In May of this year I picked up a Maxtor Onetouch 4 Lite 500GB drive to use for backing up my files. I got it at a good price (under $100) and at 500GB there's enough room on it for over 40,000 images, even full frame RAW images from my EOS 5D. Since I've now been using it for the last 3 months, I though it was time to give it a short writeup.
Like everyone else, I certainly advocate regular backups of all important data, which for me includes website articles as well as images and personal documents. By regular I mean daily backups. If you make changes to your files every day, you should backup every day.
Of course like everyone else, I'm lazy. I forget or think "I'll do it tomorrow". Usually this works out OK, but one day it won't of course. I have had two major disk failures in the last few years and anything I hadn't backed up the day before the drives died, I lost.
So in comes the Maxtor OneTouch 4. It truly is "One Touch" in that it has only one button on it. Push that button and it does a backup of all the files you've told it to via a software setup menu. Even if you don't push the button, it still backs up all my files once each day. Since it can tell which files have been changed, it only needs to backup those files, plus any new files, so it's a fairly quick process. You can schedule the backups for every day, or on days that you select (e.g. once a week on Sundays) and you can select the time when the backup will start. You can configure it via software to back up only certain directories or subdirectories, so if you just want to backup your images, you can have it do that by only listing your image directories for backup. You can also select whether it backs up all the files in your designated directories, or just files with certain extensions (e.g. *.jpg or *.cr2).
As I said, it only has one button. There's not even a power switch (it does go into a sleep mode when the PC is powered down). Connection to the PC is made via a USB 2.0 link and the drive is "plug and play" on windows XP and Vista.
My drive has now been on and working for for about 3 months and has given me zero problems. I'm pretty happy with it and it seems to be doing an excellent job. There's also a 1TB version (1000GB) if you need more space. It's not the only option for automatic data backup of course, but my experience with it so far has been positive.
Of course it can also be used as a normal external drive. Once plugged in it appears with a drive letter just like any other hard drive on your system. You can use the Maxtor backup software if you want, or you can use any commercial or freeware backup utility (such as Cobian Backup), or you can simply use it to store your images and files (though of course you'll want to back them up on yet another drive if they are originals!).