Wireless External Hard Drive for Mac Need to Knows B4U Buy

By Paul Gregory / September 13, 2018
WireLess External Hard Drive For Mac

With the recent news of the discontinuation of the Apple Airport Time Capsule the race is on to find an alternative wireless external hard drive for Mac.

The Apple Airport Time Capsule is much loved and will be sorely missed by its fans and me.

I explore the current contenders with the aim of finding out how they compare.

For the Impatient, who want to know now.

​And I know some of you are;

(those who want to know why, how I came to my conclusion and the important things to know when thinking of an alternative to the Airport Time Capsule, skip past and read on)

The winner in my assessment for the best wireless external hard drive for Mac is the WD My Passport Wireless Pro.

​The Best Wireless External Hard Drive for Mac

​WD My Passport Wireless Pro

For this assessment I looked at hard drives not SSD drives. I will shortly write an article on wireless SSD's soon

The current crop of wireless external hard drives have some important drawbacks for a Mac user, when compared to the Time Capsule.

Table Of Contents

External Wireless Hard Drives For Mac Need to Knows

  1. ​None of the contenders came up to the level of the Airport Time Capsule in terms of the facilities it currently offers. i.e.
  • a wireless device that offers its own Wi-Fi and pass through connection to the Internet
  • plus a backup destination for Time Machine
  • plus the ability to store and share files with Macs and PCs on the same Wi-Fi network
  • and a few other things the Time Capsule does.

(I have a full review on the Time Capsule if you want to refresh yourself).

For a Mac user that loves the Apple Time Capsule and I do it's depressing.

  1. Not one of the wireless hard drives I looked at can be used as a backup destination for Time Machine. Don't try unless you want to turn them into standard external hard drives with no Wi-Fi - and let's face it there are cheaper and better alternatives for a standard backup drive.
  2. These are not backup drives at all really. The wireless hard drives on the market are really aimed at being entertainment devices. A place to store photos, videos, music mainly. They focus on the market where streaming videos and movies over Wi-Fi is the thing. That said
  3. Apart from the WD My Passport Wireless Pro (and that product only has limited capabilities), none of the contenders do any encoding, so you need to make sure that what you are looking to view, be it photos, videos or documents they are in a format that the viewing or listening device can read. This means that the file must be in a format the mobile tablet or phone understand before you try to stream or view.
  4. None of the devices will allow you to stream iTunes purchased movies, in fact DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected media cannot be streamed by any of these devices as Apple took away that facility as of IOS 8 so unless you have a device running an earlier release of IOS you will have no joy.

If this is the reason for purchasing one of these drives, let me save you some time and frustration - don’t.

  1. Security, take care if your photos or videos or files are sensitive or you just don't fancy sharing them publicly, read what I say about each drive's security mechanisms.

The publicity for these drives make much of using a hotel's Wi-Fi or public available Wi-Fi to stream content and entertain the kids but without care you could have complete strangers enjoying your content too.

  1. I should just say this and forgive me if this is obvious. The marketing material makes much of taking these wireless external hard drives anywhere. In the wilds taking photos and want a place to offload those photos? Then here is your solution.

These drives are mechanical and a drop, or shake while in operation will likely break your drive. Ensure they are on a solid surface before you start to use, ensure air circulation to prevent overheating, and if the place you are in is extreme cold, humid, hot, wet then your drive will not do well.

SSDs (Solid State Drives) are better suited to conditions where your drive has to rough it.

Ok, so those are the need to knows so what do these drives offer?

  1. ​Personal Wi-Fi and hotspot for streaming content without needing an Internet connection.
  2. The ability to support streaming videos and movies or view photos or listen to music on multiple devices at once (how many varies by wireless drive)
  3. A place to off-load photos and free up space on your iPad or iPhone without using cloud storage. (Refer to my earlier comment on these wireless drives not being backup devices. Ensure you have a copy of your files elsewhere.)
  4. Allow you to bridge to an existing Wi-Fi with Internet connection and offer multiple devices a Wi-Fi gateway to the Internet (although streaming direct from the internet is not recommended)

Now you are aware of what these drives can offer and if you are still interested let us have a look at the top wireless external hard drives for Mac.

