Western Digital vs Seagate: we take a look at the two storage giants

We see which storage company when it comes to internal, external and media-focussed hard drives

When it comes to storage, Western Digital and Seagate are perhaps the two most recognisable brands in the market. They rival each other in nearly every segment of the storage market and try to outdo each other with innovations in ease of use and power efficiency. We've pitched these two storage giants against each other and taken a look at some of the key differences between their products.

Internal Storage

Both Western Digital and Seagate started out making internal hard drives, so it only makes sense that the contest begins here. Hard drives have evolved immensely: storage capacities have increased by 50 times in the last decade alone and speed and power efficiency have also improved. Different segments of the market have emerged (consumer, enthusiast/enterprise, AV) to cater to different classes of user; those who require greater speed as opposed to capacity, for example. When it comes to internal storage power efficiency certainly plays a part, but it essentially comes down to whether you want space or speed.


Western Digital was one of the first to offer up to 2 terabytes of space in its internal hard drives as part of its energy-saving Caviar Green range. Seagate was comparatively slow to release such a big drive, but now offers its Barracuda LP drives with the same capacity. With the move to 2TB both companies have focussed on power efficiency, reducing power consumption compared to conventional consumer internal hard drives by up to half. The Seagate Barracuda LP is the faster of the two, but the WD Caviar Green 2TB drive wins out on energy efficiency and is generally cheaper than the Barracuda. We'd pick Western Digital's Caviar Green for those on a budget, but if you can afford to fork out the cash then the Seagate drive is certainly enticing.

If you want even better performance from a 2TB hard drive Western Digital also offers an enterprise flavour offers greater reliability than both the Caviar Green and Barracuda LP drives, as well as improved performance without sacrificing power efficiency.


Both companies offer speedy drives designed to access and write your data as fast as possible. Western Digital offers the lauded VelociRaptor range; it's a drive PC World uses in its benchmark tests. However, Seagate's equivalent — the aptly named Cheetah 15K.6 — has superior capacity (up to 450GB), server-focussed connectivity and better performance overall. You won't be putting the Cheetah 15.6K hard drive into a conventional desktop PC without a Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) host, but this drive certainly surpasses Western Digital's option when it comes to speed.

Solid State

Western Digital and Seagate have both been fairly reluctant to invest into the comparatively new solid-state drive field. Seagate has gone as far as claiming that SSD drives aren't worth the price and effort. The tide is slowly turning, however. Last month Western Digital finally entered the consumer market with its SiliconDrive III range of SSDs, available in 30-120GB capacities. The debate still rages as to whether or not SSDs are the future, but if you're hell-bent on getting one then Western Digital's new offering is your only choice when it comes to these two companies.

Winner: Western Digital

Seagate currently offers the best performance for internal storage but Western Digital ultimately provides a wider range of options and better value for money in the higher capacity drives.

External Storage

External storage is great for backing up personal and corporate data, as well as for transporting large amounts of information from one computer to another. The better choice in this case is a matter of who provides the best security, largest capacities and best choice of connectivity.


Western Digital and Seagate both offer a variety of pocket external hard drives with differences in capacity and connectivity. We prefer the book-like design on Western Digital's My Passport range to the FreeAgent Go case. However, unless you need a FireWire 800 connection we would pick the Maxtor BlackArmor (Maxtor is a subsidiary of Seagate). This Maxtor portable hard drive provides government-grade encryption to ensure your data doesn't get into the wrong hands. We are yet to see anything from Western Digital to match this level of security.


Western Digital wins out when it comes to larger capacities, offering its My Book Studio Edition II with 4TB of storage in either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration, along with plenty of connectivity. By contrast, the best Seagate can muster is 2TB of storage from the single-drive FreeAgent Desk. Though Seagate's offering excelled in our USB 2.0 file transfer tests, the eSATA port on the My Book Studio Edition II provides nearly double the throughput of the FreeAgent Desk.

Network-attached storage

Like solid-state drives, NAS devices appear somewhat of an afterthought for Seagate and Western Digital. Still, both companies compete in this market, with Western Digital's Sharespace and Seagate's BlackArmor NAS 440 going head to head. Though undeniably uglier, the BlackArmor 440 NAS device is ultimately the better choice of the two, providing better connectivity and configuration options compared to Western Digital's SMB-focussed NAS device.

Winner: Seagate

Western Digital rules the coop when it comes to the larger external hard drives, but Seagate's pocket hard drive and NAS devices provide better security and configuration options over the competition.

Home Theatre

The latest battlefield between Western Digital and Seagate is the lounge room, thanks to the relatively recent introduction of the WD TV and FreeAgent Theatre. Both allow you to play media from an external hard drive on your TV, but the differences between the two are immediately noticeable. You can plug any USB external hard drive (formatted to HFS+, NTFS or FAT32) into the WD TV, but Seagate's FreeAgent Theatre uses a mini-USB connection that is positioned in such a way that it is essentially only compatible with the company's own FreeAgent Go external hard drives.

