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Appeared on: Thursday, June 24, 2004
Maxtor OneTouch external HD


1. Introduction / Retail Package

Maxtor OneTouch HDD - Page 1

Maxtor is one the few companies that manufactures Hard Disk Drives. Recently, a new series of external HDD drives were announced bearing the codename "OneTouch". The goal of the new series is to be user friendly while at the same time offering high reading/writing performance along with good portability between various environments (PC/MAC). Let's meet Maxtor's new proposal...

- Features

The Maxtor OneTouch drive is an external hard drive that allows you to add storage to your computer which can hold and organize your documents, videos, music, photos, graphics, and more. By using the Maxtor OneTouch feature, your drive can create and store a copy of your important files with the touch of a button. The Maxtor OneTouch drive has the following features:

The OneTouch series offers 160, 200, 250 and 300 GB capacity and at various configurations, depending on the supported connection interface (USB, FireWire, USB+Firewire).

- What is Maxtor OneTouch?

Maxtor OneTouch is an easy way to make backup copies of your files. By pressing the button on the front of your drive, your files are copied. It's that simple.

- How does the Maxtor OneTouch drive work?

Each time you touch the button, the Maxtor OneTouch drive opens up Dantz Retrospect Express backup software and makes a copy of the files on your source drive, exactly as they exist.

There are some limitations:

- The Package

We received a European retail version of Maxtor's OneTouch 250GB HDD drive.

The retail box is rather large and includes, the OneTouch drive, a very good printed User's Guide, a printed Maxtor warranty sheet, two CDs (Installation/Software, Guides), the power adapter/cables, a vertical stand and four rubber feet.

 

In addition, two connection cables are present, one for USB2.0 and one for FireWire connection (6 to 6 pin FireWire/1394/i.LINK cable)..

The drive case itself is well designed and pleasing to the eye, made of anodized aluminum. On the top and bottom of the case, we find the Maxtor logo printed.

On the back we find the drive's connection ports (two FireWire, one USB2.0, power and on/off switch) and security locking slot. What is missing is a fan to reduce the heat produced when the HDD operates. When used for a long time, the case becomes hot enough, so be careful. There are also two mounting screws that need to be removed to gain access to the drive's interior. Beware however, that warranty is void when you open the case.

On the front, there is nothing special except for the OneTouch Button, which flashes Blue depending on the drive's operation status.

The included drive inside the OneTouch is a normal Maxtor 250GB IDE drive with the following specifications


2. Installation

Maxtor OneTouch HDD - Page 2

- Installation

The Maxtor OneTouch drive was connected to our PC with the FireWire connection. After turning on the power, a hardware wizard prompts you to install the drivers for the front panel button. Notice that even if you decide not to install them (for example, you've lost the installation CD) the drive will work without any problems:

After pressing cancel, we inserted the installation disc and a friendly wizard came up. It's very good to see that Maxtor's installation supports 5 main languages, even so, we would like to see more of them supported:

After pressing on "English", the wizard continued and we selected "Install Software", which installed the front panel drivers along with the Dantz Retrospect Express software:

If you need more help, the wizard lists the Guide & help contents

After windows restarted, we checked the drive's properties under Windows:

As we can see, WinXP SP1 has automatically chosen "Optimize for quick removal" since the drive is installed externally. The user can change to "optimize for performance" mode if he/she desires (restart is needed).


3. Tests

Maxtor OneTouch HDD - Page 3

- Tests

As the test results show, the Maxtor 250GB OneTouch has an access time of 19.97ms when reading and 9.2ms when writing. The drive didn't produce any outliers at both reading/writing service times.

Intel's IPEAK on-line help explains what outliers mean "...A well behaved storage subsystems should have any outliers in the service time distribution and the distribution should be narrow. Outliers in the distribution make the storage subsystem unsuitable for real-time applications, such as multi-media, where variations in service time are detrimental..."

Below are the Read/Write Service times as reported with Intel's IPeak Analyze software:

At both High-End and Business WinMark99 tests, the drive performed poorly. We don't know what the cause of this is, maybe the WinBench99 software doesn't support accurately external HDD drives.

The WinBench99 transfer rate performance is quite good. The drive started at 38.3MB/S and ended at 34.6MB/s. This kind of performance bottlenecked with the FireWire interface. Certainly, performance would be better if the drive is connected as an interl IDE drive.

