CrashPlan works for transatlantic backups

Updated 11/01/16: I’ve revised my opinion of CrashPlan. See here for the details.

Last week, I wrote an article called “What’s On Your Drobo“, and in it, I mentioned that I was going to try to use an app called CrashPlan to do backups from my photo library in Romania to my backup location in the US. I’m happy to say that it works as expected, and no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Here’s a screenshot of an active backup. At the time, I was getting 2.7 Mbps throughput.

There is a bandwidth bottleneck somewhere, though I’m not sure where it is. My broadband connection in Romania sits at 30 Mbps up and down, as I mentioned here, and my parents’ broadband connection clocks in around 16 Mbps down and 4 Mbps up. Theoretically, since I’m uploading and they’re downloading, I should be getting at least 15 Mbps, but I’m not. So it looks like there’s either a bottleneck as my data exits Romania, or as it goes through the transatlantic fiber optic cables. If someone can chime in on this, I’d love to find out more. I do know that I hit that same 2.5 Mbps ceiling as I upload to SmugMug, YouTube and blip.tv.

Bottlenecks aside, I’m just happy I can do off-site backups, and at least given my current setup, it’s free! CrashPlan works as advertised! I have to admit I was a skeptic when I downloaded it and installed it. I figured it would work on the local network, which is where I did the initial backups, but it would surely run into some firewall issues when I tried it from another location. Nightmares of re-configuring my parents’ firewall remotely flashed before my eyes… Amazingly enough, I didn’t have to do any of that! It just works!

So, if you’re interested in doing this sort of thing, download CrashPlan (it’s multi-platform), install it on both computers where you want to use it, configure it (use the help section), test it, then let it do its thing!

One thing I need to mention is that if one of the computers falls asleep, the backup will be paused until it wakes up. Even though I set my parents’ iMac to wake up for network traffic, CrashPlan doesn’t seem to be able to wake it up when I try to start the backup from my end. Keep that in mind and plan your backups accordingly.


5 Thoughts

  1. Crashplan backups are generally pretty slow. The best I get is 2mbps (on a tested 40 mbps line). I live right next to Silicon Valley. This is a Crashplan limitation, and it makes perfect sense. (The service would be ridiculously expensive if everyone had unlimited backup network speed.)

    The reason you are showing 2.7 mbps might be because this blog is from 2010, or perhaps because some of the file was already backed up. (It does rdiff-like backups.)

    Also, a six-hour backup is really fast! I’ve been backing up continuously for over a year, and still have over another year to go. (Except that I add data faster than it can be backed up.)

    Again, I don’t see this as a problem. It’s a fantastic service for the price and trounces the competition (almost all of whom I tried). I can also back up to my own computers anywhere else on my LAN or the internet, which is amazing.

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  2. How do you or crashplan know when the drobo’s physical storage on your parents end is getting near?
    Do you have it an version-ed backup or just a complete clone (1 to 1)?

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    1. Michael, I know how much storage I have on the Drobo because I set it up, and planned my backups from here accordingly. I can back up hundreds of gigabytes more before I worry about space issues. Second, I can always start up an iChat Screen Sharing session with my parents and start the Drobo Dashboard, to monitor the free space. And finally, the Drobo will let them know by lighting orange when it’s time to swap in a larger drive.

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