Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Reports from CES 2011, looking for things that might matter for real people, not just technology buffs.

It amazes me that companies have logos or tag lines that, even after reading them you have no idea what the company is about or what its products actually do. It's like something out of a Dilbert cartoon buzzword generator.

And there were no shortage of companies at CES that made me ask .... "what?".

Also making me shake my head: the long lines attendees would get into simply to get some relatively cheap give-away or "swag", as it's commonly known as.

In my search for backup solutions, however, I did stumble on to something that currently doesn't meet all my requirements, but has a promise of things to come.


I've had a couple of readers mention Clickfree to me in recent months, so I was glad to be able to chat briefly with one of their people on the CES showroom floor. (Warning: there's auto-start video and audio on their site.)

"Too many people don't have installation media, and don't make restore disks, and don't find out they should have until it's too late."

Click free is a physical product - an external disk - that you just plug in and it backs up your data. A very simple user interface, for both backup and restore. For backup there's almost no interaction required - it just goes to work when you connect it. Nothing's installed on your machine, it just works from the Clickfree external drive.

There are versions that will work over a wireless network, backup more than one machine, and apparently all versions will also work on Macs. You can also use Clickfree to transfer the backed up data from one machine.

It all sounds very nice, except that you'll notice I've been saying that it backs up your data. That's not your system. Click free is not a solution to backup your entire computer and restore to a new hard disk, for example.

At least not yet.

Apparently Clickfree will have a "bare metal" system imaging backup offering later this year.

I find that promising, and hope that it turns out to be a solution that I can recommend. Too many people don't have installation media, and don't make restore disks, and don't find out they should have until it's too late.

In the mean time, I do have to agree with the comment the Clickfree rep said: even getting people to simply back up their irreplaceable data is a start - a huge number of people don't even do that.

A Cloud Filled Future

I've remarked here before that the term "cloud" is an extremely popular internet buzzword that actually has no real precise meaning.

Look for more clouds.

Not only did I see "the cloud", referring to internet-based storage or services, used a lot, but a new curveball was thrown in as well: your "personal cloud". Which, as it turns out, appears to some to be nothing more than that a network attached storage device or machine on your home network.

Like things weren't cloudy enough already.

Article C4704 - January 7, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

maxine wall
January 11, 2011 9:41 AM

I have been using Click Free for my data backup for about a year & a half. Does a great job & always gives you choices of content.

January 11, 2011 12:43 PM

Live as in Microsoft Live meeting, Microsoft Live essentials, Microsoft Live mesh, Microsoft Live labs, Microsoft Live messenger, Microsoft Live mail, ... is another buzzword. Does MS use 'Live' as opposed to non-alive?

Quite frankly, the word turns me off.

Glenn P.
January 11, 2011 2:06 PM

Sounds more like "live", as opposed to... to...



But, hey, who wants to be called that, right?!?

January 11, 2011 4:02 PM

So many languages have a sub-language, purposely for eluding law enforcement by the very nature of buzzwords and syntax that's hard to understand. The Cockney dialect of London is one example; Jive used in many ethnic American communities is another. Due to its arcane nature, some people tend to think of it as "cool" to use it, often without understanding all of its implications.

And that's what I see of the computer industry; the attempt to create words and phrases to impart a "coolness" that they hope others will be impressed with. However, I can sum it up with my own buzzword: GeekSpeak.

January 12, 2011 6:56 AM

Having a "personal cloud" is fine - until your house goes up in smoke (as happens to whole towns in Australia) or down the drain (like many peeps in the Queensland floods right now) so having an online (ie cloud = not-in-your-house-or-office) backup solution can be anti-catastrophic
Ed:- this post contains too many brackets
Pedro:- sorry about that

January 25, 2011 9:27 AM

"Swag" is actually "SWG," an acronym for "Stuff We Get." I too, would be amused by people waiting in line for this "stuff" (although, I have seen some pretty neat stuff, on occasion).

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