Review: The ClickFree Automatic Backup Drive - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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You have no real choice in how ClickFree backs up. When you first plug in the device, the software creates an encrypted, compressed archive on the backup drive containing all the files of the selected (or default) types, or of those found in the selected folders. In subsequent backups, it only backs up new files or files that have changed.

Some backup software gives you the option of making uncompressed mirror copies of folders or files that make it slightly faster and more convenient to recover individual files or all files if the occasion arises.

If you change a file on the computer, ClickFree copies the new version on top of the old version on the backup drive. Some backup systems and services give you the useful option of preserving a number of older versions of each file in the backup. ClickFree doesn’t.

And if you delete a file from the computer, ClickFree doesn’t automatically delete it from the backup archive. You have to explicitly tell the software to delete those files. No big deal, except it’s one more thing to remember to do.

Some backup programs will automatically restore files to the folders from which they were originally backed up, but also let you change folder names in the event you’re restoring data to a completely new computer. With ClickFree, if you’re restoring all files, you can only put them in a single catch-all folder on the computer.

This method is not quite as convenient. It means you’ll then have to copy files from the restore folder to the folders where they belong. And many people won’t know where their Outlook .PST file belongs, for example.

Still, for the vast majority of people, these are minor problems, if problems at all.

As Advertised

The out-of-the-box experience with this product is excellent with clear and concise instructions. And it works as advertised, the very first time. The software launched automatically on both of our test computers just as the Quick Start Guide said it would, and it began backing up almost immediately.

The first backup can, as with any backup system, take a long time, depending on how much data you have. It took more an hour in the case of our recently acquired Dell notebook, which is now our main computer. Time for subsequent backups will depend on how many files you’ve changed or added in the meantime, but it will usually be very quick, as little as a few minutes most days.

Restoring files is the same: if you restore all, it will take a long time to decrypt and uncompress the archive and copy every file back to your computer. But if you need to restore just one or a few files, it takes seconds.

Bottom Line

For very small businesses especially, this is an excellent and cost-effective solution. It requires a bit of discipline to remember to back up regularly. But if you leave the ClickFree drive sitting on your desk in full view, it should be reminder enough.

Just don’t leave it sitting on your desk after the backup. One of the points of this product is that you take your backup offsite to keep it safe.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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This article was originally published on August 12, 2008
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