Seagate Expansion 500 GB,External,5400 RPM (STAX500102) Hard Drive Reviews
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Seagate Expansion 500 GB,External,5400 RPM (STAX500102) Hard Drive

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The Seagate 500 GB USB 3.0 Expansion Hard Drive is Portable and Practical

Aug 25, 2011 (Updated Oct 20, 2011)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Decent speed, compact, portable, lightweight, power via USB cable (included), USB 3.0 compatible, robust.

Cons:500GB, misleading advertisement regarding high USB 3.0 speed, Memeo Software.

The Bottom Line:

The Seagate 500 GB USB 3.0 Expansion Hard Drive is portable and practical, reasonably fast, and appears to be robust. However, beware the USB 3.0 ten times faster claims.


The Seagate 500 GB USB 3.0 Extension Hard Drive is a small compact external (extension) hard drive. It is a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 compatible hard drive. Overall it is fairly fast and a decent expansion hard drive. However, don't let the "up to ten times faster transfer speed" claim fool you. USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are just standards for the ports/communication. What matters to the performance is the write and read speed of the hard drive, which is different from the USB transfer speed.

I have been using this drive for one month with several of my computers (Windows XP, Windows 7) including a fairly new Asus laptop with USB 2.0 as well as USB 3.0 ports. I received it via the Amazon Vine program. Overall I am happy with this drive, it does not need a power supply, the speed is good, and it is compact, portable, and very lightweight. However, on the box they state that the USB 3.0 capability allows for up to ten times faster transfer speeds, which isn't a lie, but irrelevant and misleading as what ultimately determines the performance isn't the theoretical maximum USB 3.0 transfer speed but the read/write speed of the hard drive (assuming no other bottlenecks). Well, if the read/write speed is faster than the USB 2.0 transfer rate then you can only take advantage of it if you have a USB 3.0 port. In that sense it matters. It any case many people are misled by claims like this.

FYI: you can see which USB ports are 2.0 and 3.0 simply by looking at the little plastic plate in the port opening. The USB 2.0 plate is black and the USB 3.0 is blue.


Overview of the Seagate 500 GB USB 3.0 Compatible Extension Hard Drive

The package includes the extension hard drive and a one and a half foot USB 3.0 cable. It is compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. It does not require a power supply as the power is supplied via the USB connection. It is very compact (3.2 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches) and it fits in my pockets, like a small wallet. It is also lightweight (5.6 ounces) and easy to transport.

You don't need to set up the hard drive, or launch the included software, or register the hard drive. The hard drive is plug and play and worked instantly in my Windows XP and Windows 7 computers. You just start copying files back and forth. However, I launched/installed the Dashboard, registered and tried the included Memeo Backup software. I should not have done the latter and ended up removing it.

This drive has a capacity of 500GB, which is not a lot now a day. Other drives in the same family have capacities of 3TB. However, it is enough for me and you have to consider the price. This is not an expensive hard drive.

Underneath the drive there are little rubber feet that holds the drive. This is quite necessary as the drive is sol light it easily slides around on the table.

The drive comes with a one year warranty.


The Speed of the Seagate Expansion 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive

The theoretical maximum transfer speed for USB 2.0 ports is 480Mb/s (480 Mega bits per second) or 60MB/s (60 Mega bytes per second), and for USB 3.0 ports 5.0Gb/s (5.0 Giga bits per second) or 625MB/s (625 Mega bytes per second). I should mention that in practice you cannot get more than 30MB/s from a USB 2.0 port.

I measured the speed using my Asus K53T laptop using the Crystal Disk Mark benchmarking software and I got and a write speed of 30.69MB/s and a read speed of 29.20MB/s over the USB 2.0 ports and a write speed of 78.55MB/s and a read speed of 78.35MB/s over the USB 3.0 port. For the USB 3.0 port that is slightly above the theoretical maximum of 60MB/s and clearly above the practical maximum speed of 30MB/s. So you can get some use out of the USB 3.0 port. However, when copying real files over the USB 3.0 port and measuring the speed using a clock I did not get a read/write speed that was much above 30MB/s. Well it improved when I turned on caching.

The conclusion from this test was that this extension hard drive is fairly fast but far from the fastest of the newer extension hard drives, and the USB 3.0 capability will not give you 10 times faster speeds as the box seems to say.


Software (Memeo Backup Software)

The Memeo Backup Software will back up and store your files to the hard drive. I do not want to back up anything on line as that is a security risk. So to make sure that was not the case, I disconnected my computer from the internet while I did the backup, and it worked anyway. So it only used the hard drive.

The Memeo Backup Software seems useful at first. It can do backups and encrypt and password protect your files. That is definitely nice. However, the software is not free. You only get a 30 day trial period and then you have to pay $29.95 to use it. The first time backup was disappointingly slow. Copying 20GB of data to the drive takes 20 minutes if the data is split up into ten thousands of files but backing up the same data the first time using the Memeo Software takes three days. I could not have that and what was worse was that the Memeo Backup Software caused the startup of my Windows XP laptop to take longer, and it slowed the computer. I had to remove it and say good riddance.


My experience with the Seagate Expansion 500 GB USB 3.0 Hard Drive

This drive has many good points. It is very practical and portable as it is so small and weighs almost nothing. It does not require a power supply and the USB is small, which makes it easy to carry in your pocket like a wider USB flash drive. The size is hardly spectacular (500GB) but the price reflects that. It is quiet and it does not get hot and I do not believe it consumes much power.

I carry it in my pocket or in my bag, to my work and back home again, and I use it extensively every day and I have not seen any issues. The USB cable does not easily come off and the rubber feet hold it well. It seems to be robust and I've sat on it by mistake and it did not seem to buckle or bend. I also dropped it once on the table. It is plug-and-play and starts up and shuts down instantly when you connect or remove the USB plug (green LED indicator). It is overall very easy and practical.

This drive is faster than the old ones I have and it is decently fast. However, it is not extremely fast but it is a fairly inexpensive extension hard drive. I do not like that they say that you can get transfer speeds that are ten times faster using the USB 3.0. That statement is misleading to some people. On the other hand they all seem to be doing the same thing. The included software was annoying but I could have chosen not to install it, but I was curious.

Overall this is a compact, very portable, reasonably fast, USB 3.0 compatible 500GB drive, with some minor issues. Overall I am glad I have it and I probably would buy it knowing what I do now, so therefore I am recommending it and I am giving it four stars.

However, you should try to find out if there are other good similarly priced extension hard drives that can take better advantage of the USB 3.0 bandwidth before you buy this one.


Recommend this product? Yes

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