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Thursday, April 19, 2012

1218. Offsite Backup - Crashplan

Jerry asked: I know I need to back up my computer, but can't figure out the best way to do it. What are my options?

There are a ton off options including local options that we will discuss in another tech tip.  But an important feature is storing data offsite in case of a catastrophic failure--imagine a fire, flood, or some other disaster that renders your computer unusable, or even a theft. You need some way of storing your important data offsite.  And there are lots of options for this as well.

Mozy, Carbonite, and others advertise heavily on the radio (and they're both fine), but my favorite backup service is Crashplan. It has the same features as all the rest but it adds a special feature that the others don't offer (or at least, don't advertise): You can backup to a friend's computer offsite for free. That's right: Crashplan is totally free for backing up to a local hard drive, or to a hard drive at a friend's location (taking care of the "remote backup" issue.) On the other hand, if you want to back up a large amount of data (as I did--over 800GB of content. Don't ask!) it can take a long time for the initial remote backup to happen. Months, at the upload speed I have available.

To solve this problem, Crashplan offers the option to "seed" your backup. You can backup to a local hard drive (which still takes a fair amount of time for a large amount of data, but it's far faster than sending the data out over the internet connection to a friend) and then you can take that hard drive to a friend's location. The backup will continue from that point. You won't need to upload your data to the remote site, saving a ton of time.

You can do the same thing with Crashplan's servers. That is, you can back up your data to their remote servers. If you have a large amount of data, you'll probably again want to "seed" the backup with a hard drive. Crashplan will (for a fee) supply a hard you can use to seed your backup. Backing up to the Crashplan remote servers isn't free, but it doesn't cost much, and the amount you can back up is unlimited.

Crashplan offers a whole lot more features.  You should check out their site for more details. It's true that you can never backup too much and Crashplan offers many different options for backing up your data.

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