Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus

Maxtor One Touch 4Let’s face, it, removable hard drives are kind of staid. You plug them in and copy stuff to them. There’s not much to be done with them, but Seagate still manages to make the Maxtor brand the most user-friendly. From the little stickers in the packaging that read ‘save your life’ to the profile of the device itself, this is one product that cares what you think of it and wants to be liked.

As in most of the Maxtor drives, it looks like something that was taken from a control panel on the Death Star with its burnished silver sides and stark, alien-like white activity light.

The OneTouch 4 Plus holds 750GB of data, which is probably enough if you’re a heavy-duty designer for about six months worth of work, together with a sizeable music and photo collection. Owing to the size (about 18 centimetres tall) it’s not very mobile, but is fairly compact on your desktop.

Keeping with the user-friendliness, it’s also Mac compatible. Depending on which system you plug it into, it contains the software to automatically back up your stuff on both, prompting you to install the relevant software when you first connect.

The software, compatible for both Mac and PC, is a utility called Maxtor Manager on your desktop, through which you can access the various inbuilt functions. The back-up tool manages backups and schedules and there’s a sync tool that keeps the current versions of files between your computer and the Maxtor. While handy, it makes the backup feature more or less redundant as you’re more likely to sync data rather than back it up in full every time. There’s also a security feature that includes password access and file encryption and a utility called Safety Drill, which backs your entire hard drive up to the Maxtor in the event of a bad crash.

We tested the speed by backing up a folder of about 22GB of files via USB. The backup software copied the lot in about 40 minutes. Dragging and dropping the same folder onto the disc without using the Maxtor software took a little less time, so you could easily wipe the entire drive and institute your own (manual, if necessary) backup regime.

The Mac software is much the same, and you can connect by either Firewire or USB. We did a backup of about 17GB of data via Firewire and it took 47 minutes, so go for the USB cable regardless of your OS if you have enough spare ports.

The unit costs $449, versus $189 for 250GB and $269 for 500GB, so it might be tempting to just buy the one you can afford. If you need a removable hard disk, our advice is go as big as you can. We’ve all said ‘I’ll never need that much disk space’ and been proven wrong soon after.

RRP: $2,599