For the longest time, I was the person that didn’t back up any of the files
stored on my computer. Important emails, Money files, passwords, pictures, MP3s,
programs I had paid for, Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets, years and years
worth of ranch data and documents, reviews I had written – I was blissfully
ignorant about what the consequences would be should my hard drive ever fail. I
was the person that thought that it would never happen to me, and
I was the person that lost everything when my computer spontaneously
combusted one afternoon in 2001.
It’s kind of funny when I look back now, I was always so careful about
backing up my PDA’s information; yet I was completely negligent with the files
that really mattered – the ones on my PC that fed the data kept on my PDA. It
took me many (many!!) months to rebuild from scratch, and to this day I
still regret the loss of that irreplaceable information. You wouldn’t believe
how often I’ll think of some document that I need – and that I think I have on my computer…but when I go search for it I realize that it was pre-crash
data that I wasn’t able to replicate. After that one disastrous experience I
became a true believer in using external hard drives to store my
However, the possibility of a future computer crash is not the only reason I
now depend on external hard drives. Because these external drives easily connect
to almost any computer with a USB or FireWire port, I now have the ability to
move large amounts of data between one computer and another. This makes sharing
information between computers a cinch. In my home office, I depend on a
400GB Seagate External Hard Drive for most of my backup needs, but this
larger sized device is not at all practical when I need to take my data with me
on the road. For that, I have come to depend on portable external hard
In the last few years it has become quite common to see portable hard drives
with memory amounts up to 100GB or more that can easily fit in a laptop
bag’s pocket. Today I am going to take a look at the
Mini Edition, a portable drive that not only allows the user to carry up to
100GB with them at all times, it also provides the encryption of said data while
empowering the user with a few other conveniences.
The Maxtor Mini Edition easily lives up to its name, measuring 5.2"
tall x 3.5" wide x 0.8" thick, and weighing just 7.3 ounces. Available in 60GB
or 100GB versions, the hard drive is clad in a matte silver metal case with
black rubberized plastic sides. Although it is quite light, the device feels
well made and does not creak or flex when its case is torqued. Included in the
box are the drive, a USB Y-cable, a quick start guide, and all of the necessary
software preloaded on the drive itself.
(front of Maxtor)
(back of Maxtor)
The back of the drive has, from left to right, ports for the optional
Maxtor OneTouch Power
Adapter and the mini USB port for the USB Y-cable.
Other than plugging in the USB Y-cable, the only other non-computer-based
interaction the user will have with the hard drive is through the button on the
left front. This button will glow white when the drive is powered, blink white
when the disk is being accessed, and when pushed the button will commence a user
defined or default process which we’ll discuss in detail shortly.
The drive is powered by plugging the USB Y-cable into either one or two USB
ports. One USB port is all that was needed to power it from my PC, but in the
event that both USB ports aren’t enough, the optional power adapter
should be purchased.
The Mini Edition is small enough to take along, but it is also conveniently
sized for desktop use.
|Hard Drive:||2.5-inch ATA|
|Interface:||USB 2.0 and 1.1 compliant|
|Sustained Transfer Rate:||USB 2.0 33MB/sec|
|Bus Transfer Rate:||USB 2.0 480Mb/sec|
|Operating Temp:||5C to 35C (41F to 95 F)|
|Weight||7.2 oz (205 g)|
The first time the Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition is plugged into the host
computer, it will need to install its software. This is simply a process of
clicking the appropriate button and letting the drive do its thing.
Once installed, the Maxtor will be represented as a Hard Disk drive under "My
A new "M" icon will be installed in the system tray.
Once installed, the Maxtor’s files may be accessed from the desktop. The user
can simply drag & drop the files to copy…
…or the user can utilize the newly installed software. This software is
always accessible by right clicking and selecting "Backup Settings" from the
newly installed "M" icon in the system tray.
