Review: Clickfree C3 Wireless Backup

c3 It’s not often a press release piques my interest, but I’ve had this nagging feeling that my backups aren’t up to scratch. I have a couple of external USB drives around the place that I sync occasionally, and my strategy would be to grab one of those in an emergency. This means I’d lose anywhere from a day to a few months worth of photos, documents, and code.

On spotting the Clickfree C3 I had two thoughts:

  1. “Click free”? Yeah right.
  2. Actually, that would be really bloody useful.

Is it click free?

Mostly, in the right circumstances. The unit itself (about the size of a fat CD case) has no buttons to click, just a tidy little fold-out USB plug, and a power adapter. The instructions say to plug it into your PC via USB in the first instance, so I plugged it in to my laptop.

Non-geeks would get a better experience, but I have auto-play disabled by default, so I did have to click into the device in Explorer to get it fired up. Once running, I got a 30-second opt-out countdown, then the software installed itself and kicked off the initial backup. This did a good job of finding all my content across document folders and secondary drives and sucked it all up.

On completion, the software informed me that the C3’s wireless connection could not be configured. I tried various permutations of manual and automatic configuration, with no success. I finally gave up and plugged the device into my desktop PC, after which the wireless configured automatically and correctly. My best guess here is that the setup got confused by the active 3G WAN connection in my laptop.

With the WiFi correctly configured, I disconnected the C3 from the PC, and powered it up using the included wall wart. Within a couple of minutes, both PC and laptop reported a successful connection to the C3, and told me they would back themselves up each night at 3am. The backup time is configurable, and you can kick off a manual backup at any point.

Is it useful?

Yes. Basically it’s an “intelligent” USB drive. Those backup drives I have lying around are unable to keep themselves up to date, but the C3 can. The multi-PC coverage is great.

The backups aren’t encrypted or secured, which means you can plug the drive into any PC with a USB port to recover your files, or in fact carry the C3 with you as a regular USB drive.

Where can I get it?

You can grab the 500GB version now for around $275 from Dick Smith and other retailers, and the 1TB version will be available in December for $409. These prices are expensive for a simple external drive, but they do compare favourably with the Apple Time Capsule ($509 for 1TB). The Time Capsule offers print serving but lacks (to the best of my knowledge) automated backup on Windows.

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