Backups & Anniversaries

CrashPlan is a backup software package that I have to admit seems pretty neat. For home use, it’s free (unless you want to buy the “Plus” version). It runs on pretty much any platform with a working Java 1.5 install. Everything is encrypted with 128-bit blowfish (the “Plus” version has 448 bit blowfish), and it has neat features like data de-duplication, which helps reduce the size when you have a lot of duplicate files... or multiple backup locations and styles.

It lets me have all the computers in my house back up to any other computer on the network -- including multiple destinations at the same time. So I can backup to my Linux Server, a firewire drive, and my HTPC Mac Mini. (It actually time-slices the backups - so the backups do get to all the destinations, but it only actively backs up to one destination at a time.)

The “Plus” version also supports versioned, time-machine like backups, which is pretty useful too (especially for non-macs).

And then there’s the online features: You can backup over the internet in a few interesting ways as well. CrashPlan sells their online service, CrashPlan Central, which seems to work great. Offsite backup is very important; if you don’t have offsite backup, you don’t really have a backup. CrashPlan also has a “seed” service where they ship you a 1 TB drive, you back up to it (and it’s fully encrypted, compressed, and de-duplicated), and then you ship it back. That can save months of syncing over the internet.

And, oddly enough, they also let you do the same thing: You are able to provide online backup to your friends - after proper authorization, they can connect to your PC and backup to your PC as well. And they can make a ‘local’ backup to an extrernal drive, and give the drive to you. Then you can hook up the drive and boom -- all of their backup is available to them online. And they can update the backups online as well (of course).

All in all, CrashPlan seems like a pretty sweet service; I have to admit I’m impressed.