Seagate FreeAgent Desk Drive
When I bought my MacBook Pro, I knew I would need an external drive for storing photographs while working on a remote shoot. The good news is that there a multitude of choices for the consumer when it comes to external storage options.
Since the MacBook Pro has both a USB port as well as a FireWire 800 port I had the advantage of finding a storage solution that utilized either of these standard interfaces. After deliberating over several different choices I ultimately selected the Seagate FreeAgent Desk for Mac drive.
The device is a slick aluminum looking device on a vertical stand. On the rear of the device is a power connector, two FireWire 800 ports and a mini USB port. This allows the FreeAgent Desk for Mac drive to connect to the computer through whatever port happens to be available on the Mac.
The drive came formatted for use with a Macintosh and was a quick plug-and-play solution. I selected a 1.5TB version of the drive and just left the drive plugged in to the FireWire 800 port of the MacBook Pro.
The second FireWire 800 port on the back of the FreeAgent Desk drive allowed it to daisy-chain with an additional FireWire device. For the first two months of use the drive worked flawlessly. I was able to use it for external storage and the throughput via FireWire make it a great solution.
After the initial two months I began to notice the Macintosh would hang at various times for no reason. It was usually at times the system was idle and the first application to report the hang was iTunes. I have no music stored on the FreeAgent Desk drive so I immediately discounted that as a potential issue.
The hanging would result in forcing applications to quit and then rebooting the MacBook Pro. After rebooting things would return to normal and I would work without issues for perhaps weeks at a time.
Slowly the problem began to occur more frequently. For one reason or another I happened to unplug the FreeAgent Desk drive during the time the MacBook was hung up. The computer immediately came back to life without having to quit applications or reboot the computer.
I began trying to troubleshoot the issue to see if my computer problems were indeed connected to this external drive. I am still conducting tests but it appears that the hanging only occurs when the device is connected via the FireWire 800 port. If the drive is connected via USB it does not hang.
At this point I am unclear whether the issue is with the FireWire 800 port on the FreeAgent Desk drive or if it is the FireWire 800 port on the MacBook Pro. I don’t seem to have problems with other devices on the FireWire 800 port so at this point I am leaning towards this being an issue with the external disk drive.
Given my experiences I cannot recommend the Seagate FreeAgent Desk for Mac external drive. If you do purchase this device I suggest cabling it to use the mini USB port. You may be giving up transfer speed but you will make up for it by having your system be a lot more reliable.