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Tag: CrashPlan

CrashPlan is Breaking Up with Me

If you prefer the occasional peace of mind as the ‘IT Guy’ at home, well… guess what? Here’s another reason why you might not get that anytime soon. If you’re a CrashPlan customer, you’ve got some work to do…

I’m crushed.

CrashPlan for Home has been wonderful as a Cloud backup solution at home for disaster recovery. We’ve had a great relationship for the past five years. The cost was $60/year for my iMac for unlimited backup. It was pretty much… set it and forget it.

Done.

But recently, I received a little email from Code42’s CrashPlan service. In fact, we were done. CrashPlan is breaking up with me!

The email explained that over the next 18 months, Code42 will exit the consumer market for online backup. Instead, Code42 will focus on its “enterprise and small business segments.”

But I’m only getting three months, because my renewal is coming due.
(Customers get an additional two free months to help with their ‘transition.’)

I guess it was good while it lasted.
(sniff)

So, what are the options?
Whatever, I do, I’m still looking for a long-term relationship.
(I know, I’ve already been burned once. But, you can dream, right?)

CrashPlan for Small Business
As a current CrashPlan customer, I can migrate to the CrashPlan for Small Business plan.
That’s $10 per device each month for 5TB of storage.
So, $120/year for my iMac.
(Double what I was paying)

But, CrashPlan is offering me 75% off for the next 12 months.
That makes it only $30 for the first year.
(Half what I was paying)

Not bad… but remember, I’m looking at the long-term costs.
And I’m not longer getting ‘unlimited’ backup anymore.
Hmmm… That’s okay.
5TB is plenty.

Bottom line: CrashPlan will cost me twice as much moving forward.
(The first-year discount aside)

The Carbonite Choice
Code42 has struck a deal with Carbonite as CrashPlan’s ‘exclusive partner for home users’ with a 50% discount when switching over to Carbonite.
(How ironic that they were competitors once upon a time.)

When I clicked on the link in my Code42 email, I was sent to the following Carbonite offer:

Carbonite Core
It’s for unlimited computers. (Nice!)
With only 250GB of backup (What?!)
And costs 134.99/year (50% off the $269.00 price)
I don’t know if this discount holds after the first year.

You can purchase additional storage in chunks of 100GB
$79.99/100GB (20% off $99.99)

Whoa! This is way more expensive.
Plus, I’m only starting with 250GB? That’s a deal breaker right there!
The ‘unlimited computers’ piece is cool, but there’s not enough storage in the plan to make it worthwhile.

Why is Carbonite in the mix at all? I must be missing something…

Carbonite for Home
So, I went back to Carbonite’s website to look around as a ‘new customer.’

What I found was confusing…
Just showing up as a new customer and not attached to all of my CrashPlan baggage, I found an alternate Carbonite universe…

It’s called Carbonite for Home. And in this universe, you get unlimited backup for one computer in three flavors:

  • Basic for $59.99/year
  • Plus for $74.99/year (on sale from $99.99)
  • Prime for $149.99/year

The differences have to do with the features.
Plus provides external hard drive backup and automatic video backup.
Prime includes a courier recovery service.

The Plus plan seems like it would be the best option for me with its flexibility on including external drives.

Something’s Not Right
If you’re shopping for price, just showing up as a new Carbonite customer gives you the best deal.

But I was still confused why Code42 was giving me such a bum ride with Carbonite.
The Core plan really stinks.

Then, I ran across this TidBITS! article, which mentioned that CrashPlan ‘family’ users were only being offered a discount off of Carbonite’s business plan (Core) as opposed to Carbonite’s ‘Home’ plans.

Did that mean I had a family plan?
No… I checked.

So, was I being offered the wrong discount?

If so, then Carbonite for Home would be an even better deal.
(Assuming the 50% discount held more than the first year)

Looks like I’d have to reach out to Carbonite to investigate.

Rebound Options
So, the way I see it, I’ve got three choices….

  1. Stick with CrashPlan and pay double. ($120/year)
    But remember, “The devil you know…”
    (And only get 5TB vs unlimited… which is actually fine with me.)
  2. Move to Carbonite Plus and pay $75/year.
    (Or try to convince Carbonite to give me the 50% discount off of this plan as a CrashPlan reject)
  3. Start all over and look around for another choice.
    As it turns out, Joe Kissell from The Wirecutter doesn’t like Carbonite for Macs.
    He prefers Backblaze for an Apple ecosystem.
    And Backblaze only costs $50/year.
    (Here’s Backblaze’s invitation to CrashPlan customers.)

