Maxtor OneTouch 300GB Review

The One-Touch series of drives are great for storing large amounts of data including music and movies.
The One-Touch series of drives are great for storing large amounts of data including music and movies.
The One-Touch series of drives are great for storing large amounts of data including music and movies.

Highs

  • Very quiet
  • fast
  • stays cool
  • supports both FireWIre and USB 2.0

Lows

  • Reliability still needs to be proven

DT Editors' Rating

Summary

We liked Maxtor’s 5000DV external FireWire/USB 2.0 hard drive in our review of it last year, however, many users complained of drive failures that we did not experience. Maxtor seems to have made dramatic improvements to their new line of external drives and appears to have been paying attention to consumer feedback.

The One-Touch series of drives are great for storing large amounts of data including music and movies and should prove to be a valuable asset to any multimedia enthusiasts.

With the included FireWire ports, you can stack a large amount of these drives on top of each other without having to worry about heat issues, and the auto power down feature will help ensure that these drives last a long time.

Read on to see what makes this product so useful.

Introduction

 

Last year we reviewed Maxtor’s 5000DV external FireWire/USB 2.0 hard drive and were immediately impressed by both its large storage capacity and fast speed. However, there were some improvements that we would have liked to have seen in newer versions. We also received several reports after publishing our review, that people were having terrible reliability issues with their 5000DV drive.

This year we got the chance to test Maxtor’s new One-Touch 300GB external drive which promises even larger storage capacities and many improvements over previously released drives. Offered in three trim lines, each with various storage capacities, the drives are priced at $249.95 for the 160GB version, $299 for the 200GB version and $399.99 for the 300GB.

Features and Design

 

Maxtor’s 5000DV drive reviewed last year offered a relatively revolutionary idea of having a one-touch back-up. Simply pressing the button on the front of the unit will activate the drives back-up software utility, Dantz’s Retrospect Backup Express. This feature worked as designed, automatically running a user-created backup script. The 5000DV not only worked as designed, but was very fast at doing so. However the 5000DV is not without its faults. First of all, the drive was large in physical size, extremely loud, and got very hot. In addition, there was no power switch to turn the drive off when not in use. As if Maxtor carried out our every wish, the new 300 GB FireWire, USB 2.0 One-Touch drive dramatically improves upon the Personal Storage Line (which the 5000DV is a part of).

At first glance, the drive has shrunk. The physical size of the One-Touch drive is a lot smaller than the Personal Storage drives and much better looking. Housed in a silver anodized aluminum casing the One-Touch drive stays a lot cooler than its predecessor. Now of course this could also be in part to the drives slower RPM speed of 5400RPM versus the 5000DV’s 7200RPM speed, but the heat has been reduced greatly nonetheless.

Secondly, Maxtor not only listened to our wishes of having a power switch, but they gave the drive the ability to turn off automatically when not is use via the included software. Now you can program the drive to turn off anywhere from 10 minutes of non-use to never. This will not only save the life of your drive, but will save you some money on your electricity bill.

And lastly, the drives overall noise has been reduced over the previous Personal Storage line. Even with the internal fan running, it is very hard to hear this drive over the noise your computer produces. On the 5000DV we reviewed last year, we could hear the internal drive working when in use; now the One-Touch 300GB is hardly audible.

Performance

In our benchmarking our One-Touch 300GB test drive appeared to trail the 5000DV we reviewed in all of our tests, but not by much. The One-Touch drive still outpaced the LaCie pocket drive in our transfer tests despite having a larger disk drive. Your results will of course vary depending on your system setup. We found that the USB 2.0 interface shaved 40 seconds off our same tests using the FireWire interface and with less CPU usage in the process. For a drive running at only 5400 RPMs our One-Touch drive still exhibited very fast transfer times.

 

System Configurations:

Windows XP Pro; AMD Athlon 2400+; Abit AT7 Max 2 motherboard; 1 GB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; PNY Geforce FX 5600 256MB video adapter.

Multiple One-Touch drives can be stacked upon each other vertically using the cases grooves, or positioned horizontally using the included stand. The stand definitely makes the drive look a lot sleeker and attractive should you decide to have the drive in plain site. The One-Touch button located on the front of the drive has also been changed and glows a very hip neon blue when the drive is on. When the drive is being used, the blue light will scroll up and down the front button giving it a 2000’s “Knight Rider” effect.

Packaged with the One-Touch 300GB FireWire and USB model are both FireWire and USB cables, an external AC power adapter, a vertical stand, a user’s guide, and CDs with drivers and the Dantz Retrospect software.

