Maxtor's OneTouch II external hard drive picks up where the original OneTouch leaves off, offering larger capacities, higher performance, and added security to protect your most precious digital secrets. Unfortunately, the OneTouch II still suffers from an overly large enclosure that is sure to dominate any desk it sits on, and it doesn't support Linux computers. Still, if you have a lot of digital files to stash, it's one of the easiest and most reliable places to put them.
The latest OneTouch II is built around Maxtor's 3.5-inch DiamondMax 10 drive, which includes 16MB of hardware cache, spins at 7,200rpm, and holds 300GB of data. That's enough space for everything from 21 hours of video to a quarter million photos to an amazing 5,000 hours of MP3 audio. If the 300GB drive's price tag is too much, there's a less expensive 250GB version. Both drives can work with recent Windows releases as well as Macintosh OS 9.1 or newer systems, but, unfortunately, not Linux computers.
With USB 2.0 and FireWire connectors, the OneTouch II can theoretically move data at a peak throughput of up to 480Mbps and 400Mbps, respectively. In addition to the drive, the box includes an AC adapter, a CD with installation and backup software, a setup booklet, a stand, and cables for both interfaces. The booklet shows exactly what to do, and the 68-page electronic manual has an excellent troubleshooting section. While the OneTouch II is just as bulky and looks very much like the original OneTouch drive, it has vented aluminum trim for cooling, and the blue-lighted backup button is recessed. The OneTouch II is bigger and much heavier than Ximeta's NetDisk, although the included stand lets you sit it on its narrow side, freeing up more desk space.
Setting up the drive takes just a couple of minutes when you follow the CD's installation routine, and the drive automatically takes the next available drive letter. The best part is that OneTouch II continues to include Dantz's Retrospect Express HD software. Just tap the blue button, and the computer copies its files to the drive. Out of the box, the OneTouch II is scheduled to back up your system regularly, but you can reschedule automatic backups and change the files you want copied by using the improved OneTouch II interface.
The OneTouch II now comes with DriveLock security, a utility that adds password protection for access to the drive, although it doesn't encrypt data. Unfortunately, if you forget your password and can't supply the correct answers to the software prompts, you'll be locked out of the drive. For Apple aficionados, OneTouch II can make a fully bootable copy of a Mac system.
Over the course of two weeks, we gave the 300GB Maxtor OneTouch II a hard workout by transferring files, playing music and videos, and performing nightly backups. Throughout, the drive remained quiet and never got more than warm. It comes with FAT32 formatting, which we changed to NTFS, yielding 279GB of usable data space. Using the USB interface, it can read and write at 89.1Mbps and 135.6Mbps, respectively, although the FireWire interface slows down data writing to 131.4Mbps while raising its read speed to 104.3Mbps. All in all, it's a little faster than its older brother, and it performed a full backup of our test system in just more than an hour, half the time of the original OneTouch unit.
With a one-year warranty, the OneTouch II comes with coverage that is similar to that of external drives from competitors such as Iogear and Western Digital. Although Maxtor supports the drive for as long as you own it, you'll need to contact Dantz for help with the drive's backup software. Maxtor's Web site is a cornucopia of help, from the latest drivers and manuals to FAQs and excellent troubleshooting resources to a thorough and well-staffed online forum. The toll-free phone line is open only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT, but we when tried it, a helpful technician was on the line in just less than three minutes.