Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus (1TB) Review

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$249

Pros: Fast FireWire transfers; Excellent backup software; File encryption

Cons: Relatively slow USB 2.0 read and write speeds; Lacks an eSATA port

Verdict: A 1TB external hard drive that offers speedy FireWire transfers, intuitive recovery software, and top-notch encryption.

Maxtor's backup solution, the OneTouch 4 Plus, the far-bigger brother of the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini, sports a whopping 1TB of storage, automated backup for the Mac and PC, and SafetyDrill software for recovering data when disaster strikes.

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Design

The 2.5-pound Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus (3 pounds with the power cord) sports the same brushed-aluminum body as its predecessor, but sports a funky trapezoid design that resembles an award trophy rather than your traditional square or rectangular external drive. The front of the drive features an illuminated LCD that glows when you plug the drive into the outlet, while the back features connections for the AC adapter, twin FireWire 400 ports, and a USB 2.0 port.

Performance

The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus offered read and write speeds that were slower than its competitors in the sub-$300 1TB external storage market. It was able to read a 5GB folder of mixed media (videos, photos, music, and documents) in a relatively poky 4 minutes and 31 seconds--a rate of 18.8 MBps. On our tests, only theWestern Digital My Book Mirror Editionhad a slower read with 18.2 MBps. It was able to write the same file in 6 minutes and 27 seconds, or 13.2 MBps; again, only Western Digital's offering, at 13.1 MBps, finished with a lower transfer time.

If the USB 2.0 connection moves too slow for your tastes, you can utilize one of the drive's two FireWire 400 ports, which offer vastly improved transfer speeds. On our read tests, transferring the 5GB folder took just 2 minutes and 56 seconds--a blazing rate of 29.0 MBps. In fact, only theLaCie Hard Disk, with its 29.9-MBps read time, was the only FireWire-enabled drive to top it. The write time was also quite swift; the folder transferred in 3 minutes and 38 seconds, which translated into 23.4 MBps--the best FireWire 400 results we've seen to date.

Software

Bundled with the OneTouch 4 Plus is Maxtor's SafetyDrill software, which lets Windows Vista and Windows XP users completely recover the content of their PCs in case of a virus attack or system crash. In such unfortunate instances, users simply would pop the SafetyDrill Recovery CD into the optical drive, which will enable them to restore the OS, applications, files, and desktop icons from the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus. Security-conscious types will appreciate the inclusion of Maxtor's DrivePass software, which restricts data access with a password if the drive is removed and attached to another computer. Additionally, Maxtor Manager includes folder-level data encryption software. To encrypt select files, simply drag and drop them into the encryption folder; when you want to access these files again, you will be prompted to enter a password to decrypt the file.

Verdict

Priced at $249 (which includes a lengthy five-year warranty), the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus is an excellent performer, provided that you utilize the FireWire 400 connection and don't mind a lone USB 2.0 port. It's slightly more expensive than similarly sized external hard drives such as the $229 LaCie Hard Disk, but the SafetyDrill and DrivePass software offer a high level of data protection for notebook owners.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Capacity 1TB
Rotational Speed 7,200 rpm
Read/Write Speed USB: 18.8 MBps/13.2 MBps FireWire 400: 29.0 MBps/23.4 MBps
Ports USB
Ports FireWire 400
Size 6.8 x 6.0 x 2.5 inches
Weight 2.5 pounds
Company Website http://www.maxtorsolutions.com