Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus Who’s on Top For Mac

By Paul Gregory / October 3, 2019
Seagate Expansion vs Backup Plus

Which is better. Seagate Expansion or Backup Plus. Are you turning this question over your mind?

When judging the Seagate Expansion vs Backup Plus. Which is better for you and your Mac?

Put your feet up and read my research on the pros and cons of each.

Pros of the Seagate Expansion

Pros of the Backup Plus

Cons of the Seagate Expansion

Cons of the Backup Plus

Seagate Backup Plus vs Expansion Quick Facts

The Expansion is the budget drive. With the Backup Plus drives priced higher. The Backup Plus Slim and Ultra Touch are smaller and lighter 4.5 oz and 5.3 oz. Versus the Expansion at 6 oz (1 and 2TB). The Backup Plus Portable is the heaviest at 9.3 oz.

The warranty on your Expansion is 1 Year versus the 2 year warranty on the Backup Plus drives.

Verdict on the Seagate Expansion Vs Backup Plus

When you 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 ExFAT formatting means connecting to your Mac and a Windows PC is an advantage,
  • 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 Backup Plus Slim’s ExFAT formatting. Or the smart colors of the Backup Plus drives. Then the Seagate Expansion, with more storage options wins out. 


Watch this YouTube Backup Plus Video

This short, 36 second YouTube video allows you a 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



Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Red

Take a look at the Backup Plus Slim on Amazon



Seagate Expansion vs Backup Plus Features

Taking a look at how these two types of external portable drives compare will help you pick.

Choose what is a benefit for you. Your situation 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 basic entry level drive.

The Backup Plus is 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 drive.

Seagate has a few drives in the Backup Plus range.

The top of the range is the Backup Plus Ultra Touch. It’s the slimmest, lightest and generally the priciest portable drive. It’s only available in 1TB and 2TB

Then you’ll find the Backup Plus Slim.

Next you’ll find the Backup Plus Portable. A drive with the largest storage capacity options of the Backup Plus Portable range. You can buy the Backup Plus Portable come in 4TB or 5TB.

At a Glance Comparison

Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus

You’ll find in the tables below the main differences between the Expansion and Backup Plus external hard drives.

Seagate Expansion Backup Plus Slim
Format NTFS ExFAT
Colors Black Black, Blue, Red, Silver
Capacity 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB and 5TB 1TB or 2TB
Warranty 1 Year 2 Years

Ultra Touch Backup Plus Portable
Format NTFS NTFS
Colors White, Black Blue, Silver, Black
Capacity 1TB or 2TB 4TB or 5TB
Warranty 2 Years 2 Years
Seagate Expansion 4TB

Have a look at what the users have to say about the Seagate Expansion on Amazon

Plugging Your Backup Plus or Expansion into Your Mac

Both the Backup Plus and the Seagate Expansion are USB 3.0 type drives.

Both drives are USB powered.

This means that the USB cable takes the power from your Mac to run these external portables.

And on both drives you’ll find an 18 inch USB cable.

Backup Plus USB Cable
Expansion and Backup Plus USB Cable

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 USB cable.

So you can put your drive further away than 18 inches from your Mac.

The USB cables are standard.

So any USB 3.0 cable with type A at one end and type B Micro at the other end will do.

Plugging Both Drives Into your Early Mac

For your early Mac with USB 2.0 ports. The USB 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 backward compatible

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.

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.

Thunderbolt Port on Mac

Plugging into Even Newer Macs With Thunderbolt USB C ports

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.

USB C Thunderbolt 3 Ports

Backwards compatibility of the USB standards is your friend. Because your Mac will send your files to both the Backup Plus. Or the Expansion Portable at USB 3.0 speed.

But you’ll need an adaptor cable to plug in:

  • the Expansion Portable or
  • the Backup Plus Slim or
  • Backup Plus Portable

into your Mac.

Because although there is compatibility the plugs 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 with an adaptor for USB C plug in.

You’ll find 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.

Plugging in your Seagate Expansion versus your Backup Plus is just as easy. 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 your external hard drive.

Seagate Expansion YouTube Video

I thought you might enjoy taking a look at this Seagate Expansion YouTube Video. Because it shows you the drive itself. And you’ll see it attached 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 storage.

The Seagate Expansion goes all the way up to 5TB for when you need much larger capacity.

Seagate Expansion Portable1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
Backup Plus Slim Capacity1TB, 2TB

You’ll find inside their beautiful cases equal quality drives.

So there’s not 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 Touch1TB or 2TB
Backup Plus Portable4TB and 5TB

Expansion vs Backup Plus Working on Your Mac

You’ll find the out of the box format of these drives means your Mac treats them different.

