Seagate calls its BlackArmor WS 110 a direct-attached storage (DAS) device, but in most respects it's a fairly standard external hard drive. Aimed at businesses looking to back up individual computers, the BlackArmor WS 110 provides AES 256-bit hardware encryption, extremely fast transfer speeds and comprehensive backup software.
Seagate BlackArmor WS 110: Enclosure
The case looks similar to the consumer-targeted FreeAgent Pro external hard drives. The drive can be placed horizontally or vertically without a stand, though one is provided just in case. Unfortunately, the hard drive is quite loud - particularly when spinning up - and even caused some minimal vibrations on the desk during intensive transfer tasks.
The BlackArmor WS 110 packs in a single 3.5in 2TB hard drive with a formatted capacity of 1810GB.
On the back, the BlackArmor WS 110 external hard drive provides power, mini-USB 2.0 and external SATA (eSATA) ports.
Seagate's BlackArmor Backup software provides many options that can be tailored to suit different users.
Seagate BlackArmor WS 110: Software
The drive is bundled with the same BlackArmor Backup software as Seagate's NAS devices. Developed by Acronis, the Windows-only BlackArmor Backup suite is refreshingly comprehensive. Though the software encourages you to initiate a backup for your entire computer, it also provides a number of tailored backup options as well as hard drive cloning and management tools. These include a "Try and Decide" option that lets you manage system restore points when installing software that may corrupt the system.
Like Western Digitial's My Book Elite, the software can back up files based on groups of file extensions; all photos or music for example. Unlike the overly simple WD SmartWare software, however, you'll be able to heavily customise what file types are backed up and to which group they belong. Our only hiccup was when the software failed to recognise the BlackArmor WS 110 while it was connected over eSATA; a hot patch from Seagate's website quickly fixed this, however.
A second piece of software bundled with the BlackArmor WS 110 external hard drive is Seagate's SafetyDrill+, which allows you to create a bootable disk in case of a system crash.
Seagate BlackArmor WS 110: Performance
We tested the Seagate BlackArmor WS 110's file transfer speeds over both USB 2.0 and eSATA. Our storage file transfer benchmarks are conducted using a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive. Our test files include a 3GB batch of 1MB files as well as a 20GB folder of individual 3-4GB files.
Seagate's BlackArmor WS 110 external hard drive fails to surpass the performance of LaCie's Starck Desktop Hard Drive over a USB 2.0 connection, though unsurprisingly blasts ahead when connected over eSATA. Given that other eSATA hard drives we've tested have been configured in a RAID 0 array, it is difficult to compare them to a single drive like the BlackArmor WS 110. There's no doubt this external hard drive is fast, but we aren't entirely sure these speeds are enough to compete with upcoming USB 3.0-equipped external hard drives.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>