Maxtor's OneTouch 4 Mini is a simple device that's made quite useful with some basic but helpful software. This small, dare we say, funky looking portable hard drive is a great option and a must have for regular users of multiple PCs or those wishing to share their data wealth with friends and colleagues. The OneTouch name comes from a single button on the enclosure, which instantly performs a task you've allocated, such as a backup or synchronisation, but more on that later.
The OneTouch 4 Mini's compact enclosure (124x81x15mm) only weighs around 167g and is so slim it hardly leaves any room for the internal circuits and cabling that it must invariably have. This particular model has a 160GB hard drive but the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini is also available in 80GB and 120GB formats.
Beyond the drive itself, nothing else is really required, except of course for a USB cable which is supplied. The Maxtor Manager software is on the drive itself, so you won't even need a disc to install it from. Beyond the general purpose of data transport or storage it's this software which makes the drive so useful.
Maxtor Manager is an amalgamation of several applications, including backup, synchronisation and security features. The backup side of things is split into two categories; file backup and SafetyDrill. SafetyDrill is essentially ghosting software, allowing you to make a complete backup of your hard drive. This feature is ideal in the event of a worst-case scenario-type problem, such as a hard drive crash or virus, allowing you to restore your entire system to exactly the way it was when you made the backup. It's a lengthy process, and is therefore an irregular backup for important incremental changes.
The other backup is for your individual files only, helping you keep documents, music and other important files safe from any number of possible problems. This section is divided into two options; simple and custom. The simple backup only saves your My Documents folder, while the custom backup allows you to select the folders you'd like to have protected. This won't take nearly as long as the SafetyDrill and can be done daily to ensure the security of your files.
The other key feature of the software is the synchronisation tool. Again, this tool has a simple or custom option. At the end of the day you can hit synchronise and the software will synchronise the files on your PC to the OneTouch. Then, when you get home just hit synchronise again and Bob's your uncle.
Your OneTouch button can be set to run any one of these features. It doubles as the hard drive activity light and is clearly visible day and night. It's very easy to use. For instance, set it to do a simple backup, make sure you save all important files into the My Documents folder, then, quite simply, at the end of a busy session at work, school or university just hit the OneTouch button and the backup gets underway without having to mess around with the software at all.
The drive can also be setup with a password, plus you can have the OneTouch encrypt all files for further security. No power cable is included as the OneTouch 4 Mini draws its power from the USB cable. The cable has two USB ports for the PC, in case the port is not powered; it's able to draw enough power from two non-powered ports to run.