Notebook users are often in a pickle when it comes to protecting their precious data, and Maxtor (recently purchased by Seagate) has come up with an ingenious solution in the One Touch 4 Mini. This portable backup drive truly does it all, from offering plenty of space to transfer files between computers, to offering fantastic backup and security options for the truly paranoid.
Features and Design
The Maxtor OneTouch line has been around for awhile now, both in its external drive form and the “mini” versions, which are portable USB 2.0 drives. The company has revamped the series and launched the OneTouch 4 Mini with all new software and a new form factor.
The new design is rather slick, as the chassis is not much bigger than the drive inside. More importantly, it’s much smaller than the previous generation drive. It’s also thinner, and fits in the palm of your hand.
The drive is like every other OneTouch drive, in that it has a single button that can be pressed to perform a pre-selected backup routine. The default backup is of “my documents,” but you can set it up to either run backup, sync folders, or open the application of your choosing.
The drive itself is packaged in a small metallic shell, with a two-headed USB cable. In most computers you should be able to get enough power from one USB port to run the drive, but older computers will require both USB cables to be plugged in.
The software package that is included, and is on the drive itself rather than a CD, is dubbed Maxtor Manager, and acts as a central hub to control everything from backups-to-syncing-to-security. It’s an amazingly full-featured package, and easily offers more options than any backup drive we’ve ever tested. You can backup certain folders on a regular schedule, sync folders between computers, password protect the drive’s contents, create an encrypted folder, and even create an image of your drive and totally restore your entire system in the case of hard drive failure. To say the software suite is great is an understatement of grand proportions.
The OneTouch Mini is available in 80GB, 120GB and 160GB and it works with Macs as well as PCs.
The OneTouch 4 Mini (on the right) is smaller in every way compared to the previous model.
Use and Testing
As soon as we pulled the mini out of the box and attached it to our computer, we got a pop-up asking if we wanted to install the software. Once we had, we were presented with a plethora of options.
The first tab just shows you that your drive is connected, and lets you change settings such as what the “one touch” button does, lets you test the drive, change power settings (to set the drive to go idle after a specified time period), and to check for software updates.
The Maxtor Manager suite offers five tabs of security and backup options.
The second tab is labeled “Backup” and lets you create and edit a backup schedule. You can set it to backup certain folders at certain times, and it works wonderfully. We set it to backup our “documents” in the dead of night and it worked perfectly every time. You can also restore files, and we have a complaint here. Instead of letting you just restore files back to their original location, it just shows you the files you have backed up, so you have to manually copy them back to where they used to be.
You can schedule certain folders to be backed up on a schedule of your choosing.
The third tab is labeled Sync, and it lets you syncronize folders between different computers, such as your notebook and your desktop. Unfortunately, we ran into a problem since our desktop runs Vista and our notebook runs XP – you can’t sync folder between the two operating systems, which is a big problem in our opinion since a lot of power users are still running both operating systems.
The sync utility does not play nice with both Windows XP and Vista, unfortunately.
The fourth tab is named Safety, and it’s not a misnomer. It lets you create a backup image of your entire computer in case disaster strikes. We actually decided to test this to its full extent, and came away fully impressed. We have a notebook that we are looking to sell, so we didn’t care if it got hosed. We ran the Safety Drill utility, which makes a backup image of our hard drive. We then deleted the partition of the drive on the notebook. Next, we booted from the CD that comes with the drive, which is required for Safety Drill to work properly. Maxtor notes in bold text in the manual to NOT LOSE THIS disc, but it would be very much appreciated if an ISO of it was on the drive itself, in case one does lose the disc. Once we had booted to it, we selected our backup image from a list, and then after about fifteen minutes we rebooted, and our notebook was exactly as we had left it, with everything intact. This software works exactly as promised, and is perfect in our opinion.
We actually wiped our hard drive, and then restored it with the Safety Drill utility.
The final tab is labeled Security, and lets you password-protect the drive and set up a 256-bit AES encrypted folder for “private” documents. You just make a password, type it in and the folder pops up. Drag stuff into it to encrypt it, and drag stuff out of it to decrypt it. It works beautifully, and we had no issues whatsoever.
You can create an encrypted folder on the drive to hide your “work documents.”
As far as speed goes, it’s a 5400rpm drive with an 8MB buffer, so don’t expect any wonders. However, it was fast enough for our needs. We transferred a 740MB file in a scant 0:27, and a 1.84GB file in 1:06, which is fast enough to satisfy our need, our need for speed.
Maxtor has hit it out of the park with the One Touch 4 Mini as far as we’re concerned. It’s easy to stick a notebook hard drive into a chassis, but it’s much more difficult to create intuitive, useful backup and security software to go with it. The Maxtor Manager software is the best suite we’ve ever seen for an external drive, and we give Maxtor (Seagate) maximum kudos for a job well done.
• Fantastic software package
• No syncing between XP and Vista
• No boot disc ISO on the drive