Back in the Game
Wow…I thought I was done with all of this.
Guess not.

I’ve got a little time before my CrashPlan breakup is official, and I need to pull the trigger on another choice.

Any relationship advice out there for Cloud backup at home?

Cure the Cause of Your Computer’s Crippling Coma

Does your Mac get a headache keeping up with all the programs you’re running? It’s time to dial it back. Activity Monitor can help you decide which programs to close down.

Does your Mac get a headache keeping up with all the programs you’re running? It’s time to dial it back. Activity Monitor can help you decide which programs to shut down.

My iMac has been slowing down lately.
Slowwwwww…

Its spinning beach ball shows up whenever you click on the simplest task…
And then you’ve got to wait around like it’s 1999.
You look up…stare into space.
Yup…
The moon’s still there.

Suddenly, you hear the whir of the computer’s fan grow louder.
It really shouldn’t be working this hard.

Hmmm.
Well, my Mac is a few years old…

So I wondered if it was time to think about a new one.
But it’s got 4 GB of RAM and the i7 processor.
It shouldn’t be hurting that badly.

Doctor Barrett… what’s the problem?!

Activate Repair Disk Permissions
One good maintenance check is to run ‘Repair Disk Permissions’ in Disk Utility.
That can speed things up a bit.

Unfortunately, that fix didn’t improve the health of my panting processor this time.

Of course, the big question is…

  • How much software do you have running simultaneously?

No computer is a bottomless bottle of beer.
So I sat down with my Mac and we began some self-reflection.

Billions and Billions of Programs
Well, first off… I often use Adobe Lightroom to edit and organize all my photos.
(Everyone talks about what a memory hog that program is.)

Then, you might recall I added Backblaze a while back for automatic cloud backup, in addition to my Time Machine drive.
(You can never be too careful.)

Do I have lots of Safari windows open?
Guilty as charged.

Plus I see, Dropbox, Word, Outlook….

Already, it’s getting to be a pretty large list.

Maybe I’ve been maxing out my Mac after all.
(And I haven’t even mentioned iTunes or Final Cut Pro.)

So how are you supposed to know how much weight your Mac can bench press?

X-ray Vision into Your Computer
Yes, Apple has, of course, thought of that.
The answer comes in the form of a little utility called Activity Monitor.

It lists all of your open programs, charts the drain and graphically displays the ‘memory pressure’ your poor computer is enduring.

There’s lots tech jargon to consume, but it’s immediately clear which programs are depleting your digital companion.

And then you can close down the particular offenders directly in Activity Monitor.

Time to Tidy Up
I’ve opened Activity Monitor before, but it was more out of curiosity than need.

This time, I went in and saw some Safari pages ‘not responding’ and putting a pretty big drain on the system.

Click…. See you guys later!

That seemed to do the trick… but then I didn’t close out of my nifty new window into my Mac’s brain.

I left it open and positioned it in the top left corner of my screen.
And that was a few weeks ago…

Now, it’s always there to help me see what’s going on and which hungry programs are grabbing more than their fair share.

Yes, a newer Mac or more RAM would also solve the problem, but really, how many programs do you need to have open simultaneously?

When I was a kid at home, my mom always pestered me to turn off all the lights in the room I just left.

“That’s just wasting electricity,” she’d say knowingly.

Decades later, I finally get it…

Happy Computer, Happy Human
…What’s that, you say?
And how much memory does it taken to run Activity Monitor 24/7?
Good question…

Could this reveal a circular logic flaw…?

As I write this, Activity Monitor is sipping a miniscule 14.7 MB.
By comparison, Word is consuming 148.3 MB.
And my cloud backup is gulping 698.3 MB.

The price we sometimes pay for peace of mind…

By comparison, Activity Monitor is a welcome dose of aspirin to clear up your headache and keep your computer focused on what really matters in the moment.

All I Want is to Have my Peace of Mind and Cloud Storage

It’s time to fly your data to the Cloud. Now boarding at Gate B9… all your precious files selected for Cloud storage!

