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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Is CrashPlan+ easy enough to use for novices?

    My father, who is a "Senior Citizen", has a Windows XP computer. He is certainly a novice when it comes to administering his computer.

    He needs a backup plan, but it needs to be easy to use.

    CrashPlan+ sounds promising.

    Any suggestions for some backup tool that is very easy to use?

    Thanks, Mike

  2. #2
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    Why do first time posters talking about a product you've not heard of before always look like a poor attempt at advertising? Is it just me being too cynical?

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    Despite my novice status on the Lounge and possibly sending a poorly formed request, this is not an advertising attempt or gimmick. I have no relationship with the CrashPlan+ folks in any way.

    My father actually could use a really simple backup method, and I've recently seen mention of CrashPlan+ elsewhere as one possibility.

    Thanks, Mike

  4. #4
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    Why are you considering an online backup scheme?

  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    I think that setting up an external hard-drive and managing that, or periodic copying to CDs, is too much to manage.

    I do not have any experience with "cloud" backups, but thought that removing the hardware aspect for him would be a plus.

    A GUI interface would probably work for backing up or retrieving.

    I can't be present to help him, so he's pretty much on his own regarding any backup method.

    Thanks, Mike

  6. #6
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    Online backups have the issue of requiring an initial backup that may be a bit too big, if there is much stuff to backup.

    I don't use online backups, so can't really advise. See if this helps: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/mainte...p_services.htm

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  8. #7
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I think an easy to use 3rd party imaging application, a bootable recovery disk, some minor adjustments to the BIOS to alow
    the computer to boot to CD/DVD, and a walk through of the imaging applications workings would be far better than a cloud based solution.

    Don't get me wrong, cloud based backups can be an ideal solution, but ideal only in certain situations.
    Total system OS recovery is definitely not one of them.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

  9. #8
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Pilgrim, I know where you are coming from. I briefly looked as CrashPlan for one of my clients since I couldn't convince him to use one of the "easy to use 3rd party imaging applications" Clint refers to. It does appear to have the advantage of continuous backup requiring no user intervention once set up which makes it suitable for your purposes.
    I suspect that the initial backup wouldn't be too big in your case. It would probably require a broadband internet connection though.
    Jerry

  10. #9
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    Lots of the external hard disks come with backup software that does all you need, e.g. Lacie.
    All you have to do is remember to plug the external disk in regularly and let the software do the work.

    cheers, Paul

  11. #10
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    I've used Mozy, tested several others and am currently using Backblaze. It is only part of my larger backup strategy but I'd surely recommend it for a simple backup for someone who is not doing any backup! It tries to backup most everything and "just works." Because of the way I want to use it, I have to work through a clunky interface to NOT backup "everything." Backblaze is as cheap as they come for large quantity backup.

    I think some of the competition may have more robust infrastructure but this isn't my only backup - it's my "regional failure" backup - after I've lost everything in my metro area. So far restore testing has been excellent. And they do provide 30 day versioning. A nice feature if you change the wrong document (I never do but sometimes my spouse does ;^)).

    For the novice, I'm convinced an online "cloud" backup is much easier to deal with than a local disk solution. And in a restore, it is probably easier to support remotely.

  12. #11
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    Short answer: I use CrashPlan+, and think it would be fine for your father. If you can be physically present when he installs it, that would be better yet.

    Long answer:

    Potential problems with external drives is that they can break, and they can be stolen (along with your PC) or destroyed (along with your PC) in a fire, flood, etc.

    Potential problems with CD- or DVD-based backups are that you need to put these in a drive, and may have to remember to start software, and may have to insert additional platters if your backup is too big.

    Potential problems with OBSs are that your computer must be left running, you should have something better than dial-up, and you may loose a day or so if you experience an Internet connection problem.

    Based on my views of the situation, above, and because many (most?) of my digital photos are priceless to me, I use an online backup service (OBS).

    I was using Mozy Home ( http://mozy.com/ ) for a few years, and was reasonably satisfied with them... until about a year ago, when they went from an unlimited plan to a tiered-pricing scheme. Since I was then backing up a bit more than their bottom tier, I decided to look elsewhere, primarily the result of what would be an increased cost; I was backing up a total of about 70+ GB then, and I'm backing up a little over 100 GB now. Incidentally, if you want to customize what's backed up in Mozy, configuring it may be a little beyond a non-geek user.

