Review: Maxtor 250gb OneTouch

It's a 250gb firewire drive in a nice package (June 3rd, 2004)

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Product Manufacturer: Maxtor

Price: $299

The Good

  • Appearance, strong case, power supply, software bundle.

The Bad

  • None.

The Maxtor 250gb OneTouch drive is nothing short of good.

It's a 250gb firewire drive in a nice package. That alone is nice, but what makes this drive different from other drives? Why should I get their drive instead of buying an enclosure and bare drive and assembling my own?

Attention to detail, software bundle, and Maxtor's enclosure.

I decided that the best test of the drive was to put it in use in an environment that would mean many trips bouncing around in a bag in the trunk of a car, moving around frequently from desk to desk, connected and disconnected from many computers, and handled by many people as possible.

I took it to a high school

Two classes of 9th and 10th graders, 18 iBooks, a QuickSilver PowerMac Server, iMovie projects and classwork, and an entire server backup later, the drive proved itself.

The enclosure is a blue and silver metal case with the drive mounted securely inside. It uses an external power supply that is a line wart rather than a wall wart (called for the large lump of black plastic most adapters make at the wall outlet.) Click to enlargeIt has two firewire 400 ports, and daisy chains to other fw400 devices nicely. The drive also has a quiet fan inside, a button on the front to initiate backups, and two bright blue LEDs in the button to indicate status, whether copying, whether power is applied, or if the drive is just in idle state.

The drive ships with backup software. Which software package is included, is dependent upon whether you order the Windows or Macintosh version. The Mac version ships with a reduced version of Dantz Retrospect software, which can schedule backups or, as the name of the product implies, create a backup with one touch of the button on the face of the drive. You can specify just a few folders or files for backup, or a full system backup, as you please.

The Maxtor 250gb OneTouch drive has served well in the trips back and forth to school. It not only carries all of the 9th and 10th grade iMovie projects, but also carries a full backup of the OS X Server for the school. It has saved, for lack of a more elegant term, our school's sorry butt. The OS X Server took a dive and ate it's hard drive, and that was when the OneTouch really proved itself. The test of a backup is not whether or not you have one, but whether or not you can restore from it. OneTouch passes that test fantastically.

The restore process was simple

To really do the restore properly, it is best to envision a situation where the hard drive was completely formatted or replaced. This is a good example of the worst case situation. In this situation the best thing to do would be to install a fresh copy of OS X and the Dantz Retrospect software. Next connect the OneTouch drive. Then open Dantz Retrospect and begin an immediate restore. Here, select the restore type, either files from a snapshot, search for files and folders in multiple backup sets, or restore an entire disk. Pick the source, and destination, let it restore and everything should be just as you expect, restored to the last backup on the OneTouch.

Usually in the course of reviewing a product it's easy to picture what could be improved upon. Here, I can't quite conceive of what Maxtor could do differently. They aren't responsible for Dantz's product, which is pretty darn good in its own right. They've made a simple, solid product that does what it should. They've targeted it towards the backup minded user, although it would work just as well as storage for digital video or audio.

What is the possible downside to this product? Price. But let's be honest, firewire drives in this capacity without the software and button don't cost much (if any) less. In fact, I priced cases and bare drives seperately that support ATA6 (which is what I suspect this drive is, in order to be this quantity of GB.) The price is the same by assembling the unit myself, and that wouldn't give me the backup software or button. Fact is, I'm filling in a negative here where there just isn't one.

My students like it, and have decided that we need another one. I agree.

by Victor Marks


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