September 15, 2009, 9:00 AM — Available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities, the credit-card-size Storage Appliance Clickfree Traveler solid-state drive ($70 for the 16GB drive, as of August 31, 2009) is a great backup device for mobile users. It's small and convenient, and it comes with easy-to-use software that helps keep the headaches away. (For a detailed discussion of different approaches to data and system backups, see "7 Backup Strategies for Your Data, Multimedia, and System Files.")
Like most easy-backup drives sold today, the Clickfree Traveler presents itself to your PC as a virtual CD-ROM drive when you plug it in. A small partition on the Traveler emulates a CD-ROM disc, allowing its preinstalled backup software to launch automatically when you plug the drive into a Windows PCs or a Mac. Capacity permitting, the software can track and back up files from multiple computers. Like other Clickfree products, it backs up document files (Office data files, music, videos, photos, e-mail, and Internet bookmarks), but not system files.
Once the Clickfree Backup software loads, it checks for software updates (be sure to detach and reattach the drive after an update) and then scans your system for files that need backing up. (The Clickfree software, like that of the HP SimpleSave Portable, is based on an Arcsoft application; the Clickfree Backup Drive 1TB uses it, too.) The process can be lengthy, depending on how many files you have. After the scan is complete, you can choose the types of files you want the Traveler to back up, and either press a button to back everything up or wait 25 seconds until the backup starts on its own.
While the drive is attached, you can access stored data via the Clickfree software; in addition to restoring files or folders, you can use the integrated viewer to print, share, and e-mail photos. You can schedule backup reminders, too--useful if you don't keep the device connected to your PC all the time.
The slim Clickfree Traveler worked fine on my Windows Vista desktop PC, and on both my XP and Vista laptops, but it had some problems on my Windows XP main system (a 2GHz Intel Core i7 PC). Unexpectedly, the backup process--and my computer--slowed to a snail's pace a minute or two into the back up. Perhaps not having a Windows swap file on that system's solid-state drive disagreed with the Traveler (the vendor could not confirm what the issue may have been). With the swap file reinstated, the backup came out of its bogged-down funk, but it still wasn't particularly swift.