Crashplan: A Full-Featured Online Backup Solution

Last month I wrote an article about why Dropbox is one of my favorite products. Not only does it sync files across all my PCs and mobile devices, but it does so with an elegant presentation and little user intervention. Basically, it just works.

This month I'd like to share another product I've been using for several years. Although Dropbox easily syncs files across all my devices, I have a much larger set of files ranging from financial documents to music and videos. This group of files I need to backup, but don’t need to access as often or from all my devices.

Crashplan makes it simple to navigate through the various settings.

I rely on a product called Crashplan that acts as sort of an insurance policy for my most valuable files. Where Dropbox syncs a subset of files, Crashplan backs up all my files to the cloud.

Crashplan answers the question: If I suddenly lost my PC, where would I begin?

Crashplan offers a number of options based on your needs, including a free service that allows you to backup files to another computer you own or that of a friend or family member. For security reasons, files remain encrypted while stored on the destination drives so that only you can access them.

Shown are the various backup destinations available.

I personally prefer the $50/year Crashplan+. This option allows subscribers to backup an unlimited number of files to the Crashplan Central servers. Going this route provides peace of mind, knowing I won't have to worry about a friend's drive crashing or worse, getting stolen.

Although the Crashplan software has a number of options and settings, it's not difficult to use. Switching between tabs allows access all primary settings. Once installed, you simply select the folders and files you’d like to backup, and Crashplan does the rest. It's so simple I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to those who have never used an online backup service.

Restoring files and folders is as simple as selecting them the restore tab.

For many years my backup solution consisted of installing a secondary hard drive into my PC. A few years ago, that drive crashed and I lost nearly a years worth of pictures taken around the time our first son was born. I tried a number of products to restore them including a professional drive recovery service. In that moment, I would have paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars to bring them back. But they were gone.

That's when I began searching for an online (and offsite) solution. I tried a number of online backup products. Most were too complicated and included features I didn’t need. It wasn’t till I tried Crashplan that I found exactly what I needed at a price I could afford.

Dropbox is a product I use everyday and thereby recognize it's value. Crashplan is like fire insurance.  You probably won't think about it often because it sits in the background doing it's thing with little intervention from you. But if you suffer a drive failure or accidentally delete valuable files, you’ll be thrilled you have it.

Crashplan runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris. They also include free mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. They also offer a number of videos on their YouTube channel to help you get started.