The act of backing up audio, video, photos and other important files always seems to be an afterthought. In other words, you don’t really think about it until everything is gone. Baby videos, vacation photos, and a lifetime’s worth of music could all be gone in a flash. Yes, accidents happen and most people never think about prevention until they’re crying over a burnt hard drive.
Of course, maybe backup wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it were more seamless and actually made some of those goodies available for daily use. Get it together, people—literally. The Seagate Central provides a place to back up everything, organizes that stored content, and actually makes it available from almost anywhere.
Simple Central Setup
Just as an FYI: This entire review was completed using an iPhone 4 and two Windows PCs (one with XP, one with Windows 8), so that’s the perspective I’ll be describing throughout. However, it’s important to know that the Central is compatible with Mac and Android devices as well.
The Central’s setup process is so insanely easy, there aren’t even any words in the manual. Instead, it’s just two pictures. The compact box plugs into your router via an Ethernet cable and plugs into the wall with the included power cord. There is no wireless option on this model. The Central also has a USB 2.0 port on the back. However, this is strictly for connecting an external hard drive. The Central isn’t designed to be hooked directly to your PC.
As soon as everything is connected, the rest of the setup process is completed online and takes all of 5 minutes. From there, the Central is set up and ready to be filled. The Central is available in 2TB (MSRP: $174.99), 3TB ($189.99) and 4TB ($269.99) models, with several ways to make content available for sharing. Windows users will be able to see the Central on the network, right under the list of networked devices in Windows Explorer. Anyone with a computer on the network can easily add, delete or use whatever goodies you have stored, without any special software. Just drag and drop it.
Once you leave the house, there are several other ways to take the Central along for the ride.
Of course, we’ve all heard the expression “you can’t take it with you.” Them’s fightin’ words, when it comes to the Seagate Central. The box makes all of its stored, shared content available to users both in and outside of the home. Because let’s face it: You’re going to want to leave the house eventually. (It’s true!) However, you’re not going to want to load all of your music, photos and other important digital tidbits onto a laptop or thumb drive. Thankfully, the Seagate Central can be accessed remotely in a few ways.
First, you can tap into every single item on the Central via a good, old web browser. The Seagate Central has its own website, which allows users to log in and access the Central like you’re sitting in your living room. Of course, the interface isn’t as easy as drag-and-drop. You’ll actually have to click things! However, you can access absolutely everything that’s stored. Also worth noting is that you can view photos and slideshows, as well as stream music and videos right through the web browser. The quality may vary, based on your connection speed. However, I didn’t have any problems streaming content through the web.
Besides providing a remote way to access stored content, this interface allows users to download files (if you need them on a remote device) or share them through Facebook, Flickr or YouTube. Of course, users can also upload new material through the web interface.
If you want to tap into your Central box from a portable, Seagate does have a free app for iOS and Android devices. This allows users to stream music, photos and video from the box, but it’s slightly more limited.
For me, photos and music were pretty seamless on my iPhone. However, every time I tried to check out a video, I received a message saying that it needed to be downloaded first. According to Seagate tech support, the app will actually download video files to your preferred mobile device. Those files will then live on that device, until you delete them. Not to worry, though; if you delete the files from your smartphone or tablet, you won’t be deleting them from the Seagate Central. However, once you delete the file, you’ll need to download it again to view it through the app. The download process varied with my file sizes, with some being extremely slow. However, once the videos are loaded, they should play without any buffering issues.
Something else worth noting is that app will only provide access to the Central’s Public folder. So while computers can see and access other folders you create on the Seagate Central, only the Public folder can be accessed through the app. Also, even though you can access all of those goodies remotely, you can’t upload anything to the Central through the iOS app. The only way to do that remotely is through the aforementioned web-based interface.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.