What kind of cable does my external drive use?


Discusses the connections available on every kind of Seagate and Maxtor-brand external hard drive, the environment in which it is best to use each, and instructions for each connection.

This article will discuss the connections available on every kind of Seagate and Maxtor-brand external hard drive, the environment in which it is best to use each, and instructions for each connection. Click on the name or image of your drive to be directed to the relevant section.

See Document ID: 214431 for cabling information about FreeAgent GoFlex drives
For more information, see our Document ID: 205479 - "Cabling - an overview".

Current Seagate and Maxtor-brand External Hard Drives
Drive image Drive name Connection type (with link to description)
Image Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk

See Document ID: 214431 for more information.

Image Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro

See Document ID: 214431 for more information.

Image Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Slim

See Document ID: 214431 for more information.

     
Image Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex

See Document ID: 214431 for more information.

  Seagate Replica USB-powered
Image Seagate Portable Expansion USB-powered
Image Seagate Desktop Expansion USB 2.0
a Seagate FreeAgent Go USB-powered
Image Seagate BlackArmor NAS Ethernet


Legacy Seagate and Maxtor-brand External Hard Drives
Drive image Drive type Connection type (with link to description)
as Seagate FreeAgent XTreme
a Seagate FreeAgent Desk USB 2.0
a Seagate FreeAgent Desk for Mac
  Seagate FreeAgent Go Pro for Mac
  Seagate FreeAgent Go for Mac USB-powered
  Maxtor Basics USB 2.0
  Maxtor Basics Portable USB-powered
Image Seagate BlackArmor WS 110
  Seagate BlackArmor PS 110  USB-powered
  Seagate BlackArmor PS 110
USB 3.0 Performance Kit
USB 3.0-powered
Image Maxtor Black Armor USB-powered
Seagate FreeAgent Pro Classic
Seagate FreeAgent Desktop Classic USB 2.0
Seagate FreeAgent
Go Classic
USB-powered
Image Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus
Image Maxtor OneTouch 4 mini USB-powered
Image Maxtor OneTouch 3 Turbo
Image Maxtor OneTouch 3 Triple
Image Maxtor OneTouch 3 mini USB-powered
Image Maxtor OneTouch 2 Family Some models have only USB 2.0 and others have both USB 2.0 and FW400.
One model includes all three - USB 2.0FW400, and FW800.
Image Maxtor OneTouch Family Some models have only USB 2.0, some have only FW400,
and others have both USB 2.0 and FW400.
Image

Image
Maxtor Personal Storage Family Some models have only USB 2.0, some have only FW400,
and others have both USB 2.0 and FW400
Image Seagate Pushbutton External Drive One type has only USB 2.0,
and the other type has USB 2.0 and FW400. For images, please see the User Guide.
Image Seagate External Drive USB 2.0
Image Seagate eSATA Drive eSATA
Image Seagate Portable Drive USB-powered
Image Seagate Pocket Drive USB-powered


Legacy Network Storage Drives

Drive image Drive name Connection type (with link to description)
Image Maxtor Central Axis Ethernet
Image Maxtor Shared Storage 2 Drive
Image Maxtor Shared Storage Drive
Image Maxtor Shared Storage Plus Drive
Image Maxtor Fusion
Image Seagate Mirra Drive

 

USB - USB comes in several versions, each higher version has a significant performance increase.  The current USB 3.0 standard allows USB 3.0 devices to work with USB 2.0 ports and USB 3.0 port to work with USB 2.0 devices. Therefore interoperability between versions should not be a problem. The  most popular version of USB available is called USB 2.0. It is available on most computers since the inception of Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, and especially Windows XP. Some Mac G4s and all Mac G5s use USB 2.0 ports. We are not aware of a reliable way to distinguish between slower USB 1.x and 2.0 ports in Mac G4s; please contact Apple for more information. In general, using USB in Windows or Mac is an easy and functional option.  If using a newer USB 3.0 drive with an older USB 2.0 port, it will work, but at a reduced speed.

