storage that you can access for 6 months, after that you have to start paying for the service.
When you've set all this up you can then schedule backups to upload files to your Internet Drive so you have a copy of your files accessible from anywhere. Of course, there is one down side to this service. In the UK the standard upload speed of ADSL broadband is only 256Kbps which makes uploading anything more than text/office/image files a very time consuming task. Even so, the service should prove very useful for sharing family photos, business documents, and the like.
AutoBackup enables you to specify multiple backup plans that can simultaneously upload documents to you Internet Drive, backup videos and music to your FreeAgent drive, upload PIM details to your portable device, or any number of other combinations thereof. So you have a one stop solution to all your data management needs.
To test the local speed of the drive I connected it first through USB and then eSATA and transferred a single video file, that is 1.07GB in size, and a folder of 1,943 photos of various sizes, totalling 501MB, to and from the drive. I then compared that to Seagate's eSATA drive we looked at recently as well as a USB SimpleDrive from SimpleTech. As you can see, results were a mixed bag with the eSATA connections only proving faster for the Video Write test. Overall the drive showed it was quite capable of keeping up with the competition.
The Seagate FreeAgent Pro is the perfect solution for managing all your data backup and distribution needs. Slick software, elegant hardware, and a great price combine to create a highly competitive product. Sure other USB hard drives are cheaper and smaller but then you have to carry them around with you all the time if you want to access your files.