Maxtor's range of One Touch Family external hard drives share the same features over various sizes from 60 up to 300 GB. We tested the 160 GB model. Bearing in mind the obvious differences in storage, the other attributes remain static across the range. All units are housed within anodized aluminium casing, trimmed with coloured plastic (we like the blue). The drives lie flat or on one side, thanks to a slide on plastic brace. Obviously, there is the one touch back up button there too, but you don't have to use it.

Bundled in the box is the Dantz Retrospect Express software- this runs scheduled automatic backups to keep your main files safe. The button is customisable to launch any application too. This simple back up system is the unique selling point. I've been more than happy with a 40GB Maxtor I picked up 18 months ago for about the same price as this 160GB- a quarter of the size and without the back up. The shifting price in memory is attributable to many factors- the advance of time, the impact of iPod and HDD MP3 devices on external hard drive prices. What matters is that external memory is coming down to an affordable price.

One grumble with my old Maxtor unit was the sound- overcome with this model. The operating sound level is whisper quiet. Side mounting saves on physical storage space too. The unit is hot swappable, recognised as a plug and play, good for USB 2.0 and 1.1 and works on Mac OS 9.1 and up via USB and Firewire. The 160 GB ran like a dream for us on ME, XP Home and OSX classic.

Verdict

One touch back up may not be your cup of tea- I use my hard drive to store content that's not replicated on my Mac's hard drive and use it as a dumping ground for DV footage and Final Cut files- but it’s faster than any floppy or cartridge back up system. While you may prefer a 300 GB for heavy video work, the price tag for the medium size One Touch Family make it a smart precaution for any SME/SoHo. You can't go wrong with this one. It’s a nice price for the essentially the same piece of kit as the One Touch 2 series, except they are not avaliable in the 160 GB size.

While you could get something in the 200Gb range internally for this price, that’s not the point - you couldn’t whip out an EIDE drive and hot-swap it around your various computers as you can with the One Touch. If you need to back up a set amount of data, which won’t change between reinstallations, and you’re not performing video capture, this is your best solution so far.