Reviewed Hardware: Clickfree 250 GB Model HD225
Manufacturer: Storage Applicance Corporation
Portable Clickfree Automated External Backup Drive
The common problem with doing a backup of my computers is dealing with opened files and opened programs always meant saving and closing the applications before doing a backup. Using the computer while the backup was taking place meant not having access to the computer. Installation of automated backup software always promised simple and headache FREE operations but this was never the case with all backup software I have used. The setup alone would be a nightware to configure. Did I want a file backup, mirror backup, backup right away, schedule a backup, uncompressed files, compressed files, encrypted files, incremental backup, overwrite old files and many more annoying decisions to make before you can start the backup process. If I forget to leave the computer on or the backup drive installed on my laptop, a message usually appears the next time I turn on the laptop that the scheduled backup was not completed and provide options but usually meant I would just reschedule. Sometimes missing 2 – 3 backup sessions.
Now, there is a product on the market called the Clickfree which aims to resolve these annoyances and more by truly making the backup process as painless as possble. First, here is a small list of issues I have always had a disliking to over the years.
- USB was always promoted as PLUG N PLAY but not all backup drives came this way.
- Separate backup software on CD that requires setting up.
- USB backup drives are generally far more expensive compared to getting just a USB external hard drive plus separate backup software.
- External backup drives only backed up one computer.
- Using an APPLE and a Windows PC meant two backup drives and two different backup software programs to learn.
First, the product being reviewed here is the 250 GB version of the portable Clickfree external backup drive. The process and features are the same with all the portable Clickfree external backup drives. The only difference is the capacity of the storage drive inside plus the 120 GB and 160 GB drives support Windows PC only. The 250 GB comes in a nice red colored casing with both PC or MAC support.
Before opening the package, I always like to look at the specifications listed on the outside. I was intrigued when I read what was included inside was a SUPPORT MANUAL. Typically a Users Manual or Users Guide is the standard wording. SUPPORT MANUAL gave me the impression that only information required if or when you run into any problem later was supplied. When I opened the package and took a close look at the manual, there was very little information on how to setup the Clickfree.
Here are the 4 simple steps outlined in the SUPPORT MANUAL for Windows XP/2000.
- Ensure that your computer is on and that you are logged in.
- Connect Clickfree Backup using the USB cabled included.
- Wait for approximately 60 seconds. Clickfree Backup will automatically start and run on its own. If it does not start, please see troubleshooting.
- When backup is complete, disconnect Clickfree from your computer by disconnecting the USB cable. Congratulations! Your files are safe.
For Windows Vista, the instructions were very similar and short. For the MAC, there are no instructions but I understood why later. Now, I was getting even more excited that this could finally be the first simple external backup system.
The first step was to connect the external drive to my Windows laptop. The supplied cable has two USB connectors for the PC and one mini plug for the external drive. I have two spair USB ports on my laptop therefore I connected both USB ends to the laptop. Depending on the PC, you may only need the main USB connection. The seond short plug is for additional power if the single port does not offer sufficient current. You can always plug in both just to be safe. Then I connected the small plug into the external drive unit. I waited as the instructions have stated.
In about 40 seconds or so, I was prompted by my SPYWARE TERMINATOR program that an executable file wanted access to my computer. This is a small message window that appears down by the taskbar. I clicked ALLOW to continue. A total of 7 messages popped up which I had to deal with. Most of you will not have this issue unless you have this feature turned on in your spyware or anti-virus software. In most cases this type of notification would be turned off as a default setting so nothing really to worry about here. If you have the file execution notification turned on then I might suggest turning this off before connecting the Clickfree drive.
After the application appeared on the screen, the laptops internal hard drive was being accesed to determine the number of files and total space required to backup. Once this was completed, the backup process began. The interesting thing about these windows where that they were not your typical Microsoft application Windows. These windows are very clean looking with no standard menu bar and easy to read.
My hard drive is 70 GB in size with about 98% full capacity. I am really reaching my limit on this laptop. The whole process took about 2 hours to complete. At the end, I was presented with a complete summary of what was backed up. Now this window has a number options displayed. The screenshot shown was taken on a subsequent backup.
On subsequent backups, I can have only certain files or folders backed up if I wish. I can also setup a password protection to avoid unauthorized access to the files. Make sure you keep the password stored safely somewhere separate from your computer for maximum protection. If you do forget the password completely, you can reset the password but this means the Clickfree drive is wiped cleaned before backup can begin again so be careful before setting a password.
