PC

A hub for your data and devices

You can charge USB-connected devices such as mobile phones or tablets using the USB ports on the Seagate Backup Plus Hub, even when your computer is turned off.
You can charge USB-connected devices such as mobile phones or tablets using the USB ports on the Seagate Backup Plus Hub, even when your computer is turned off.PHOTO: SEAGATE

Anyone who has used an external hard drive will know that the storage drive itself takes up one USB port on the computer.

This seems like a minor - perhaps First World - problem, but USB ports are increasingly scarce, especially on newer laptops that value form over function.

The Seagate Backup Plus Hub tackles this issue with a simple solution. It integrates a USB 3.0 hub that not only gives you back the USB port, but also provides you with an extra one.

In addition, you can charge USB-connected devices such as mobile phones or tablets using the USB ports on the Seagate, even when your computer is turned off.

This is because the Seagate has its own power adaptor. As you can imagine, this Seagate external drive is not exactly slim and portable. It weighs around 1kg and is about the size of a chunky paperback novel.

It makes up for the bulk with its storage capacity.

My review set came with 8TB of storage, although Seagate also offers 4TB and 6TB options.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $599

    CAPACITY: 8TB

    INTERFACE: USB 3.0

    WEIGHT: 1.06kg


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

The Seagate works with both Mac and Windows computers, though Mac users will need to install a driver first.

But it does not support Apple's Time Machine backup feature. For that, you have to get the Seagate Backup Plus Hub for Macs.

Because the Mac driver is found in the Seagate drive, I was surprised to learn that I had to download the Seagate Dashboard app (around 140MB) separately.

This easy-to-use app helps you set up and schedule a backup of your computer or mobile devices.

For mobile devices, you will also need to register a Seagate account and download the Seagate Backup app (available for iOS and Android) to your phone.

Unlike the PC backup process, which goes through the USB cable, backing up your mobile device requires both the computer that is connected to the Seagate drive and the mobile device to be on the same Wi-Fi network. This seems counter-intuitive: given that the mobile device can be physically connected to the Seagate drive via USB, why go through the wireless route for the backup?

In addition to backing up the contents of your computer, the Seagate Dashboard can upload and download photos and videos from your social media accounts (Facebook, Flickr and YouTube).

There is also an option to upload the contents of the Seagate drive to cloud storage providers (Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox supported). Seagate includes a two-year 200GB Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage plan with the Backup Plus Hub.

For an external hard drive, the Seagate produced good read and write speeds of around 195MB/s,higher than the 160MB/s stated in its technical specifications.

These speeds fall short of those provided by an external solid-state drive (SSD), though SSDs offer much smaller capacity than hard drives and are more expensive too.

I did seem to encounter a minor bug at the beginning: the drive was not detected by my PC when connected to the computer's USB 2.0 port. It worked properly only after I switched to a USB 3.0 port.

• Verdict: The Seagate Backup Plus Hub performs well for an external desktop drive. Its additional USB hub feature is useful too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'A hub for your data and devices'. Print Edition | Subscribe