1TB was amazing. 2TB was unimaginably large. 3TB? Well, it’s certainly not run-of-the-mill. Seagate is first to market with a 3TB drive, the FreeAgent GoFlex Desk. External only, Seagate claims the new drive can store 120 HD movies, 1,500 video games and “countless” hours of music.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, the drive will be offered only in its external casing. Using 3TB internally presents a number of issues. First and foremost, the drive is simply too big for many operating systems. When most OSes were designed, developers never really considered that one day users would need to be able to address so much data. As a result, many only support up to 2.1TB.
There is a way around the issue, by using what’s known as Long LBA addressing, which increases the number of bytes the OS can support, but only some are able. Windows XP users? Sorry, that’s right out. 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 are fine, however, as are many Linux distributions.
Additionally, that support only comes when the drive is installed as a secondary drive. Current partition setups for the main drive in a system only support the same 2.1TB limit – and that’s here to stay. The only way around it is to replace the BIOS with its more modern successor, EFI. EFI is already being used in Apple’s latest products, and some PC manufacturers are ready to follow suit.
Seagate wisely, therefore, chose to sell the first 3TB as an external solution, which neatly sidesteps most of those issues. While the drive probably works with Windows XP, it likely requires some sort of software workaround (which Seagate no doubt supplies). At $250, the drive is certainly a deal; it wasn’t so long ago that 2TB 3.5-inch drives were still selling for $299.
Too, the new FreeAgent drive is part of Seagate’s GoFlex line, which allows for upgradeable standards. The 3TB comes with USB2.0 support, but that socket can be popped out and replaced with others, such as models that support USB3.0 and FireWire. Users can then buy the drive and upgrade to USB3.0 once they acquire a system capable of supporting the standard.