There are six icons on the left side that allow the use to manage the
Maxtor’s settings. I won’t write a full user’s manual in this review, but I will
try to touch upon most if not all of the features…
The Home setting displays the serial number, memory and firmware information
directly pertaining to the Mini Edition.
From this screen it is also possible to run a diagnostics test on the drive.
The Settings button allows the user to customize the power setting…
…which tells the drive when to go into "power saving mode" after a period
Next it is possible to customize the setting for the lone button on the
exterior of the case. The button can be set to open the application of choice,
synchronize folders using Sync, or to do the Maxtor OneTouch Backup of the
The last setting is security. The owner may set a password and choose a
secret question that will reveal the password should it be forgotten. After the
password has been set, it must be entered in order to access the contents of the
the drive anytime the drive is powered.
The Backup button shows when the drive is set for Automatic Backups or not,
and at what time they are scheduled. Any and all days of the week may be chosen
as well as any time during the day. I have mine set for daily at 3am.
The user can select the drive, folder, or subfolders that are to be included
in backups; everything included in the selected file will be copied.
Once the initial settings are made, a backup can be performed. The first one
will always take the longest, future backups will be quicker as they will only
add information not previously included.
One to ten Historical Versions may be kept on the drive, allowing the user to
chose a particular date’s version should it be needed.
The Restore button allows the restoration of a particular historical backup
or the most recently backup files. This process may also be done manually by
going into the drive’s backup folder and selecting the particular file needed.
The Sync button allows the user to set a direct synchronization between a
folder on the external drive and a folder on the computer. This process can be
customized to use the one-touch button on the drive.
The Rollback button allows the user to set automatic restore points for their
system, create a restore point of the current system, and restore their system
to a previous state.
Worth noting are the colors of the "M" icon in the system tray. When a backup
has performed successfully, the icon will glow green.
When a backup has failed for whatever reason, the icon will glow red. I am
not entirely sure why this particular backup failed – it probably has something
to do with the my trying to do an Outlook file backup while using Outlook. ;0)
Because the Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition is USB driven, it will work with
any computer that has an available USB port, Mac or PC. However, the installed
software will only properly function with a Windows PC running 2000 Professional
or XP; this will most likely be seen as a major caveat for Mac users.
No backup device testing would be complete without some timing tests, so here
are a few to give an idea of transfer times:
Moving a 34GB file with 17 full length movies from my PC to the Mini Edition
took 50 minutes and 54 seconds.
Moving a 41.5MB Music file from my PC to the Mini Edition took less than 5
I had a completely different summary in mind but the writing of this review
took a rather ugly twist this afternoon, which is why it is being posted at
nearly midnight instead of around 3 pm as I had intended. This review was
complete and ready for posting when an unrelated process caused my computer to
lock up and all of my open programs quit responding. Yes, I had been hitting
control + save all through the review writing process, even up to the moment
when my computer froze; but after shutting my computer down and restarting, I
found that the entire review was completely gone! All that was left was a
FrontPage document in the correct folder with the correct title. Urgh!!
I think my curses could be heard all the way to the edges of San Angelo;
How ironic was it that I was writing a review on a backup device? How
cool was it that during the review I had hit the OneTouch button – which
had preserved all of my photos and roughly half of my text? I had prior
commitments that I had to fulfill between 3 and 9 tonight, but coming home and
knowing that I had a running start made redoing this review bearable. I have a
feeling that hitting the OneTouch button may become a compulsive habit while
writing reviews in the future…thank you Maxtor!
If you have been living dangerously by not backing up your important data,
please learn from my mistakes and get an external hard drive. Computers are
fallible, and they will crash at the most inopportune and inconvenient times.
Don’t take the chance of losing your irreplaceable photos, audio recordings and
documents. Get off the fence and start backing up your data!
The Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition 60GB retails for $149.95, and the 100GB
version for $199.95. The
Maxtor OneTouch Power
Adapter is available for $29.95.
read the FAQ here; this Maxtor hard drive comes with a 1-year limited