Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus pull apart – what’s the difference?

seagate 2


Seagate make two external USB drives.  The Seagate Backup Plus and the Seagate Expansion.  They are both USB 3 compatible.  They both come with a three-year warranty in Australia, although in the USA the expansion only has a 1 year warranty.  The Backup Plus model costs $20 more.  A lot of reviewers say that the backup plus is more reliable (e.g. this one). But is there any difference?   I pulled them apart to see!

What I bought.

I went down to our local Officeworks store and bought a 2TB Seagate backup plus for $129 and  a 2TB  Seagate expansion for $109.

Two Seagate drives

I opened them up to see what was different, and did some tests.

Here is what I found…

 What’s inside?

 It turns out the hard drives are exactly the same!

Compare Seagate drives

On the left is the drive out of the Seagate Backup Plus,  it is labelled ‘Desktop HDD’.

On the right is the drive out of the Seagate expansion.  It is labelled ‘Barracuda’.

But take a look at the model number ( you may need to click on the picture to enlarge it).  They both have exactly the same model number –  ST2000DM001.  This is Seagate’s low-cost desktop hard drive.

 So the Seagate backup plus and the Seagate expansion have exactly the same hard disk drive inside them.

In terms of  hard disk reliability, seek times and so forth  it makes no difference whether you get the backup plus or the expansion.

For this reason,  if you are just connecting them to your Apple Macintosh computer to use as an external hard drive for some extra room,  or to backup,  it doesn’t make a difference what model you purchase.

The names are misleading…

You can use the ‘Backup Plus’ for expansion.

You can use the ‘Expansion’ for backup.

So are there any differences?


13 responses to “Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus pull apart – what’s the difference?”

  1. Sammy

    Seagate states that the Newer model Expansion portable and Expansion desktop drives are compatible with Windows image backup.

    Windows Image Backup in Windows 7 will not support any Seagate Backup Plus drives, GoFlex drives that exceed 2.1TB (3TB and 4TB models), or older model Expansion Portable and Desktop drives (along with most other external drives that exceed 2.1TB in size).


    1. Those Seagate drives that you have mentioned all work on Macintosh computers. The 2 drives I have mentioned in this article (Expansion and Backup Plus) are exactly the same in every way. Thanks for the feedback. It’s something for Windows users to be aware of.

    2. dave

      That’s not really true, Seagate only means “support” in the most simple of terms meaning “will you not have to do anything more”.

      You can in fact use them, if you merely put a 2TB partition on there and format to 512K block size. It’s just the factory formatting that differs with their older models having 4K blocks.

  2. Mohsen Kheyrabadi

    Hello! Can you tell me what HDD is inside? does it is ST2000LM015? I want to upgrade my laptop HDD. Seagate external hard Drives are cheaper than 2.5″ HDDs like barracuda in amazon. if inside of a Seagate Expansion is a barracuda HDD, I simply can buy it and then i have a free Enclosure. what’s your opinion? Thanks!

    1. Yes this is a good option. The hard drive in the photo is the one from the external drive and if you can get it cheaper than an internal drive definitely go for it. It is exactly the same drive.

    2. Dave

      Don’t do it! There is such a massive difference in performance between a mechanical 2.5″ HDD and the MUCH faster SSD alternative, that I could never recommend putting a new mechanical HDD in a laptop. If the SSD capacity is below the requirements, add an SD card to supplement your storage space, or offload some to a USB external, anything besides continuing to run daily operations off a lowly mechanical HDD. It will feel like a brand new laptop in comparison, changing to SSD for OS & apps.

      1. Very good point – this article is quite old now – SSD is definitely the way to go.

  3. John Parkar

    I have also done the same mistake while getting the hard drives. I got confused between both of the versions of Seagate HDDs. But after buying I verified it through that both of them are the same with just different names and packaging.

  4. Dave

    You have overlooked something. The Expansion comes with only a 1.5A to 2.0A AC/DC adapter while the Backup Plus comes with a 3A adapter.

    The reason for the extra 1A+ is to support the two USB 3.0 ports on the Backup Plus, and those USB ports themselves are a reason a buyer might prefer the Backup Plus, but a side effect is that if you aren’t pulling much (if any) current from the USB ports, all else equal the larger PSU will provide cleaner power and have a longer lifespan.

    It probably won’t matter if your use is to plug it in, make a backup then power it off so it is usually powered off, but if you keep it running then over time that can add up. I often find that the wall wart style adapters for networking equipment, which aren’t much different, don’t last much more than 5 years. You might think you can’t count on the HDD to outlast that, and it might not if a bad PSU fries it, but the last wave of HDDs I replaced were 9+ years old. Certainly beyond their expected lifespan but I kept them going because they were raided so a loss of one didn’t necessarily effect things as I also had an offline backup of them.

    1. Good pickup. Thanks!

  5. coturnix

    Whiles physically seemingly identical, as indicated by the model numbers, they do have different firmware versions, suggesting that perhaps they may be optimized for different roles, perhaps as their product names suggest.

  6. Hi Wayne,
    I have both drives (Expansion 2TB – newer) and BackUp Plus (1TB – older) connected to my MacBook Pro 16
    I transferred a 3 GB files individually to each drive
    the Expansion took 4 mins to complete transfer
    the BackUp plus took 1 min to transfer, saving me time!!
    How come this is the case if they are both the same, and running ExFAT file system
    And thought on how we can speed up Expansion transfer/copy rate?

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