Backing up is an essential computing task that provides a safety net should your notebook’s hard drive go kaput, but so few of us actually do it. Whether it’s due to a perceived difficulty or laziness, there are no more valid excuses. That’s because the $79.99 Clickfree Traveler eliminates the chore of selecting drives and folders, giving users true automated back up in a package no larger than a few credit cards. The USB connector is a little flimsy, but you can’t beat the convenience of this slim drive.
Startlingly Thin Design
The first thing you’ll notice about the Clickfree Traveler is its remarkable design—you won’t find another flash drive on the market today with quite the same appearance. When you combine its 3.3 x 2.1 x 0.1-inch dimensions with a 1.1-ounce brushed-metal body, the Clickfree Traveler looks very much like a business card holder. In fact, it’s so small and lightweight that you can slip it into your wallet and it’ll fit comfortably behind your bank card.
Housed in the back of the drive is a unique pull-out USB connector that eschews the traditional boxy, rigid design for one that’s super thin and flexible. The advantage is that it allows the Clickfree Traveler to maintain its svelte profile; the disadvantage is that it feels fragile. In fact, the USB connector couldn’t support the drive’s weight when we plugged it into our Gateway P-7808u FX testbed; gravity pulled the body downward so that it was resting on our desk. It didn’t seem as though it would snap off, but we were naturally very cautious in handling it.
Like the Clickfree Transformer, the Traveler eliminates the need to install software or select folders or drives. When we attached device to our Gateway P-7808u FX, Vista’s AutoPlay Window opened. We clicked the launch icon, which brought up the Clickfree license agreement. After accepting it we were greeted by an easy-to-read blue interface, and clicked Start to begin a scan and back up 14GB worth of files. The entire process took 40 minutes (16 minutes faster than the SanDisk Ultra Backup), but we only had to sit through this lengthy backup once; Clickfree’s software makes incremental backups whenever a file is added or changed. The Traveler, like other Clickfree products, is now Mac and PC compatible.
After the initial backup, the Clickfree Traveler displayed the number of files it had copied (in a layout similar to Windows Explorer), and the total space used for each file type, including photos, music, e-mail, text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, artwork and drawings, videos, favorite Web sites, and other files. We were able to browse files and view or play these backed up files as we would the originals. The Clickfree Traveler can back up data from multiple notebooks (depending on the amount of available storage) and transfer PC files to Mac (but not vice versa). The Clickfree Traveler only backs up files—not the entire operating system or applications.
The Clickfree Transformer notched fairly potent transfer speeds. Copying a 1GB mixed media folder from the drive to our Gateway P-7808u FX testbed took just 38 seconds, a read rate of 26.9 MBps. That’s swifter than the SanDisk Ultra Backup (22.2 MBps) and the flash drive category average (21.8 MBps). It took 1 minute and 33 seconds to move the folder back to the drive, a rate of 11.0 MBps. That proved faster than the flash drive average (7.9 MBps), but 3.0 MBps slower than the SanDisk Ultra Backup (14.0 MBps).
Considering that our review unit packed 16GB of storage, we decided to perform the data exchange tests with our 4.97GB folder of mixed media that’s normally reserved for higher-capacity pocket hard drives. Copying the folder to our desktop took 3 minutes and 22 seconds, a read time of 25.1 MBps, which was speedier than the hard drive average (22.5 MBps) and the SanDisk Ultra Backup (21.3 MBps). Moving the folder back to the Clickfree Traveler took 8 minutes and 57 seconds, a write speed of 9.4 MBps, which was nearly half the 16.6 MBps hard drive average. Still, it was better than the SanDisk Ultra Backup’s performance (7.9 MBps).
If you’re looking for a larger capacity Clickfree Traveler, 32GB ($149) and 64GB ($249, coming in August) models are also available. On a per-gigabyte basis, these prices are lower than comparable SanDisk Ultra Backup drives (8GB for $49.99, 16GB for $97.99, 32GB for $166, and 64GB for $277). The SanDisk drive, however, comes with encryption, which makes it more suitable for the business audience.
Fast and remarkably easy to use, the Clickfree Traveler is an excellent flash drive for those looking for no-brainer backups on the go. At $79.99, it’s nearly $20 cheaper than the SanDisk Ultra Backup with the same amount of storage, but Clickfree offers much larger, sturdier, and more stylish capacities. Although you can get a lot more storage space for your money in a pocket-size hard drive, the Clickfree Traveler is an ideal choice for road warriors who demand extreme portability.