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External Hard Drives Buyer's Guide

We assess 25 of the hottest external hard disk drives from Cavalry, Iomega, LaCie, Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital, and more.


One of the cornerstones of hard drives in general, Maxtor has kept its One-Touch line current, if not a bit futuristic. Don't be surprised if there are Seagate-branded hard drives inside the cases, as Maxtor has been part of Seagate for some time now.

Maxtor One-Touch III
(click for image gallery)

One-Touch III
Capacity: 300, 500, 750 GB
Interface: USB, FireWire, FireWire 800
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps, 400 Mbps, 800 Mbps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 5.4" x 2.6" x 8.5"
Weight: 51.2 oz.
Price: $90 (200 GB)
Web Site

Available in 300-, 500,- and 750-GB versions, the One-Touch III offers FireWire, FireWire 800, and USB connectivity. One-touch backup is available through EMC Dantz Retrospect Express HD software. Maxtor's DriveLock security feature will password-protect the contents of your drive. There is a carrying case and a spare power supply available for this 3.2-lb. drive.

One-Touch Mini III
Capacity: 80, 120, 160 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: No
Fan: No
Dimensions: 0.79" x 5.24" x 3.54"
Weight: 7.2 oz.
Price: $74 (120 GB)
Web Site

It's not just a shrunken One-Touch III (all right, at 7.2 ounces, it is). The Mini gives you 80-, 120-, and 160-GB hard drive sizes in a USB-only external enclosure. While it doesn't specify the backup software supporting one-touch backups, Maxtor does note that its DriveLock and Encryption Software for Windows will keep your data secure and that the drive is capable of automatic data synchronization between two PCs.

Maxtor One-Touch 4 Plus
(click for image gallery)

One-Touch 4 Plus
Capacity: 250, 500, 750 GB, 1 TB
Interface: USB, FireWire
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps, 400 Mbps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 6.75" x 2.5" x 6"
Weight: 40 oz.
Price: $250 (1 TB)
Web Site

Officially, the One-Touch 4 Plus is classified as a business drive. (Cross out the "Plus" and you'll find the consumer model.) Still, with 250-, 500-, and 750-GB and 1-TB capacities, it's a difficult drive to ignore on the desktop. Likewise, the addition of a FireWire interface to the standard USB port adds to its cred. Maxtor's Safety Drill software creates a snapshot of your hard drive, as well as offering data synchronization, security, and automated backup scheduling (along with the usual one-touch backup feature).

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