CrashPlan – Backup Adoption is the Killer App

I’ve been happily using CrashPlan for about a year now, after publicly breaking up with MozyHome, and sleeping around on Backblaze. I’ve signed up for another 3 years or so, so I’m fairly committed at this point. I’m a big fan of the Aussie DC presence and ability to use a local seed drive. The client itself is easy to use, and the pricing has been reasonable in my experience. But enough about my opinions.

I had a weird problem the other day on my main iMac where it looked like I had to re-seed all of my data. I’d had this problem before with MozyHome (link), but with a smaller set of data, so wasn’t too keen to re-upload over 900GB again.

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So I logged a case with support. A very nice gentleman named Daniel R got in contact with me and got me to send through some logs. I hadn’t realised I could clicky on the CrashPlan icon in the main window to open up a console. That’s kind of neat.

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I sent through the logs and Daniel got back in touch to have me modify my settings.xml file. No dice though. He then got back to me to advise that my archive was in a “maintenance queue” and he’d removed it from that queue and advised me to restart everything and see how it went. I’m fascinated by what the “maintenance queue” might be and how my archive ended up there.

Still no go, so he had me do a full uninstall (I think with prejudice) and re-install. The instructions for this process can be found here. For a complete uninstall, the following steps need to be done (on Mac OSX).

  1. Open the Finder
  2. Press Command-Shift-G and paste /Library/Application Support/CrashPlan/Uninstall.app into the dialog
  3. Double-click Uninstall
  4. Follow the prompts to complete the uninstall process
  5. Remove the following directory from your system:
  6. Custom installation (as user): ~/Library/Application Support/CrashPlan​

 

Once I’d re-installed everything, I could log back in with my normal credentials, and “adopt” the backup sitting in the Code42 DC that was assigned to my iMac. Simple as that. And then all I had to do was synchronize the changes. Seriously awesome, and so simple. No data loss, and smiles all round. And resolved in about 52 hours (including about 12 hours of them waiting for me to send logs through). And hence the title of the blog post. The ability to re-attach / adopt backups with new / replacement / freshly re-installed machines is a really cool feature that no doubt is saving people a fair bit of angst. It’s also not a feature you really think about until you actually need it.

So I’d like to publicly thank Daniel R at Code42 Support for his promptness and courtesy when dealing with me, as well as his ability to actually, well, resolve the issue.

CrashPlan – Initial thoughts and “feelings”

[Disclaimer: CrashPlan in AU provided me with a free 12-month Family subscription and use of a seed drive. This isn’t a paid review but clearly I’ve benefitted.]

So, a short time after my post on Backblaze and Mozy and why I was going for the cheapest (but not necessarily nastiest) personal cloud backup solution, the Australian arm of CrashPlan got in touch and offered to help get me started with them. So I thought I’d do a post to cover off on some initial thoughts and feelings and provide some public feedback on how it went. Just a reminder, every product is different, and every user’s circumstances are different, so don’t complain to me if you find that CrashPlan isn’t for you. Additionally, I hope you appreciate just how hard it is to take photos that look this bad.

So, the killer feature that CrashPlan offers for me, and residents of the US, is seeded backup. You can read more about how that works here. This was one of my complaints with Backblaze – I couldn’t get all of the data I wanted to up to the provider due to the extraordinarily shitty ADSL1 connection at my house. So gigabytes of home movies and other media were, beyond Time Machine backups, at risk. So, Adrian Johnson from Code42 offered me the use of a seeded backup drive, and I must say it’s been a really smooth experience. Again, here’re the rough steps, but you can look it up for yourself:

  • Support contact me to confirm my details;
  • Courier arrives with hard drive;
  • I attach hard drive to computer and add it as a destination;
  • I backup my stuff to hard drive;
  • I box up hard drive and send by pre-paid courier back to CrashPlan;
  • They contact me when they receive it;
  • They contact me when seed data is uploaded at their end;
  • I restart cloudy backup. Everything is pretty much there, barring a few new files from iPhoto; and
  • Profit.

It was pretty much that simple. So, here are some pictures to fill in the space where I should be offering thoughts. Firstly, I was mildly panicked when I saw that the drive was formatted as FAT32. It seemed like that would just suck as a transfer mechanism, especially for large files.

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And at that start of the process, it certainly looked like it was going to take some time.

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But the key thing with this service is compatibility. It is compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, Linux and Dots OS (?).

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I also found that by fiddling with some of the power saving settings on my Mac I was able to get the transfer speeds up to a more reasonable level. Also, like most backup products, lots of small files will choke the I/O, whereas big DV files go through at a healthy clip. Note also that this isn’t a straight file transfer. The data is being de-duped, compressed and encrypted. So, you know, that can take some time. Particularly on a 850GB backup set.

So what’s in the box? You get:

  • Instructions;
  • A LaCie rugged drive (1TB);
  • A USB3 cable; and
  • A pre-paid courier satchel to send it back in.

I took some photos, to make me look more like a tech journo.

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And, then, magically, a little over 2 weeks after the drive arrived, I have 850GB of my data in the cloud. Almost like magic.

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There are a few other things you can do with CrashPlan but I’ll look to cover those off in the next post. Because I’m tired now. In short, the NAS compatibility is cool (if you’re a QNAP owner – check this post out), as is the ability to send data to your friends.

So, I’ll wrap up with some of what I thought were good things about the product. Firstly, I can pay in Australian dollars. This may not seem like a big thing, as we’ve had parity with the US for a while, but recently the dollar has dipped to 85 cents. So, on a $50 subscription, I pay, after fees and charges, $60. Which, isn’t that big a deal, but it’s enough to make me pause. Secondly, the access to local support and a seed drive service is fricking awesome. And support have been helpful and informative every step of the way. Thirdly, CrashPlan pricing, for unlimited storage, is pretty competitive. Here’s a link to the Australian offering. Whether they can sustain that pricing remains to be seen. As an aside, I often wonder what Mozy’s pricing would have been like if they hadn’t been bought by EMC. But that may have had nothing to do with it.

So, in short, I’ve been really happy with my CrashPlan experience thus far, and am looking forward to doing some more stuff with it. I still won’t hesitate to recommend Backblaze to people, if it seems like a good fit for them, but I’m having a hard time arguing against a local presence and the somewhat parochial comfort that that provides. Thanks again to Adrian Johnson and the team at Code42 support for making this a really simple and effective exercise.