ClickFree enables hassle-free auto data backups

While you know the importance of backing up data, if you’re like the majority of PC users, you probably find backup procedures time consuming and complicated.

A product that could simplify and speed up the process is being offered by Storage Appliance Corp., a Richmond Hill, Ont.-based digital storage company.

It’s a personal USB backup device than can store up to 160 GB of data, photos, video and music in a package just a bit larger than a cigarette packet.

What’s more, if you can plug in a toaster you can probably operate the ClickFree HD801 (retail price $159.99) no sweat.

ClickFree’s noteworthy features include:

  • The ability to backup data from up to 10 PCs
  • Controls that enable users to select which files they want to back up and restore
  • The ability to launch the product without installing any software

ClickFree is ideal for mobile workers and employees in a small or mid-sized business (SMB) who need a highly portable and easy-to-use backup device that requires hardly any training to launch and manage.

I tried the device for a couple of weeks and here’s my impression.

Out of the Box

The product comes in either black or silver and sports a sleek and simple design. It measures 4.52 x 0.67 x 2.99 inches and weighs 6.35 ounces. This makes the ClickFree easy to slip into a briefcase, purse or jacket pocket. I tucked it into my shirt pocket for half a day and it didn’t even bother me.

Perhaps the toughest task is getting the ClickFree product out of the box. Once you’ve released the device from its tough plastic casing everything else is a piece of cake.

Idiot Proof

As a person who never found out how to program his VCR up until the day we purchased a DVD player, I guess I can safely say I am a perfect non-techie test subject for ClickFree’s supposedly “idiot proof” controls.

While other backup systems launched automatically according to a programmed schedule, ClickFree has to be plugged into you computer with the supplied USB cable.

Once connected to my office desktop which runs on Windows XP, the device immediately launches a window on your computer screen showing you the ClickFree’s activity. A countdown to the backup procedure begins after which the device proceeds to backup everything on your hard drive without further human assistance. Set-up time takes about a minute or less.

ClickFree identifies each PC by its internal computer name, but allows users to override this default and chose a different name.

If you want to configure the backup settings, you need to click the option button before the backup starts.

The device settings allowed me to identify what types of files to back up for example: photos, music, e-mail, text documents, spreadsheets, video or presentation, including custom types identified by file extensions.

I found the on-screen controls and instructions intuitive and easy to follow. A phone-in technical support line was also available and the very helpful technician responded to my call within a minute.

However, I think it would have been helpful if the product’s printed instruction materials contained more information on what to expect or what you would see on your screen during the various stages of operation. This, I believe, would give users like myself some degree of comfort because the device just suddenly launches once it’s plugged in.

ClickFree automatically omits backing up “temp” folders and Windows system and program files. It will not back up operating systems and applications.

If you have files on the “temp” folder that you want to backup you will have to rename that folder to something else.

ClickFree managed to backup 1056 files of photos, documents and e-mail amounting to about 535.2 MB of data from my office desktop in about two minutes.

Backing up the home laptop than runs on Windows Vista Home Premium – and contained a cacophony of my daughter’s music downloads, my sons skateboard videos, various photo folders, text, and e-mail messages – took considerably longer.

I took me more than two and half hours to back up 72,956 items or 13,111.0 MB. But I was also surfing online and working on a Word document at that time.

Operation was also not entirely plug-and-play because of Vista’s built-in security features. Yet it only took one click to load and start ClickFree.

Getting it all back

Retrieving files from ClickFree is also a breeze.

You can retrieve individual files or an entire PC’s worth of data by plugging ClickFree into the original PC or another PC.

By clicking on the “Option” button, you can chose to view which the stored file types, browse the original folder structure or search for specific files. Once you’ve made your choice, just hit the “restore” button.


  • Clickfree is very light and easy to use
  • The sleek package is also very durable. I dropped ClickFree about 10 times on uncarpeted floor from a height of about 3 feet and found no damage to the casing or changes in performance
  • The device is compatible with machines running Microsoft Windows Vista (Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate or Business), Windows XP (Home, Professional or Media Centre Edition) or Windows 2000 (with Service Pack 4)
  • ClickFree runs in the background and allows users to engage in other computing tasks while backup is in progress
  • Backs up data from multiple PCs without any software install


  • The system runs directly from the device itself. You will have to plug in ClickFree each time you use it. The product does not allow scheduled back-ups
  • Current capacity of 160 GB might not be enough for users working with large media files
  • The device does not support Macs

Over the last five years digital data has become a pervasive factor in most people’s lives.

Whether it’s for personal or professional purposes, we are storing tons of messages, videos, music, photos and other files on our computers. But our willingness or ability to backup folders that might contain either critical business information or irreplaceable personal memorabilia hasn’t kept pace with our compiling nature.

For the average computer user, the complications of managing the backup process is a major turn off, says one analyst.

“The market for backup products has been largely dominated by complicated devices requiring a fairly sophisticated understanding of technology,” according to Kurt Scherf, vice-president and principal analyst at Parks Associate, a digital technology research firm in Dallas.

“A vast majority of computer users have chosen to take their chances and do nothing to safeguard their data,” he said.

For portable and no-fuss backup of data and media files, I think ClickFree is the simple answer.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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