I’ve recently reviewed my backup plan. It turns out, I’ve been spending too much money.
I’ve been very happy with datastorageunit.com, and in principle, I love it. I love the owner, John Wooten, who gives great support. I love the fact that it’s a small business, which means that you can negotiate—John gave me a bunch of extra free weeks on my trial just so I could get my data uploaded.
The problem is, at $150 US a year (for 300 GB, of which I’m using about 270 GB), it’s getting overpriced. Not to say that it’s expensive: it isn’t. It’s a good deal. It’s a fraction of what I was paying to store the same data using Jungledisk on the Rackspace storage network. And it’s a DIY kind of solution: you use standard software (like rsync) to connect to it. I initially chose it over Crashplan, because Crashplan was only marginally cheaper, and forced me to constantly be running their client.
However, in the last 10 months, the cost of Crashplan has dropped. They now offer an unlimited subscription for less than $3 US a month (that’s less than $36 a year) per machine. That can save me a lot of money, so unfortunately, I will allow my datastorageunit plan to expire this coming March. I’ve installed the Crashplan client again.
I am paying for the unlimited plan for one machine. That one machine is my homebrew NAS, from which I will back up everything. With this new unlimited plan, I will not only be able to backup my photos to a remote server, but also all my videos (the ones I make myself).
I will be getting rid of my main documents backup set as well (the one I’ve been synchronizing via Jungledisk to Rackspace). My rackspace storage is only costing me $4.50 a month right now, but that’s more than the entire crashplan subscription. I’ve decided to synchronize my main documents folder using Windows Live Mesh, since 90% of my syncing happens on my LAN anyway, and back up that folder to a folder on my NAS (using a scheduled Beyond Compare script), which will— surprise!— be backed up remotely to Crashplan’s servers. I should be able to bring my Rackspace and Amazon S3 accounts down to minimal amounts (will probably leave my wife’s documents on them for the time being), and pay under $0.40 US per month (since payment is only based on usage), using them only when I need to post something publicly that’s too big for Dropbox or my webhosting company.
One frustrating issue, though, is Crashplan’s support.
After subscribing (I did my 30-day trial back in February when I was also evaluating datastorageunit), I found my upload speeds very slow. Something on the order of 200 – 300 kpbs. which might sound fast, but it meant that my photo backups would take more than three months to upload. After browsing the support forums on Crashplan, and trying all the tweaks, I came across several threads that suggested that while this was a widespread problem, it seemed to apply mostly to users assigned to a datacenter in Atlanta. I had already opened a support ticket after doing all the troubleshooting I could think of (not, as of yet, responded to), when I came across a forum thread that suggested resetting the backup machine’s ID.
This meant losing three days of backup, but at the speeds I was getting, that wasn’t a big loss. I did it. I checked my settings. This time, I was assigned a server in another datacenter. I started a backup. 7000 kbps!
The interesting thing is this: Crashplan seem to refuse to acknowledge in the forum that there is a problem. The issue seems widespread, and the fix is to switch datacenters– which suggests the problem is with them, and not their users. I do wonder what I’ve gotten myself into by signing up with them, but now that I’ve got decent speeds again (usually 1000 – 7000 kbps, seemingly more limited by my hardware than by bandwidth on their side), the low cost is encouraging me to continue with them.
However, as I mentioned before, I am starting a backup consulting business, and I am now considering taking crashplan off the menu for my clients due to this serious issue with support. I’m just waiting to see what happens with my support ticket.