In the end it came down to three wireless hard drives that were worthy of consideration. The WD My Passport Wireless Pro, the LaCie Fuel and the Seagate Wireless Plus.

Wireless External Hard Drive For Mac

Top Contenders Comparison Table

​Wireless 

​Hard  Drives

​WD 

​My Passport

​ Wireless

 ​Pro

​LaCie

 Fuel

 Wireless

​Seagate

​Wireless

​Plus

​Available Capacity

1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB

​1TB, 2TB

500GB 1TB, 2TB,

Max Devices

Served

​8

5

​8

Drive Format

ExFAT

ExFAT

ExFAT

USB Connection

USB 3.0

USB 3.0

USB 3.0

​Size

5 x 5 x 0.94 in

4.5 x 4.5 x 0.9 in

​3.5 x 5 x 0.8 in


​Weight

​1 lb.

​9.7 oz.

​9.6 oz.

​Jump To Review

Now that I've given you the headlines and what to watch for let me give you a view of each of the three drives capabilities, and drawbacks.

Number One : WD My Passport Wireless Pro

​MacTakeAwayData Rank

Wireless Pro Charging

​WD My Passport Wireless Pro


Pros

  • DNLA Twonky server or Plex media server included (configurable as to which you use)
  • SD Card reader support for those photographs and videos you are wishing off load
  • Power bank capable of allowing you to charge your devices in an emergency
  • Can be purchased as a 4TB hard drive - the largest capacity of the three top wireless drives
  • Support for FTP to the wireless drive for those with cameras capable of FTP

Cons

  • ​No support for streaming DRM protected iTunes media files
  • Can't be used for Time Machine backups and use Wi-Fi
  • The largest and heaviest of the three wireless drives looked at

Summary

The WD My Passport Pro won the best wireless external hard drive for Mac and is the newest of the devices reviewed having been released to the market in 2016.

The Wireless Pro is the most flexible of the wireless hard drives I looked at.

Not only is it a wireless hard drive, the drive comes with an SD card reader slot for those of you with cameras wishing to offload photos and video onto the Wireless Pro in the field.

In additional to the SD slot, this hard drive has a USB 3.0 port and a separate USB 2.0 port.

Not only that, it is the only drive in the current field of wireless hard drives which allows you to install and configure a Plex server on the drive itself, making it much more flexible and robust as an entertainment device.

Another really useful feature is the built in power bank. This means that you can use the power stored on the Wireless Pro to charge mobile devices in a pinch. It's slow, no rapid charge but is a good feature none of the other drives have.


My Passport Wireless Pro Features

Maximum Number of Devices Supported

The headline speed is an advertised stream of up to 8 HD video's at 8 MBps HD MP4, expect fewer useable connections if you are not to max out the band width when you are streaming larger formats.

WD My Passport Wireless Wi-Fi Standards Supported

​Similar to the Apple Time Capsule the wireless pro is a dual band device and supports 802.11ac which is 5 Ghz fast Wi-Fi which the latest Macs, iPhones and iPads support. The Wireless Pro also supports 802.11n, which is a 2.4 Ghz standard for older Macs and other Apple devices.

Wi-Fi Hotspot? Pass through Mode?

​The WD My Passport Wireless hard drive supports two Wi-Fi connections modes;

  1. You can create a hotspot for devices within the 150 feet supported and devices such as your Mac, iPhone or iPad can directly connect where there is no existing Internet access or connect independent of nearby Wi-Fi. This allows you to create your own discrete network.
  2. Can connect to an existing Wi-Fi network either in your home or to an external Wi-Fi network if you are out and about, say on holiday and you wish to give multiple devices access to the Internet via the WD My Wireless Pro.

