Seagate builds a RAID portable too, takes on WD’s Thunderbolt with USB 3

It appears secure backups for people who need them are the new big thing in the storage world, and while WD showed us an awesome sauce little external hard drive for Mac users, Seagate’s evening up the score with one for PC users with USB 3.

Destined for people who love to make content, Seagate’s latest idea to impress is an external 2.5 inch hard drive boasting two hard drives inside the case.

It’s a similar product to one we saw WD launch almost two weeks ago, with two physical hard drives joined at the hip and thrown into a case. Once connected to your computer, the drives can be used simultaneously, spreading the files across the two 2TB drives for a faster transfer.

“With Backup Plus Fast, Seagate has taken a very mature product category and has delivered innovative enhancements to address the real world challenges of our customers,” said Seagate’s BanSeng Teh, Senior Vice President and Managing Director for the company in Asia Pacific and Japan.

“The performance and capacity of this new portable drive is beyond that of any other external offering to date. We believe that the Backup Plus Fast drive will be widely adopted by creative professionals as the go-to back up device for the field.”

Bigger than your typical 2.5 inch portable drive, the new drive is about the same dimensions except with a thicker size, thanks to the extra drive sitting inside the case. One cable is required for getting the drive to work, but unlike WD’s offering, the cable isn’t built into the unit, requiring the USB 3.0 cable to be plugged in.

Interestingly, the USB 3.0 argument was one we asked WD about at the time, and were told that the power requirements were too different, which was one factor that led WD to go down the track of Thunderbolt.

Seagate, on the other hand, has embraced USB 3 and completely skipped over Thunderbolt, making it compatible with both Macs and PCs. To help this happen, Seagate provides two types of USB cables in the box, with a regular USB 3.0 hard drive cable, and one with an extra port in case more power is needed.

It also means Mac users with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt get the choice of using either, or even both, because if you have a Thunderbolt device already occupying your Thunderbolt port, you might find USB 3.0 a more desirable connection type to use.

Seagate's software for managing the drive is the "dashboard" and lets you see how much storage you have left and test the drive.

And if you have both PCs and Macs in your midst, Seagate is even including a driver for Macs that makes it possible to use the New Technology File System or “NTFS” formatting that most drives running Windows rely on. Generally, Windows and Mac drives are formatted differently, and if you have a drive used on a Windows PC, you can’t write to it from a Mac, with only reading from it possible. This driver will make that possible, and means that those with both will be quite happy.

They’re not quite the same concept, that said, because while they both support these faster form of file transfer across two drives, only the WD seems to let you mirror the drives, offering you access to 2TB and mirroring the information exactly on the other drive.

In any case, the drive is good and ready for people to try out themselves, as Seagate’s Backup Plus Fast can be found in stores now for $409 for 4TB of storage.