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Additional External Storage 

My first hard disk had a capacity of 20MB which pales into insignificance when compared to the 750GB now sitting alongside my system.

Unlike my waist measurement, which does have a tendency to fluctuate, the hard disks in my computers do not have the same ability to adjust their capacity to suit storage requirements.  While I have no concerns with regards to the lack of shrink capability, problems can arise when I need to store more data than there is space available.  Fortunately additional storage space is readable available in products such as Maxtor's OneTouch III product.

This external hard drive supports both FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 connectivity.  It is available in storage capacities ranging from 300GB to 750GB.  This review is based on the 750GB model using its USB 2.0 connectivity.

The kit consists of the external hard drive unit; both USB 2.0 certified and FireWire 400/1384/i.LINK cables; external two-part AC power adapter; installation CD with backup software; and a Quick Start guide.  Measuring 218 x 136 x 65mm (D x W x H), the hard drive is, as you would expect for an external device, well protected within a metal enclosure that is sandwiched between a pair of translucent rubberised plates.  This method of construction not only gives you a secure feeling but also add a non-slip aspect to the device.  All the various connections for power, USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 are located at the back while a single button, which doubles as a pulsating reminder of drive activity and one-touch back-up activation, is conveniently positioned on the front of the box.

Setting up the kit couldn't be simpler.  You start off by installing the supplied software that consists of the appropriate drives and the backup software.  Following a system restart, a screen will advise you to attach the various leads to the drive and switch it on.  Depending upon your operating system, a second system restart might be required but this was not necessary with Windows XP (SP2).

This lack of a second system restart did have the effect of concealing a problem with the drive that manifested itself later.  If I attempted to start the system with the drive turned on then the computer hung at the initial manufacturer's splash screen.  The only way out of the impasse was to turn off the power to the OneTouch III drive and then restart the system.  One the computer had booted satisfactory then the drive could be turned on and it would be recognised as a removable USB device.  This problem has been reported to Seagate.

Pressing the button on the front of the drive launches the backup software which opens with a menu giving options to adjust the default settings plus carry out a backup, restore, sync or roll back.  You can also set up a schedule to carry out an automatic backup by selecting the days of the week and a set time.  As an initial test, I carried out a full backup of the test system that had two hard drives holding a mixture of games, applications, database files, documents, videos, MP3 and image files.  This was carried out using the default settings.

While the backup process does provide feedback regarding the number of files and data copied, no estimate is given as to the amount of time required to complete the task.  The backup, which amounted to 50078MB of data spread over 100779 files, took 2 hours 10 minutes.  This equates to approximately 6.4MB per second.

Switching to a less-intensive task, involving copying folders from an internal drive to the OneTouch external device, produced a faster transfer rate.  This time the task involved copying 19.3GB of data spread over 6705 files held in 455 folders.  Most of this data was made up of MP3 files.

The test was run twice.  First using the "Send to" method, the task was completed in 22 minutes 37 seconds.  A second transfer method, using "copy & paste", managed to trim 12 seconds off that time.  Data transfer rates averaged out much faster at 14.5 and 14.6MB/sec.  All the test were given sole control of the computer yet the figures achieved were lower than the maximum sustained rate of 33MB/sec quoted by Maxtor (the figure when using FireWire 400 was quoted at 43MB/sec)

Despite the discrepancy between the promised and actual data transfer rate, the OneTouch III should ease any storage capacity issues - I hesitate to say in your lifetime as that was the suggestion made when I purchased by first hard disk of 20MB.  Apart from the problem with booting up my system with the drive turned on, I was satisfied with the performance of this product although I would have been happier if the data transfer rate had been higher.  A version of this product supporting USB 2.0 has been priced at £349 while the unit as tested bears a £379 price tag.

http://www.maxtorsolutions.com/en/catalog/OTIII_FireWire_USB/

The 500 Gbyte version is available from Amazon for £114.98 :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Maxtor-Touch-Firewire-External-Harddrive/dp/B000CSJ2EU

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