USB devices can be plugged in while the computer is turned on, an action known as "plug and play". Most desktop computers have USB ports both on the front and the back of the computer tower. Usually, when you connect a drive via USB, the computer should begin a series of actions to get the drive ready for use. See the steps (this article covers Windows and MacOS).

USB is the most common and widespread interface in the computing world for external devices, so virtually all Seagate and Maxtor-brand external drives include a USB connection. It is not as fast as eSATA or FireWire 800, but it is approximately equal in speed to FireWire 400.
It is not recommended to connect an external drive to a USB port found on a keyboard or a computer monitor.

USB-powered - Certain drives do not draw power from a power cord. They simply connect to the computer via the included USB cable and the USB port provides the data connection so that data can move back and forth between the drive and the computer, and the USB connection provides electrical power to operate the drive. Some of these drives have a 2-pronged USB cable, and most computers will provide enough electrical power when only one of those prongs is connected, but some computers will require that both prongs be connected to provide enough power.


FireWire 400 - There are currently two types of FireWire; FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. They are alternatively known as 1394a and 1394b. FireWire 400 is a very popular connection for external devices among Mac computers, and less common among Windows PCs and notebooks.
FireWire 400 devices can be plugged in while the computer is turned on, an action known as "plug and play".
Usually, when you connect a drive via FW400, the computer should begin a series of actions to get the drive ready for use. See the steps (this article covers Windows and MacOS).

FireWire 400 provides approximately equal performance to USB 2.0.
A significant number of Seagate and Maxtor-brand external drives include the FireWire 400 connection.
FireWire 400 provides an attractive feature that USB does not, called daisy-chain. All of our drives that have the FireWire connection have two ports on them, so that up to 7 of them can be daisy-chained to one FireWire port on the computer. This leaves room for other FireWire devices to connect to other ports on the computer, but it does lead to slower performance of the daisy-chained devices. A daisy-chain must be composed of either FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 devices, not both chained together.


FireWire800 - There are currently two types of FireWire - FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. They are alternatively known as 1394a and 1394b. FireWire 800 is a connection for external devices found usually but not exclusively in Mac computers. It is capable of extremely high performance, equal to that of modern Serial ATA drives.
FireWire 800 devices can be plugged in while the computer is turned on, an action known as "plug and play".
Usually, when you connect a drive via FW800, the computer should begin a series of actions to get the drive ready for use, similar to the FireWire 400 steps mentioned above.

Certain FireWire 800 devices provide an attractive feature that USB does not, called daisy-chain. Some of our drives that have the FireWire connection have two ports on them, so that up to 7 of them (or any kind of device that has 2 FireWire ports) can be daisy-chained to one FireWire port on the computer. This leaves room for other FireWire devices to connect to other ports on the computer, but it does lead to slower performance for the daisy-chained devices. A daisy-chain must be composed of either FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 devices, not both chained together.


eSATA - This abbreviation for "external Serial ATA" refers to a very fast connection for external devices. The cables look nearly the same as Serial ATA cables, but the actual connectors are physically different from SATA, so the two are not intercompatible. See them here:

Image 1 (click to expand): 
Image 2 (click to expand): 

You will note that the SATA connector is notched into an "L" shape, while eSATA lacks the notch. The eSATA connection is often not plug-and-play at first, since it is usually necessary to load drivers for the eSATA controller card, but once they are properly installed, the drive becomes plug-and-play, and will outperform USB and FireWire 400 by a wide margin. The main drawback is that eSATA is not yet commonplace, so it can be difficult to find many computers that have the connection. It is often necessary to purchase a separate controller card, or to buy an eSATA drive that includes a bundled controller card.

Please also see these two KB articles for more information on eSATA:
Special notes for using FreeAgent | XTreme with eSATA
What type of eSATA cable can I use with my FreeAgent Pro drive?


Ethernet - Also known as 10/100 Gigabit, this is the same type of connection that you use to connect to a DSL or cable modem for broadband/high-speed Internet.

Image 1, of the Ethernet cable (click to expand): Image
Image 2, outline of the port into which the cable connects (click to expand): Image

 





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