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Seagate GoFlex 4TB

By Matt Simpson - Friday, March 23, 2012

We all run out of space at one time or another. Maybe we are fighting a losing battle to keep some free space on our boot drive or maybe we have other hard drives in our computers that are simply full. There are certainly options for improving this situation.

The most likely may seem to be that you buy a new primary hard drive. This is, however, the most complicated way to solve the problem. Sure, you will have more storage available on the same drive as your OS, but in return you will need to backup all of your data, moving your data off to another location, then reinstalling your OS, software, and all of your data onto the new drive.

External USB Drives

Another and perhaps better way to do things is to add a hard drive to the computer increasing your overall storage capacity. While many computers may not have the space or power cables necessary to add more internal drives, almost all modern computers have at least one USB port that is not in use. External drives utilize this by enclosing a small power supply, logic for the drive interface, and the hard drive itself into an external enclosure that needs only a USB connection to the computer. USB devices such as these are automatically recognized by modern OS’s so no driver downloads are required.

These external drives serve another important function as well. Since the only interface between the enclosure and computer is USB, they will work on virtually any computer. This means that if you are saving your work on an external USB drive, you can then take all of your data with you easily should be travel or need to work from another computer.

USB 3.0

The primary limitation of most external USB enclosures is that the ubiquitous USB 2.0 interface is much slower than the SATA interface used for internal drives. Not just be a small margin either, as internal drives are limited by the 6 gb/sec speed limit and USB 2.0 is limited to 480mb/sec. The fact that it was exceptionally unusual for a USB 2.0 device to reach near those speeds only compounded the issue.

For documents storage this didn’t generate much in the way of trouble. But as hard drive sizes have grown, so has the amount of data to be transferred. As file sizes turned from Megabytes to Gigabytes, USB 2.0 began to show its age. There were other options such as Fire wire and the recently released Thunderbolt, but USB 3.0 is likely to prove the new ubiquitous interface for the next generation of computer hardware. It features a bandwidth nearing that of fastest internal interfaces at 4.8 Gb/sec. It’s made even more useful by the fact that the new interface is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. You will be unable to see the super high speeds when using older devices, but they will remain fully operable.

The Go Flex 4GB

Seagate has been at the forefront of the external enclosure game since the introduction of their Go Flex line. They utilized, and still do, the idea of a hard drive enclosure mated to modular bases which could support different interfaces, rather than be locked into a single interface. They have these modular bases available separately in USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Fire wire 400/800, and even a network base. The most interesting of these is the USB 3.0 base, which is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 as well.

The Go Flex 4TB breaks all the records for current single hard drive capacity. 4 Terabytes, which when formatted gives a total of 3.6 Terabytes of usable space. This is achieved by using 5 platters, each with an enormous 800GB per platter. Seagate offers another interesting nugget with this enclosure. Instead of dumping   some slow “green” or economy drive in this enclosure, they instead opted for a Barracuda XT, spinning at 7200 RPM. This gives the massive drive the performance to move the kinds of data one would put into such a monstrous drive.

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