Don't lose another photo: The easiest way to back up your digital files

As folks in the storage industry like to say, backing up your hard drive is like flossing your teeth. We all know we should do it, but most of us don't do it as often as we should. Few things are as irreplaceable as your personal photographs, but without a backup solution it takes just one hard drive failure to lose years of memories.

Don’t lose another photo: The easiest way to back up your digital files
As folks in the storage industry like to say, backing up your hard drive is like flossing your teeth. We all know we should do it, but most o    f us don't do it as often as we should. Few things are as irreplaceable as your personal photographs, but without a backup solution it takes just one hard drive failure to lose years of memories. So why don't more people back up? With the huge number of relatively simple backup options available today, could it be that people are waiting for one that is utterly foolproof and requires virtually no thought at all?

Well, I may have found just such a thing. The ClickFree HD700 is about as much of a no-brainer to operate as backup gets. My mother could probably use this product unassisted (and if you'd ever seen her try to operate a VCR, you'd know what a miracle that would be). Essentially a slim, external USB 2.0 hard drive, the HD700 automatically launches a backup of your PC's data files when you plug it in. No buttons to push, no software clicks required. Or at least in theory. When I plugged my eval unit into a XP notebook, it did require me to restart my computer (which did then require a mouse-click and would probably throw my mom-can-do-it test out the window). But once I restarted, everything went off without a hitch.

The ClickFree software backs up your data only, searching your drive for over 400 content file types, categorizing them into: Photos, Music, E-mail Files, Artwork and Drawings, Favorite websites, and All Others (which includes tax files, DAT files, ZIP and everything else.). The upside to this method is that you back up only irreplaceable data files and you don't have to direct the drive to specific locations. The downside is that if you've renamed your files with unusual extensions decipherable only by you, ClickFree won't find them.

The interface is great and almost as easy to use as the backup is, reassuring you in unambiguous terms like "Backup complete. Your files are now safe." It's configurable and allows you to do simple, but useful tasks like renaming each PC (in case yours is named something unintelligible by default).

My first backup of a 60GB drive (45GB used space) took about an hour and 25 minutes (subsequent backups are much faster) and required absolutely no intervention from me. In that time, ClickFree found 15,781 items (29.9GB of data) including 6,845 (9.5GB) photos. With a capacity of up to 120GB, you can backup up to five PCs on each device. The HD700 sells for $160 and is scheduled for widespread release on April 1.

Don’t lose another photo: The easiest way to back up your digital files
The company also sells the ClickFree DVD Photo Backup (5 pack for $14.99), which includes the ClickFree software on the disc, so all you do is drop it in your DVD writer and away it goes. Currently only Windows-based PCs are supported, but Mac support is scheduled for Q3 2008.