I bought the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus from Comex last week. The 1TB model was selling at only $239 (was $309 the week before at Sim Lim Square). I had planned to get an external hard disk for my MacBook to put Time Machine backups on. Time Machine requires a separate disk to run on, and I’ve not had the chance to turn on Time Machine because I didn’t have a spare external hard disk available until now.
This is a typical external 3.5″ hard disk, so it requires its own power supply. This makes it not very portable of course, but that’s okay for me because I really just want to leave it on my desktop. The sides of the casing is a nice brushed metal, and the rest is black plastic. It comes with 1 USB 2.0 port and 2 Firewire 400 ports, all located at the back of the casing. The only button is the “one touch” button on the front, which is lit up by a white LED when the hard disk is powered up and also doubles up to indicate hard disk activity. The LED backlight doesn’t look very nice actually, because it doesn’t actually light up the entire button area.
I planned to use this external hard disk for two purposes. First, for the Time Machine backups of my MacBook. 1TB is far more than enough for that. So the second purpose is to serve as extra storage space for all my data, particularly photos and videos, as well as backups of other stuffs I do on my Linux box. I want to be able to connect the OneTouch to both my MacBook as well as my Linux box.
The OneTouch comes pre-formatted with NTFS. Mac OS X doesn’t write to NTFS, and Time Machine requires HFS+. When I plugged the OneTouch into my MacBook, an installer pops up and immediately offers to reformat the entire drive to HFS+. When formatting is done, it will proceed to install the rest of the Maxtor tools, like the Maxtor Manager program that is used in conjnuction with the OneTouch button to do backups of your hard disk.
I chose not to go the path with Maxtor software. Instead, I fired up Disk Utility and formatted the drive into two partitions: one with HFS+ and the other with MS-DOS (FAT). Time Machine worked with that HFS+ partition. When I plugged in the OneTouch to my Linux box, although the disk itself was recognized, Linux could not find any partitions.
Ok, I did a bit of Google search and found that Mac OS X by defaults creates disks with a GUID partition map. The other option is the Apple Partition Map. To work with Linux (and Windows too), the disk must be formatted with the old Master Boot Record format. In Disk Utility, after selecting the disk, then the Partition tab, setup your volume scheme. The partition to be used by Time Machine must be formatted with HFS+. Partitions to be used by other operating systems should be formatted with MS-DOS (FAT). Before you apply, click the Options button which will bring up a dialog giving you the choice of partition formats. Make sure to choose Master Boot Record. Then apply the changes.
The disk should now be usable by both Mac OS X as well as other operating systems like Linux and Windows. Linux and Windows will, of course, only see and use the MS-DOS (FAT) partition.