CrashPlan: the backup tool for the lazy paranoid

Way back in March, I posted the sad story of how Mozy Online Backup completely failed me when I lost a huge amount of data to a hard drive crash. As it turned out, even though the backup client was a joy to use and worked like a charm, actually restoring my data took weeks of painful trial and error.

Even after Mozy sent me my data on DVD for free by way of apology, I still ended up losing some of it because their self-extracting restore archives don't automatically decrypt the encrypted backups and the standalone decryption tool will "decrypt" anything you throw at it, even if it's already been decrypted or you enter the wrong passphrase. As a result, I ended up double- or triple-decrypting some of my files, which essentially scrambled them. By that point I was sick of fighting with the Mozy software, so I decided to give up and cut my losses.

I did get most of my data back, though, and Mozy refunded my money and gave me a free year of service. Unfortunately, I no longer trusted them, so that year of service was ultimately worthless and I began looking for other backup solutions. In the meantime, my blog post became a forum for other Mozy users who were lulled into a false sense of security and then betrayed by Mozy's horribly broken restore functionality (which they apparently still haven't fixed).

It's now clear that, despite their good intentions, Mozy is not a reliable online backup service and should be avoided.

For the last few months, I've been using (and loving) CrashPlan. It's a little more expensive than some other online backup tools since you actually have to pay for the software itself, but it has the lovely benefit of being able to back up both to CrashPlan's servers and to your own (or your friends') computers.

As a result, I now have multiple encrypted backups of my files: one on a friend's computer, one on another of my computers, and one on CrashPlan's servers. I've tested the restore functionality, and it works like a charm. Restoring from my other computer over my local network is quick and painless. But if, for example, my house were to burn down and my friend was on vacation, I could still restore over the 'net from CrashPlan's servers.

The only real snag I've run into so far is that CrashPlan tends to be a bit of a memory hog, which is unfortunate. But hey, RAM is cheap and it's a small price to pay for knowing that my data is safe.

Rumor has it the developers are working on implementing Amazon S3 support, which will fill me with glee if it's true.