The FreeAgent Theatre has no HDMI port and media format support is limited. The WD TV, on the other hand, has HDMI and support for pretty much in media format you can throw at it, with more support continually being added through firmware updates. If you are looking for a basic slideshow or audio player to go with your FreeAgent Go, the FreeAgent Theatre might suffice, but for everything else the WD TV wins hands down.

Winner: Western Digital

There are better media players and streamers available, but the WD TV does a good job of connecting your external storage to the TV. Media support is comprehensive and the inclusion of HDMI makes it a much better choice than Seagate's current offering.

Tags seagatestoragewestern digital

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James Hutchinson

PC World




hard drives, WD vs. Seagate

I would've liked to have seen something about longevity in the article...I've seen numerous horror stories in various consumer comment sites about one of these companies...it would've been informative to see if their reliability has improved.



Western Digital v Seagate

Well, if I'm ever in the market to buy a hard drive COMPANY I'll certainly reference your review. If, however, I'm in the market to buy a hard drive - like the vast majority of your readers - then the review is as useful as a keyboard for a couch.

Give us the relevant stuff like reliability, speed, affordability, longevity. Which company gives the best hard drive bang for our buck? Which one will last the longest and keep our valuable data safest?

Alternately, there's a zoo down the road with a cage full of simians in need of a job. Perhaps your site needs a review on memory companies done?



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This is not a review, it is a marketing tool for WD and seagate.

I am used Seagate and it killed my data twice. First time it failed all data was wiped, they replaced it. I thought they would replace a new one but they replace a recondition one. I was naive and trust it so I store all my crucial information on it and guess what it wiped my data again, luckily the second time I had a backup. I had the IBM drive a long long time ago and it still running like a champ. Just got Windows 7, I am trying to find a decent reliable drive to go with it. Came across this review, and as you mention "the review is useful as a keyboard for a couch". I want to know which company is reliable not some basic fact.



Not very helpful

I agree, the review is not very helpful.



I agree with the comments posted here.
I still am undecided which hard drive is best.



I agree with the comments posted here.
I still am undecided which hard drive is best.



How about which drive is the most "user friendly"?
They all have great storage. So what?
What good is it if I need to be a techno-geek or must always refer to a printed manual to figure out how to use the thing?



sooooo not any help.

agree with all the comments. does not help. wasted time reading.



this is fake!
are you marketing for WD??
dude, check out the product review of seagate home theatre, all of your facts are incorrect!!!

and "seagate home theatre doesnt have an HDMI connection, and mini usb" was totally bizarre...do not mislead everyone here...



I've used WD most of the time Until 2 of the Hard Drives I had with them, FAILED!! So Much Lost, nothing gained! I've switched to Seagate for a couple years now, No Problems!!



Seagate has failed backing up my data issuing notiices of bad sectors two times in a row now... they sent me a reconditioned one to replace the orginal (new) one...i am done with them, hello Western Digital.



Based on my experience with these two giant hdd and based on the pc express company. I have used this seagate quite numerous times, it usually crash while copying due to heat issues and sometimes got unusable and got to be replaced, eventhough these was happened, i still buying their products. i can now avoid their faulties by putting an aux fan for this hdd.

For WD, when i asked employees from pc express, they always vote for WD over seagate in terms of durability. They usually encounter customer reporting of their faulty seagate.

Summary: Seagate runs much hotter than WD w/c makes WD more durable. I'm talking about Seagate 320GB,500GB, and 1TB, i own these drives. Inspite of these cases. I still want to use Seagate, and i'm a happy user of that.



I've been using Seagate since I started using computer (8 years ago). It didn't do anything to me.. I've recently purchased a computer in which I was given Western Digital HDD.. After installing windows.. it took more than 2 hours to format its HDD partitions.. Isn't it a failure..? My heart is not satisfied with WD HDD...!

Garrot Hardy


As useful as tits on a bull. Thank goodness I reverted to good old floppy disks

Andrew R


I was pro segate now western digital. Unfortuntly modern drives have one big failure, they cache there writing. If you experience a power dropout the drive can become corupted. This happen to me twice last year. I advise anyone now, use a UPS



it's easy to decide, if you like to spend money go for WD, if you want to save money go for seagate, for performance it's the same, WD only got larger range of options seagate don't but who care since you need the best storage, I got seagate 2TB 7200RPM and it's working fine the price is equal to WD 2TB caviar Green 5200RPM...



I have a feeagent seagate exterior hard drive. It has lost all my data 3 times and I have now pitched it! totally useless!



if you would like to know, all day, everyday, Western Digital for me. i have seen far too many crashes for seagate to be on my list at all. I'd prefer using a ata cord with a pulled harddrive over seagate.

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