Okay, Cloud.
Show me your stuff.

I need a bulletproof digital storage solution.
Why?
I’ve got a wonderful two-year-old son.
And he’s proudly running about the house like a Tasmanian devil.

My home tech is afraid.
He took down my sturdy Epson printer in 3.7 seconds with a shiny penny.

And he loves to climb.
(Anyone know of a good indoor rock-climbing program for toddlers?)

Nothing is safe.
I worry about my iMac.

Yes, I back it up with Apple’s Time Machine and an external drive,
but really… So what?
Nothing is totally safe…especially in close proximity to a toddler.

These days, everyone is opining about the magic of the Cloud, and how you can safely and cheaply store all your digital files there.

So, problem solved?

This is what I have to say to the Cloud-
Put up or shut up.
Bring it on!

Archive the Family Photos and Videos
I began this project with the singular goal of simply backing up two massive sets of files on my iMac:

  • My always-growing home video archive
  • And my bulging photo collection, which lives in Apple’s Aperture (the beefier cousin to iPhoto)

I figured in the unlikely scenario of total calamity, I would at least have these precious memories safely backed up to the Cloud.
(Where nothing could ever go wrong.)

Who Gets to Go in the Life Boat?
But when you consider what digital content you absolutely can’t lose, the issue gets cloudier.

My life merged with my home computer sometime around Y2K.
Since then, most everything that’s happened to me has some digital footprint on my computer. Unless you’re a Luddite, you’re probably in the same boat.

Think about it.
Remnants of the past decade of your life live all over your computer’s hard drive.
Talk about baggage.

Pop quiz:
If you woke up one morning, and a voice said you had to leave home forever, and you had one hour to take only what you could carry, would you be ready?

Well, if you’d been dutifully doing your annual spring-cleaning, you might be up to the task.

Well, have you?

I think the same story goes for many personal computers out there
…and their flawed users.
How organized is all the data on your computer?
If you had to immediately select just 10% of your content to save, would you know where to start?

I certainly wouldn’t.

Now is every megabyte of my digital life absolutely critical to save for posterity?
I don’t think so.

Remember, my plan was just to back up my videos, photos and home movies.
All the unused footage I left on the cutting room floor could go, right?

The problem is, I’ve fallen a tad behind in my home editing.
My boy is almost two-and-a-half, and I’m still working on some of his precious video moments from last year.

Now that’s an entirely separate problem, but you can see where I’m going.

Forget the spring-cleaning analogy.
Life is messy.
Your computer follows your life.
Get used to it.

So where does that leave you?
You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Mind-Numbing Number of Cloud Solutions
There are plenty of companies out there in the cloud storage business.
You even can even pick up some free storage from some of them, but you’ll hit a cap quickly.

Free Cloud Storage:

The best free deal out there I’ve found is 50 gigs from MediaFire.
The only catch is the per file limit is 200 megs, which severely limits video archiving.

But none of these free choices will handle the storage needs of a long-term media file archiving plan.

Fifty Bucks Can Save Your Digital World
At the $50/year price point though, things start to get interesting-

$50 – $100 Plans:

For the uber-organized individual, this could be enough storage to do the job.

Affordable Unlimited Storage Plans?!
There are also a few companies out there offering unlimited Cloud storage at similar price points.

What?! Unlimited? That sounds crazy!
Yes, it seems counter intuitive, but the all-you-can-eat plans are far more economical.

These loss leader deals are baked into full service back-up strategies as opposed to a simple Cloud rental. They work much like Time Machine.
Set it and forget it, and they’re automatically updating your files in the background to Cloud servers.

Here are some popular ones I uncovered for both Macs and PCs:

Unlimited Storage Plans:

I’m not sure how these companies pull a profit with this pricing, but they must know what they’re doing.

Unlimited Storage is Hard to Beat
So for me, it really came down to two choices:

  • Rent 50 GB or 100 GB for long term archiving for something under $100/year
  • Or buy an unlimited back up Cloud plan for the same amount or less

You do the math.

But as wonderful as these unlimited plans appeared, I didn’t really want the complication of downloading some third-party software and then have it running in the background, syncing files 24/7 on my computer for the next…
Well, forever.