But beware if you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi say in a coffee shop then be sure to uncheck the option in the settings to share and allow public access to your data.

Who wants anyone on the coffee shop's Wi-Fi to go in and mess with your files on the Wireless Pro.

Unfortunately, there is no separate user name and password login that you can set up to protect the files on your wireless pro other than the setting on that share check box.

Connection to Mac

Wireless Pro Micro B and USB 2.0 Port

WD My Passport Wireless Pro Micro B and USB 2.0 Port

This WD My Passport is supplied with a USB 3.0 cable that has a micro B connection at one end where it connects to the wireless Pro and a USB type A port where it connects to your Mac.

Despite it being a wireless drive, like all the drives here it is best to upload your files while it is directly connected as that will offer the best speed and performance. Trying up upload terabytes of movies over Wi-Fi will surely test your patience.

For those of you with newer Macs with Thunderbolt ports you will require an adaptor cable. Thanks to USB's backwards compatibility your new Mac will be able to send files to the Wireless Pro at a speed it can support.

For those with older Macs supporting USB 2.0, they will have type A ports so you can plug right in. Again thanks to backwards compatibility you will be able to send data to the Wireless Pro at USB 2.0 speed.

Looking for more information on Mac connections and adaptors check my post on the site.

Something to note, that when you are directly connected via the USB cable to your Mac the drive's Wi-Fi will turn off. You cannot directly connect and have Wi-Fi

And watch that on connection should your Mac offer to use the drive for Time Machine backups cancel that option. This drive like all the wireless drives featured does not support Time Machine and accidental configuring for Time Machine will turn your drive into a dumb external hard drive.

How do you configure the WD My Passport Wireless Pro device?

​First time setup of the WD My Passport Wireless Pro is done easily enough, either through a browser on your Mac or you can download and use the WD My Cloud mobile App on your iPad or IPhone.

Before you start configuring and setup, download the full manual direct from the Western Digital site. The Quick Install Guide isn't going to be enough help.

Wireless Pro and Quick Install Guide

Wireless Pro and Quick Install Guide

There is a copy of the full manual on the hard drive, but you'll need to configure the device to get to it.

I've provided a link here so that you can access it. - WD Manual page

Also it is recommended you fully charge the WD My Passport Wireless Pro before you start, something you won't find out until you read the manual.

I would recommend that it is best to configure the Wireless Pro from a browser on your Mac as the WD My Cloud application does not allow you to configure and install the Plex media server via the iPad or iPhone app.

​My Passport Wireless Battery Life

Up to a claimed ten hour battery life on a full charge. This theoretical battery life is based on streaming HD 720p video, across 2.4 Ghz on a single device.

Streaming across multiple devices and using 5 Ghz will shorten the available charge of the battery.

As will using 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands at the same time, in fact to prolong battery life the manual recommends turning off one of the Wi-Fi bands.

The ability to use the WD My Passport Wireless Pro as a power bank for emergency charging of phones etc, is a boon. Though of course this will shorten the battery life.

Hard Drive Format

As delivered the WD My Passport Wireless Pro is formatted in ExFAT. Which on one hand means that it is unsuitable for Time Machine backup, on the other hand it is a format both your Mac and a PC can read and write too.

WD My Passport Wireless Pro Reliability

There seemed to be quite a few unhappy users when this drive first came onto the market and I am pleased to see user feedback has improved. Some of the unhappy reviews stem from a miss understanding of the place in the market these devices are aimed at and what these devices are capable of.

Take a look at the section toward the beginning of this article on important need to knows for a Mac user on what these drives offer. Once you understand what these drives are for, and their capabilities, you'll see that they do a decent job.

You can check the current reviews on the ​WD My Passport Wireless Pro by visiting the Amazon sales page via the button below. Scrolling down to the reviews, click on the review level you wish to look at and select recent reviews from the drop down menu.

Warranty

The WD My Passport Drive is offered with a two year Limited warranty, which is pretty reasonable for this type of consumer hard drive.

