Review of “Take Control of CrashPlan Backups” by Joe Kissell, TidBITS Publishing

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

There isn’t a simpler way to say it: Offsite backup is important. While I am still in the process of evaluating different providers, CrashPlan seems to offer a good mix of pricing and features. Fortunately, Joe Kissell’s Take Control of CrashPlan Backups was recently on offer through the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program, so I picked it up to get a better understanding of the service’s features and limitations.

Despite CrashPlan’s attractive pricing, it’s also known for having a less-than-elegant Java-based interface and backend. Thankfully, Kissell guides the reader carefully through navigating the app, including the how to set everything up initially (creating a backup set, including/excluding parts of your system, adjusting update schedules, and so on). Also appreciated was the straightforward yet technically-competent description of the different encryption options that CrashPlan provides, along with the pros and cons of each. Throughout the book, Kissell makes sure to point out any options or features that might impact the status of your backups (for example, upgrading to the strongest encryption will remove all previous backups).

Viewed in light of a backup service’s long-term costs, Take Control of CrashPlan Backups is well worth getting as a companion guide. Being able to consult it when you’re unsure about the consequences of checking a particular checkbox or flipping a certain switch in CrashPlan should go a long way towards avoiding mistakes that might accidentally delete file version histories or old backups. For people like me who are still on the fence about what backup service to choose, I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to read it beforehand, but it is useful to get an idea of how the service does (and doesn’t) work, giving some insight (or at least some food for thought) in a way that a short trial period may not provide.

Note: I received this book for free through the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program