Computing

Automatic Backup in the Cloud (and elsewhere) with CrashPlan

I decided to write this presentation not only because I'm a happy user of the CrashPlan software and online service but because their support was great, despite my being a trial user at that time! Here follows my review of this backup software and some notes on my specific setup that you might find interesting.

CrashPlan is a free software for various operating systems that offers “local” backup and online backup through subscriptions. The features that separate it from other solutions are:

  • Free backup between different operating systems
  • Backup in an external drive or a friends hard disk
  • Encrypted backups
  • Multiple file versions

I should note that the subscriptions offer some advanced features on top of the free version which -except online backup of course- are:

  • Continuous, real-time backup (depending on your settings)
  • Multiple backup sets
  • Web restore

My setup is based on a NAS. I use a QNAP TS-210 as a file (and web) server and CrashPlan runs there, without a GUI. There are some peculiarities on this installation but the software (that runs on my desktop) is the same. Setting up an automated backup on my NAS was very high on my priorities because all our files are saved there. However, even if you have a single computer that may not be always on, I suggest that you try CrashPlan because (I think that) it is better from other solutions. Solutions like the Windows backup, whose problem is… Windows itself, or Dropbox that doesn't give enough space for free and requires that you save your files in a specific folder, SkyDrive or Google Drive, that are similar to Dropbox and dozens of other backup software that… I wouldn't dare to try them all! Let alone that they won't work on the NAS…

  1. The introduction screen (Backup) shows the backup status, for each of the sets that you (may) have created, and some shortcuts to other functions, if you have activated the Inbound backup.
  2. The next option is Restore, where the files that have already been backed up are shown, grouped under different destinations, even if they are deleted from your system.
  3. Settings has 5 tabs: General contains some basic settings, like the computer name, the Inbound backup activation / deactivation and the CPU usage limits. Backup Sets, if enabled (only with a subscription) allows us to backup different files to different destinations — read on for more details on Destinations. From this tab we select what folders to backup when, if any files should be excluded, how many previous versions to keep, if locally deleted files should be removed too and some more advanced settings. I suggest that Verify selection every should be done before each backup and not more often because it takes some time if the file set is large. I have two sets, one on the Cloud and one on an external hard drive that is not alwayes connected, and I send to CrashPlan Cental only the important files, every day, while I backup (almost) everything on the external disk, whenever it is connected on the NAS. The Account tab has some personal info and (maybe) your subscription code. Security has… security settings and lastly, Network has some network setting that you probably don't need to change.
  4. History is -obviously- the software log file.
  5. Friends has all the settings for the unique feature that allows friends to use your drives for backup and allows you to use your friends drives to backup to! I don't use that one, yet.
  6. Finally, Destinations has 4 tabs, one for each backup feature that CrashPlan offers: backup to a friends drive (Friends), between your different computers (Computers) in your home network, in different folders / removable hard disk (Folders) of the cloud (Cloud), if you activate a subscription of course.

As is obvious (hopefully), CrashPlan is a complete and versatile backup solution that, except the important features that are offered for free, allows for secure online backup at competitive prices! The initial setup activates a trial version of the CrashPlan+ Unlimited subscription for 30 days free of charge and that will certianly convince you to buy a subscription that costs no more than a couple of beers each month! Good for your health and peace of mind! Think about it.

P.S. Setting up on the NAS -as I already said- has some peculiarities but it's not really difficult. Java is required and an unofficial QPKG. Afterwards, you should install the software on the computer that you will use to control CrashPlan. You should read this thread for instructions. Good luck!

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