Crashplan goes awry

Having used computers professionally for almost thirty years, you’ll find no bigger advocate for backing up data. Like too many others, I have found myself staring in terror at the screen realizing that hours, days, if not months of work have simply vaporized in an unrecoverable mist. Over the years, I’ve developed what I believe are pretty good systems for safeguarding my data, but nothing is 100%. Without going into too much detail, I can say that at the heart of it all lies Crashplan.

I learned about Crashplan several years ago. They have what sounds like a pretty good system where you can not only back up your stuff in the background to local drives, but also to a friend’s system located remotely. They also offer a paid plan where you can backup unlimited  data from one system to their cloud. I have that, but I also back up to a local drive — a Drobo that I otherwise love.

Well, it happened. Three weeks ago, I lost all the data on one of my external drives, the one where I keep all of my work. Fortunately, I back this up to both the Drobo and to the Crashplan cloud. I’m good. Or so I thought.

I quickly discovered that the cloud backup dated back to January or early February, meaning that a month’s worth of work had yet to back up. As distressing as I found that, the backup in the Drobo was suddenly inaccessible. The archives are there, but the Crashplan software began a process where it would compact, verify, and prune versions of the data before it would make it available to me.

Three weeks later, I have still cannot restore that drive. In fact, the nightmare worsened when it finally looked like the process would come to an end. It got to 99.8% done, and then the Crashplan program froze. After more than an hour  frozen, I finally decided to restart everything. In my experience, if a program seizes like that for more than ten minutes, it’s not coming back.

I have communicated my situation to Crashplan, but I’m told that there’s nothing they can do. There’s no shortcut. I’ve got two terabytes worth of data sitting on my local backup, and I can’t get to it, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that somehow it didn’t get corrupted in the process. I’ve come to the conclusion that Crashplan is horrible software. Based on Java, it’s slow, buggy, overly confusing, and provides an experience that hardly inspires confidence.

Word to the wise: If you own a Mac, do not use Crashplan to make local backups. You are probably better off using Time Machine. If someone has some better advice for me, I’m all ears.