Seagate Expansion Review [2017]

Simple, cheap, and reliable.

4
seagate expansion

In this day and age, being a techie is definitely handy since everything around depends more and more on computerized technologies and data. However, not all of us have the time to learn about all the features and technologies in the modern tech field, or, understandably, just can’t be bothered to do so. For these people, devices with less clutter of information and extra features, that simply do what it says on the can, are more appealing. This where the Seagate Expansion portable hard drive comes in.

Specs

PROS
  • Cheaper than most other portable hard drives
  • A bit faster than other drives as well
CONS
  • No security or backup software tools included
  • Short 1-year warranty

Breakdown of the Features

The latest version of Seagate Expansion is available in four capacities – 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB, which has become standard for portable hard drives. The drive also uses the USB 3.0 interface for both power and data transfer. The same as any other USB 3.0 device, the Expansion is backwards compatible with USB 2.0, just note that the 2.0 port will bottleneck your drive and will make you endure painfully slow transfer speeds.

Speaking of speed, the drive’s read/write speeds are also noteworthy, as they’re, on average, around 10MB/s higher than most other 5400RPM drive’s speeds. While the room for error in hard disk drive speeds from respectable brands is pretty small (usually 80-120MB/s) and you might not even notice it in everyday usage, having that edge over its competitors just adds to the value of Seagate Expansion. And that value comes at a pretty low price, one of the lowest in the market, in fact, at around 5 cents/GB at lower capacities, and around 2-3 cents/GB at 4TB.

Seagate Expansion 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEA2000400)

However, the reason for the low price is the lack of any included software tools. While most other hard drives come with a backup tool, a security and encryption tool, cloud backup software etc., the Expansion has none of these features. This forces you to use OS native or 3rd party backup tools, which might even be the better option for some people, as we discussed in the intro. The solid performance and lack of software clutter make this drive simple, cheap, yet reliable. Although the short 1-year warranty doesn’t seem reliable at all, most customers have been satisfied with the product and had no need for the warranty anyway.

 

Design and Alternatives

Same as the feature list, there’s not much to the exterior of the drive. 1-3TB versions of Seagate Expansion are a bit thinner than other drives at 0.6 inches / 1.5 cm, with the 4TB version being as thick as other portable hard drives at 0.82 inches / 2.1 cm. This drive will easily fit in your backpack, purse, or even a large pocket.

As for aesthetics, the drive’s design is simple but has been somewhat disliked, ever since it was first introduced on earlier drive models a few years back. Before that, the drive’s case was just a plastic surface with nothing but Seagate’s logo on it, so to each their own, I suppose. While the pyramid-shaped pattern covering the drive seems very pronounced and pointy, it’s actually shallow and is pretty much just a reflective case skin.

 

WD My Passport and Toshiba Canvio Connect II are two other all-around affordable and reliable drives, which is why we’re comparing them to Expansion. Both other drives have a full-fleshed software package with backup and security software, with the Canvio even providing an NTFS driver for Mac right out of the box. This makes both other drives more appealing if you don’t want to look for other backup and security software tools, but also makes them a bit more expensive.

So, if you just want a plain drive that you want to set up yourself with your preferred software, Seagate’s drive is the way to go, as the Expansion will save you some money on features you might not need. Another, similarly cheap and simple portable hard drive option would be WD Elements. Basically, you can pick between either one, depending on which one is cheaper, or pick some other option from our best portable hard drive list.

 

User Experience

While I personally am familiar only with the older 500GB version of the drive, I can tell you that it’s still holding some of my old data around three years later. Relatively to my basic internal hard drive, file transfers were quite a bit faster since even back then the Seagate drives inside the Expansion case were built to be fast.

Seagate Expansion portable external hard drive review, box contents

However, a small part of Seagate’s customers have reported complete data loss with the newer version of the Expansion – around 10% of users on Amazon, for example, reported various cases of data loss, many of them reporting data loss even when the drive wasn’t even being used. While most of these can be written off as duds, that is a notable amount of duds, so keep that short warranty close, just in case. As for positive customer reviews of the recent versions, the vast majority of users are pleased with the drive and acknowledge that it does its job well, whether it be backups, games storage for consoles, or just extra file storage. Overall, as with any complex computer device, it’s possible to get a defective unit, but that shouldn’t force you to avoid a cheap and all-around well-built hard drive like Seagate Expansion.

What’s in the box

The box contains the Seagate Expansion drive of the capacity you ordered, a 1.5-foot long USB 3.0 cable, and a quick setup guide.

 

Verdict

Seagate Expansion is a cheap and simple solution for your portable storage needs. If you’re already familiar with backup and hard drive encryption tools and have picked your own favorite software tool, then why overpay for a new one you won’t use anyway? If you want included software tools, though, then look elsewhere, as this drive won’t have much to offer you. All in all, the Expansion just does what it says on the can and provides a large, cheap, and fast extra storage space for your needs.

[Updated 2017]
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Capacity
8
Performance
9
Features
6
Design
9
Price
9
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Next articleToshiba Canvio Basics 3.0 1TB portable hard drive review 2017
Renars
He's fanatic tech lover with degree in electrical engineering. Hobbies? To buy, test, break and write about newest gadgets. Also, the CEO of HDDmag.com.

4 COMMENTS

  1. This is directed at the person who asked, about 3 weeks back, whether he can use this drive with Ubuntu, and to anyone else who might wonder the same at some future point.

    For a drive to work with a particular OS, the drive needs to be formatted using a file system the OS can handle. This means that even if, out of the box, the drive was formatted using a file system Ubuntu can’t handle, there’s nothing preventing you from formatting it in a file system Ubuntu can read.

    That said, these particular drives come preformatted in NTFS, which Ubuntu can absolutely read no problem.

    The computer itself matters too, because, out of the box, the drive is meant to connect via USB 3 … does the computer have USB 3 ports? If it was made from 2010 on, 2011 latest, it almost surely does. If it does and you don’t have any free USB 3 ports, can you use USB 2? Well, yes, but you’d sacrifice a LOT of speed and a better alternative is to get a powered USB 3 hub which adds several more USB 3 ports to the ones you already have. Make sure it’s a POWERED hub, meaning it comes with its own little power transformer that you plug into a wall outlet or power bar.

    What if your computer predates 2010 and simply can’t do USB 3? Don’t worry, I’m not gonna preach, as you already know you need to get a new one. Inside the black plastic casing, these drives are actually SATA-powered, same as a regular internal hard drive that plugs into the motherboard, and you can actually take the drive out of its black plastic casing, remove the SATA to USB 3 hardware adapter that’s connected to the drive, and voilà, you can connect it inside your computer as a SATA drive, which I’ve done with one of mine ( I actually have 3 of these things). Keep in mind this will, of course, void your warranty.

    What if your computer’s power supply has no free SATA power connector (even if it’s a recent model)? If there are free Molex connectors hanging out the power supply, you can get a Molex to SATA adapter and connect that way.

    Bottom line, you have to try really hard to simply be unable to use these drives with your system … or practically any drive with any system, for that matter.


    TL; DR
    ‾‾‾‾‾
    “Yes.”  ;)

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