Editors' note: We gave the Clickfree portable hard drive a one point boost in the "Features" rating to reflect cross compatibility with Macs and Windows OS. According to the company, our test unit was an early build, and all Clickfree Drives now support both operating systems.
The final rating of this review has been updated to reflect a discrepancy in calculation. None of the individual scores have changed.
You shouldn't have to settle for incrementally timed backups on your external hard drive. If you're using a portable solution to safeguard your crucial information, the Clickfree Portable Backup Drive makes it easy to keep a constant backup on hand. There's no setup (unless you count plugging it into your computer); the software built into the drive runs automatically and finds, organizes, and ultimately backs up all data on the host computer. We can't complain about the $180 price tag for our 320GB model, nor are we disappointed with its speedy performance. Despite a few small hiccups, we give Clickfree a high five for successfully smoothing out the wrinkles on a previously painful backup process.
Design and features
The Clickfree Portable Backup Drive is available in several capacities ranging from 120GB up to 500GB. Each uses the standard 2.5-inch hard disk spinning at 5,400 rotations per minute with 8MB of cache. We noticed the drive is much lighter than most of the other external drives that make their way into our lab. Our 0.38 pound Clickfree drive weighs a full 0.22 pound lighter than the hefty Iomega eGo Camo. The device is also small in stature at 4.52 inches tall, 2.9 inches wide, and 0.67 inche deep.
|Drive type||External USB Flash Hard Drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0|
|Available capacities||120GB, 160GB, 250GB, 320GB, 500GB,|
|Product dimensions (LWH)||4.52x0.67x2.9 inches|
|Capacity of test unit||320GB|
|OSes supported||Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista|
Unlike other portable hard drives, such as the Iomega eGo Brown Leather, the Clickfree drive requires zero effort to back up files on a host computer. Once you plug the drive in, the Clickfree connects and assigns two of the same file letters to the host drive: one for the software's executable file and another for drag-and-drop data dumps. Then, the device automatically launches its preinstalled proprietary software, so each time you connect the drive you can view detailed information about both the host and the drive contents and alter the backup settings to choose exactly what types of files you want the drive to protect. You can even specify entire subfolders to check for new files and update every time. Alternatively, there's an option to make a clone copy of the desktop drive. You can't copy over files onto the drive while the backup is in progress, but we're impressed that the Clickfree is capable of copying over an entire Microsoft Outlook database, including calendar events, phone numbers, and archived mail. The drive can view and copy hidden files, raw format images, and other uncommon file types as well.
It will take awhile for the drive to backup your computer the first time you plug it in, but from there it will only sync new and altered files that can cut your backup time to 5 minutes or less depending on the size of the drive. Cleverly, files you delete from the host computer don't disappear on the Clickfree, just in case you might need that file at a later time. Another convenient feature is that you can maintain up to 15 different backup profiles on a single Clickfree drive with different settings for each one. The onboard software organizes and separates each profile and lets you restore individual files or the whole onto a computer. One small drawback is that whatever data you restore is dumped into a single file folder on the receiving drive. More sophisticated backup software returns the individual files to their original location, but with the Clickfree drive, so you'll have to manually reorganize your folders.
Cost per GB
We're surprised to see such a low price for all the software perks you get with the Clickfree. As you can see from the chart below, it's not exactly the cheapest nor the most expensive drive money can buy, but rather falls in dead center at a reasonable 56 cents per gigabyte for the 320GB model. The 500GB Clickfree drive offers an even cheaper option at $220 that factors out to just 44 cents, beating out the Iomega eGo Helium for the best deal out of any external hard drive we've reviewed.
|Cost||Capacity||Cost per GB|
We can't get mad at the Clickfree's performance results either. In fact, out of five other drives in our head-to-head speed test, the Clickfree registered the fastest marks with a 26.38MBps read and 23.34MBps write rating. The only other drive that comes close is Lenovo's ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive at almost a full megabyte slower per second in both read and write. A wallet-friendly price tag and record-breaking transfer speeds easily thrust the Clickfree into our list of the "Top 5 favorite" external hard drives.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
The Clickfree Web site indicates all its drives are backed by a measly one-year warranty and will only be considered for exchange if you include the original purchase receipt that contains the date of retail purchase. We normally prefer the warranty date to last at least two or even three years from the purchase to ensure a working drive well into the disk's life cycle. For an alternate drive with a longer warranty, take a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive.