The instructions on the C2N's box instruct you to simply plug the Clickfree device into a USB port on a supported computer, let it automatically install its software and then back up your files. I put the C2N through its paces with three laptops running 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit Windows 7 Pro and 32 bit Windows 7 Pro, plus two Macbooks, both running Mac OS X 10.5.8.
Installing Clickfree isn't exactly “click free,” but it wasn't difficult. Once the device is plugged into a USB port, the application installer auto-launches. Windows asked me whether I wanted to “allow the following program to make changes to my computer?”, so I had to click yes to allow the installation to proceed. I also had to click I Agree to license terms to allow the software to install. Mac OS X also required a few extra steps, asking for the administrator password on the computer to allow for the installation of a driver, and once installed, prompting me to remove and reconnect the device.
I must also report that on one of my three Windows machines, the software didn't complete the installation. To fix this problem per the Troubleshooting guide on Clickfree's website, I went to Windows Explorer and right-clicked the icon for Clickfree, and then selected FixMyClickFreeBackup. After rebooting my computer, the software was successfully installed and the backup process began.
Once the BackupLink application is installed, Clickfree performs the first scan and initial backup. Depending on the computer and number of files, this process can take awhile. On two of my Windows laptops, there were minimal files to back up, so the backup process took less than 15 minutes. On my third Windows machine, the backup process took about 50 minutes. This laptop has a 320 GB hard drive, with thousands of digital pictures, files, and emails. Upon completing the backup, the Clickfree had backed up over 25,000 files consuming 37 GB of storage from that laptop, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Completed backup summary
It took significantly longer for the initial backup on my two Macs. One took about 2 hours and 15 minutes, while the other took nearly 3 hours! In both cases, the total backup was about 15 GB of files. On the plus side, the backup runs in the background, leaving the computer fully functional while your files are being copied. Further, the software on the Mac has the same look and feel as on the PC, as shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5: Mac OS version
With the software installed, the files on my five computers are now backed up, and will be backed up again in the future in one of three ways. First, file backups can run over your network at varying intervals. As long as the Clickfree is connected to a powered on and connected computer on the same network as your PC, a backup will occur over the network. The network can be either wireless or wired, but all machines must be in the same subnet.
By default, backups will run every 24 hours. This interval can be modified to run every 1, 2, 6 or 12 hours, every 1-6 days, or every 1 or 2 weeks.
Second, file backups will occur every time you connect the Clickfree to a computer. Once the initial software is installed, simply connecting the Clickfree to that computer will trigger it to run a backup on new or changed files.
Third, file backups can be run manually by clicking on the BackupLink status indicator, and selecting Backup Now. A manual backup can be triggered with the computer connected to the C2N, or over the network. For example, with the C2N connected to my Windows 7 Pro laptop, I selected the icon next to my Windows 7 Home laptop, and clicked Backup Now, which triggered the Windows 7 Home laptop to run a backup over the network.
Regardless how the backup process is triggered, the C2N will first scan your hard drive for eleven different file types, as shown in Figure 6 below. File types are determined by their extension, such as .doc, .xls, .jpg, etc. File types can be added or removed to customize backed-up files as needed.
Figure 6: Choosing backup file types
If you're backing up files, you're doing so to provide a redundant copy of a file in case you lose the file and would like to restore it at some future date. The best way to restore a file from the C2N to a computer is to connect the C2N.
The C2N records the path/directory information for the hard drive the files were copied from. Selecting the Restore option allows you to restore lost files from the C2N's storage to the same path/directory where the file was originally located, making it quite simple.
You can have the C2N restore all files, or you can select a specific folder or file for restore. The process is quite easy, and a simple progress screen (Figure 7) is shown while the file is copied back to your hard drive.
Figure 7: Restore progress
To test file transfer speed, I created a folder with 4.1 GB of files, primarily pictures and a couple large .iso files. The C2N doesn't normally backup .iso images, so I had to set a custom file type for it.
I ran backups and restores on two different Windows machines with similar results. Backing up my 4.1 GB folder took about 3 minutes and 10 seconds on each machine. Restore time for the folder to both laptops was also very close, but faster than the backup, at 2 minutes and 30 seconds. In other words, I was able to write data to the C2N at 1.29 GB/min and read data from the C2N at 1.64 GB/min. Both speeds are in the mid 20 MB/s range, about as fast as a USB 2.0 connected drive will go.
Another feature on the C2N is the ability to back up files from the C2N to external media, such as a DVD or CD. This is a nice feature! It allows you to not only back up your PCs to a centralized backup device, but to secure them further by making a copy on DVD or CD.
The BackupLink software has a simple utility to select files for backup, and then write them to a DVD or CD, shown in Figure 8. If there are more files than will fit on a single disc, BackupLink will tell you how many disks it requires to complete the backup.