The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus family of hard drives is a stylish option for desktop storage and backup. It comes in three capacities: 250GB, 500GB, and 750GB; we tested the 500GB version. The suggested prices are $130 for the 250GB, $200 for the 500GB, and $290 for the 750GB--very reasonable. The OneTouch 4 drives come with everything you need to start backing up regularly: FireWire and USB cables, and backup and restore software.
Once plugged in and turned on, the device will prompt you to install Maxtor Manager, an intuitive application that allows for a variety of backup solutions. You can choose to image the whole hard drive or backup and synchronize just selected files and folders. While we found the application easy to use and effective, it's not without flaws. First off, it doesn't allow for choosing just any folder on the hard drive to back up. For example, if you are using Windows XP, you won't be able to select any other folders in your profile aside from My Documents and Desktop. This means if you use Outlook, chances are you won't be able to back up the e-mail archive, which by default resides deep in the hidden Local Settings folder. You can, however, choose to image the entire content of your PC's hard drive. Then, should disaster occur, you use the included SafetyDrill CD to restore the whole system (SafetyDrill works with Windows only).
Once set up, the backup process can be scheduled to run automatically or initialized by pressing the only one-touch backup button on the front of the device. Overall, we found the backup utility somewhat limited, but still appealing to home users who want a simple backup solution that works.
The device was also very quiet and worked flawlessly during the testing process. We loved the rugged yet very lightweight and compact design. The black and brushed aluminum look gives it a vault-like appearance, unlike the I-beam look of the OneTouch III. The OneTouch button is elegant, though the light it emits could be a little too bright at night.
|Drive type||External hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0; Firewire 400|
|Available capacities||250GB, 500GB, 750GB|
|Capacity of test unit (if applicable)||500GB|
|Dimensions (LWH)||6.0 x 2.5 x 6.75 inches|
|Notable design features||One-touch backup button|
|OSes supported||Windows XP/Vista; Mac OS X 10.4.7 or later|
|Software included||Maxtor SafetyDrill, Maxtor Manager|
|Service and Support||five-year warranty; toll-free phone support is available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT; you can also chat or e-mail to tech support; Seagate's site (Maxtor is owned by Seagate) includes FAQs, user guides, data sheets, and a troubleshooter.|
We were impressed with the throughput performance of the OneTouch 4 Plus in CNET Labs' tests. It took only 9 minutes, 1 second to write a 10GB folder of mixed file types, just a bit faster than the Hitachi External Hard Drive and the SimpleTech SimpleDrive. It was slower than the competition in the read test, but not by too much, scoring 9 minutes, 16 seconds.
All in all, it's relatively easy to recommend the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus. It's a simple, fast, and reliable backup solution for a single computer. If the backup software's lack of sophistication throws you off, you can always get another suite to work with the drive.
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)