It has been about two months since I started using CrashPlan to backup all of my data to the cloud. A few weeks ago I wrote the article – CrashPlan and Why The Cloud Makes Sense - to highlight my initial experiences as well as provide an overview of what CrashPlan has to offer. My initial backup set was 1.8TB and it took about 7 weeks to finish. During that time throughput was all over the map. Most of the time it was 1.5Mbps or less. For several weeks it rarely got above 700-800Kbps. That is until a couple of weeks ago when I changed the Data De-duplication configuration from Automatic to Minimal…
Dedupe Config Change To The Rescue
A couple of weeks ago only 800GB or so had been backed up out of a total of 1.8TB. Throughput was not usually any higher than 700-800Kbps and the estimated time remaining was measured in months. I did some research and came across this forum post by JC-Austin (located on page 2 – January 21, 2011 at 15:43)…or read JC-Austin(TechNazgul)’s blog post CrashPlan Online Backup: Maximizing Upload Speeds. I went ahead and changed the Data De-duplication configuration (in Settings | Backup | Advanced settings) from Automatic to Minimal and the difference was incredible! Immediately the throughput shot up to 20Mbps (I have 25Mbps upstream with Verizon FiOS)! Over the next couple of weeks throughput rarely dropped below 10Mbps and the estimated time remaining went from months to days. This past weekend the initial 1.8TB backup was completed. If you aren’t getting the throughput you think you should be getting with CrashPlan I definitely recommend changing the dedupe setting from Automatic to Minimal (restart the CrashPlan service to play it safe after you make the change) and see if your results improve. It doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. There’s some speculation that the total size of your backup set may impact the dedupe performance. The larger the backup set the slower throughput seems to get. There’s some logic to this as more data would need to be scanned for dedupe to do it’s job. But as I said, it’s speculation at this point.
After the initial 1.8TB was completed this past weekend I then proceeded to add a few more folders to the backup to bring the total to 2.4TB. These folders are located on network shares and I followed these directions to get that working with CrashPlan. As of writing this article all but 76GB of the total 2.4TB has been backed up to CrashPlan Central. It only took about 4-5 days to complete the additional 600GB (minus the 76GB still remaining) and that includes many interruptions in connectivity to CrashPlan Central which I will talk about in a moment.
But What About Restoring Files?
I will admit right now that I have not done exhaustive testing of file restorations with CrashPlan. What I have done is a single file restore test when logged into CrashPlan via web browser as well as via the CrashPlan software. In both cases it’s a piece of cake. When you restore via web browser you get a compressed ZIP file with the files you chose to restore. When you restore via the CrashPlan software you restore the original file(s) (no ZIP) and you can either restore to the original location or to another location you specify. Both restoration methods are fairly intuitive. In both cases you can choose to restore the most recent version of the file(s) or choose a back-dated version. When restoring via the CrashPlan software you can specify to overwrite or rename if files of the same name already exist in the destination.
Other Thoughts and Concerns
The past few days have been hit or miss with regard to connectivity to CrashPlan Central. I’m aware that Mozy recently eliminated unlimited backups and that it is possible there has been a surge of customers joining CrashPlan that might be affecting connectivity (purely speculation on my part). Over the past few days there have been numerous multi-hour long periods where there is no connectivity to CrashPlan Central and therefore no backups (or restorations) during that time period. The remaining 76GB should have been done a day or two ago had it not been for these constant interruptions. At this point it’s just a nuisance as long as the trend does not continue beyond a few days. Prior to the past few days starting from the point where I changed the dedupe setting to Minimal my experience with CrashPlan has been extremely positive.