Other Nice Features of the WD My Passport Wireless Pro

SD card reader port - for those with compatible camera devices the SD 3.0 card Reader can be configured to automatically copy raw photos off the card and leave the originals intact on the SD Card. Or you can set up to move the files and clear your SD card.

Wireless Pro SD Slot

Wireless Pro SD Slot

Beware then your only copies of those files would be on the WD wireless Pro.

  • Can wirelessly stream 4k videos subject to your mobile device's support for 4K.
  • Supports FilmicPro to capture and save footage or LumaFusion to edit videos
  • Supports Adobe Creative Cloud through their My Cloud App
  • Drive lock to protect USB access if the drive is lost or stolen
  • Has the Twonky DNLA Media server installed by default. As part of the initial setup you can install the Plex Media server instead of Twonky. Do note that the Plex media sever and the Twonky DNLA server cannot be enabled at the same time.
  • Has support for FTP for wireless cameras that support FTP

The WD My Wireless Pro allows you to keep the My Passport wireless connected to a power outlet while streaming video or transferring a lot of data over Wi-Fi, this means that you should not run out of charge with multiple users using the wireless drive part way through their movies, videos or listening to music.

I found their Online Learning Center, questions and answers help area very useful and easy to use.

In the Box

  • ​WD My Passport Wireless Pro drive
  • USB cable
  • USB power adaptor
  • Quick Install Guide

YouTube Video

I thought you may enjoy watching this short YouTube video and see how the WD My Passport arrives and what is in the box.

WD My Passport Wireless Pro Hard Drive Unboxing

Video Credit: Officeworks

​Number Two : LaCie Fuel Wireless

​MacTakeAwayData Rank

LaCie Fuel On The Go

​​LaCie Fuel Wireless


​Pros

  • Airplay Compatible
  • DNLA support, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and Roku
  • Add files using Dropbox or Google Drive

Cons

  • ​This drive also has no support for streaming DRM protected iTunes purchased files
  • Can't be used as a destination for Time Machine backups
  • 802.11 b/g/n support only
  • The Seagate Media App has poor reviews on the Apple App Store

Summary

Released to the market in 2014, the LaCie Fuel is the first product collaboration between Seagate and LaCie since Seagate bought LaCie. The LaCie Fuel achieves the runner up position in the wireless external hard drive for Mac.

The Fuel Wireless is a very similar product to the Seagate Wireless.

Indeed internally they use the same hard drive.

The LaCie Fuel drive is formatted to ExFAT, which is a more useful format for Mac. You use and configure the LaCie Fuel via a browser on Mac or PC. You use the Seagate Media App on mobile devices such as your iPad or iPhone.

You will need separate media encoding software to change file formats if the file you wish to play isn't supported on your device - there is nothing on the LaCie that will do that for you.

I like the orange/gun metal grey look and the hole that gives it that go anywhere rugged look. It's by far and away the snazziest looking of the three wireless drives. Airplay compatible.


​LaCie Fuel Wireless Features

Maximum Number of Devices Supported

​This varies so it's worth understanding what this device is capable of.

The headline figure is that the LaCie Fuel will Wi-Fi share with up to 5 devices via a mobile app.

For streaming HD movies you can stream up to 3 devices at the same time.

You can connect the LaCie to nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and then provide Internet access for up to 4 devices.

The combination of what your connected devices are doing will affect the maximum devices you can support on the LaCie Fuel.

LaCie Fuel Wi-Fi Standards Supported

​The LaCie Fuel supports the Wi-Fi standards of 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n so you don't have the speed bump of 802.11ac offered by the WD My Passport drive. Although your newer 802.11ac supporting Macs, iPads and iPhones can use this slower standard.

The slower Wi-Fi standard is worth bearing in mind if you connect to your mobile devices to your home Wi-Fi via the LaCie. If you have a good router and decent Internet bandwidth, the slower interface offered by the LaCie Fuel may be very noticeable. And you may well prefer direct connecting to your routers Wi-Fi.