    Over a month or so, I installed several competing products. IMHO, it's not sufficient to just read the specs on an OBS site - you really have to install them, and use them; this from someone, me, who did just that. So, if a product did not offer a 30- or 60-day money-back guarantee, that sort of thing, they were eliminated from my trial. Also, if the minimum cost was more in line with a business, rather than a home user, then that software was out, too.

    In addition to CrashPlan ( http://www.crashplan.com/ ), I tried:

    - Carbonite ( http://www.carbonite.com/en/ ). Good modification of Windows Explorer, adding an indicator of what's backed up. Difficult or impossible (perhaps, as I recall, unless you opt for a pricier plan) to backup certain files that don't fall into its default criteria.

    - SOS Online Backup ( http://www.sosonlinebackup.com/ ). Good, but had a few issues. For one, it would note (via a daily email message) that a tiny percentage of files weren't backed up, but finding out which weren't, and why, was very difficult.

    - IDrive ( http://www.idrive.com/ ). Not bad, but had some issues, including errors trying to back up files that weren't there (really). Not ready for prime-time, IMHO.

    Summary:

    I'm a firm believer in OBS, I did "due diligence" for a month or so (about a year ago), and I'm pleased with Crashplan. It's reasonably priced (and I think it's sometimes discounted via some sites), and it's pretty easy to set up (you just specify the directories involved, for instance, and take all the default choices). It does it's work in the background when your system is idle (a common method of operation for such software), or you can set it to run once a day, that sort of thing; I've tried both, and settled on its default background mode. Yes, that first backup - after which only new or modified files are backed up - may take a day or so (depending on the files involved and your upload speed*), but what's your hurry. After that, when I add pics from my digital cameras, they get backed up in a few hours or, at worst, overnight, off-site, and I don't have to do anything.

    * (In my beginning Mozy days, I was with Time Warner Cable, getting typically 20mbps download and 1mbps upload. I later switched to Verizon FiOS, in which I get about 31mpbps download - irrelevant here - and about 26mpbs upload; that latter figure is relevant here, but as long as you don't add a GB a day, for instance, any ol' broadband upload speed should be fine.)

    I'd recommend that your father install LastPass or something like that for password management, and discuss the master password with you (over the phone, not in email). He'll need a password if he ever needs to retrieve files from wherever CrashPlan puts them, and my guess is that he needs passwords for other work, and is probably not having good ones generated. I've been using the free version of LastPass for a few years now, and highly recommend that.

    Hope this helps.

    Bill P.
    Last edited by wspollack; 2012-10-04 at 14:53.

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  14. #12
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    I always prefer a local backup as I can access it to re-build the PC instead of re-building the PC, connecting to the internet and recovering your data.
    To protect the disk you only need a fireproof safe and you should have one of those for your important documents anyway.

    cheers, Paul

  15. #13
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    Excellent post by wspollack. Thanks on behalf of many people who will gain much useful knowledge from it.

    Don't know how much data your dad has, Mike, but if there is too much for online backup, another option is to use Crashplan (without the "+") to backup to your PC. If you have Crashplan running and set it all up, it can do the backup to your machine instead of (or as well as) the cloud backup. As they suggest in their web pages, you could take an external drive to his PC, do the initial backup locally, then keep it up to date over the 'net.

    For best safety, run two backups - an external drive (either on his or yours), and Crashplan+ or equivalent on the net.

  16. #14
    New Lounger
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    Thanks for all the info about online and other backups. I hope it helps with folks who might inquire later on.

    BTW, my sister-in-law beat me to a solution. She bought a small WD My Essential backup harddrive, had it shipped to my father, and he was able to install it (plug it in).

    I think we should still consider an online alternative.

    Thanks, Mike

  17. #15
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Easiest backup plan BY FAR is Memeo with an external hard drive.

    Specify which folders you want backed up. Memeo does an initial backup of everything, and then anytime there are any changes in any of the specified folders, Memeo backs up a copy of it. You can specify how many versions you want to keep (You can keep up to five versions back, but I keep three, saving disk space.)

    The archive is in standard Windows file format; the files are accessible via Windows Explorer; you don't need Memeo in order to copy a file out of the archive.

    Then, once a month or so, you can go visit your dad and do an image of his computer.

    If you choose an online backup plan, be sure to go with a company that will be around for a good while; if they go out of business, you will lose whatever was backed up on their system. I believe that Carbonite is here to stay for the long haul.

    I prefer, however, to do my backups locally, rather than online, because of privacy issues. Because no matter how good their privacy policies are, once your data is "in the cloud", it is beyond your control, and you have no absolute guarantees of anything.
    Last edited by mrjimphelps; 2012-11-29 at 17:37.

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