At a Glance
- Lots of room
- Automatic operation
- Software is slow on some computers
Hardware-software combo provides hands-off backup and requires minimal setup.
In Storage Appliance’s Clickfree Automatic Backup line, the Clickfree Backup Drive 1TB ($200 as of August 31, 2009) is the largest–it’s based on a 3.5-inch hard drive–and the roomiest. This model is a good fit for people who juggle gigabits of multimedia, for multi-PC homes, and for small offices.
Styled in shiny silver and brushed aluminum, the drive can lie flat or stand on its side without additional hardware. Though it looks like many other external hard disk drives, its claim to fame is its preinstalled Clickfree Automatic Backup software. The software kicks in when you attach the drive (if you have Windows auto-play feature enabled). The software resides on a separate partition that your PC recognizes as a virtual CD-ROM and permits to start up automatically.
The process begins with a 25-second countdown, and then the software starts scanning your system for data files. After it’s satisfied that it has found all of your data, the software either will warn you that you don’t have enough room or will initiate another countdown before tackling the backup. At any time before the backup commences, you can change the selections, choosing which files and folders to back up. Once a backup is complete, you can use Windows Explorer to view your data (you’ll have to reveal hidden files to do so); or you can access the data on the drive, using the Clickfree software, which lets you restore files or folders, as well as print, share, and e-mail photos via the integrated viewer. The software is simple and unintimidating; but like other Clickfree Automatic Backup products, this model doesn’t back up system files or support disaster recovery (though it does search for and back up more than 400 types of files). When you prepare to exit after your first backup, the software asks whether you want it to install a reminder app to alert you when it’s time to perform another backup.
My only quibble with the Clickfree Backup Drive 1TB’s hardware is that it lacks an e-SATA port, which would have significantly increased the drive’s performance on PCs that support it. The drive uses a mini-USB connector, which I view as a feature chiefly because you can use Clickfree’s supplied cable with a host of other devices that rely on mini-USB, such as cameras and cell phones.
The Clickfree Automatic Backup software performed smoothly and glitch-free on several systems. But it suffered from the same problems on my Windows XP system (with SSD storage and 750GB of files instead of a hard drive) as did the Clickfree Traveler and the HP SimpleSave–bogging down early in the backup process for no obvious reason.
Still, this is a great, capacious drive with a simple, basic backup routine that’s best suited for users who have lots of data. If you want more flexibility, check out CMS’s slightly pricier V2 ABSplus 1TB, which comes with slightly more robust software and a speedier e-SATA interface.
(For a detailed discussion of different approaches to data and system backups, see “7 Backup Strategies for Your Data, Multimedia, and System Files.”)