The claimed maximum Wi-Fi range 150 feet which is pretty decent.

Note 1080i or p videos need greater bandwidth than this device supports and may well not play at all.

Wi-Fi Hotspot? Pass through Mode?

​Similar to the WD My Passport the LaCie Fuel will happily create its own Wi-Fi hotspot so you don't have to be connected to the Internet to use and can use this device independently in the wild.

It will also connect to an existing Wi-Fi network and allow connected devices to connect to the Internet.

LaCie Fuel Connection to Mac

​Similar to the WD My Passport, LaCie recommends that you directly connect the Fuel to a computer with a browser to configure and to upload content.

Again the user manual is on the drive itself, which you'll need to have up and running so that you can get to the manual.

Here is a link so that you can download it ahead of time. - link to LaCie Manual

Similar to all the other drives the Quick Start Guide is brief and it is well worth reading the manual to be sure to set up the LaCie Fuel correctly.

Physical connection to a Mac is via USB.

LaCie Fuel USB 3.0 Connection

LaCie Fuel USB 3.0 Connection

The LaCie supports USB 3.0 with a micro B type connection at the LaCie fuel end and a type A connection at the Mac end.

Again for those of you with Macs that only have Thunderbolt connection you will need an adaptor or a specific cable that has a Micro B type connection at one end and Thunderbolt at the other. Then you will enjoy the backwards compatibility offered by USB and your Mac will transfer files to the LaCie Fuel at USB 3.0 speed.

USB is far and away the faster method of uploading a large number of files compared to Wi-Fi.

If you would like to find out more about USB connections to Mac then have a look at my article 'Connect an External Hard Drive to Mac, 12 things to know'

When the LaCie is directly connected to a Mac, it acts just like a normal hard drive. With pretty decent hard drive performance however Wi-Fi is disabled, meaning the direct connection capability is really aimed at uploading content.

Should your Mac offer to use this drive with Time Machine when you directly connect refuse. If your Mac configures this drive for use with Time Machine then you will be stuck trying to recreate it back to its original out of the box state so you can use it as a wireless hard drive.

How do you configure the LaCie Fuel?

​Basically, with your Mac. The LaCie needs a Wi-Fi enabled device with a web browser for configuration. Work through the manual to correctly configure the LaCie and add a password to protest the Fuel on public Wi-Fi.

The LaCie uses the Seagate Media App on an iPad and iPhone to view, upload and download content to the LaCie Fuel

Seagate Media App

Seagate Media App

Uses the Seagate Media Sync software on Mac to set up a media synchronization plan. Synchronize the files that an iPad can view, set up a plan to synchronize new files and folders to be automatically sync from your Mac to the LaCie or if the files are uploaded from iPad or your iPhone they can be synchronized back to your Mac so that copies are consistent across all the platforms.

The Seagate Media Sync application is not available from the Apple App store, it is a downloadable piece of software direct from the downloads area of the Seagate website.

This synchronization can only be done with the LaCie Fuel directly connected to your Mac.

So thinking about this rationally, the pros of this is that you will have consistent copies of photos, video's and documents across your devices, however if you are using the LaCie to offload content then you could risk filling up the drive space on your Mac when it syncs back.

But then if you are using the LaCie Fuel to offload media files then you'd better have a copy of your media files elsewhere - just in case.

And this software does help in this instance. If you have a separate external hard drive connected to your Mac you can set up the Seagate Media Sync to synchronize/copy across files so you have a backup of the files on the Fuel.

The Seagate Media App does allow you to set a drive password for the LaCie Fuel, which is great when you are connected to public Wi-Fi or even home Wi-Fi and you don't want viewers of the files and photos you have on the wireless drive.

Though I thought it was worrying to note that a restore of the Fuel to its factory settings preserves your files but removes the password set - supposedly useful if you forget your password, not so useful if you misplace your drive or have it stolen, all that has to be done is reset your LaCie to its factory settings and the thief has access to your data!

