Back up PCs to each other via the Internet using CrashPlan Personal

7
77

If you are a computer enthusiast, then it is very likely you have more than one computer at your home. You also are likely to have quite a bit of data stored on your computer which hasn’t seen an external drive or other backup location in quite some time, if ever.

You are likely to have tons of free space on all of them. So why not back them up to each other? CrashPlan is a ‘set it and forget it’ backup app that will do exactly that, and it offers a free plan that can meet the needs of most users.

“Studies have shown that, on average, half of the disk space on desktop workstations is free and that this fraction is only increasing as disks become larger.” (Source: Improving Data Availability for Better Access Performance: A Study on Caching Scientific Data on Distributed Desktop Workstations). Now, what to do with all this disk space…?  Why not use it as a backup repository for your other computers?

Let’s say you have a computer with 200GB+ of free space in your living room, and have another laptop that has 120GB+ of free space downstairs.  Let’s back them up to each other!  Now, I’ve done this in the past with simple file synchronization utilities like SyncBack Free, but you have to go in and manually specify what you want synchronized (and not all file copy programs will like open files).  Pretty easy if you are a computer-savvy individual, but what about mom & dad or uncle Bill?

While performing family support, we can use all the help we can get.

CrashPlan does a great job of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”  And, it’s most definitely a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of app.  Just the type that is perfect for a lot of families

Feature overview

  • Schedule a backup at a time that works for you
  • Let CrashPlan manage what you backup or add to it’s automated file selection with your own parameters
  • No individual file size limit
  • Back up data to a local folder on an attached drive, another computer on your LAN or even a friend’s computer over the ‘Net.  A paid solution exists if you would like to back it up to the CrashPlan servers.
  • Back up all your computers across all your other computers.

This is a heckuva program for home users, and really, CrashPlan makes it exceedingly hard to argue with an excuse of “it’s too hard to back up my computer…”

Backing up

I’ve set my home computer to back up to an external drive to a folder named “backup,” and CrashPlan does it handily.  Once the backup is complete, it sends me a direct message via Twitter to let me know (you can also configure this for email notifications as well) if everything was all good or if there were problems.

The thing that I LOVE is that I’ve configured this to backup my mother-in-law’s computer over to my own over the ‘Net.  I simply share a backup code with her (actually me, because I set it up!) and it does the rest.  Backing up your family computers doesn’t require them to buy an external drive or have another computer on-site for CrashPlan to do the work.

Restoring

Restoring files are just as simple as backing them up.  Click on the ‘Restore’ tab, pick the computer you wish to restore files for (i.e. which computer they came from).  Pick a destination: this can be to a specified folder or to the original computer, once you’ve selected your parameters.  CrashPlan goes to work and restores the files as quickly as possible.

Another great feature: you can specify what date to restore from; similar to a Volume Shadow Copy restoration.

A personal story…I just used CrashPlan over the holiday to restore my entire Media Center collection of data (around 30Gb or so) when my external 500GB drive bit the dust!  CrashPlan was installed on a secondary computer downstairs and restored that data through a 100Mbit/sec switch over a few hours.  I was happy and I’m pretty sure it also saved my marriage (all the kids pictures were there).

Cloud backup?

Of course, with many of these services, CrashPlan does offer a paid cloud based package (CrashPlan+), but for many of us, the free version is all we need.  Nothing says you can’t utilize your existing cloud based backup like Dropbox or Mozy to store the CrashPlan backup in and get a quasi-cloud solution!

CrashPlan is available for Mac, Windows, Linux and Solaris.

Get it here!