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Automatically back up files with Clickfree

November 16, 2009 2 comments

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.

The backup begins just after plugging the device into a USB port.

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.

New or changed files are automatically detected and backed up.

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 qualm was with the file browser, which is difficult to navigate.

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.

Click to play video demo of the product.

 

Amazon Kindle setback

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

After complaints by the Writer’s Guild of America, Amazon has caved in and left the text-to-speech feature of their portable book gadget at the discretion of the book’s author and publisher to decide whether the machine is able to read their book aloud to the owner or not.

The Kindle, which is not currently available in the United Kingdom, is a portable e-book reader which was originally released in 2007. The second version, which was released on the 23rd February, is more portable, has a longer battery life, in addition to the most talked-about new feature: the ability to read books aloud. This feature was going to be available for all books on the Kindle, however following complaints from the aforementioned Writers Guild, Amazon changed the feature to be optional for all books. This has prompted complaints from the hard of sight, for which a major appeal of the device is the ability to enjoy books through audio whilst travelling. The Authors Guild’s reasoning for the complaint was that there was a potential for the device to become the de-facto in audio-books, which may reduce the profit that publishers and authors make from releasing their books as audio-books themselves.

Windows Mobile 6.5: new interface, old browser

February 28, 2009 1 comment

It’s been seven years since its first release, Microsoft nudges its users to upgrade, developers shove users to upgrade, yet it’s still going to be included in the latest offerings from Windows Mobile.

The Microsoft Windows Mobile platform has been allowed to lie dormant for quite some time, being vastly overshadowed by Apple’s iPhone offering. However, Microsoft is now trying to claw back this lost platform with the release of Windows Mobile 6.5. It sports a more modern and approachable interface, but with largely the same codebase as version 6.  Internet Explorer is also being upgraded in their mobile platform. Don’t get too excited.

Smartphones are increasingly used for their ability to connect to networks as well as the 3G world-wide services. A modern browser is needed to get the best out of the modern Web. However, the scourge of web-developers everywhere, Internet Explorer 6, is being put into the Windows Mobile update. First released in 2001, the browser is now hugely out of date, resulting in it being unable to handle modern websites and web technologies well, causing many hours of tweaking and fiddling for web developers to try to get their site working well on it. The announcement was made in late 2008, but the new browser will not be rolled out until version 6.5 of Windows Mobile is released. If Windows Mobile takes off, developers may find the browser that they love to hate sticking around even longer. With an update to the browser not expected until version 7 of Windows Mobile, we may just see this outdated browser sticking around for even longer.