Backing up has always been one of those odious yet necessary tasks that makes watching paint dry seem interesting. This may all change next year when Apple releases its dazzling Time Machine backup utility. But even then, you’ll likely still need ample room on a separate drive for storing your data. Although it won’t make backing up any less dull, the Seagate Pushbutton Backup External Hard Drive 750GB offers a hefty amount of storage in a small desktop package. However, its sluggish performance will have you waiting a bit longer for your backups to be completed.
The Seagate drive is housed in a silver and black plastic case about the size of a Mac mini. It is designed to be stackable with other Seagate drives when lying flat, or it can be operated in a vertical orientation using the included pedestal. Both USB and FireWire cables are over 6 feet long, which is convenient. A blue indicator on the front of the unit serves as both the power button and a means of triggering an immediate backup using the bundled CMS BounceBack Express 6.0 backup utility. (Depending on when you buy the drive, it will come bundled with either version 6 or 7 of BounceBack Express for PowerPC. If you register the software you can, at no extra charge, download the Universal version 7.1.1. Seagate users can also click on a special link in their BounceBack Express software and upgrade to the Universal BounceBack Professional 7 for $39.)
Operation couldn’t be easier. Setup requires plugging in the drive’s external power adapter and cabling it to your Mac using either a single USB 2.0 port or two FireWire 400 ports. Once powered on and mounted on the Mac desktop, you must reformat the drive using the Apple Disk Utility, as it comes PC formatted by default. The drive is normally asleep, but is still fairly quiet after spinning up.
Considering the specs of this drive (7200 rpm and 16MB of onboard cache), it should be faster. While not the slowest compared to other drives we’ve recently tested, the Seagate’s numbers place it squarely in the third rank of performers, about the same as the slowest drive, the Rocsecure
) in our Photoshop low-memory test, and only 28 percent faster than the slowest drive, the Maxtor
OneTouch II 300GB
) in the Duplicate test.
|Copy 1GB to Drive
|Duplicate 1GB on Drive
|Low Memory Photoshop CS Suite
Scale = Minutes: Seconds
How We Tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.3.9 installed and 512MB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800. (In cases where a drive does not have FireWire 800, we use FireWire 400.) We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 50 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung
|Price per gigabyte
||FireWire 400 (2) USB 2.0
||7200 RPM, 16MB cache
||500GB, 16MB cache ($320)
Macworld’s buying advice
If you suffer from a bloated music or video library, the Seagate Pushbutton Backup External 750GB will provide immediate relief. Don’t expect a speed demon, though: this drive trades transfer rate for storage capacity. While the model we looked at represents the largest capacity in the line, other Seagate dual-interface FireWire and USB models are also available in capacities of between 200GB and 500GB. USB-only models are available in capacities of between 250GB and 650GB.
Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and writer living in San Francisco.
Seagate Pushbutton Backup External Hard Drive 750GB