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Take Control of CrashPlan Backups
Protect your data with CrashPlan's onsite, offsite, and cloud backups!
You know not to put all your eggs in one basket, but are you backing up to only a single location? Our favorite backup service, CrashPlan, backs up your data silently in the background, storing it locally on a hard disk or another computer you own, offsite on a friend's computer (for the consumer version), or in the cloud. But thanks to CrashPlan's power, flexibility, and cross-platform interface, you may need additional explanation to get the most out of CrashPlan's best features. This ebook—created in collaboration with CrashPlan maker Code 42 Software—has all the behind-the-scenes details and real-world advice you need.
Mountain Lion? Although this ebook pre-dates Apple's release of 10.8 Mountain Lion, you shouldn't worry that it won't apply to a Mountain Lion Mac. Read the Blog tab below to see what needs to be adjusted for Mountain Lion—almost nothing, except for semantics.
Backup expert Joe Kissell helps you devise an effective backup strategy for CrashPlan's unique capabilities, shows you how to back up to multiple destinations and restore files, explains less-common tasks (such as switching to a new computer and seeding a hard drive locally before moving it to a friend's house for offsite backup), and walks you through fine-tuning CrashPlan's settings to meet your needs.
All three consumer and small-business versions of CrashPlan—the free CrashPlan and the subscription-focused CrashPlan+ and CrashPlan PRO—are discussed, with relevant differences called out. (The book does not cover CrashPlan PROe, the enterprise version.)
For small businesses subscribing to CrashPlan PRO, Joe documents how to manage users and computers via the Web-based interface, and for anyone backing up to CrashPlan Central or CrashPlan PRO Cloud, he describes how to use the CrashPlan Mobile app (for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7) to access backed-up files. Lastly, Joe provides troubleshooting tips in case things go wrong, and offers advice for backup needs outside CrashPlan's purview (like bootable duplicates).
Questions answered in the book include:
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
CrashPlan is a powerful and flexible tool for backing up Macs and PCs. This book explains everything you need to know to back up one computer—or dozens—to any of numerous destinations with the consumer or small-business versions of CrashPlan. It covers basic concepts, configuration options, troubleshooting, and advanced techniques, all without presuming any existing technical expertise. This book was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Adam Engst with assistance from Agen G.N. Schmitz, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
Back in 2004 when I wrote my first book about backups, I faced two big challenges. The first was convincing readers that they needed to back up their computers. For many people, data loss seemed like such a remote possibility—and the cost and bother of setting up a backup system seemed so high—that I felt obligated to do some gentle arm-twisting. The second challenge was explaining how to protect and restore data without losing one’s hair and sanity. It was a complicated process, and the best tools available at that time were comprehensible only to card-carrying, pocket protector-wearing computer geeks.
Well, computer years are like dog years—in less than a decade, we’ve made what feels like a lifetime of progress. Because people now store so much crucial data on their computers, and have become so dependent on that data, stories of devastating data loss have become that much more common and have worked their way into popular mythology. These days, even those lucky enough never to have lost important data themselves probably know of someone who has, and the consequences are self-evident enough that I no longer have to preach my “why you should back up” sermon. We all get it now.
Meanwhile, the options for backing up one’s data have mushroomed. For example, where I once was hard pressed to think of more than a handful of backup programs for the Mac, I can now list more than 100. Similar growth has occurred on other platforms. Specialized hardware for backups and cloud-based storage systems have also proliferated like crazy. And it’s not just the quantity of choices that has increased, but the quality too. Developers have looked deeply at the problems of backing up and restoring data, and have invented innovative solutions that reject the old assumptions in favor of clever software that brilliantly solves problems we didn’t even realize we had.
CrashPlan is perhaps the best example of this trend. When it first appeared in early 2007, I immediately realized it was a big deal. Within months it became one of my top recommendations, even as I complained that it forced me to rework all my carefully categorized lists of backup programs! Since then, the CrashPlan software has evolved tremendously, its price has dropped, and the availability of faster and cheaper broadband has made online backups a realistic option for more and more people. For the past several years, most of my colleagues and I have relied on CrashPlan as an essential component of our backup strategies. Even though I’ve tried dozens of competing programs, nothing else gives me the feeling of security and flexibility that CrashPlan does.
As much as I admire CrashPlan’s capabilities, I’d be the first to admit that it’s not especially pretty. It’s a rather odd piece of software that doesn’t look or act like a normal Mac application on a Mac, or a normal Windows application on Windows. That’s not just a cosmetic issue, either. Although almost anyone can set up a basic backup without assistance, many of CrashPlan’s best features are far from self-explanatory. You can learn how to accomplish whatever you need to do if you’re willing to experiment and dig through FAQs, support articles, and discussion forums. But in lieu of a perfectly intuitive redesign of the software, what I’ve always wished for was a systematic yet approachable explanation of how to get the most out of CrashPlan. Not just how to use the individual features, but how to think about the program, and how to create a strategy that plays to CrashPlan’s strengths while meeting each person’s individual needs.
That’s why I wrote this book. I want you to like CrashPlan as much as I do, and get as much benefit from it as you can. I want you to see its inner beauty and discover its great personality, as it were. Most of all, I want you to know for certain, as I do, that your data is utterly safe from any conceivable catastrophe—and be confident about the exact steps you can take to restore any file that goes astray.
This book is for anyone who uses the consumer or small-business version of CrashPlan. (I don’t cover CrashPlan PROe, the enterprise version.) Because CrashPlan is nearly identical on Mac, Windows, Linux, and Solaris platforms, you should find this book useful regardless of your operating system—although admittedly I focus most of my attention on the Mac and Windows and the least on Solaris.
Whether you’re an individual user at home or the administrator of dozens of computers in a busy office—and whether you’re a relative beginner or a networking pro—you’ve come to the right place to learn all the ins and outs of protecting your valuable data with CrashPlan.
For the most part, this book progresses from the general and basic to the specific and advanced, so if you’re just starting out with CrashPlan, you’ll benefit from reading it more or less in order, skipping any chapters that don’t apply to the version of CrashPlan you use. In any case, I suggest perusing the first chapter, Understand CrashPlan Basics, before turning to other parts of the book, to learn about CrashPlan’s core principles and terminology.
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July 25, 2012 --
Nearly everything in Take Control of CrashPlan Backups is still valid in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. However, please be aware of the following:
April 9, 2012 --
Joe Kissell's latest book about CrashPlan backups is the topic of a discussion that, according to interviewer Chuck Joiner, waxes "poetic in places." Check it out on MacVoices (audio) or MacVoicesTV (video). Sounds like fun!
—Michael E. Cohen
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