of Clickfree data backup makes it a good bet for small businesses
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
October 28-November 3, 2008; issue 992
High Tech Office column:
The best protection we
can have from computer disaster – whether from theft, virus infection,
hard drive crash or more – is an up-to-date backup.
Research reports that only 4% of consumers regularly back up their
data. Small businesses probably do. But even if you work for an
organization with an IT department performing regular backups across
the network, is the data on your laptop or home computer backed up?
Storage Appliance Corp. has a series of products that it claims are the
easiest-to-use backup systems available. Its Clickfree portable hard
drives and recordable DVD discs have backup software built-in that
automatically starts up as soon as the drive is plugged in or the disc
is inserted into a computer’s DVD drive.
I tried out a Clickfree
HD801 160 gigabyte external hard drive ($160 – www.goclickfree.com –
there’s also a $130 HD701 120 gigabyte model). About the size of a pack
of cigarettes, it’s powered right from the computer’s USB port – no AC
As promised, an easy-to-use backup program
starts up a few seconds after plugging it in – there’s no need to first
install software onto your computer. A single click is all that’s
needed to start backing up, though it may be worthwhile to first click
on the options button. That shows the default settings to scan your
computer for photos, music, e-mail, office-type files (text,
spreadsheets, presentations), graphics files, videos, website
favourites and more. You can customize the defaults and manually add or
subtract files or folders to back up or add custom file types.
other backup options, the first time it runs, it takes a while. I left
it running overnight, so I don’t know how long it took, but when I got
back to work, it reported that it had backed up 6,351 items totalling
12,344 megabytes. Subsequently, it was much faster, as it backs up only
new or changed files. Backed up files are stored in their original
format, so you can access files manually or use the Clickfree software
to restore backed up files.
The Clickfree software restores data
files to a new location on your hard drive. You will need to manually
put them back into their default locations and import e-mail back into
Outlook or other e-mail software.
Space permitting, a single
external drive could be used to back up multiple computers, making this
a potentially useful option for a small business or workgroup. It could
also be a relatively pain-free way to move user-created files from an
old computer to a new one.
Clickfree DVD discs come with
ready-to-run software to back up your choice of photos, music or office
files. They’re also sold singly or in three-, five- or 10-disc packs.
The Clickfree software works only with Windows XP and Vista. Mac
versions are promised.
In its effort to make backup simple, the
Clickfree software lacks options common to more sophisticated backup
software. For instance, it can’t be set to run on a schedule; if you
want daily backups, you need to plug the drive in once a day. And it
won’t store multiple copies of frequently changed files.
delete a file from your computer, however, the copy of the deleted file
will remain on your Clickfree drive until you manually delete it,
making it possible to restore accidentally deleted files.
limitations are deliberate. Storage Appliance CEO Bryan MacLeod noted,
“Backing up your PC content just got easier than using your toaster or
microwave. Along the way we’ve essentially eliminated the risk forever
of losing digital content that in many cases is irreplaceable.”
creating a product that’s simple enough that busy people may actually
use it, Clickfree could just be a backup solution for the people who
know they ought to back up their data, but somehow never get around to