One odd message I am getting on every subsequent backup is this:
“Windows mail is transferring your email account and messages from Outlook Express to Outlook”. I have 2044 emails listed as new in the Clickfree summary page after the subsequent Clickfree backup is completed. I can cancel the transfer message that is coming from Windows Vista. Sometimes I get a message, “rolling back migrated messages” and sometimes I get a message, “error transferring email message”. Regardless of if I have the transfer completed or cancelled. I still see the above message each time I reconnect the Clickfree. These messages are about the old Outlook Express messages which were originally transfered about 1 1/2 years ago when I moved from Outlook Express to Outlook. Once I allowed this transfer to complete after each reconnect for a total of 6 complete Outlook Express to Outlook transfer, I nolonger get this message. Initial check of my IN and SENT boxes in Outlook does not seem to show duplicate email messages.
There is no automated backup feature since the drive is designed to be disconnected after each backup so that the drive can be stored somewhere off-site or at least away from the backed up computer for safe keeping. What Clickfree does offer is a reminder program that can be easily installed and removed if nolonger needed. At least you have the ability to be notified when the last backup was completed.
On subsequent backups, the software will recognize the changed or new files to be backed up only. This saves loads of time during backup. Also, you can backup while using the computer. The backup programs will recognize if a program or file is open and prompt you to click a couple buttons to continue backig up these opened files. No more saving and closing the program before the backup can continue.
Restoring or Transfering Files:
The main purpose of the drive is to backup automatically upon connection, subsequent backups will start after 20 seconds. This is when you need to select the option the Restore/Transfer button before the clock reaches ZERO. You have complete control of folders and individual files to restore or transfer. If the software automatically starts the backup process, you can select restore/transfer once the backup summary appears later on.
The HD225 is also MAC compatible. The interesting added feature of the Clickfree is that you can backup upto 15 computers on one drive. Since the HD225 is Windows and MAC compatible as indicated on the website, I also plugged the drive into the iMAC. Unfortunately the Clickfree softare for the MAC does not recognize the Windows drive format which is normal therefore requested that the drive be initialized which will cause all data to be lost. For this review, I did just as requested. The initialization took less than a minute and the software continued until the backup was complete. As the product indicates, the backup process was very easy and painless. I did have to click once to initially start the software though.
Back to my Windows laptop, I was presented with the same issue. The software failed to recognize the MAC drive format and I had to initialize the drive again. The process was easy and painless just like on the iMAC. This just meant starting from scratch again as a fresh backup. I would require a Clickfree for the Windows system and a Clickfree for the iMAC system if I wanted to keep both systems backed up.
The Nexstar 3 is a do it yourself case that was purchased for around $40.00 USD and a 2.5 inch laptop drive was installed side. Took about 10 minutes to assemble and cost approximately $80.00 for the 250 GB drive for a total of $120.00 USD with no backup software. The Clickfree has a retail price of $129.99 USD which comes with the automated backup software. FREE shipping currently from www.goclickfree.com anywhere in North America for any purchase over $99.00 USD. This is truly a great deal for the Clickfree drive.
You have to check out this and all the other offerings from Storage Appliance Corporation.
Installation Ease: 10
Fun Factor: 10
Documentation: 9 (not really required)
Online Support: 8
- Access to the files via File Explorer or a third party application is not that convenient since the folders and files are located in a 7 layer deep subfolder within a folder labeled s.
- Changed files are overwritten on top of older backed up files. If you need older copies of files like an Excel spreadsheet, you should save them under a new file name when you use the files regularly.
- Does not support Windows and MAC OS simultaneously. Website indicates works with Windows and now MAC plus one Clickfree™ portable backup drive can backup multiple computers which I assumed as supporting both simultaneously. I would suggest stating “Works with Windows or MAC” to minimize confusion.
- Second USB connector on the transfer cable maybe too short for some users that might require both connection for proper power.
- Not very flexible for seasoned or professional users but still very convenient.
- Model numbers do not match drive storage sizes. Lower drive sizes have higher model numbers which makes it also confusing when buying.
- Works as advertised
- The 250 GB drive means you have 250 GB of file storage space. The actual backup software is stored on a virtual CD drive separate from the main drive. Program is over 40 Megs in size. Not large compared to the actual drive space available but is still a substantial savings.
- Very easy for novice to use and customize.
- Backs up 15 different computers running the same type of operating system.
- Large LED power and drive access lights.
- Second USB connector is clearly labelled to indicate for “Extra Power”.
- Very small and lightweight.
- Software update is recognized and downloaded automatically. This occured during a subsequent backup.
- Drive is very quiet.
- No need to tell Windows to disconnect the external drive before physically removing.
I really like the Clickfree even though it does not support Windows and MAC OS simultaneously. The logistics in supporting both simultaneously is probably complex and prone to issues. The product works very well straight out of the box and the price is very reasonable for an external USB hard drive with built in backup software. I would highly recommend this package for individuals and even small offices. There are other options available from Storage Appliance Corporation like the larger 1 terabyte drive, the solid state Traveler and the Transformer adapter for those that already have a spare external USB drive to use as a backup.