There is simply nothing worse than realizing your hard drive just crapped out. Pictures, music, documents… Everything. Gone. What the hell are you going to do? Have you felt that feeling? It sucks. If you’ve never experienced that feeling, then the law of averages says you’re due for it. Sorry to jinx you, but face the facts!
Everyone should have a backup plan for their files. Hard drives crash. If we’re not talking about a lot of data, then maybe storing stuff on cloud-based storage providers like Google Drive, DropBox or SkyDrive is better for you. But it you are talking massive backups (ripped music, movies, pictures and other assorted data), then you need to entertain the idea of an online backup. And an idiot-proof one, at that.
I’ve chosen CrashPlan for my setup. It’s simple to set up. It automatically backs up the folders I select. And it works. It may take a month to complete the first backup (as it did with me), but once you’re done, you can sit back and relax, knowing that every time you drop a file in a protected folder, it’s automatically backed up to the cloud.
Is it free? Well, yes and no. The free version allows you to back up files to an external hard drive, a friend’s computer (yes, you can back up to anyone else you want), or another drive in the same computer. But the drive has to be connected to the computer. In my house, I have laptops that rarely, if ever, are connected to external hard drives. So it kinda stopped the idea of me doing it myself – it just seemed like too much of a hassle.
Next are the paid versions.
There is the individual and the family plan (there’s also a business plan, but I’m not talking about that here). Their individual runs about $60/year and the family plan will set you back about $150 year. I opted for the family plan – honestly, if you keep all your music, pictures and movies on one PC in the house you should be fine with the individual plan. For me, I’m a geek with a bunch of PC’s all over the house and also keep data across a multitude of PC’s in the house for various reasons. If you do need to backup more that two computers then financially it makes sense to move to the family plan (I believe the family plan supports up to 10 PC’s).
Set up is easy. Basically download the application, set up an account, and select the folders to backup. CrashPlan works in the background and will ease up on backups when you are using the PC and kick up the speed when you are away. Like I said, a large collection will take a while to complete the backup (I believe I backed up about 3 terabytes of data initially and it took 27 days). It’s intuitive and if you need help, CrashPlan has support to help. Granted, I am a geek but I seriously doubt you will need the help.
There are other companies out there that do the same thing. Mozy and Carbonite come to mind. Research them if you like. I found the free version of CrashPlan an enticing offer to begin with, but then quickly realized I would be happier with cloud backup and opted for the paid version. Good marketing on their part, I guess.
What do you use?