Want to know which is better for you and your Mac?
Seagate Expansion or Backup Plus?
Are you turning and swirling this question around your mind?
When you’re weighing up the Backup Plus vs Seagate Expansion. Put your feet up and read on for the pros and cons of each.
Seagate Backup Plus vs Expansion Quick Facts
You’ll find the Seagate Expansion is the budget hard drive of the two.
With the Backup Plus drives higher priced.
The smaller and lighter 1 and 2TB Backup Plus Slim is 4.5 oz. Versus Seagate Expansion’s 5.6 oz. (1 and 2TB).
The Backup Plus Portable is the heaviest at 9.3 oz.
And you’ve 1 year warranty on your Expansion v 2 years warranty on the Backup Plus drives.
Pros Of The Seagate Expansion
Pros Of The Backup Plus
Cons Of The Seagate Expansion
Cons Of The Backup Plus
Verdict On The Seagate Expansion Vs The Backup Plus
When you’re ready to buy. And find the price of your Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus Slim are the same. The Backup Plus Slim comes out tops.
But when there’s a small price premium for the Backup Plus Slim. You might decide that the Aluminum case and jazzy colors are worth paying a bit extra for.
When you find there’s a significant premium.
Or when you don’t need the smart colors of the Backup Plus drives.
Then the Seagate Expansion hard drive, price performance wins out.
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. And at no extra cost to you this site earns a commission through those links.
You Can Watch This YouTube Backup Plus Video
This short, 36 second YouTube video gives you a quick peak at the Backup Plus Slim and Backup Plus Portable. Take a look.
The All-New Backup Plus Family. Slim and Portable
Video Credit: Seagate Technology
Features: Seagate Expansion Compared To Backup Plus
Take a look at the bankable features of these two drives.
Choose which is a benefit for you.
And what comes out on top for you and your Mac.
Seagate Backup Plus v Seagate Expansion Market Position
Seagate markets the Seagate Expansion as a entry level hard disk. And now you’ve got a Seagate Expansion SSD drive to explore.
The Backup Plus drives are their midrange and high end portable external hard drives.
Side By Side The Backup Plus Range
You’ll notice that the Backup Plus isn’t just one type of hard disk drive.
Seagate has a few drives in the Backup Plus range.
The top of the range is the Backup Plus Ultra Touch. You’ll get here the slimmest, lightest and generally the priciest portable hard drive. It’s available in 1TB and 2TB.
Next in mid range you’ve got the Backup Plus Slim. Also in 1 or 2TB sizes.
Then you’ve the Backup Plus Portable. You’ll find it has the largest storage space of the Backup Plus range with 4TB or 5TB size options.
At A Glance Comparison
Backup Plus Face To Face With The Seagate Expansion
You’ll find below the headline differences between the Expansion and Backup Plus drives.
|Seagate Expansion||Backup Plus Slim|
|Colors||Black||Black, Blue, Red, Silver|
|Capacity||1TB, 2TB, 4TB and 5TB||1TB or 2TB|
|Warranty||1 Year||2 Years|
|Ultra Touch||Backup Plus Portable|
|Colors||White, Black||Blue, Silver, Black|
|Capacity||1TB or 2TB||4TB or 5TB|
|Warranty||2 Years||2 Years|
Plugging Your Backup Plus Or Expansion Into Your Mac
Both the Backup Plus and the Seagate Expansion are USB 3.0 type drives.
Both ranges get their power for the drives from the cable.
This means that the cable takes power from your Mac and runs these external portables.
And on both drives you’ll find 18 inch cables.
You may decide the cable in the box is a little short for your liking.
And you may want to think about buying a longer cable.
So you can put your drive further away than 18 inches from your Mac.
The cables are standard.
So any quality USB 3.0 cable with type A at one end and type B Micro at the other end will work for you.
Plugging Both Drives Into Your Early Mac
For your early Mac with 2.0 ports. The cable shipped has the type A plug on the end and will plug into your Mac just fine.
Both the Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus are USB 2.0 backwards support.
Plugging Into Newer Macs With Thunderbolt Ports
Apple introduced the Thunderbolt ports with the 2011 MacBook Pro.
That Mac has Thunderbolt and type A ports. And so these drives will plug right in to the type A ports.
But if you’ve other devices already connected. And are running out of available ports. Then you’ll need to find an adaptor to connect these external drives to your Thunderbolt port.
Plugging Into Your New Mac With A Type C USB Port
MacBook 2015 and later, iMac 2017, MacBook Pro 2016 and later have USB C ports.
Ports that support USB 3.1 gen 1 or 2 depending on the MacBook and iMac generation.
Backwards support in the standards is your friend.
Because your Mac will send your files to both the Backup Plus. Or the Seagate Expansion Portable at USB 3.0 speed.
