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Taking my cloud backup to Crashplan

by Philip Sellers

A few years ago, I wrote about peer-to-peer backup for the first time.  To date, its one of my most popular articles on the site.  The primary focus of my post was Crashplan, a freely available software that allowed people to backup their data to a friend at no charge.  I have really loved their service over several years.   I have Crashplan setup to backup some data to friend and I have a couple friends who backup to me.

Up until last year, I was also a Mozy user.  I thought they had the best value out there for backup to cloud.  But last year, Mozy made their changes to their service offering which would have effectively tripled my cost and so I went on a search for alternatives.  I settled on a new product called SafeCopy.  After a year, I was not happy and so I have let that go, too.  My main compliant was that the SafeCopy software didn’t seem to be very efficient at running backups.  I saw long periods with no traffic while it prepared files for backup.  With as much to backup as I have, a strong consistent stream of data means a much quicker initial backup.

I realized only a month after I started my SafeCopy subscription, the move I should have made was to subscribe to Crashplan Central – Crashplan’s cloud backup offering.  This past week, I canceled SafeCopy and I signed up for a Crashplan Central family plan and have I two computers currently running backup.

As luck would have it, I was also able to subscribe to a higher tier of cable Internet at home which gives me a 2 Mbps upstream connection.  With these two things in place, I have already completed about 10% of my initial backup without any interruption to service at home.  I do have to stop backups when I get a cell call (which sucks) because of my Microcell needs, but I’m trying to minimize the time needed to complete my initial backup so I have the bandwidth restrictions set high on both computers.

I’m really happy with having a single service and single piece of backup software to handle both peer-to-peer and cloud backups.  I should have made this decisions sooner.  Well, if I don’t count the Time Machine backups I’m also doing at home…  But since that’s built-in to the OS, I don’t count it – it just happens.

Crashplan really excels in allowing you to define how much bandwidth any backup stream can consume and when it can be run.  There are many options to limit the amount of CPU that the software can consume under different conditions.  There are good inbound and outbound bandwidth options to keep your outgoing backups or your friends incoming ones from saturating your connection.  There are pretty easy to understand options for how often files get backed up after the initial installation.  Users can secure the backup streams with a custom password and 448-bit encryption or they may use the standard 448-bit encryption.  The client software can also be secured with a password to keep a guest or malicious user from tampering with settings.

I also like that there is a background service that runs always and there is a client software to configure the settings for the service.  This architecture really works really well.

Strangely enough, the Crashplan software will not allow me to add my desktop computer to my client on the laptop as a ‘Friend’ to backup to it when I am traveling.  I’m sure there is a reason why, but just seems strange that they won’t allow me to add a client registered my own account.

But, I have to say, I’m a happy customer so far.  Happy enough to write an updated review.

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