Friday, January 25, 2013

Go-flex lives on in the form of USM

It seemed as if the Seagate line of portable Go-Flex have been discontinued. You can often find 1TB Go-Flex drives in the bargain bins of Target for as low as $39.99. At first, I was very disappointed. I invested in a few Go-Flex docks and adapters; including the Thunderbolt Adapter.

To my surprise, my fears were misplaced. Go-Flex lives on but in a different name and different format. It is thinner, smaller and more compact. It is called USM (Universal Storage Module). In fact, there is a newer Thunderbolt Adapter (STAE128 instead of the STAE121). Seagate didn't do a good job of informing the consumer about this.

Well today, I picked up a USM drive and I didn't even know about it. The Go-Flex drives have been replaced by the new line of Backup Plus drives. They're thinner and more compact as seen below.

Compared to an original Go-Flex drive.

Here it is attached with older Go-Flex attachments like the Thunderbolt STAE121 adapter.

Old Go-Flex Firewire adapter works just as fine.

As I wrote earlier, Seagate didn't do a good job of informing consumers about USM.  After a few googling, a few other companies are implementing the USM format. Here are some examples of other USM products in the market place. There are Pogo plugged devices, desktop computers with slide-able docking bays, media players and NAS servers that now employ USM.

(image from Anandtech)

USM is basically a small format enclosure for 2.5" drives. They have interchangeable dock connections via standard SATA. The key thing is the standardized size.

When you look for an enclosure or portable drive, give USM a consideration. The ability to switch between USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, direct SATA and future connectors is pretty compelling.

Some reading links on USM:


  1. Lots of good stuff on your blog.
    Until now I have been looking at your posts on external thunderbolt; and I see that you have other interesting posts as well! :-)

    Just wonder if you have tested to access any of the thunderbolt drives from Linux, preferably from a real machine and not a VM?

    There are quite a few posts on the net talking about Thundbolt display support on Linus, but few talking about HD access.

    Have read a few scattered posts on Linux kernel support for Thunderbolt, but never seen if it is actually possible to access a external HD on Linux via Thunderbolt . . .

    Is that something you could check out? :-)

    In any cases, thanks for your interesting posts!

    Best regards from another
    forty something
    Mallorca, Spain

    1. There is experimental support for Thunderbolt on the newer kernel found in Ubuntu 12.10 and up. Hot-plugging of devices (ethernet/storage) doesn't work. Cold-plug apparently works sometimes. I'm definitely going to look into this. I have a Gigabyte motherboard and I will get around to installing Linux Mint 14 and report back.

  2. Hello.
    Can you write a followup to this about Seagates abandonment of the USM standard.
    Recently they introduced a new line of Backup Pluses.
    The old ones were STBU1000200 (where 1000 is 1TB and 200 is black).
    The new ones are STDR1000200 (for 1TB black).
    The bad part is these aren't even standard SATA drives on the inside. They have the USB controller and connector soldered directly on the harddrive board.
    I think this is a sad step in the wrong direction.
    I researched quite a bit on the USM standard and suppliers so if you want we can talk about it through email at: a[period]mypublicemail[period]a[at]gmail[period]com

    1. Alex, they didn't abandon it. They changed the names quite a bit. It is called the Backup Plus now.