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Crashplan - A new low in Internet Backups

Updated article about online backups. Originally started with Mozy, moved to Crashplan, and then finally landed on Backblaze.


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Update 4-3-13
I thought I’d update this article on my experiences now that I’ve been on Backblaze for a while….and it’s going to be a short update! Why so short - well, the service just works. Upload/seed times were very quick and consistent, and I’ve not seen any connectivity issues to date. Restorations are simple and easy - always test these by the way, don’t leave it till you need to recover something to find out that it doesn’t work for whatever reason…..

The client is easy to configure, and again, just works. Are there any downsides? Well, a couple of things I don’t like - but I think one of them is more about me as a more technical user rather than as a typical consumer. Firstly, you can’t easily just select certain folders. What you do is select what
drives to backup, and then enter any folder or extension exclusions. Common exclusions are already included in the default setup for you.

I’ve ended up with creating a single Backup Volume called ‘BackBlaze’ and backing up everything on that drive. I would prefer to be able to just select what I want backing up, and not leaving it to the ‘intelligence’ of the client to decide. I can see on why it’s been configured this way though - you’d rather backup too much, than not enough right? It’s aimed at the consumer, and targeted to be simple. Simple backup systems get used, more complex ones don’t.

The only other thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes it can take a while for the client to pick up my external drives again. This can mean my syncs to my BackBlaze partition get missed. I’ve found that going into System Preferences, selecting the BackBlaze Preferences, and then holding down the ALT key while clicking ‘Restore Options’ seems to do an immediate scan?

Hardly real complaints, just nit-picking really. Overall the product does what it says it does, does it very well, and doesn’t cost the Earth.

Now, how long until I have to update this again……


Original Article
Crashplan is awesome, but only if you can fit all of your personal data on a 3.5” floppy disk.

I am starting to wonder if I offer some weird form of pre-warning of service death indication for Internet Backup Providers. Quick summary - don’t use the backup providers I recommend as invariably they end up being
rubbish, appalling, and offering a generally crap service.

The idea of backing up your stuff to the cloud as an off-site backup is a very attractive one. It’s not usually that expensive, and offers you a great get out clause should you ever lose your stuff. Let’s face it, even people who are obsessed by backing up their data (I.e. me) manage to make mistakes sometimes and lose their stuff.

I’ve been through a number of providers, with the two big two being
Mozy and Crashplan.

Mozy initially offered a
great service, at a great price-point....but then stiffed their customers by massively uplifting their prices.

Crashplan seem to have achieved something better - they’ve not only stiffed their customers by raising prices, they’ve also stiffed their existing customers by completely knackering and over-subscribing their service.

Seriously, what is the point of an online backup-service if you can’t actually get any reasonable performance to upload anything to that backup service?

Wait,
let’s backup, and look at some history.

I backup my personally critical data repeatedly. I mean things like photos, videos etc. stuff you can’t readily reproduce. When I first started using CrapPlan I got a fairly good seed rate and ended up with over 500Gb of data on there. The rest of the time then you’re just topping up and updating the files you have stored up there - you’re not doing a massive seed.

Then something went wrong. I started getting issues connecting to the Crashplan service. Waiting for Connection became a regular occurrence, but one that seemed to fix itself every few days...until it didn’t. So, I raise a call, and get ignored for a few days, then it auto-magically starts working. Great. Apart from uploads being slow. By slow, I mean appallingly slow.

Running an overnight test I managed to upload 385Mb in 16 hours. That’s 24Mb per hour. I even tried trimming down my backup set to 200Gb (mainly photos) - apparently it would take some 7 months to complete. Seriously, what is the point?

Also, before the ‘it’s your connection’ emails start flowing in - I have a dedicated ADSL line just for Crashplan and stuff that loads my normal line. Nothing else is on it.

Couple this slow performance with the even slower assistance from the Crashplan support team, well, I think they’ve not only lost a customer they’ve lost my recommendations too.

I suspect their service is over-subscribed - a downside to offering a good product at a reasonable price I guess. I’m sure they’ll fix it eventually - but in the meantime their existing customers have been absolutely stiffed, and are left with an unusable, pointless service that they’ve paid for.

For a backup provider to be credible, they need to provide a good, consistent and sound service backed up by solid support when its required. Crashplan currently offer none of those things.

Me, I’m off to try BackBlaze. 50US$ for unlimited per year...what could possibly go wrong? As a side note, I’ve managed to upload more to BackBlaze in the last 3 hours than I have in 3 days of uploads to Crashplan, go figure.



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