The "Data Density" graph gives more information about the drive's performance throughout the entire disk's capacity.

Intel's IPEAK test results combine both reading/writing actions and give a weighted score based upon each drive's performance in each specific task. The height of each bar is the measured mean service time per disk access for a drive stimulated with I/Os from the given workload. Shorter bars represent better performance. As we will see, a drive that scores well in the "Desktop" test, doesn't mean that it will perform the same in the "Server" mode test, since the I/O operations are different.

In the above picture you can see the weighted (average) score of all tested drives. Despite the fact that the Maxtor performed poorly in the WinBench99 scores, it showed very good performance in Intel's IPEAK RankDisk software. The high access times don't affect the desktop weighted score due to higher reads vs. writes. In the "Server" test, the drive delivers the lowest and best mark since its write access times are very low (9.2ms).


4. Features

Maxtor OneTouch HDD - Page 4

The main and strong point is the drive's ability to work directly with the installed Retrospect Express software. The provided version of the software is 6.0.222 as the "About" box informed us.

Below we can see the basic screen for the software after pressing the "OneTouch" button on the front panel. The software comes with friendly wizards, that help you use the backup function. For all operations, there is enough explanation either below each button or with the attached chm help file.

After pressing the 'Backup' button, the wizard prompted us to select our source volumes to backup. Retrospect Express copies files from a source and stores them in a Backup Set . The source can be a hard disk, server, network volume, CD-ROM, or even a combination of multiple sources.

After selecting the local drive (C:), the wizard continues. The Backup Set can be saved on storage media including: tapes (Travan, etc.), recordable discs (CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, or DVD+RW), disks (fixed disks, network volumes, and removables), or even a single file on a hard disk or server:

Retrospect Express uses an archival method of backup that ensures backed up files are not deleted or written over without your approval, so they stay on the recordable disc, tape, or disk indefinitely. If you have been backing up every day, Retrospect Express lets you retrieve a good version of the file from a week ago (or any point in time it was backed up). This is a strong point of the software not found in "disk mirroring" backup software. The Backup Set is a set of one or more disks, tapes, recordable discs, or a file. Individual pieces of media are members of a Backup Set.

After selecting the "Backup Set A" we are ready to proceed with our backup.

The wizard prompts us to select the target disk to store the Backup Set. We selected the Maxtor OneTouch drive (I:)

The backup started:

And finished after 3.12mins. The wizard will prompt if any execution errors occur (files that changed through mirroring or failed etc.). It's suggested that you not work on your PC when performing the storage procedure.

The Catalog File , a file saved on your hard disk, is an index of the files on the storage media of a Backup Set. The Catalog File lets you view the contents of a Backup Set without having to have the media on hand. A Catalog File is required for all operations that copy files to and from a Backup Set. If a Catalog File is lost or damaged, Retrospect Express can rebuild a Catalog File from the media. Catalogs typically use four megabytes of disk space for every ten thousand files.

You may back up as many source volumes as you like to a single Backup Set. For example, you could have a single Backup Set as the backup destination for your computer's internal hard disk, your external hard disk, and a file server.

A wise action would be to prepare your system for disaster recovery. With the software's friendly wizard you can prepare the disks:

You can even insert the serial number of windows to be able to fully restore your current windows installation

After the wizard finishes, you have a number of sets ready to backup your system in case of emergency.

In this review we only gave a short example of the software's capabilities. The software has many other interesting options, like scripts to automate regular backups. It is suggested you read the attached printed manual and online help file to fully unveil the software's potentials.


5. Conclusion

Maxtor OneTouch HDD - Page 5

- Conclusion

Maxtor with the OneTouch series mainly is aimed at those who want to make backups of their system on various platforms (PC/MAC) with friendly software but at the same time powerful. The drive of course, can be used without the attached backup software like any normal external HDD solution with good performance, as is the case with the FireWire interface which bottlenecks when the drive is in full swing reading and writing.

The drive's average reading speed is around 35MB/Sec with a reading access time of 20ms. On the other hand, the writing access time is very low, 9.2ms giving good backup results. Certainly, Maxtor's OneTouch solution is a good choice, well made external case and with good performance. We almost forgot, the drive's reading/writing operations are noiseless due to the good structure of the external case and the built-in fluid dynamic bearing motor. :-)

The price of the drive is at 285 Euro (+ VAT), making it a bit expensive compared with the purchase of an internal + simple external case solution...

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