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  • WHS and CrashPlan for Social Cloud Backup – Part 2


    Last time, we discussed using CrashPlan on our home servers to create off site backup in what we’re calling social cloud backup.  You can hear a discussion about how this works on podcast #54.  Right now, CrashPlan doesn’t officially support WHS.  In Part 2, we’ll discuss how we got it working on our machines.  It’s not too hard, let’s call it mild difficulty.  Reminder: It’s FREE!




    First, you need to log onto the desktop of your home server.  This can be done through add-ins like AutoExit, … … or Live Mesh.  Once on the desktop, open a web browser and go to www.crashplan.com.  Click download and install the program.  The install process includes the creation of a user account.  This is how you will connect to other users.


    Next, you need to chose which folders you will backup.  CrashPlan can not yet backup network folders so you’ll have to use the D: (Data) drive.  Just navigate to the \shares folder you want to back up (or the whole thing) and you’re all set.  Or are you?…


    You need to add a Friend in the Friends tab.  From there, you can send e-mails to friends who can then either serve as your off site backup location or can be granted access to storage space on your server.  You can set how much space to allocate to each friend.  Once your friend has CrashPlan up and running, your backups will then run in the background without the need for further input from you.  It’s a great solution.






    WHS Add-In – One of the things you’ll notice when you first use CrashPlan is how much the application already looks like a WHS Add-In.  We’re not sure if Code 42 has plans to implement this themselves, but it seems like a natural step for them.


    Paid Service – If you don’t want to back up to a friend or family, you have the option to save to the cloud at VERY reasonable rates.  1 year for $54 or up to 3 years for $125 ($3.47/month) for unlimited storage space.  That’s the best we’ve seen.


    Family Backup – Many of use with home servers are probably the token family tech expert.  We know the value of data backup and are called to the rescue when a hard drive fails usually with little ability to help.  With CrashPlan, we can now act as a central repository for family backups.  They’ll have off site backup on your server and you can be the hero when they need to recover lost data.




    We are still testing out CrashPlan, but our first impressions are very good.  The only cons so far are not cons of CrashPlan itself, but it’s integration with WHS.  We want to see an official add-in as well as the ability to backup the share folders directly.  Those changes would make CrashPlan the undisputed leader for WHS offsite backup.


    Authors: Jim Collison and Chris Lux


    Jim is an IT Manager at Gallup Inc in Omaha NE and a Windows Home Server user since January 2008.  He blogs about technology, home PC security, social networking and anything else that sounds fun on his personal technology blog at http://pcaverageguy.blogspot.com/


    Chris is a medical student at the IU School of Medicine and a WHS and Media Center enthusiast.  You can see his blog at http://luxlive.spaces.live.com


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    One of the problems users in Australia have with remote backup solutions is that we have what many would think to be obscene restrictions on bandwidth. For example, my current cable plan allows me 60GB of combined upload and download per month. Once I exceed that amount I am charged AUD150 per gigabyte. That is ~USD130 or GBP70. On a WHS with 3.8TB storage, that becomes a very expensive proposition. Obviously, I would not store that amount of data in the cloud, but choosing what data to store remotely is like choosing which of my children I value most. Recovery of data from the cloud would also be expensive. For me, the only realistic solution is the equivalent of the old skeakernet. Once a fortnight, I back up various folders to an external USB drive, take to drive in to work and store it in the safe there.
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    Dumbo469 - You're right that in the face of bandwidth caps, the options are limited. That being said, there should be some alternatives for you. You can combine 'sneaker-net' and an off site backup by seeding the destination folder with the initial file set and then just adding new files as you generate them. It's not an elegant solution and may take a lot of work to get up and running. Let us know if you figure out a good solution.
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    Have you had any issues backing up the D-drive directly? Evereywhere I read about installing CrashPlan on WHS they say you should never access the D-drive directly. I want to backup and let friends back up to the D-drive, but I'm afraid of possible the consequences (corrupt files etc?).
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    db298 - We did NOT need to run this as a service. Keep in mind, this is not officially supported by Crash Plan. Let's hope they hear our calls for a WHS app! eriso - good question. We have a little debate on this on the site. Jim and I have tried it and it worked fine. John thinks he heard that it can corrupt data but that it might be held over paranoia from the original data corruption bug. It's kind of 'use at your own risk' but I have not had any problems. Thanks!
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    IndyLux, Thank you for a quick reply! I installed CrashPlan some days ago and access the D-drive for both backing up, and receiving backup from other locations. I have tried many different scenarios (deleting, adding, restoring, backing up), and everything seems just fine! As you say, it might be that original data corruption bug that scares us all unnecessary:) I'll give you a heads up if I run into corruption issues (or other major issues) with this setup.
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    All - I installed Crashplan on my Windows Home Server v1 about two weeks ago - it has been running and uploading about 150GB of my most important data ever since. It seemed to be doing just fine (about 90% done), but now I'm faced with some data corruption issues... (I have used this WHS for 2 years and never had issues before this...). Basically, whenever I try to write anything to my WHS network drive, the copy fails and the shares go offline. Only way to get them back is to do a cold boot. I'm not sure if it's CrashPlan causing issues or not.. but the timing is a bit suspicious... To try to correct, I now have all of my shared drives inaccessible and I'm in the process of doing a CHKDSK of all 17TB of my attached drives (it will likely take a week or so...argh!)
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