Seagate Expansion v Backup Plus Formats When you Buy

Seagate ExpansionNTFS
Backup Plus SlimExFAT

Formats of the Ultra Touch and Portable

Backup Plus Ultra TouchNTFS
Backup Plus PortableNTFS

Out of the box your Seagate Expansion Portable is formatted as NTFS

Macs can read NTFS external drives. But cannot write to them unless

a. You reformat

b. You have a software driver to allow you to read and write to the drive.

Choosing to format your Seagate Expansion is a quick thing to do and only takes 5 or so minutes.

Your Backup Plus Slim drive comes out of its box formatted as ExFAT

Your Mac and a Windows PC can read and write to an ExFAT drive.

This means you can plug your Backup Plus Slim straight into your Mac and drag and drop your files to. Or copy and paste your files to the hard drive.

But ExFAT is not a format your Mac can use to backup too. 

Do you plan to use your Backup Plus Slim for a Time Machine backup of your Mac?  Then you’ll need to reformat to the Mac’s HFS+ file system.

Backup Plus Ultra Touch and Backup Plus Portable Formats

You’ll find both these drives come out of their box formatted as NTFS.

Just like the Seagate Expansion you’ll need to format or use a software driver for both these drives on your Mac.

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 is connected.

Both the Backup Plus and Seagate Expansion will show up as a drive Icon on your Mac’s desktop.

Your Mac may well see your Seagate Expansion is NTFS formatted. And ask you if you would like it to format it.

Your Backup Plus Slim is in ExFAT format. 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 what ever file you want.

But if you plan to use your Seagate Backup Plus for Time Machine. Then you’ll also need to reformat your Backup Plus.

Want find out how to do that? Take a look at my article here.

Seagate Expansion Easy Connection to Mac

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?

Size Weight
Seagate Expansion 1TB, 2TB 4.7in x 3.2in x 0.6in 6 oz
Backup Plus Slim 1TB or 2TB 4.52in x 3.1in x 0.5in 4.5 oz
Size Weight
Seagate Expansion 4 or 5TB 4.7in x 3.2in x 0.8in 8.4 oz
Ultra Touch 4.52in x 3.1in x 0.5in 5.32 oz
Backup Plus Portable 4.52in x 3.2in x 0.83in 9.3 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.

Both the Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus are marketed as portable.

But neither of these 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 diamond pattern on the case. And your Expansion portable only comes in Black.

Seagate Expansion 4TB

Now in contrast the Backup Plus have 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.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1tb colors

Will it be the colors of the Backup Plus that sways you from the Expansion Portable?

Without doubt the Backup Plus’s are the snappier looking external drives.

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 type drive and the Backup Plus Portable.

Here is a link to the test results page. Take a look.

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 external hard drives are 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.







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.

Seagate Backup Plus Quick Start Guide

The Ultra Touch has a USB C adaptor in the box and free download of the Paragon NTFS software driver for Mac.

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 for the Backup Plus Slim. You can use the link below to see its Manual.

Seagate Backup Plus Manual

Using the Seagate Expansion v Backup Plus on a Mac

Let me give you a guide on how easy they are to use on a Mac.

Dragging and Dropping Or Copying and Pasting on your Mac

Once you format your Seagate Expansion or Backup Plus Portable for your Mac. You can copy and paste your photos, music or documents. Or use it for your Time Machine backup.

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 advantage of using on a Windows PC as well. For when you plan on sharing your files with a PC.

Backup with Time Machine

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 if you know how.

You can find out how to format your Seagate Expansion for backing up your Mac, in my article here.

For the Backup Plus you can learn how to format here.

Want to share either drive with a Windows PC?

Your Backup Plus Slim comes ready to share with a Windows PC and a Mac.

You’ll need to format your Seagate Expansion to ExFAT to share the drive between your Mac and a Windows PC. The same for the Backup Plus Portable.

Seagate Expansion vs Backup Plus Security

You won’t find any special security hardware or software on either drive.

But your Mac’s operating system there for you. There is 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 securing all your files should you loose your drives.

Plus your Mac’s backup software, Time Machine allows you to encrypt and add a password to your backups.

So when you compare all drive on drive security they’re tied.

Last Words

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found my article ‘Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus Who is on Top For Mac’ valuable.

Please feel free to look at my other articles on the site.

Related Articles

If you want a detailed look at the Seagate Expansion you can take a look at the review article here

If you’d like a more detailed look at the Seagate Backup Plus Slim. Head on over to the review article here.




Image Credit: Certain images are reproduced by courtesy of Seagate Technologies.