Hardware reviews are pretty rare here – we tend to focus on software and websites, but since I’ve recently bought a dandy new bit of hardware, I’ve decided to pen a review of this rather smashing bit of kit.
I’m not very good with backing up files. I tend to copy my important work to a USB, and then to my laptop, but other than that, I’ve never run a full back-up of any of my PCs. Part of the reason for that is I’ve never had anywhere to store the files, other than dozens of disks, which would have been incredibly awkward.. I could have bought an external hard-drive, but I didn’t want to have to remember to copy files over when I change them or create new ones. Luckily I’ve found a bit of kit that does it all for me – the Clickfree C2 Automatic Backup.
It set me back about £80 200GB of storage space. That might sound overpriced, but bear with me – this bit of kit differs from normal off-board hard drives in that it detects the files on your computer, and copies them to itself. Not only that, but it also detects when a file is changed, and updates the copy. The hardest bit about using this product was getting it out of the package – it’s in one of those awful clamshell cases that can only be opened with pair of scissors or other such attacking implement. Having eventually managed to remove it, it was then just a case of slotting the hard drive into the dock, and plugging it into a USB port.
The dock comes with two USB connectors, but you only need to plug one in unless your PC doesn’t have USB 2.0 ports, which it most likely does. If nothing starts happening once you’ve plugged it in, sticking the second connector in another socket should give it enough power to get it whirring.
After Windows had found the device and was happy with it, a Clickfree window popped up and started counting down to the backup. I didn’t need to install any software to do this – it’s stored on the portable hard drive and runs automagically when you plug it in. Having sifted through all my files, it then set about making backups of them. After this first backup, all future backups will only copy new or changed files, which means you don’t have to worry about duplicates or not having the latest version of the file safely stored. If you wish to, a small bit of software can be installed that sets the backups on a timer – anything from every two hours to every two weeks.
The hard drive can also be detached from the dock and carried with you wherever you need it. It’s very small, light, and portable, so packing it when you go on holiday or on a business trip should be no trouble. You could even carry all your files on this device rather than taking your laptop with you, provided you have access to another computer when you arrive at your destination.
Something at particularly impressed me was the way in which the device makes it simple to backup multiple PCs – plug it into any other PC or Mac and it will begin backing up the files after 30 seconds unless you tell it not to. It also creates a separate area on the drive for each PC that you’re backing up – so there’s a different section for your desktop, laptop, spare PC, etc, which makes it easy to browse your relevant files.
The files stored can also be browsed and opened directly from the drive, and the software also contains search features to prevent you having to sift through the files. There’s also a special photo section, which groups all your images and allows you to print or email them. Such features could come in handy if you take your hard drive to another PC and want to edit or print your documents or photos without having to copy them to the computer.
My only complaint with the product is that the ability to browse the files on the drive is limited to the software that came with Clickfree; which means that I can’t look through the files using Windows Explorer. This seems to be because the files are encrypted when they are copied to the drive, but it’s just a bit of a hassle not being able to browse through the files and folders using Explorer, and instead having to use a somewhat clumsy and outdated Clickfree alternative.
Despite this, the device itself is absolutely fantastic, and it works brilliantly. It takes the pain out of having to manually copy new files and update when they’re changed. It’s just slightly below a five star rating – the only thing that needs changing is the file browsing software. The device can be purchased from a few different retailers, I got mine from QVC whilst it was on on offer, but the price has since increased, so it may be a good idea to pay £10 extra and get the 500GB version.
You may have jumped on online storage bandwagon. I store things online occasionally, but I’ve never liked the fact that I have to wander off to the storage website to access and edit my documents. Therefore, some time ago I went off hunting for a way to access my online documents using Windows Explorer. I found it in the form of Gladinet. I’ve only recently rediscovered it tucked away in my Start Menu. Having brushed off the layers of dust, I decided I would babble about it here since you might find it of use.
After downloading and installing, a little icon should appear in the notification area which provides various options for mounting your online storage. I’m still using a beta version of software since I installed it quite a while ago, and it’s working just fine for my purposes. However, the release version is now up to version 1.1, and it brings along new features and a better interface which makes it easier to add your online services to Gladinet. You’ll need to have the software running in order to be able to access your online storge from Explorer; which is why it’s set to start with your PC by default. You can change this by alterting the options. If you don’t use your online storage very often, you may not want it starting automatically.
Online storage locations are mounted as drives. This means that there will be a new item added to your ‘Computer’ window which represents your online storage. Within that you’ll then have listed the different resources that you’ve added. For instance, I currently only have one online storage location set up within mine. I could add others using Gladinet if I wished to. The best feature of this software is that it allows you to interact with the files as if they were stored locally on your hard-drive. This means that you can copy, move, delete, rename, and other such jazz in the same way you would with an ordinary file that’s saved on your PC.
If you use online storage hopefully you’ll find this useful. It cuts out the necessity of visiting the storage website. It also allows you to quickly edit documents, especially in such activities as copying and deleting. You can download it from www.gladinet.com and give it a spin.