But you’ll need an adaptor cable to plug into the Expansion Portable drive. Or the Backup Plus Slim. Or Backup Plus Portable hard drive.
Because although there’s support the ports are physically different. And you’ll need to get yourself a USB C 3.1 or 3.2 adaptor cable.
You’ll find the Backup Plus Ultra Touch is helpfully supplied in the box with an adaptor for easy USB C plug in.
There’s an article on the site that has more detail on USB connections. And what you need to plug into the different models of Macs, so do take a look.
When it comes to plugging in your Seagate hard drive versus your Backup Plus they are the same. It’s either easy because your Mac has type A ports and you can plug right in. Or you’ll need an adaptor depending on your generation of Mac and choice of Backup Plus drive.
So add that into your costs for either of these external hard drives.
Seagate Expansion YouTube Video
You might enjoy taking a look at this Seagate Expansion YouTube video. Because it shows you the drive itself. And you’ll see how it attaches to a Mac.
The video is just over 2 minutes long.
Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable
Video Credit: TJS Mind
Seagate Expansion And Backup Plus Storage Options
You can buy the Backup Plus Slim and the Seagate Expansion with 1TB or 2TB of external storage.
The Seagate Expansion goes all the way up to 5TB for when you need much larger capacity.
|Seagate Expansion Portable||1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB|
|Backup Plus Slim Capacity||1TB, 2TB|
You’ll find inside their beautiful cases equal quality drives.
So there’s no point you paying more for a 1TB Seagate Expansion v a 1TB Backup Plus solely on capacity.
Storage Options Of The Other Drives In The Backup Plus Range
|Backup Plus Ultra Touch||1TB or 2TB|
|Backup Plus Portable||4TB and 5TB|
You can pick either the Backup Plus Portable. Or the Seagate Expansion when you need storage space for your large files. As they both have 4TB and 5TB options.
Expansion vs Backup Plus Working On Your Mac
Seagate has moved to their Expansion and Backup Plus range of drive to ExFAT format out of the box.
Your Seagate Expansion Drive Was Formatted As NTFS
Previously the Expansion was NTFS Formattted. And you might still get supplied one of these drives. If you find you’ve a NTFS formatted drive.
Know that your Mac can read an NTFS external drives. But cannot write to it unless:
a. You reformat
b. You have a software driver to allow you to read and write to the drive.
Seagate supplied the NTFS drives with a software driver. So you could use that and keep your drive in its original format.
Or format your Seagate drive and not bother with the software driver. It\s quick to do and only takes 5 or so minutes.
Your Backup Plus And Expansion Drives Are ExFAT Formatted
Your Mac and a Windows PC can read and write to an ExFAT drive.
This means you can plug your Backup Plus or Expansion straight into your Mac.
And you can drag and drop your files.
Or copy and paste your files to your Backup Plus or Expansion.
But ExFAT isn’t a format your Mac can use to backup too.
Do you plan to use your Expansion or Backup Plus for a Time Machine backup of your Mac?
Then you’ll need to reformat to the Mac APFS or HFS+ file system.
Using Your Seagate Expansion Or Backup Plus On Your Mac
Power up and log into your Mac.
Plug in your USB cable. After a few seconds your Mac will see either drive as connected.
Both the Backup Plus and Seagate Expansion will show up as a drive Icon on your Mac’s desktop.
Your Backup Plus and Seagate Expansion are ExFAT formatted.
And as long as you’re happy with that you can go ahead and drag and drop. Or copy and paste your photos, movies or whatever file you want.
But if you plan to use your Seagate for Time Machine. Then you’ll need to reformat on your Mac.
Want find out how to do that? Take a look at my article here.
Seagate Backup Plus and Seagate Expansion Portable Size Comparison
Both the Seagate Expansion and the Backup Plus drives come in a neat convenient package. Perfect when you need to take your drives with you.
You’ll see the Backup Plus Slim is the smaller lighter drive. Not by much but the difference may be important to you.
Is it enough to justify a higher cost if the Backup Plus is more expensive when you come to buy?
|Seagate Expansion 1TB, 2TB||4.6in x 3.2in x 0.5in||5.6 oz|
|Backup Plus Slim 1TB or 2TB||4.52in x 3.1in x 0.5in||4.4 oz|
|Ultra Touch 1TB or 2TB||4.52in x 3.1in x 0.5in||5.32 oz|
|Seagate Expansion 4 or 5TB||4.6in x 3.2in x 0.8in||9.1 oz|
|Backup Plus Portable 4 or 5TB||4.53in x 3.2in x 0.83in||9.4 oz|
You’ll see the Backup Plus Slim is the slimmest. And lightest of the Backup Plus range. The Backup Plus Portable is the heaviest.
