If you need another reason to upgrade to USB 2.0, we've found it: Maxtor's Personal Storage 3000LE, one of the fastest external hard drives we've seen. Its 40GB capacity and USB 2.0 connection make it a roomy and speedy portable backup device. It's also both faster and cheaper (as well as 20GB smaller) than its sibling, the Personal Storage 3000DV FireWire (IEEE 1394) drive. If you need another reason to upgrade to USB 2.0, we've found it: Maxtor's Personal Storage 3000LE, one of the fastest external hard drives we've seen. Its 40GB capacity and USB 2.0 connection make it a roomy and speedy portable backup device. It's also both faster and cheaper (as well as 20GB smaller) than its sibling, the Personal Storage 3000DV FireWire (IEEE 1394) drive.
Like external USB and FireWire drives in general, the $200 Maxtor 3000LE offers some distinct advantages over an internal drive, such as easy setup, portability, and sharing between systems. If your computers are USB 2.0-ready, the 3000LE can act as a quick backup resource for small offices. It's also ideal if you want to take large amounts of data home from the office, even if you have only USB 1.1 at home. While the 3000LE will work with the USB 1.1 ports on current computers, you'll need a USB 2.0 adapter card (not included) or a USB 2.0-capable computer to take advantage of the new standard's higher data-transfer rate. Maxtor offers a PCI USB 2.0 adapter for about $50 on its Web site.
The Maxtor Personal Storage 3000LE is a full-sized, translucent, pearl-and-red unit that measures 1.625 by 6 by 8.625 inches and weighs about two pounds. The chassis is rugged enough to withstand the rigors of moving about an office, and the drive runs both quietly and coolly. Maxtor includes a high-quality, 6-foot USB cable and drive-enabling software for Windows XP, Me, 98 SE, and 2000 as well as Mac OS 9.0 and later. A clear installation guide and the plug-and-play simplicity of USB 2.0 make setup easy. The drive is powered with an included external AC adapter, but the unit lacks a power switch, making it difficult to turn on and off.
Fast on its feet
Although it operates at a slower 5,400rpm, the 40GB 3000LE easily bested the performance of its 7,200rpm/60GB kin, the Maxtor 3000DV, in CNET Labs' tests. Like the Maxtor 3000DV, the 3000LE is so fast that it rivals an internal hard drive in some areas. The Maxtor 3000LE posted an average copying speed of 8.8MB per second during CNET Labs' 500MB directory-copy trials; that's faster than both the internal Maxtor DiamondMax 80's 7.85MB-per-second rate and the 8.1MB per second turned in by the FireWire 3000DV. The 3000LE didn't fare as well on our 383MB compressed-file-copy test, averaging only 17.8MB per second--considerably slower than the DiamondMax 80's 26.32MB per second. However, thanks to the faster USB 2.0 transfer rate, it was about 5MB per second quicker than the 3000DV. (FireWire is capable of transferring data at a maximum rate of 400Mbps vs. 480Mbps for USB 2.0.)
The drive is under warranty for one year, and toll-free telephone support is available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. Maxtor's Web site contains a searchable knowledge base, downloadable manuals and drivers, and information for contacting technicians via phone or e-mail. You can even find information on older drive models--a plus for people who hold onto their legacy hardware.
The Maxtor Personal Storage 3000LE's fast USB 2.0 performance and easy portability make it a very tempting purchase for space-starved users. Sure, 40GB is just average these days, but the drive's relatively low price makes it a good choice over similar but costlier FireWire drives. And while larger-capacity, internal drives can cost less than the 3000LE, they can't beat it for easy installation and portability. Of course, if you want more space or don't need the portability, a larger internal drive is the smarter way to go.
--by Jon Jacobi and E. W. Johnson
Transfer rates measured in MB per second; longer bars indicate better performance
|Despite its slower 5,400rpm hard-drive mechanism, the Maxtor Personal Storage 3000LE handily outperformed the 3000DV FireWire (IEEE 1394) drive, thanks largely to the higher data-transfer capacity of USB 2.0. (FireWire is capable of transferring data at a maximum rate of only 400Mbps, compared to USB 2.0's 480Mbps.)|