Seagate is taking personal storage to new heights as it announces its Backup Plus Fast portable drive with 4 terabytes of data in a small black box. The box has twice the capacity and speed of existing external portable backup drives.
The storage giant is making the announcements at the 2014 International CES, the huge tech trade show this week in Las Vegas. Seagate is also announcing slimmer backup drives and an expansion of its data-rescue plan for consumers as well.
Based on my own calculations, the Seagate Backup Plus Fast drive can store about 68,000 hours of music, 1.24 million digital photos, 4,000 hours of digital video, or 2,000 hours of DVD movies. Seagate and industry sources estimate that data storage is growing at 50 percent a year thanks to the explosion of digital services. The demand for such devices is putting Seagate front and center with consumers in ways that it hasn’t been in the past.
“This is all about the mobile markets and getting in front of the consumer,” said Rocky Pimentel, the president of consumers and marketing at Seagate, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We are at a crossroads in our role in storage. We are much more directly involved with consumers, and we have some consumers that can’t get enough storage.”
The new Seagate Backup Plus Fast drive has a superspeed universal serial bus (USB) 3.0 interface that can transfer data at 220 megabytes per second. It’s aimed at people like field photographers or mobile filmmakers looking to quickly back up a lot of files. It doesn’t need an external power supply and can fit in a camera bag or backpack. It measures 4.6 inches by 3.2 inches by 0.88 inches.
Seagate provides its Seagate Dashboard software that makes it easy to back up or share data with a single click. It also includes a free Seagate Mobile Backup app on iOS or Android to back up all of the pictures and videos from that device to a drive or a cloud service. That’s interesting because five years ago, Seagate didn’t even have an app. Now mobile apps are part of the core product.
Scott Horn, the vice president of global marketing for Seagate, said in an interview that the Backup Plus Fast drive, with a sturdy metal case, will appeal to creative professionals who are on the run. Jim Sugar, a National Geographic photographer, said he needs fast speed and large capacity to back up his digital photography and videos, whether they are still photos or time-lapse video or 4K video.
“These new products are all about playing well with mobile and the cloud,” Horn said.
The 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Fast drive sells for $300 on Seagate’s own site.
In a secondary announcement, Seagate also launched a new slimmer 2TB drive. The company previously launched the Seagate Backup Plus at CES a couple of years ago. Now it’s refreshing that lineup under the name Seagate Backup Plus Slim, which is ideal for backing up data either from your computer or your mobile phone.
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim has a svelte design and superspeed USB 3.0 interface for fast backup. It includes the Seagate Dashboard that makes it simple to back up data on a desktop, laptop, Android device, or iOS device. You can take the stored data on those devices and back them up to the drive or to a Seagate cloud service via a home network or a Wi-Fi connection.
“Mobile devices account for the largest amount of captured video and photos today,” said Chris Chute, the research director for IDC’s Worldwide Digital Imaging Practice. “Seven out of every ten pictures captured in 2013 were taken with a smartphone. As a greater portion of our memories are captured by the handheld devices, it becomes increasingly more important that these files be backed up either to a cloud service or locally.”
The Slim drives are just 12.1 millimeters thick and come in red, blue, black, and silver cases. The cases are made to resist scratches and fingerprints. The Backup Plus Slim sells for $100 for 500GBs, $120 for 1TB, and $180 for 2TBs.
Lastly, Seagate announced that it has extended its Rescue Data Protection Plan to new retailers in the U.S. and Canada. Staples will provide the service in the U.S. while NCIX and Canada Computer will do so in Canada. The service helps customers recover files that have been damaged, lost, or destroyed. The cost of recovering data can often reach into thousands of dollars. The protection plan sells for $50 for a two-year plan for laptops and desktops. External drives start at $30 for a two-year plan.
Seagate has competitors like WD. But its biggest competition is still the failure of consumers to back up data. Roughly one in five people back up their data on a regular basis. That number is steadily increasing. Pimentel said that Seagate had hired a number of ex-Apple employees who will help the company with the design of a better experience that will make it easier to users to adopt.
“Their input will show up in our future products,” Pimentel said.