External hard drives seem to be getting smaller while the memory they store is getting bigger, but can the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini give you all your storage needs? We get saving to find out.



The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini hard drive is a compact storage device that is roughly the size of a Moleskin notebook. Measuring 8.2 x 12.5 x 1.5 cm in size and 168g in weight its highly pocketable.

Smaller than a standard 3.5-inch internal hard drive, encased in metal and inconspicuous in its design, the drive has just one button on the front which also acts as the status light and a micro USB port on the side.

In the box, aside from the drive, you'll get a USB cable and that's it.

So what helps separate this 5400rpm drive from the multitude of other drives available on the market?

Maxtor believe it is its OneTouch technology combined with some nifty software.

Once connected, PC users can opt to install the Maxtor software; Maxtor Monitor, which includes a number of options for managing the drive.

From the software console you can manage your drives, backup all or part of your system, sync folders, save the entire PCs drive to the device, and finally choose and set the level of security you want to have be it merely a password to access the information or full scale encryption.

Within the Backup category you get two main options; Simple and Custom, and as you would expect both do what they suggest.

Rather than opting to backup your entire PC or mac, this option simply backs up your personal drive at a 10pm every day as long as the computer is on.

Custom gives you greater choice not only in the folders you choose to back up, but also the types of files, such as music or photos, videos, and documents. You can also choose to include or exclude any file format and it's all done via a selecting the formats you want included.

Once selected you can then opt for which day of the week and at what time. It's basic but effective as long as you've got the computer on at that time, and unlike Apple Leopard's Time Machine you can only opt to back files up in this way once a day.

Beyond Backup is Sync, which automatically syncs your personal folder on your PC or other folders that you've chosen when you press the OneTouch button on the front of the device. Ideal if you're constantly moving between computers the software allows you to basically keep two folders identical with the latest additions and updates.

Marked as Safety, the drive comes with Maxtor's SafteyDrill software that allows you to save your entire hard drive on your OneTouch drive so you can restore your system in the event of a system failure or your computer being stolen. Here you can opt to have your computer automatically saved in increments of 1 day or more, although nothing less, while those with big drives can set the maximum amount of space on their OneTouch drive is allocated for storing SafetyDrill copies. It's the closest thing to Time Machine we've seen although falls drastically short.

Finally there is the encryption options which are merely password protected areas to keep prying eyes out of your data should you loose the drive, it's clearly a must have, but don't expect it to be anything more.

Verdict

When it comes to overall drive performance, the Maxtor performs well. Unlike Seagate, the parent company to Maxtor, this drive is as happy offering you software on the Mac as it does the PC and while the software is basic, it does offer you a good backup facility if your computer is on and you remember to press the button.



With Apple Leopard users getting a full blown backup solution via Time Machine, the software doesn't even begin to compete and so it's really whether or not you like the physical look of the drive that is going to interest you here.

However for Windows users, who don't have the benefit of Time Machine it will bring peace of mind to those worried about their data.