Use and Testing

 

Installing the One-Touch 300GB drive is very easy for both PC and Mac compatible systems. The included manual is very detailed and easy to read. There is also a quick-setup guide that comes packaged with the system which will allow you to install the drive in its basic configuration in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, Windows XP was not able to recognize the hard drive at first so we had to install drivers. Unfortunately, Windows is not able to recognize the hard drive as an external device initially so you will have to install the software and drivers prior to hooking the drive up. We found this odd considering that most other external drives we have tested are recognized and useable right away, and some even have the client software on the drive, making for a quick install. Our review unit came formatted in the FAT32 file system format instead of the newer NTFS file system. Of course this gives the drive the most compatibility with both Windows XP, 2002, 98 and ME operating systems, but if you have a system that runs Windows XP and do not plan on using this drive with older systems, you may want to reformat this drive using NTFS file system to increase performance.

For Macintosh users, the One-Touch drive was just as simple to install, just use the software and follow the instructions. There are detailed instructions that come with this drive that will walk you through the process. Maxtor includes a warning notice for Mac users, so make sure you follow the instructions correctly.

Software

 

The Dantz Retrospect Express software which comes with the One-Touch 300GB drive appears to be much fuller-featured over the software included with the 5000DV drive we reviewed previously. We installed the back-up software and assigned it to the One-Touch button on our drive. One very cool feature of the One-Touch button utility is that you can choose to assign it to any back-up software program; you are not forced to uses Dantz’s software. Iomega’s backup software appears to be rather popular with many of our readers and we do not see why it cannot work with this drive.

We followed the instructions in the manual and the wizard in Dantz’s Retrospect Express and were easily able to setup a partition for backup using the settings we specified. During the back-up process, the software will tell you how much time is left until completed, so you can carry on other business in the meantime. One disappointing aspect of the Retrospect Back-up Express is that it will not create drive or partition images like Norton Ghost or Power Quest’s Drive Image. The Maxtor One Touch drives really aren’t for complete system images or complete backup images. It can be done but it is quite a process. If you’re looking to make complete images, this may not be the solution for you. Then you reinstall Dantz Retrospect Express, and at that point you tell the software to restore your system. Server administrators will most likely find these extra steps annoying and time consuming, but for the average consumer it should be relatively easy as long as you follow the instructions.

Since this is an “express” version, corporate users may want to opt for the full version of Dantz Retrospect which is capable of backing up workgroups and large enterprise servers and file servers.

Performance

 

In our benchmarking our One-Touch 300GB test drive appeared to trail the 5000DV we reviewed in all of our tests, but not by much. The One-Touch drive still outpaced the LaCie pocket drive in our transfer tests despite having a larger disk drive. Your results will of course vary depending on your system setup. We found that the USB 2.0 interface shaved 40 seconds off our same tests using the FireWire interface and with less CPU usage in the process. For a drive running at only 5400 RPMs our One-Touch drive still exhibited very fast transfer times.

In our real-world benchmarks, the One-Touch drive was able to transfer large files and directories without slowing our systems down to non-operable speeds. CPU usage was normal and we were still able to multitask while the drive was transferring. In each of our tests the One-Touch was very fast, quiet and smooth – just the way it should be.

For complete performance benchmarks, please click on the performance tab and link located above and below this review.

Warranty and Reliability

 

Last year, after reviewing the 5000DV Personal Storage drive we encountered numerous e-mails from readers who had been experiencing drive failure after only a short period of time. The user review section of this review was also plagued with upset customers. While our test drive, which was the same retail version that consumers could purchase, experienced no known issues or failures, it became very evident that something was not right. So we lowered our overall rating of this product and posted an addendum reflecting the issues everyone was having with their drives.

The One-Touch drive we received for this review also experienced no known issues or signs of failing, but only prolonged use will tell us whether or not this drive is more reliable than it’s predecessor. So far, after leaving the drive on for a week straight, this drive looks rather promising. We have not experienced any problems whatsoever. Maxtor offers a one-year warranty from the date of purchase on the One-Touch drives, and while this may not seem very long, it is normal among hard drive manufacturers.

Conclusion

 

We will continue to test this drive to make sure it doesn’t experience any problems similar to those experienced with the 5000DV. We will also be watching to see what users post about this drive in our user review section to see if the One-Touch drive experiences any of the same reliability issues of the 5000DV drive or personal storage family. If we feel that reliability is an issue, then we will adjust our score accordingly.

We can say however with a fair amount of confidence that the One-Touch series is a reliable and solid performing product line based on our own experiences. Maxtor has added dramatic improvements to these new drives and appears to have been paying attention to consumer feedback.

The One-Touch series of drives are great for storing large amounts of data including music and movies and should prove to be a valuable asset to any multimedia enthusiasts. With the included FireWire ports, you can stack a large amount of these drives on top of each other without having to worry about heat issues, and the auto power down feature will help ensure that these drives last a long time.

We don’t think that there are any immediate improvements Maxtor needs to make to the One-Touch series other than perhaps lengthening the warranty, and for that we give high praise to Maxtor.

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