I haven’t had a chance to check out ION Backup yet, but I did manage to investigate my new FreeAgent Go drive further, and to copy the data from the dying X drive onto the new F drive. (Designating it F, for “FreeAgent,” seemed obvious, particularly since that was the default letter Windows assigned to it.)
One thing I discovered in the course of checking out Seagate’s drive management interface was that it’s possible to turn off that annoying yellow light. Click the FreeAgent Launcher icon in the system tray, select “Utilities” from the pop-up menu, and then choose “Adjust Drive Lights.” Whereas the X drive’s green light indicated drive activity, and flickered more or less in time with the drive’s spin rate, the three-inch-wide, half-inch-high light on the FreeAgent Go doesn’t seem to indicate anything except that the drive is getting power. That much light for that little information is overkill.
The case I had for the X drive was also equipped with a bright blue “cooling light,” the purpose of which was to help dissipate excess heat. I rarely saw that light, because the drive didn’t get particularly hot. The new drive is also reassuringly cool to the touch, and you can adjust the sleep interval from 3 minutes all the way to “never.”
As I mentioned before, the new drive has twice the capacity of the drive it’s replacing. Even after I painstakingly dragged all the files over from the X drive (which took several tries, as the connection kept dropping, and a couple of hours, because the 80 GB drive was almost full), I’d only filled in 46% of the space.
Checking Out Ceedo
Since nature and I abhor a vacuum, I thought I’d fill a few of those empty megabytes by checking out Ceedo, the software which is designed to make the FreeAgent(TM) Go mimic your computer. As I had suspected from reading about it, Ceedo is the hard-drive equivalent of U3 for memory sticks. Not only does it work almost exactly the same, displaying a list of programs and options in an approximation of the Windows Start Menu, most of the programs available for installation are the same.
Where a U3 memory stick shows up as two drives, however, the FreeAgent(TM) Go only occupies one drive letter, with the Ceedo program files in a subfolder. Like the U3 launchpad, the Ceedo easy access menu displays your remaining drive space along with the list of programs. Ceedo also makes it clear which programs are being run from Ceedo rather than Windows, by framing the windows with an orange outline. (You can change the color, but orange is good for warnings and stands out against the blue theme I use on Enna.)
You can also buy something called Argo, which lets you install any Windows program on your Ceedo drive. The idea is to install it on the portable drive rather than on any one computer. The up side is not worrying about single-user licenses. The down side is the lag time created by the USB 2.0 connection. Although I have found copying data to and from the FreeAgent(TM) Go drive satisfyingly fast (faster, certainly, than the 10/100 network connection to my Z drive), and although the drive spins at 5400 RPM instead of the more standard 4200 RPM of my two internal drives, it always takes longer to access external drives. That could lead to a noticeable and irritating lag time when using some of these programs, particularly if they require a lot of read-write functions.
And while there’s a long list of Argo-compatible products, including Dreamweaver, Quicken, and Nero Burning ROM, not a single Microsoft Office program is to be found on the list.
For me, Ceedo and the programs it lets you run are mostly a distraction, because I already have the U3 memory stick and I’m much more likely to carry that around than the FreeAgent(TM) Go. My primary interest was in storage space, though I wanted a drive portable enough to take on a vacation or business trip. I think Ceedo would be quite useful for those without laptops, or who regularly shuttle between a computer at work and a computer at home.
For the backup-obsessed, Seagate’s own FreeAgent(TM) Tools are more interesting. (Unlike U3, which has Disk Hero, Ceedo doesn’t offer a backup program.) Folder Sync is designed to update the files on your FreeAgent(TM) Go whenever you change them. If you take the drive from one computer to another, it will update the second computer with the files from the FreeAgent drive.
Presumably because of the automatic-sync function, you can’t back up your Outlook .pst file using Folder Sync. That restriction means I can’t use Folder Sync as my sole backup tool for this drive, so I went back to Karen’s Replicator and updated all the jobs to copy files to the F drive instead of the Z drive.
The only problem with this is that synchronized files don’t get stored in the same folders as other documents, so I now have two copies of some of my files. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because I can revert to the previous day’s file if I really mess something up, and only the files I’m currently working on are in the Folder Sync directory. It’s pretty much impossible to have too many copies of important client files, at least until the project is over.
Rather like the backup program that came with the Maxtor Shared Storage II, Folder Sync has a fairly limited set of features. It’s not even as configurable as Replicator, which is freeware. But it’s easy to set up and it does what it claims to do. I’m not about to object to having one more backup tool at my disposal.
There’s one other function of FreeAgent(TM) Tools that I first noticed while exploring my C drive: you can encrypt files by right-clicking on them. This works on files stored on any drive, at least once you’ve installed FreeAgent(TM) Tools. But there’s no blanket password-protection option for the drive itself, the way there is with U3. You can, however, password-protect Ceedo. That works much the same way a Windows logon does: it can keep you from using the programs, but doesn’t prevent access to the contents of the drive.
So far, the things I like best about the FreeAgent(TM) Go drive are:
- 160 GB (twice the size of the X drive)
- 5400 RPM (faster than the X drive)
- Only one cable (even though it uses 2 USB ports)
- Real-time Folder Sync
- 5-year warranty
And the only thing I really don’t like about the drive is that yellow light. So I’m giving the F drive an A-.