Maxtor OneTouch III

While I didn’t get the Maxtor OneTouch to use as a backup drive I decided to take the included backup software for a test drive to see how it works before hooking it up to my Mac.

The Specs From The Box

  • Firewire 400, IEEE 1394, i.Link and SBP-2 compliant
  • USB 2.0 and 1.1 Compliant
  • Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, Windows 2000 or XP
  • Included in the box: External hard drive, USB cable, 6 to 6 pin Firewire 400/1394/i.Link cable, External power, CD with backup software (Mac and Windows)
  • There’s a one year warranty

Windows Software

Following the quick start guide I pop the CD into my Windows machine. The installation wizard is started by auto run. There’s options to pick a language then a screen where I can either read the user guide or install software. An Installshield wizard is launched when I pick install. After the intro screen the license is displayed. A few confidence building nuggets from the license:

  • “In addition to the restrictions set forth above, you are expressly not permitted to Use the Software for use in conjunction with the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation, aircraft communication, aircraft flight control, aircraft air traffic control systems, weapons devices or systems, or in any devices or systems in which a malfunction (including, without limitation, software related delay or failure) would result in foreseeable risk of injury or death to the operator of the device or system, or to others.”
  • Like most vendors, there’s language in the license that says they aren’t liable if their software causes us loss.

The only option during the installation is to change the install location. After clicking “Finish” there’s a delay and another installation wizard starts for the backup software. After accepting the license and accepting the default installation location the software is installed. At the end of the install I’m told a reboot is needed (it can be postponed).

After the reboot a message is displayed telling me to connect the drive, and to refer to the quick start guide for instructions. I connect it up using a USB 2.0 connector.

After the drive is recognized I push the “OneTouch” button on the front of the drive and the backup settings screen is displayed. The first screen allows you to select what drives/directories/files you want to backup and and the second lets you set a backup schedule.

The Home screen which is shown below.
Home screen for the Onetouch software

You can change the settings for power saving, assign the OneTouch button to a different application, and assign a password.

Backup allows you to do a backup, change a backup or backup schedule and delete backup files. You can also specify how many historical copies of a file you want to keep. Backup will keep past versions of files which can be restored if needed. The default is 5 versions.

The synchronize option option is where you can specify folders to synchronize with the Maxtor drive. When files are changed it can be automatically copied to a folder on the drive. Synchronizing can be either automatic or manual. Syncing started as soon as I clicked OK.

The only problem I had was that during the initial backup configuration it allowed me to pick the Maxtor drive in the “files to backup list”. Since backing itself up to itself seemed like something that would cause problems I made the selection. Sure enough, the backup started and recursive directories where being created on the Maxtor. Since they were empty they built up quickly. I canceled the backup but the directory structure was already too deep to be deleted through Windows Explorer and attempts to do so generated an error.

The drive was formated using the NTFS file system. I didn’t check until after the Maxtor software install so I don’t know if it was delivered this way or done during the initial connection. I suspect it’s during the initial connection.

It took 27 minutes to sync (actually a copy since no files existed) 3,335 directories with 31,915 files totaling 11.1GB using the Maxtor Sync option.

Backing up the same files took considerable longer at an hour and a half. The backup files aren’t compressed but the Maxtor software does maintain historical copies of files so the difference may be due to the overhead of maintaining and organizing this information.

Then it was time to move on to my Mac.

Mac Usage

I didn’t install the Maxtor software on my Mac. I don’t intend to use it and it installs drivers. The time needed to clone my hard drive or create a sandbox was more than I wanted to spend. So I just went ahead and hooked up the drive. It could see the NTFS drive and it worked in read-only mode. So first up I formatted the drive as one Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition.

While I’m usually skeptical of benchmarking software I figured I could use one to compare the Maxtor to the other drives on my Mac and to compare it via USB and Firewire. I used a copy of XBench to benchmark the various drives on my Mac. I didn’t make any changes (except changes to the drive connections themselves) or run any software during the benchmarking. So while these numbers may be useless to compare to other systems they should provide a relative comparison for the drives. So here they are (higher numbers are better):

Crossfire 160 (Firewire): 39.70
Maxtor 300 (Firewire): 38.14
LacCie 250 (Firewire): 32.61
Mac Mini 80GB Internal: 23.23
Maxtor 300 (USB): 14.31
IPod (USB): 12.07
USB Thumbdrive: 0.71

The Maxtor 300 connected through USB seems abnormally slow. I used a port directly on the Mac mini. This could be due to my system or because of the way the benchmarking software works. Since I’m connecting via Firewire no matter what I’ll put this aside for research sometime in the future.

I’m using the Maxtor via a Firewire connection. I’ve already moved my iTunes and iPhoto libraries over to it (about 95GB). While I didn’t time the copies it was certainly acceptable. (I started the copy, left the room, and it was done when I came back).

Only time will tell how well it works, but so far I don’t have any complaints.