After getting semi-serious in the photography arena, and having some paid-for shoots, I made the decision that it was time to bite the bullet and get an off-site backup solution. My “basement fileserver” has RAID1 (mirroring) so if one disk failed, the other one would still work. This doesn’t protect me from other physical disasters (such as a leaking, spraying water heater pipe that sprayed dozens of gallons of water onto the side of the desktop case) and other things like theft, fire, someone knocking it over, etc.
After looking at several solutions, I settled on a bake-off between Carbonite and CrashPlan. Both gave free trial solutions, and both were similarly priced for a single-computer unlimited backup. I tried CrashPlan first, and was pleased. I can control the hours that the backups take place (or unlimited), throttle it based on bandwidth, validation frequency (how often it checks for new files), CPU usage, encryption, and many other options. One other thing I really liked was the fact that you can use it for free to another computer. For example, a friend of mine and I want to back up the other’s files, so we can download their tool and use it completely free of charge rather than writing our own rsync/scp/etc scripts. It had a Linux client, and Windows client (since that’s all I currently have, I didn’t look for any other solutions).
Next was Carbonite. I went to the site and downloaded the installation package to try it out on my desktop (running Windows 7). It seemed to work okay and had many of the same features as CrashPlan, so I decided to try it out on my fileserver (running Linux), but alas, found that there was no Linux client — it is Windows and Mac OSX only. That cinched it for me… no way was I going to convert my fileserver over to Windows, so CrashPlan was the winner.
I later looked into Amazon AWS Glacier storage, since the storage fee was a penny per GB per month, with free uploads. The catch is that they assume this is “cold storage” (hence the name), so you get severely penalized for downloading content. You get 5% of your total storage free per month, but it’s prorated over 4 hour chunks throughout the month. The forums tell stories like how one user got charged $127 for downloading a 638MB archive in one day…. it all has to do with how much total storage you have vs how quickly you download the archive, and quite honestly, I wasn’t willing to worry about such a thing, so I ended up sticking with CrashPlan for now.
The one thing I don’t like in CrashPlan is the option to “keep deleted files”…. I uploaded several really old directories of photographs, ones that I likely will not look at for a long time, and deleted the local copy. I have the option checked to keep those deleted files on CrashPlan’s servers, but if for some reason that box gets unchecked, I’ll lose it all. I know the better solution to that is to get more local storage, but I’d rather have the space for other things.
All in all, for $5.99/month (on a month-to-month basis, it’s cheaper if you buy longer time periods at once), I’m satisfied. I just have to be careful, and this is one computer that nobody else in the house logs into for any reason.