Security is a short coming on all these wireless drives.

Unfortunately the user reviews on the App Store of the Seagate Media App - the method for viewing media on iPhones and iPads are not great with some unhappy users.

LaCie Battery Life

​Putting the LaCie on power to charge up (takes about four hours) before use is recommended, before attempting to use and configure the hard drive.

The LaCie Fuel offers ten hours of battery life fully charged, however this drops to eight hours of battery life maximum when continuously streaming video.

Similar to the Seagate, the LaCie goes into standby mode when inactive for five minutes but wakes up again as soon as it is accessed.

High resolution videos will see your LaCie offering you even less battery time.

When the LaCie fuel is charging the Wi-Fi is automatically turned off and there is no way round this. In addition the LaCie Fuel is recommended to be turned off while it is being charged.

So for all those who are having problems with short battery life on their LaCie Fuels hoping to keep the wireless hard drive plugged in while streaming, there is no answer there for you.

Personally I feel this is short coming because like all Lithium batteries they do come with a repeat charging life span, these batteries are not user replaceable and you can't even get round this buy keeping a failing battery on charge. This just adds to the throw away society we're in.

LaCie Fuel Wireless

LaCie Fuel Hard Drive Format

Similar to the WD My Passport the LaCie is formatted out of the box as ExFAT so can be read by a Mac and PC. Again this device is not recommended for Time Machine backups - not if you wish to still use its Wi-Fi capabilities. Yes you can plug the drive directly on your Mac's USB and format to HSF+ but that then turns this drive into a normal hard drive and you lose Wi-Fi.

If you want a normal hard drive for your Mac I'd suggest you go ahead and buy one rather than spending extra on a wireless drive.

Reliability

​Recent reviews are a little patchy. You can check on them by visiting the products sales page of the ​LaCie Fuel Wireless on Amazon via the button below. Scroll down to the reviews, select to view all the reviews and use the button to sort by most recent.

I think as long as you understand what the LaCie Fuel is capable of, read the manual carefully, download the latest firmware for the Fuel you'll have a decent product.

LaCie Fuel Warranty

​Similar to the WD My Passport and the Seagate Wireless Plus the LaCie is sold with two years limited warranty. And I suggest you keep it close to you just in case you're unlucky enough to get a rogue unit.

In the Box

  • ​LaCie Fuel Mobile Wireless external hard drive
  • USB 3.0 cable
  • Power Adaptor
  • Quick Install Guide

YouTube Video on the LaCie Fuel

​Here is a short promotional video on the LaCie Fuel to introduce you to the wireless hard drive. Enjoy.

Meet LaCie Fuel : Portable Wireless Storage

Video Credit LaCie

Number Three : Seagate Wireless Plus

​MacTakeAwayData Rank

Seagate Wireless Plus Box

​​Seagate Wireless Plus


Pros

  • ​Connects to Airplay devices and supports DNLA, and Samsung Smart TV
  • Dropbox and Google Drive support to download and upload files
  • Smallest, lightest of the three wireless hard drives

Cons

  • ​Unable to stream DRM protected iTunes media files.
  • Not for Time Machine backups
  • Wi-Fi support for 802.11 b/g/n only
  • The Seagate Media App has poor reviews

Summary

The Seagate Wireless Plus matches the LaCie in that it was released to the market in 2014 and is placed third for a wireless external hard drive for Mac. The Wireless Plus replaces Seagate's previous wireless product the Go Flex Satellite Mobile Wireless storage - yes quite a mouthful.

Though internally the Wireless Plus uses the same hard drive the look is quite different and so are some of the features. NTFS formatted, the Paragon driver is needed for a Mac to write to this drive.

This mean's that for a Mac user to be able to upload files by direct connection (and that is the recommended way to upload files) you will need a compatible version of the driver for your Mac's operating system.

On a Mac and a PC the Seagate Wireless Plus is accessed via a browser, the Seagate Media App is used for mobile devices.

