Review: Maxtor OneTouch vs. Seagate External

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.


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