Promising the ultimate in hassle-free backup, the Clickfree Portable Backup is a smart 2.5in external hard drive, slightly larger than a packet of fags. It contains software that backs up Windows PCs without user intervention.
Available in 120GB, 250GB, 320GB and 500GB capacities, the Clickfree Portable Backup is a 5400rpm notebook hard disk with 8MB cache. The 250GB Clickfree Portable Backup drive we tested felt solid and tough in its metal and plastic case, but lighter than we'd expect.
Powered by USB, the Clickfree Portable Backup HD225 has software pre-installed that can back up as many as 15 different PCs. The software recognises each system, but works only with Windows XP and Vista.
Installation involves inserting the supplied USB cable, which has two heads in case your PC's ports are underpowered. And that's it. The software runs within 60 seconds of insertion.
In our tests the drive worked seamlessly on both XP and Vista systems, although one elderly XP machine wasn't so convinced until we manually started the Clickfree app - it relies on Microsoft's autorun being active. But when it works, the Clickfree Portable Backup works beautifully. Any problems, and the online help guide is thorough.
Once running, you can view detailed information about your PC's contents, and choose exactly what you want to back up. The Clickfree Portable Backup feels slick and intuitive, unlike other combo backup drives and software.
As well as cloning your desktop drive, you can copy individual subfolders and files, and specify folders to check and update. The Clickfree Portable Backup drive can view and copy hidden files and recognises more recent file types such as RAW images.
Impressively, the Clickfree Portable Backup can back up a Microsoft Outlook database while it's open. But note that as with any other files and foilders, it takes a snapshot at the beginning of the backup cycle, and any revisions you make while the Clickfree Portable Backup is running will not be preserved.
The initial backup of a hoary system can take a while, but all subsequent backups are incremental, copying only updated files. In our informal tests on several machines, backups never exceeded five minutes. And the software retains previously backed up files that you may have deleted from your desktop.
The Clickfree Portable Backup doesn't retain folder structures when restoring backups, so you'll have to reorganise if you suffer catastrophic failure - a small price to pay.
At around 46p a gigabyte, it's not the cheapest backup solution. Good looking, solid and beyond intuitive, the Clickfree Portable Backup HD225 may be the device that gets you to back up regularly.