You really need to backup your computer. Some folks use an external hard drive and others use an online backup service that sends your backup files into the “cloud”. I use both, and having that type of redundancy in place has saved me from potential disasters. The last time I wrote anything about online backup services was back in 2009, so it’s safe to say that some things have changed since that article. The biggest change for me is the provider I use for my online backup services.
Before, I used Mozy, and it worked just fine. I got charged based on how many computers and how much data I was backing up. At first, it seemed reasonable to pay about $20 per month for backups. But then my data grew and I had the need to backup other computers. Before long, I was paying close to $50 a month for online backups. While my data was safe in the cloud, my cost had grown substantially. That’s when I heard about a new service that I decided to try.
I first heard about CrashPlan when I read a review of the service that touted it for the different pricing structure it brought to the online backup industry. CrashPlan allows you to backup as much data as you want for a fixed price. For home users, the CrashPlan+ plan allows backups from up to 10 computers with unlimited amounts of data for the same price every month. To try it out, they offer the first 30 days of service for free. Should you wish you continue after that, you provide them with credit card information and your backups keep going.
CrashPlan works on Mac, Windows, and Linux, so it’s safe to say your platform is supported. I first tested CrashPlan+ on my MacBook Pro and backed up almost 300GB (gigabytes) of data. It took a while (many days) to perform that initial backup, but after that, it was steadily backing up whatever new files had been added or changed from my backup set. The second machine I tested on was my PC at home, as I wanted to see if there was any noticeable difference in the interface or performance. After backing up nearly 100GB there, my third computer to backup was my iMac, on which I store a lot of data. I opted to backup 1.5TB (terabytes) of files, which took quite a while to complete. By that, I mean weeks. By this time, I’d already started paying my monthly fee but was pleased with everything during my 30-day trial period. I’d even restored a few files here and there to test the validity of the backup, and all was well. Little did I know that I was about to test the backup service even further.
About a month after I had backed up my iMac, I noticed one of my external drives (not a backup drive) started acting strangely. By that afternoon, it stopped responding all together. This 1TB external hard drive stored all of my iTunes music, legacy job files, and more. I didn’t have a local backup of this drive, as Time Machine doesn’t allow for backups from external drives. It was time to test out the CrashPlan backup. I set the restore to download my backup files to a new external 2TB drive and waited… and waited… and I found out it takes a very long time to download 1.5TB of data. CrashPlan does offer their “Restore-to-Door” service that will deliver your backup files on a drive to your location for a nominal fee ($164.99). For business critical files, that would have been a welcome option, but I could live without these files, or at least enough to be patient.
A week or so later, I had all my backed up files back on my local computer. Thus far, I had paid for about a month of backup service through CrashPlan+, and my total cost was $13.99. That’s right, CrashPlan+ costs $13.99 a month to backup up to 10 computers with unlimited data. If you pay up front for the year, it gets even cheaper. When you also factor in that the CrashPlan software allows you to backup to local computers over the network or local hard drives for free, and I think that you’ll see the value in their offerings.
Whether you currently use another provider for your online backups or don’t have one yet, I think CrashPlan offers the best deal around.