Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Maxtor OneTouch II 300GB
- Simple to use, Automated backups, One touch use, Security, Fast
- Large & Heavy, Software not intuitive, No estimated times for backups, No network folder backup
Despite a few minor glitches, the Maxtor One Touch II is a simple, fast and secure way to backup your data.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Keeping a backup of your data is somewhat like having an insurance policy for your home - when something bad happens, you really wish you had it. The Maxtor OneTouch II 300GB is an external hard drive that is designed specifically for backing up your data and can do this on an automated basis.
The OneTouch II is encased is a rather heavy, but attractive looking silver case which rests on supplied stand. The unit isn't exactly small and will occupy a fair chunk of real estate on your desk, but Maxtor do gain points for the styling. On the front of the unit is a blue backlit button which gives the unit its name -'one touch' of this button is all it takes to back up your data once you have configured the software.
Inside the casing is a 7200RPM hard drive with a 16MB buffer and an average seek time of 9m/s. What this means is that unit is fast - though not as fast as a normal desktop hard drive. At the back of the One Touch II are 3 external connections - 2 Firewire ports and a USB 2.0 connection. The Firewire ports can be used to transfer video directly from your digital camera (or notebook) or you can use the USB 2.0 connection with your desktop. We tried using the Firewire connection with our Dell 9200 but the supplied cable was a 6-pin connection and we had to purchase an adapter to hook it up to the 4-pin connection on the notebook.
The One Touch II definitely gets the GoodGearGuide award for ease of setup. Plug in the USB 2.0 cable from your computer to the drive, plug in the power cable of the drive, flick a switch and away you go. As soon as we switched on the device, our test PC recognised it as an external storage unit and we could store files on it immediately.
The external hard drive market is rather crowded these days and there is not much to differentiate the various brands in terms of hardware features. This makes aspects such as the supplied software an ease of use / setup very much important. While the Maxtor software installation was also very simple, the software itself left a little to be desired.
The One Touch II uses a program called Retrospect Express to manage the backup process. For some reason, this is accessible both as a standalone application item and under the Maxtor menu in the Start Menu, something that is sure to confuse beginner users.
Upon installing the software, 3 icons are presented - Setup & Restore, Drive Management and Security Settings. Clicking Setup & Restore allows you to create and schedule one of two types of backups. The first is a comprehensive backup which creates 'Restore Points', which essentially backup a set of data at a given point in time.
Restore Points can be a backup of your entire computer, specific files or folders you choose or even specific files types, such as music only. Additionally, Restore Points can be scheduled to take place at different times or days during the week and unit will automatically back up the data for that day. If at any time your PC is corrupted, you can then select the latest Restore Point on the One Touch II and simply restore the data back to your PC.
The problem with restore points is that individual files within them are not accessible on the One Touch II. Thus if you are searching for a particular file which has been backed up some time in the past, then you will have to manually restore each restore point until you find it - a rather time consuming process.
The other type of backup is known as a 'Duplicate' - which is simply a direct copy of the files onto the drive. Individual files are viewable and accessible in Duplicates folders on the One Touch II. The problem with Duplicates is that they cannot be scheduled - you have to initiate them manually on demand and multiple Duplicates cannot be stored as the older ones are simply overwritten.
While we like the convenience of automated Restore Points, we also like the transparency of being able to view the file contents of Duplicates. An option to schedule Duplicates would be absolutely ideal. The other issue we found with backups in general is that you are restricted to backing up data only on local drives - the OneTouch II did not recognize network drives and network folders, which is a notable omission.
We tested out the Maxtor by performing both types of backups on 3.1GB of data. The initial Restore took almost 9 minutes, but subsequent Restore Points of the same dataset took only 3-4 minutes. A Duplicate of 3.1GB of data took almost twelve minutes. This is because after writing the data to the disk, the One Touch II helpfully verifies it for you as well. (We also ran a selection of tests evaluating the read/write speed of the drive and these can be seen on the Specifications Page)
Perhaps our biggest gripe with the backup process was the lack of any indication of time remaining. We did not know how long a back up would take, as all we were presented with was the rather mysterious "This may take a while." This may not be a huge issue however, as the presence of the scheduler means that you can arrange for automated backups to happen overnight. In fact, we recommend you do exactly this, as the One Touch II did consume a fair chunk of our CPU resources during the backup process.
The One Touch II software also offers users some basic configuration options. Clicking on the Drive Management icon allows you to view drive information, adjust the power saving modes or run a basic diagnostic test. You can also configure the One Touch button to launch another application, but this is rather a useless function.
Importantly, Maxtor hasn't neglected the security conscious with the One Touch II allowing users to set a password to protect their data. When the drive is password protected, it is not recognized as a drive on other machines without the Maxtor software if it is plugged in. On machines with the Maxtor software, you are prompted for a password before you can view or access the drive. This is important especially if the drive is lost or stolen as the data cannot be easily retrieved. In addition to software security, Maxtor has also provided a security slot at the back of the unit, allowing it to be kept in place with a cable.
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