Performing regular backups of your favorite photos, music, videos, and valued documents is an essential task if you'd like to survive a hard drive failure. Unfortunately, most computer users don't do it. Maxtor's digital safety net, the OneTouch 4 Mini, is a lightweight portable storage unit that makes backups remarkably simple with user-friendly, automated backup software for the Mac and PC that leaves road warriors free to indulge in the more entertaining aspects of computing.
The 5.9-ounce Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini features an unoffensive brushed-aluminum body wrapped in a black rubber shield, which helps safeguard the unit from bumps and drops. We liked its sturdy but lightweight feel, and at 4.9 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches, the drive fits easily into a briefcase or a pants pocket.
Bundled with the drive is Maxtor's SafetyDrill software, which lets Windows XP and Vista users (sorry, Mac fans) completely recover the content of their PCs in case of a system crash or virus attack. Simply pop the SafetyDrill Recovery CD into your notebook's optical drive and the program will restore the OS, applications, files, and even desktop icons. In the event that the SafetyDrill disc is lost or broken, Maxtor allows users to download the program from its site, free of charge.
Security-conscious users will appreciate the inclusion of data encryption, and Maxtor DrivePass (formerly known as Maxtor DriveLock), firmware that restricts data access if the internal hard drive is removed and attached to another computer.
The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini offered very fast read speeds. It was able to read a 5GB folder of mixed media, including videos, photos, music, and documents, in 3 minutes and 17 seconds, or 25.9 MBps. That's 6 seconds faster than the nearest competitors, the Western Digital My Passport Essentialand Apricorn Aegis A25. It was able to write the same file in 5:48, or 14.7 MBps, but two drives were faster. The LaCie Little Disk wrote the same folder in 5:44 and the Buffalo Ministation, which was able to complete the same task in 4:53, or 17.4 MBps.
For $89.99, the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini is a good performer. While its write speed could be better, the security options and included software make this drive a better option than most for backing up your digital life on the go.
Editors' Note: This review was based on an earlier Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini review, updated to reflect new specifications. Additionally, since this review, the 120GB model of the OneTouch 4 Mini has been discontinued, though it may still be purchased through various online vendors.