I just bought a FreeAgent Desktop 320GB external hard drive for doing backups. I generally trust Seagate drives these days; I’ve bought plenty over the years and had no problem with them, so they seemed like a safe bet. The 5-year (admittedly extremely limited) warranty helped to some extent too.
I was a little apprehensive about the orange glowing light on the unit, as I have the iMac in our bedroom and the backups run overnight. What’s more, you can’t turn it off except via the FreeAgent Pro software (which you pay extra for!). However it’s not too offensive in practice; I keep it hidden under my desk and it behaves itself.
When I first connected the drive I had to reformat it for the iMac using Disk Utility, but after that it just appeared as a USB drive in the Finder. Too easy.
The drive’s nice and quiet too. The glowing light pulsates gently when there’s disk activity, which is very sci-fi, and not as distracting as normal activity lights.
The only problem so far is that it prevents the iMac from going into a scheduled sleep. This only seems to happen on nights when it’s done a backup. The iMac’s scheduled to sleep in the middle of the night, but instead it stays on, and then at some random time in the morning it starts trying to go to sleep! Very pesky. I’m not sure what’s going on there. On the plus side, when I sleep the iMac manually in general use, the drive powers down too (and turns off its orange glowy light).
Pros and cons, then, of the FreeAgent with the iMac.
- Cheap (but most external drives are these days)
- Chocolate-and-amber styling’s OK, if you like that sort of thing
- Easy to install
- Seems fast enough
- No way to turn off the amber light (that I could find anyway)
- Sometimes stops the iMac from sleeping
- Comes with a separate “wall wart” power supply; powered from USB would have been nice.