One copy of a file is the same as having none — because that is what you could have at almost any moment. In fact, two copies is sketchy for a couple of reasons. Reason one is that, while on-site backup to a home server is excellent when it comes to restoration because it is the fastest way to get back up and running, it does not protect you in the event of a disaster such as a flood, fire or tornado.
That is where the second backup comes in. The cloud, as it is known today, is a great storage solution that can house files safely away from your home.
There are numerous solutions to handle this, though unless you only need a few Gigabytes then you will have to pay for it. That is a fair trade off for the peace of mind provided by knowing that your files will not be lost if the worst should come to pass.
I recommend finding a service that can be used across multiple computers, as that is the best value for most homes. However, if you have only one computer then you can save some money with a cheaper service.
Almost all solutions come with a small app that you install on your computer and use to interface with the backup service. This can be used to setup the files you wish to be synced.
Crashplan starts at around $35 per year for limited storage and on one only one computer and range up to unlimited multiple computers (a family plan) for $150 per year. There are also plans for business as well.
If you are wondering if perhaps you may be able to get away with a single PC plan then let me set this straight now — it will not recognize networks or even mapped drives. If you are like me, then you need to pay for the Family Plan if you want to back up multiple computers.
Getting Started with the App
Once you have signed up then you can download the desktop app. This will be the nerve-center of your backup system, as it allows you to control every aspect of what occurs.
Once you have chosen a plan then there is a small desktop app to download and install. Crashplan will sit unobtrusively in your system tray, using almost no system resources, but always paying attention to it duties to keep you safe.
Perhaps the most important part of the app, this where you tell Crashplay what you wish to backup to its cloud. There is a browse button that results in an Explorer-like windows that allows you to browse to the folders your wish to preserve and enable them with a click of a checkbox.
Here, you cn also see a real-time view of where your backup is at, and do such things as invite friends several other options for your service.
This is a feature that I sincerely hope that you never need. If you do require then it means that something has gone horribly wrong. However, you will also have the peace of mind of knowing that your previous documents, images and more are stored safely.
You can do a full restore of every single file, in the event you lost all of them, or just individual ones in the, hopefully, more likely event that you just made a bad Delete decision, as we have all done at times.
The Settings section contains a number of options, as you will note from the tabs across the top of the screen. Some of the most important ones include those found under “General” which allow you to set how backup perform or, more importantly, how they affect your PC performance. Backups can be set to only take precedence when your computer is idle, thereby not impacting the CPU when you are working. It can also be configured based on battery if you are using a laptop.
Users can also set file exclusions, account information, security and network information. All of this can important to both security and computer performance.
This is likely an obvious one — History shows you a list of the most recently backed up files and the time at which each was sent to the cloud service.
There really is not much to see here. If you love Crashplan then you may wish to send an invitation to a friend or family member, but the other options are a bit a gray area. There is is the ability to let friends back up data to your computer and vice-versa. Probably a bad idea all around.
This option provides a number of choices, most of which are covered in the previous tabs. However, it is a handy location to control many of those in a localized setting.
As I stated in the beginning of this piece, I find cloud storage essential to today’s backup routine. While local backup is great for a quick restore, you can not beat the piece of mind that comes with knowing that your precious family photos are always safe, even if the worst happens.
No cloud storage service is free — except if you only need 5 or 10 GB of space. Otherwise you will need to pay. Crashplan was my second try at this after failing miserably with the AVG Live Kive solution that cached all files locally, filling up the hard drive in no time and requiring constant resets. Crashplan has been a welcome solution that simply works and does so unobtrusively.