Backup is a bore isn’t it? All that setting-up and fiddling with software. Well, not that difficult perhaps, but the Clickfree solution looks to make things easy as pie. But does it really live up to its name?
The Clickfree works on the premise that you don’t have to do anything other than connect up the hard drive. In the packet you get that hard drive, in the case of the HD225 it’s a 250GB model in “ruby” red, and the USB cable. Other than that you get nothing, as the software is based on the drive itself.
The Clickfree draws power from the USB cable, so there is no need for an additional powerpack. Depending on your setup your USB socket might not supply sufficient power on its own, so the USB lead features two connectors, so one can be plugged into an additional port to draw extra power. This probably won’t apply unless your laptop is fairly old or you are connecting through some types of USB hubs. If this fails you, there is a 5V DC socket on the drive for connection of a powerpack, but this is not supplied.
The Clickfree drive is compact, measuring only 75 x 115 x 16mm, so will slip easily into your bag when travelling making this a convenient solution when on the move, although not unique in that regard – there are plenty of drives of such compact measurements around. Two blue lights indicate power and drive activity.
What is distinctive, of course, is the application that this drive is designed for. As the name suggests, it’s a hassle-free backup drive. Connecting the drive to a USB drive launches the onboard software. You are presented with a countdown to the start of the process and off it goes. This countdown gives you breathing space in case you don’t actually want to backup your PC, for example if you actually want to restore the files instead.
So from that perspective, yes, it is entirely "click free" as the name suggests and we found it had no problem finding the files across several drive partitions. The scanning process does take some time, followed by the first backup which obviously is the longest, as subsequent backups are incremental. You’ll also want to ensure you hook-up to a USB 2.0 connection on your laptop, to make the process as fast as possible.
We tested the Clickfree with several different notebooks, including two temperamental machines prone to crashing (both getting old and clogged up with files). Fortunately the Clickfree will allow you to backup up to 15 different computers (assuming you don’t fill the thing entirely), so is convenient for households or multiple PC users.
Clickfree, like many backup solutions doesn’t mirror your entire system, it picks out particular file types. By default this covers most bases, including your pictures, music, videos and documents, but it also includes email files and so on, and will backup your entire Outlook PST, which some backup solutions need to be prompted to do. It doesn’t backup your applications or operating system, but restoration of these elements is usually fairly easy, if laborious.
But all this automation might scare some users who want a great degree of control, or you might have specific file types you want to backup. This doesn’t present a problem because you can add file types to the list easily, so if you use something obscure you’ll be able to backup those also. Equally, if you manage your files in a different way, and only want your music, for example, then you can remove the unwanted files. Equally, if you store files on a network and want to backup only personal work files (from a workplace computer) then you can do this too, nominating the folders you want to store.
There is also a restore option in the software should the worst happen, to simply return all those files back to your PC, or even to a new PC. You can also browse your files through the software too. If you don’t want to use the automated backup option, you can exit the software and still navigate to the drive through Explorer as you would with any other drive, but with the software onboard, you’ll have to explore the various folders to find your files.
In James Bond style, you can just walk up to someone’s PC, plug in and copy all the files of the type you want and then abseil out of the window to flee from trigger happy terrorists. And that’s pretty cool. (Hey, let’s add a little excitement to backup...)
So what are the shortcomings? Well at £115, you are paying a lot for a 250GB drive, and certainly you could find the hardware for nearly half the price. You also have to remember to connect the drive on a regular basis to ensure you are covered. In a static environment you could easily buy a cheaper drive, and use an existing backup solution, either purchased or included with your OS, for a regular backup procedure and save yourself a fair whack.
You'll also find that this isn't the fastest backup solution out there, so if time really is an issue, then a traditional solution might be for you.
However, for the sake of simplicity the Clickfree lives up to its name, giving you a simple way to backup your files in a convenient form without having to install anything or rely on scheduled backups.