Forced to Choose
But, I realized if I chose a limited Cloud storage plan,
I’d find myself with sort of a digital Sophie’s Choice.

With that scenario, I’d be forced to take the time to select which precious files get rescued.

And that process would require me to undertake the dreaded decade’s worth of digital spring-cleaning. And how much time does that take?

I don’t know.
Because I pressed the button that says,
“Don’t worry about it. You’ve got unlimited back up.”

Yep, it’s all going up to the Cloud.

CrashPlan+ Unlimited or Bust
So I made my move and pulled the trigger with a company called Code 42 Software.
I chose their CrashPlan+ Unlimited one-year plan with downloadable software and a convenient desktop interface.

In addition to receiving universally good reviews, CrashPlan’s value proposition was really compelling.

Plus, a recent CNET post pointed me to a particularly good CrashPlan promotion.
When you read it, you’ll notice you may not meet the one requirement to get the deal, but CNET recommends you still go for it.

So do I.

(The key word I’m not mentioning here rhymes with tree.
We’ll speak no more of this.)

The Cloud’s Achilles’ Heel
CrashPlan’s software download and set-up were super simple.
(My concerns were unfounded.)
I was ready to begin backing up in ten minutes.

But as I sat staring at CrashPlan’s control panel to confirm the selection of my files to encrypt and send to the Cloud, I remembered one problem inherent with using the Cloud:

It’s the limitation of your own network’s upload/download speeds.
You’re never going to come close to the speed of transferring your files to a physical drive via a FireWire or USB cable.

And then I viewed CrashPlan’s time prediction to complete the job.
It said, “Time to backup – 39 days.”
(I’m not kidding.)
I have close to a terabyte of data, because of all the video I’ve collected over the years.
And this assumes my computer is awake 24/7.

I opened my movies folder and realized I had 519 gigs of video waiting to blast off.
And that month-long estimate is at a 2.1Mbps upload speed.
(Individual mileage may vary.)

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
So my brilliant plan had one big hiccup.
My data isn’t getting to the Cloud until sometime next month.

I hope Mr. Disaster isn’t waiting around the corner.

For those who don’t have the patience, there’s a shortcut.
CrashPlan offers a service called “Seeding.”
For $125, they’ll send you a one-terabyte hard drive in the mail. You put your massive files on it and mail it back. Then, they’ll load it up to your Cloud account within five to ten days.

Snail mail beating the speed of the Internet?
How wonderfully analog.

I considered the seeding solution but decided I should probably attack the real problem and finally face some digital spring-cleaning.

So I committed a precious hour of my free time.
(Parenthood and work consume much of the rest.)
I organized a portion of my video and photo files and brought my digital mountain down to 572 GB and only 25 days of uploading.
Not a bad return on a one-hour investment.
(Maybe there is something to this quaint custom called ‘organization.’)

Unlimited Peace of Mind?
I wanted peace of mind, and I got a ‘set it and forget it’ solution.
That fits the bill, right?

But you can never just set it and forget it.
You can’t just pack up your digital mess and ship it to the Cloud every year.
No matter how much the cost of digital storage continues to drop, any attic is only so big.

I think I’ll try to extend my “Digi-Org” to keep my Cloud files in check.

So today, I got a really good deal. But that’s only for the next 365 days.
What’s my future cost to maintain a personal terabyte in the Cloud?
How about ten terabytes?
Sure the sky’s the limit, but it’s going to cost you!

I originally imagined I would simply rent some Cloud space for years to come and create my little digital archive, kind of like a safety deposit box.

It would seem that’s still an idea slightly ahead of its time.

Plus, you’ve got to wonder which companies are going to be around in the upcoming decades. (no disrespect intended)
But the expectation that you’ll never have to move your archive to a different provider is probably unrealistic.

28 Days Later
So how do I like CrashPlan?
I’ll let you know next month.
(As I write this, I’m only 29.6 GB into the upload. 542.3 GB to go…)
For now, I’ve got Time Machine and my external G-Tech backup drive watching my digital back.

As if my own fears surrounding the safety of my home media files aren’t enough, don’t forget the world apocalypse is just around the corner.
(The Mayan Calendar Ends on December 21st.)

Well, look on the bright side.
The planet may be gone, but all my critical data will be living safely in the Cloud.

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