Available in 500GB, the smallest capacity available of the three wireless hard drives picked.


​Seagate Wireless Plus Features

Maximum Number of Devices Supported

​Use the Seagate Wireless Plus as a Wi-Fi hub and you can connect up to 8 devices at the same time. The Wireless Plus will stream to up to five devices at the same time. More devices than are supported on the LaCie Fuel.

Seagate Wireless Plus Wi-Fi Standards Supported

​The same as the LaCie Fuel, the Seagate Wireless Plus supports 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n for Wi-Fi. New Macs, iPads and iPhones supporting 802.11ac will be able to talk to this slower standard.

However, as I said for the LaCie Fuel, if you have a decent router, and broadband and newer 802.11ac devices you may well find the Seagate Wireless a bottleneck for Wi-Fi access due to its support of the slower standards. Direct connect to your Wi-Fi router will most likely be the way to go for pure Internet access when you have good Wi-Fi available.

Wi-Fi Hotspot? Pass through Mode?

​The same as the WD My Passport and the LaCie Fuel, the Seagate Wireless Plus can create its own Wi-Fi network for when you are somewhere using the wireless drive and there is no Wi-Fi available, or you decide not to connect to the available Wi-Fi.

In addition, you are able to connect to an existing Wi-Fi network and allow connected devices access to the Internet via the Wireless Plus.

You can create a password for the wireless drive so that only users who know the password can access the drive. A plus for connecting the Wireless Plus up to public Wi-Fi and keeping your data safe.

Interestingly a reset of the Seagate Wireless Plus does not seem to lose the configuration on the drive so the password protection should be retained.

The supported range of the Wi-Fi is the same as the LaCie and is up to 150 feet.

However Seagate specifically state that they do not recommend you stream movies from the Internet while connected to the Wireless Plus.

And I suspect the same is true for the other wireless hard drives also.

Seagate Wireless Plus Connection to Mac

Seagate Wireless Plus USB Port

Seagate Wireless Plus USB Port

Just like the WD My Passport Wireless Plus and the LaCie Fuel the Seagate Wireless Plus supports USB 3.0. Again like the other two drives the cable is a micro B connection at the Seagate Wireless Plus end, type A at the Mac end.

USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 for those older Macs out there.

The answer is the same should you have a Mac with Thunderbolt only connections, you will need an adaptor cable. See my article on Connecting a hard drive to Mac to find out what you will need.

Directly connecting the Seagate Wireless Plus via USB to your Mac turns off the Wi-Fi as it does on the WD My Passport Plus and the LaCie Fuel.

How do you configure the device?

​I strongly suggest that you download the full Seagate manual from their support site as you are going it to need to set up the drive and your copy is on the hard drive.

Access it here and choose to save as a PDF (the option is at the top of the screen) - Seagate Wireless Plus manual

Similar to the WD My Passport you will need a browser on your Mac to set up the Seagate Wireless Plus, and stream movies.

And you will need to download the Seagate Media app on your iPad or iPhone to stream or view files on the Seagate Wireless Plus.

The manual suggests direct connection to USB 3.0 for uploading media onto your Seagate Wireless Plus and that has to be the way to go. Don't try uploading lots of files over Wi-Fi.

But when you connect the Wireless Plus to your Mac, should Time Machine start up and suggest to use the drive for Time Machine click no to refuse.

Do not use this drive for Time Machine backup

If you accidentally allow your Mac to use this drive for Time Machine and it formats the drive for Time Machine you will need to find a PC to use to reformat the drive back to NTFS.

And you will have lost the manual and the Paragon driver and will need to download those separately from the Seagate site.

However unlike the WD My Passport when the drive is connected via USB the drive can get its power from the computer (assuming you have connected it to a USB 3.0 port. A USB 2.0 port will be unable to power this drive).

The Paragon driver is installed on the drive and will need to be installed on your Mac.

