How to backup important files using CrashPlan
Let's face it: most people are total slackers when it comes to backups. Sure, most people are aware of the need, but then weeks or months slip by where they forget to connect the USB backup drive and suddenly everything is lost.
An increasing number of people solve this problem by using a cloud backup system, which stores their stuff on a remote server. But if you're not that keen on paying an annual fee or don't want to trust your data to an online outfit, you can also create your own personal cloud backup solution with CrashPlan.
How it works
CrashPlan from Code42 works in general like pretty much most other automated backup software: you select the files you want to back up, set a schedule or configure continuous backup and then forget about it. CrashPlan comes with a unique twist, however: one of the backup destination options is another computer using CrashPlan.
Using this option you can set CrashPlan to automatically back up your data onto another computer you might own, or even a computer owned by a friend or family member. Likewise, they can back up their computer to your PC over the internet. That way, you all have copies of each other's stuff in case things go wrong. And don't worry: backups are encrypted so that the backup hosts can't read each other's private files.
Download CrashPlan on each computer that's set to be part of the backup network. Don't worry about the pricings listed – those are only if you want to use Code42's online storage for backup.
After this you need to create an account – If you plan to backup to one of your own PCs, you don't have to create a separate account for each: you can use the one account on multiple PCs. If you plan to backup to a friend's PC, however, they should make their own account.
What to backup
By default, CrashPlan backs up your personal User directory, which contains your documents, app settings and the default Favourites music, photo and video directories.
For most users, that's fine, but if you have extra directories you'd like to back up, click on the Change button under the Files section on the main page. This will bring up a directory view of your system. Check the box next to any directory that you want to include in the backup – subdirectories will automatically also be backed up.
Note, though, that unless you want to eviscerate your monthly ISP quota (and possibly tick off your backup buddies with how much of their hard drive you're taking), you'll need to be a little selective. You don't need to back up your Program Files or Windows directory!
Click Save when you're done.
If you want to back up to another computer you own, the names of all the computers you have CrashPlan installed on will appear in the main window automatically. You don't have to do anything in this step.
But if you want to back up to a friend's computer, you have to register them. Click on Friends on the left side of the screen. You'll have to ask your friend to do the same.
The Friends page includes a six-character code. In order to be able to back up to another person's system, you need to have their code (or they need to have yours). Ask your friend for their code and type it into the Add friends field.
Your Friend's name will appear in a list at the top of the page. Click on their name, and you'll see several options. First, check the box to Allow friend to back up to this computer, which will allow them to back up their system to your PC (it's only fair, after all).
Underneath the name will appear a panel with options for the backup. The Default location is where their backup will be saved onto your system. The Alloted space can be switched from automatic (essentially unlimited) to a specific GB amount if you want to limit how much of your hard drive is taken by their backup.
In order for you to be able to back up to their PC, your friend then needs to open their Friends panel, select your name, and check the box to Allow friend to back up to this computer. For obvious reasons, it's switched off by default.
Beginning the backup
Start the backup. Click on Backup on the left panel to take you back to the main page.
In the destinations box, you'll now see your other PC(s) and any friends computers you've added. A green dot will be next to them, and a start Backup Button will be on the right. Click on the latter.
A bar will appear with Waiting for backup under it, meaning that CrashPlan is waiting for the next scheduled backup time to start. Once a backup is performed, a tick will appear in the green dot, indicating that the backup is complete and that this is a permanent backup target.
On the Destination computer, and Inbound panel will appear, indicating that a backup is being uploaded to it.
You can add as many backup targets as you like, in order to make multiple copies of your data. These targets can be of any type: hard drives, cloud drive, friends computers, your other computers.