Review: Maxtor OneTouch vs. Seagate External

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-11-06 Print this article Print

External drives make backups easier than ever. We look at two of the latest, checking out performance and features, and try to pick a favorite.

External drives are nothing new. Weve been building them since back in the days of 50-pin, SCSI-1 connectors – anyone want a Micropolis 9GB SCSI drive? The advent of FireWire (IEEE 1394) and USB 2.0, however, have made low-cost external drives practical. Last February, ExtremeTech reviewed Maxtors 5000DV external drive, the first incarnation of its one-touch technology. A button on the front of the drive would launch a version of Dantzs Retrospect software, and automatically backup a preconfigured directory or drive to the 5000DV.
However, the 5000DV wasnt perfect. The biggest complaint was about the absence of a power switch. Also, the version of Retrospect that was included with the 5000DV didnt really understand external hard drives. While the pushbutton backup feature worked, if you just launched Retrospect to customize the backup options, you quickly discovered your choices were limited. Finally, the plastic case would get pretty warm, and the drive itself would get even warmer over time.
So Maxtor retuned their drive and officially dubbed it the "OneTouch FireWire and USB." The new version sports a brushed aluminum case, a lower profile and a power switch. It also arrives on the scene with a new version of Retrospect that now understands the concept of an external hard drive as a backup device. In the interim, though, Maxtors gained some competition, namely the new Seagate External Hard Drive. While The name doesnt exactly roll off the tongue, the Seagate drive has a smaller footprint than the OneTouch (though it is thicker), and includes a power switch and a version of CMS Softwares BounceBack Express backup utility. We compared convenience, ergonomics, and performance of the new drives to see who comes out on top. To read the full story, click here.
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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