Seagate Markets Both The Expansion And Backup Plus As Portable
But none of these hdd drives are rugged in any way.
Yes, they are small enough to put in your purse or backpack without adding significant weight.
But they are mechanical drives. Should you drop any of your drives or get them wet you’ll likely damage your drives.
When you’re taking either drive around with you think about buying a protective case.
Seagate Expansion Or Backup Plus Good Looks And Design
Your Seagate Expansion’s look is … well functional.
You’ll find a smart pattern on the case. And your Expansion portable only comes in Black.
Now in contrast the Backup Plus has Aluminum cases. And looks more fun and interesting. It’s for you if you like to team your drive color with your mood.
The Backup Plus choice of colors are;
- Black, Blue, Red, and Silver.
Will it be the colors of the Backup Plus that sways you from the Expansion Portable?
Without doubt the Backup Plus is the snappier looking external hard drive.
Seagate Expansion vs Backup Plus Speed Test
My favorite site for speed test tests is usb.userbenchmark.com.
They compare many user benchmarks.
And the closest comparisons I found was for the 4TB sized drives.
The 4TB Seagate Expansion’s desktop hard drive and the Backup Plus Portable.
Over all they found the Seagate Expansion on average was 12% faster than the Backup Plus
Read speed 120 Mb/s versus 85.1 mb/s = 41% faster
Write speed 112 Mb/s versus 92 Mb/s = 22% faster
On the 4K Random Mixed i/o test, the Backup Plus 4TB came out faster with
0.3 Mb/s versus 0.48 Mb/s = 60% faster
Most uses of an external hard drive are for random reads and writes. And on this the Backup Plus comes out ahead.
What Do The Users Of The Seagate Expansion VS The Backup Plus Think?
You’ll find that both external hard drives have many happy users on Amazon.
A lot of them are Mac users.
It’s always worth taking a look yourself to find out what the latest buyers have to say on Amazon.
Click on the buttons and visit each of the Amazon sales pages.
Scroll down to the Amazon Reviews. And choose the latest reviews, rather than the top reviews.
(Commissions Earned Through Amazon Button Links)
What’s In The Seagate Backup Plus And Seagate Expansion Boxes?
Their boxes of course have the Seagate Portable hard drives inside.
An 18 inch USB 3.0 Type A cable
A Quick start Guide.
The Ultra Touch has a USB C adaptor in the box.
You’ll find all the quick start guides brief.
Just a quick picture on how to plug in and that’s about it for usefulness.
You’ll at least find better information on the Seagate Technologies site.
Here’s a link to the Seagate Expansion Manual.
And the one for the Seagate Backup Plus Manual.
Using the Seagate Expansion v Backup Plus On A Mac
Let me give you a fly by on how easy they are to use on a Mac.
Dragging And Dropping Or Copying And Pasting On Your Mac
For all the drives you can copy and paste your photos, music or documents.
If you’re only planning on using your Backup Plus Slim for copying your files onto. Or dragging and dropping too then you can plug in and just use.
And the ExFAT formatting means that you’ve the benefit of sharing your files with Windows PC as well. Because a PC can read an ExFAT drive.
Backup With Time Machine Backup Software
Your Seagate Expansion and your Backup Plus will need formatting. You’ll need to do this before you can use any of them on your Mac for a backup with Time Machine.
It’s quick and easy to do when you know how.
Security: Seagate Expansion Up Against Backup Plus
You won’t find any special security hardware or software on either drive.
But your Mac’s operating system is there for you.
There’s a standard piece of software on your Mac called Disk Utility.
Disk Utility allows you to add a password and encrypt your drive when you format.
And so keeping all your files safe if your drives get stolen or taken.
And your Mac’s Time Machine backup software lets you to encrypt and add a password to your backups.
If you’re still not sure which hard drive to go with. Then pick the Seagate Expansion. It’s a well-priced basic hard disk for a Mac. And it’ll meet your needs without breaking the bank.
The Backup Plus Slim and Portable ranges have playful colors. Not mention their smart Aluminum outer cases. And you pay a little more for that.
Yes, perfect to impress your friends. But the Backup Plus Portable might be a shade too heavy for some people’s taste.
You’ll find more articles on our site that discuss these drives so take a look!
Image Credit: Certain images are reproduced by courtesy of Seagate Technologies.
About Paul Gregory
I’ve been a system administrator for various corporates for 15 years. And as admin I’ve helped many with their Mac’s and there many Apple devices.
I’m excited by watching users, armed with a little knowledge take control of their Mac’s and their files. And why not?
When I’m not at work or working on the site I like to chill with few beers. And watch a bit of car racing. From Formula 1 to stock car racing. The competition is my thing.