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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

Crashplan: A Full-Featured Online Backup Solution

Written on May 17, 2012 by Brett Nordquist

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.

Tags: Dropbox, Backup, Crashplan

The Futurelooks Media guys all use Drop Box. Anyone can figure out it's extremely handy in just a few minutes. You can network in family if you like to share photos and videos, use it at the office, or for more professional reasons. It automatically syncs everyone up to a specific folder as you add permissions.

Posted on 2012-05-21 23:36:16

I like Dropbox as well, and it may be all anyone needs if your backup needs are modest in size. Crashplan becomes a better deal the more storage you require. Dropbox would cost me twice as much Crashplan does today, and the cost delta becomes even greater once you pass the 50 GB level. The simplicity of Dropbox is still a major draw and the team features you mention are a nice addition to an already excellent product. 

Posted on 2012-05-21 23:49:19

Your readers are mostly techies. We know all about online backup. How about giving us some insight into how it compares to other better known services, like Carbonite for example.

Posted on 2012-05-22 05:05:23

Thanks for the feedback, Tom. That's a good idea for an article for another time. But you'd be surprised how many people I speak to who have no backup solution other than occasionally offloading a few files to a USB stick. There are also plenty of articles (http://goo.gl/9gjs) that compare the many services available. Since I'm often asked what service I prefer I figured I'd share that here on the blog.

Posted on 2012-05-23 00:57:34

Backing up your
important and confidential data to a secure server is one of the most
important ways to protect your information from data loss. We all know that
data loss is a worst case for individuals who always work with very important
files and information on it. There are also many media to use for backing up
our data like DVD media, CD media, flash drive and external hard disk.
However, these are hardware materials and can fail to function anytime which
could also lead to data loss in the future. Online backup is the most popular
method for people who really want to secure their information. Thank you for
sharing this information, I really learned a lot from this article, keep it

Posted on 2012-05-23 06:57:07

I've got about 800 GB of data to protect, but probably no more than 125 GB of that data pertains to projects that I'm likely to want to sync between work and home in next six months. As far as I can tell, the most economical solution is to go with CrashPlan+ for the former and Dropbox/SugarSync/etc for the latter since none of the consumer-level services I've seen that attempt to fill both roles make a distinction between storage and transfer in their pricing structures in the way that Amazon S3 does. If anyone has found such a product, however, I'd be very happy to learn about it.

Posted on 2012-06-23 18:48:37