Also when directly connected you can only upload files to the Seagate Wireless Plus, you cannot download from the Wireless Plus to your computer. Only in Wifi mode.

The same as the LaCie Fuel you can download the Seagate Media Sync software direct from the Seagate Support downloads site onto your Mac and directly connect the Seagate Wireless Plus and a second external hard drive and create a copy of the files on the drive.

And at least that way you will have backups of your files should the Seagate fail. And lets face it all hard drives get old and fail at some point.

Battery Life

As with all the devices looked at, fully charge before attempting to use or configure. The battery will allow up to 10 hours with one user streaming.

More users streaming or viewing HD movies will greatly shorten the available viewing time.

After five minutes of inactivity the Seagate Wireless will enter a standby state (the same as the LaCie Fuel) but will automatically reactivate as soon as someone accesses it.

The Seagate Wireless Plus will charge (slowly) while connected to your computer's USB 3.0 port.

A plus is that the drive will work wirelessly while charging, great if you don't want a break for charging while watching a video.

Seagate Wireless Plus

Hard Drive Format

​The Seagate Wireless Plus is formatted to NTFS file system. By default a Mac can read a NTFS formatted drive but cannot write to it.

You will need to use the Paragon driver so that you can use the drive on your Mac and upload files.

And definitely no Time Machine support

Seagate Expansion Reliability

​I am sorry to say similar to the LaCie Fuel feedback is patchy on this drive, particularly for those with Apple devices. It is important to know that none of these devices will play DRM protected files from iTunes, Apple took away that capability at IOS 8. It is important to understand just like the other two drives I've discussed what the drives are capable of and if you have a specific question on formats supported double check the manual and the Seagate website - a link to the manual is above.

Check the latest reviews on Amazon by taking the button link below to the ​Seagate Wireless Plus product page, scrolling down to the reviews, click the option to see all the reviews and select the box for the recent reviews.

Warranty

​The same as the WD My Passport and the LaCie Fuel ,a two year limited warranty is sold with the Seagate Wireless Plus hard drive.

In the Box

  • ​The Seagate Wireless Plus drive
  • USB 3.0 cable
  • USB wall charger
  • Quick Start Guide

YouTube Video on the Seagate Wireless Plus

​For those interested in how the Seagate Wireless Plus arrives here is a short unboxing video. Hope you like it.

Seagate Wireless Plus 2TB Unboxing

Video Credit: Santertainment

Other Wireless External Hard Drives for Mac that did not make the Grade

Seagate Wireless Portable

Capacity 500GB, NTFS file system so requires the Paragon driver for Mac, USB 2.0 connection which is a slow connection, supports up to three devices. 10 hours battery life, Uses the Seagate Media App.

This didn't make the grade because needing the Paragon to connect to Mac I think is a short coming and because of the slower USB 2.0 connection.

Toshiba Canvio AeroCast Wireless

​Capacity 1TB, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi support, NTFS file system so requires the Tuxera NTFS driver on a Mac, USB 3.0, supports up to 4 users. 5 hours battery life, SD card reader, uses the Google Cast app.

The AeroCast Wireless didn't make the grade for me because of the need for the Tuxera NTFS driver before you can connect to a Mac and the short battery life.

Asus Travelair

​Capacity 1TB, NTFS file system, USB 3.0, will stream up to 5 devices. 8 hours battery life, SD card reader, uses the AiDrive app available from the Apple app store.

The Asus Travelair didn't make the grade for me again because of the NTFS file system needing a driver for Mac and general lack of information around using this drive on a Mac. If you have a Windows PC then you may well like this drive.

Last Words

​And there you have it. My best advice on a wireless external hard drive for Mac. I truly hope this article has saved you some time and effort and you appreciate the research that has gone into it. Choose any of the top three, depending on your requirement and the cost when you come to buy but for me the WD My Passport Wireless is the clear winner, in useability, flexibility and feedback when used on a Mac.

​Images Credit: Certain images reproduced by courtesy of Seagate Technology.

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