Seagate’s GoFlex system isn’t just for desktop drives – you can also buy portable GoFlex models in a range of colours. They have their own detachable USB 2, USB 3 and eSATA connectors, and Seagate also offers a cable that turns a GoFlex drive into a continuous backup device, plus a network dock to turn it into a NAS device. The connectors use a standard SATA fitting, so again you can hook up a bare drive should you so wish.
That isn’t the intention, though. Clearly, they’re designed to be used with official GoFlex drives, and when we tried out the GoFlex Portable with a USB 3 connector, the result was very satisfactory. The unit fits seamlessly and securely onto the shiny drive casing, creating a solid, integrated device. An access light on the top of the connector is the drive’s only indicator; there are no controls or accessories.
Sadly, when it comes to performance, the 500GB GoFlex is a disappointment: in every one of our read and write tests it failed to match the group average, falling about 10% short overall. Small-file writes were a particular low point. Here, the GoFlex Portable achieved only around half the speed managed by the the LaCie drive.
It isn’t an economical choice, either. The standard USB 2 package isn’t too expensive, but when you add on the cost of the USB 3 connector you’re looking at 34.4 cents/GB, which is one of this month’s highest costs.
You do get a copy of Memeo Instant Backup with the FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable, but that simply isn’t enough to make up for this drive’s mediocre performance and high price.