Like sorting out your taxes and cleaning out the garage, backing up your computer is one of those tasks that you know needs to be done but all too often gets neglected. Maxtor’s external OneTouch II hard disk drive is designed to make this onerous task that much easier. The key to this is the button on the front – just one press and it will automatically back-up the contents of your machine. Alternatively, you can set it to perform automatic backups at scheduled intervals.
This Maxtor drive offers an unformatted capacity of 300GB which works out at 279GB under NTFS with default allocation sizes. This should be large enough for most single PCs though if it’s not Seagate offers a humongous 400GB drive. The drive has decent performance credentials with a rotational speed of 7,200rpm, 16MB of cache and an average seek time of around 9ms.
In terms of design and features the drive follows on from previous Maxtor OneTouch external drives but with one key extra; namely support for FireWire 800. Offering a theoretical 800Mbps this is intended to put the FireWire standard back on top of the performance tree to overtake the 480Mbps delivered by USB 2.0. This equates to 100MB/s though the official specs only claim a sustained transfer rate of 64MB/s due due to overhead. The drive also gives users a choice of three connections with Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 accompanying FireWire 800. Aside from a select few notebooks at present, the only people likely to have FireWire 800 already are Mac G5 owners though you can easily add FireWire 800 to a PC with an add-in card such as this Belkin card we used to test with.
There are actually two FireWire 800 ports on the back of the drive. FireWire enables you to daisy chain devices, so you could add a second external drive to your PC, though bandwidth would have to shared. The drive case has been designed so that you can stack up one drive on top of the other. A stand is provided so you can mount the drive vertically on the desk. A power switch is located on the back, enabling you can turn off the drive when it’s not needed. This is a useful feature - I have a much older external Maxtor drive and the only way to turn it off is to pull out the power cable, which is hardly convenient.
The casing has clearly been designed with Apple Mac G5s in mind with a silver casing sporting a grille at the front. The Maxtor logo is moulded into the side but thankfully it has kept things subtle by not making it a different colour. The oblong button on the front has a thin silver blue strip running down it and there’s also a blue light inside. Both of these flash when there’s disk activity. Overall, it’s a smart package that you won’t mind having out on view. The casing seems fairly solid but I still wouldn’t recommend dropping it as inside there’s a relatively fragile hard disk.