Backup Hard Drives
You know you need to back up your files, so it's in your best interest to find a way to make that task as easy as possible. A FireWire hard drive with special capabilities -- such as CMS Products' ABSplus or Maxtor's OneTouch -- may be the answer. Either can preserve your valuable data and provide extra working space. We looked at the 200GB ABSplus and the 250GB OneTouch.
Backup and Restoration
When it comes to establishing a backup routine, the easier the better. The ABSplus software automatically backs up changed files whenever you connect or power up the ABSplus drive. (You may want to turn the drive off when it's not in use, so you aren't subjected to its constant fan noise.)
ABSplus lets you schedule one-time, daily, weekly, and monthly backups, and it can remind you if you haven't backed up recently. These features come in handy if you leave the drive on. However, we thought the process of scheduling backups was too fussy. The company said that a new version of the software would be bundled with the drives by the time you read this.
The fanless OneTouch is quieter than the desktop ABSplus. Initiating backups with the OneTouch is easy, since you merely press a button on the drive to launch Dantz Development's Retrospect Express Backup 5.0 ( ; July 2002) and back up changed files. However, setting up the drive and running the first backup require a number of steps, and the setup wizard is somewhat confusing.
Anyone who wants to go beyond the default Maxtor settings will appreciate the OneTouch's flexibility: Maxtor has improved the documentation, which now explains how you can use Retrospect Express Backup scripts to create backups that store multiple versions of files. This protects you from file corruption in a way that constantly updated duplicates don't.
Although backing up your files is important, restoring files is what matters when disaster strikes. Here's where the ABSplus shines. You can boot any Mac from it and get back to work instantly, so it's more useful out of the box as both a utility and a troubleshooting drive. Also, a new QuickRestore feature simplifies the previously awkward task of restoring an entire drive.
Unfortunately, the OneTouch's default settings don't create a bootable OS X backup; however, bringing back individual files or an entire disk isn't difficult. Maxtor doesn't officially support the OneTouch as a boot device, so although you can install Mac OS on it, it may not boot your particular Mac.
If you want to use the ABSplus for both external storage and backup, you must first partition the drive so it can accommodate both your backup and your other data.
That extra preparation is unnecessary with the OneTouch. You can also set the OneTouch button to open any file; if you have multiple OneTouch drives, you can assign each a different task.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Both drives do a fine job of simplifying backup and providing external storage space. The ABSplus is a focused backup device that's easy to use, right out of the box, for backup and restoration, whereas Maxtor's cheaper and quieter drive is better for people who want extra disk space and more backup flexibility.
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