Flexible Backup From Crashplan.com

Brenden Schaaf / November 27, 2011

I remember thinking when I started this blog that I would make frequent posts here to share things, primarily with my friends and family.  Then I discovered Twitter and that became my main place of sharing information instead.  Every so often, though, a tool comes along that I can’t describe in 140 characters or less and it lands here.  My discovery of Crashplan is one such item.

If you are like me, you have good intentions to frequently back-up your data, but those intentions turn into “I’ll do it someday” which turns in to never.  Despite having the capacity to easily back-up my own data on a different computer or a separate hard drive within my main desktop PC, doing so (however infrequently) doesn’t help me in case of disaster such as a fire at my home.  In that case all of my data, including the backups, would be destroyed.  Also, I’ve yet to find an external hard drive and/or backup software that made the process easy despite what the marketing would have you believe.

A Footnote article I wrote for the MNCPA several months ago highlighted some services, including my favorite service, Sugarsync, that will keep files (especially those frequently used) synchronized across several devices.  This can create a de facto backup service for the items you choose to synchronize and this works quite well for files that are frequently edited as it results in the current version of every file available on every device.  But what about backing up the all-important photos or MP3 files that don’t really change (although the collection of such files does grow over time)?  For that situation a dedicated backup solution is best.

In pursuit of such a solution I have discovered Minneapolis-based Crashplan.  I recall them being mentioned as some professional conferences I had attended the past couple years and I pushed into looking at them further after seeing a billboard for their service just yesterday in Blaine.

This unique software offers free and paid options.  Using the free options you are able to backup your data to other computers (including those of your friends to create an “off-site” backup) or external hardware.  The paid choices add storage in the cloud on Crashplan’s servers as well. While many other services treat consumers as an afterthought by focusing primarily on businesses, Crashplan seems to place the consumer front-and-center and, while they do offer plans for small/medium businesses and larger, home/personal users will feel perfectly comfortable dealing with this company.

After playing briefly with the free choices, I took advantage of a 50% off sale to purchase 2-years of the Crashplan+ unlimited service.  Even at the regular price of $49.99/year this seems like a steal and it is a double-steal to get two years for that price.  I immediately started backing up my primary PC and the estimated time of completion is just over 11 days (nearly 200GB of data).

On my other PCs I don’t store data-hogs like photos so I’m fine using Sugarsync on those machines which mirrors my frequently-used files onto the primary PC where they are backed-up by Crashplan.  I also still use SyncBackSE to maintain a subset of my frequently-used files on a flash drive.  If your setup requires it, Crashplan does offer a household plan where all devices can be backed up to the cloud for a higher subscription price (a bit more than double the price of a single-computer option as I write this).

In summary, online backup is like insurance for your ever growing collection of data.  Like insurance, it is something you hope to never need but just knowing it is there makes me feel more secure already.  Check out Crashplan and try the free services for yourself to see just how easy it can be to “set it and forget it” while storing your backup in the cloud.  The fact that they are a Minneapolis-based company is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned, but you don’t have to be from the Land of 10,000 Lakes to find their service beneficial.

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