Crashplan - The Home Backup Solution for Groups of Geeks

Tired of paying $ to cloud services who throttle your data backups? or look through your data? or take weeks to backup and restore?

Tired of paying $ to cloud services who throttle your data backups? or look through your data? or take weeks to backup and restore?

Everyone has huge hard drives now a days. Local storage is very cheap. But, the cloud is all the rage and with good reason. Backing up to the cloud is simple and seems great. And, for many people it is a great solution. I used Carbonite for a few years and Mozy is another decent one. But, there ARE options other than the actual cloud, and I want to share the one I’m using: CrashPlan.

CrashPlan is a cloud backup service like the others I’ve named. But, what I’m writing about today is a portion of their backup software called “Backup to Friends.” Using the same system that connects to their subscription service, you can backup anything you want to a friend’s computer anywhere in the world with no monthly fee. It’s pretty easy to setup and works great. You can seed large backups (where you backup to an external hard drive and take it to the friend’s house in order to speed the initial backup). And, it is only limited by the space on your (or your friend’s) drives.

All the backups are encrypted and compressed before transmitting, so your “friend” can’t dig through your stuff (and, it takes up a bit less space). CrashPlan also allows you to specify band-width limits for when you are using the computer or when it’s idle and also the time of day to run. I run it all the time using 2mbps when not here and 300kbps when I’m at the computer (most online backup companies limit your backup speeds to 300kbps and less as the size of your backup grows). The backups are easy to pause using the system tray icon if that’s too much throughput for your connection.

One thing that is important to think through is recovery. Should a serious crash occur and you have to restore your data you want a local copy. Restoring from the cloud can take weeks or months as it downloads 24/7 until everything is back. And you don’t get to prioritize! So your archives from 2003 might get downloaded before the crucial files you need every day. With this system, you can restore using the same system as you seeded. Go to your friend’s house with an external hard drive and copy the backup. Take it home and do a restore from the drive. You are back up and running in hours instead of weeks. (And, yes; for a lot of $ you can have most cloud backup companies overnight you your data on a hard drive.)

So now my whole family has off site backups for only a small start up fee. We each kicked it a bit of $ and bought a couple of 2 Terabyte hard drives which sit in desktop computers at the family members’ houses who have the best internet connections. Then the invites go out and everyone just accepts and tells CrashPlan what to backup. You might have to help them get started since not everyone knows where their files are actually located. My sister and I (the ones with the biggest photo archives) seeded the initial backups and now everyone is up and running. Total cost for 6 households to backup: $200 and $0/month from there.

I don’t want to set up a scenario where I’m selling the idea of home backups instead of using a real cloud data center. But, it’s great to know what options are out there. And, while it’s cheaper and quicker, I know that the computer where my backup is stored is sitting on the floor in a house with small children and not a trained sys-op in sight. Whereas I am hoping that the running child count in a real cloud data center is much lower and the qualified tech count is much higher. Unless xkcd is right.

Keep that data safe!
-david

PS. CrashPlan or any online backup system is great, but do keep local (at your own home/business) backups as well. My data is in four locations: 2 hard drives which are manually synced inside my PC, 1 copy on my second PC, and one at my sister’s house using CrashPlan. It’s a bit geeky, but luck favor’s the prepared.

One Response to “Crashplan - The Home Backup Solution for Groups of Geeks”

  1. Seb 09 October 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    Thanks for the great article David. Just looking for solutions right now and gonna check out Crashplan

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