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CrashPlan backup is awesome

by Philip Sellers

I setup CrashPlan for a friend overnight and the software really lives up to its advertising.  The software is really easy to install and registration is straight forward.  After install, you select what data to backup – which is less robust than Mozy’s default filters – but its easy enough to point to her user directory on her Mac and backup the entire profile.

After setting up her selections to backup, just need to point it to a destination.  CrashPlan makes that really simple.  You have 4 options – folders, computers, friends or online.  

We’ll start with folders and computers – both are local backup locations either the local computer or a computer on the local network using normal file sharing.

The real power of the product is the ability to backup to a friend.  CrashPlan sets you up with an access code – a 6 digital, alpha-numeric string that you can share with your friends.  When you choose backup to a friend, you input their code and it automagically connects you to them and allows you to stream your backup to their computer wherever they might be.

The CrashPlan client also handles and sets up its network connection to publish itself through your local router and map the correct port back for its traffic.  In the worst case, as I had to do last night, you have to enable port forwarding to a particular IP address to allow the traffic through the router (an older Linksys model, in my case).  I also setup the client (a desktop) with a static IP address for good measure with the port forwarding.   Nicely enough, CrashPlan identifies your friends with a nice grey sphere/green sphere icon to let you know who is available and who is not – green means you’re good.  What CrashPlan has done well is really simplify what could have been a very complex configuration for a technical user into something that most home users can accomplish on their own – kudos for that.

There is one more destination option – a hosted solution – called CrashPlan Central that is their online vault offering.  If you’re friendless (because, yes, most of us geeks aren’t so social) or if you find yourself wanting a secure location to backup your data, you can opt for the pay-for CrashPlan Central option.

There are a few additional things to note – one being encryption.  CrashPlan encrypts all data on site and then transmits it securely to the offsite backup in its encrypted form.  Its is stored – at rest – in an encrypted form, so that means you’re buddy won’t be parusing your, um, collections of things.

After this successful setup, I’m going to be setting this up for myself as well.  One of my friend’s has offered and will probably oblige with hostings backup for each other.

I should also note that CrashPlan offers a Pro solution for business customers.  From reading, it looks like its a more technically involved solution and includes a server product as well as client products.  I can’t seem to work out if the Pro server product self advertises like the consumer product, but it didn’t appear to.  It looked to be more of a self-contained backup solution.

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