Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Life After Crashplan (AKA My New Backup Plan)

If you use Crashplan, you should have gotten an email that starts out like the above, just like me, around August 22nd. Crashplan was a pretty decent service that did what I wanted (offsite backups) without too much hassle at a price I was willing to pay. It wasn't without issues (buggy, memory-hungry java client being the biggest), but I felt I was getting my money's worth out of it. Crashplan Home, unfortunatly is no more. Once your current subscription runs out, that's the end of it, which for me is this upcoming November.

So, if you are like me, you need a new backup plan, or at least to modify your backup plan. Below outline my needs for a backup solution:

  • Robust file history
  • Relatively set-and-forget
  • Optional encryption
  • Off-site backup
  • Headless server support
  • Linux support
Crashplan checked all those boxes. It had one of the nicest file history options, allowing me to choose what version of a file to restore from (almost) any point in the past. It runs as a background process all the time and would email you the status of your backup regularly (though it is always a good practice to periodically verify your backups to make sure it's working correctly through a test restore). The more effort a backup takes to do and maintain, the less likely you are to do it. For encryption, it provided a plethora of encryption options to be as user-friendly or secure as you could hope for. The paid home service came with an unlimited cloud backup option to satisfy your off-site needs as well. Finally, while the default isn't headless, it could be set up with a little effort, and linux support was better than the major competition in that it actually existed. Of course, that doesn't matter since it's going the way of the dodo. So began looking for a replacement I did.

For local backups and remote backups via SSH, Borg backup is the one I found the most full-featured. I am sorry for any Windows users out there, but it's not really officially supported on that. Mostly everything I own runs some linux distro, including my NAS, which is where I store most of my files. Borg backup can be slow, but then again so was Crashplan if you didn't have enough RAM.

The problem is, at this time, I don't have a sufficient remote server I can ssh into for remote backups using Borg. Based on my current usage, and planning for the future, I decided 5TB is the sweet spot, and I'd be willing to pay up to $150/yr for it. If I had a family member somewhere sufficiently far from me with fast enough Internet, that would be my first choice. Unfortunately most of my family  lives within the same area and are plagued by the same environmental risks as myself. As such, this doesn't make for a good option.

As mentioned above, most of the big names don't support Linux for backups. If you are on a consumer Windows version or MacOS (so Headless and LInux support don't matter), then Backblaze can meet your needs (the only caveat on robust file history being that it doesn't keep deleted files past 30 days, something to be aware of). Their Linux "offering" is B2 would cost over $300/yr, plus additional charges for file restoration. No thanks. So if you are on Linux like me, what are your options for a cloud backup?

I've narrowed it down to three options that fit within my $150/yr price range:
  • Crashplan Small Business: This one is mentioned in the Crashplan email. Existing users can switch over their existing plan to small business for free and keep data intact (if less than 5TB). After your current subscription expires, it will be discounted significantly for one year, and then finally will be $10/mo/device after that. On paper it seems like a pretty good deal (if you just need to back up one NAS like me), but after being burned by Crashplan on their Home plan, I do not consider this viable in the long-term.
  • Google Drive Unlimited through GSuite Business + rclone: If you have GSuite Business already (which I do), it's just an additional $10/mo/user to get unlimited Google Drive space added to it. The catch? According to the terms, you need 5 users to get unlimited space, otherwise you are limited to 1TB. While currently Google does not enforce this limit, they could at any time. As such, at the current time, I do not consider this viable in the long-term either.
  • hubiC + rclone: For around $60/yr hubiC offers 10TB of storage, which is more than enough for my needs. Like Google Drive, on Linux you will need to use a third party tool, of which there are a few, but rclone is the one that looks the most promising to me. The catch? They throttle, hard. 10mbit/s is the max speed you will see, so uploading a large amount of data is going to take some time.
So what one will I be going with? For now, Crashplan Small Business until my subscription runs out, then I plan on switching to hubiC + rclone. Rclone lets you keep old versions of files and offers encryption, and hubiC offers enough storage for my needs. While the throttle is annoying, I never saw super-great upload seeds through Crashplan either.

In the future, if Google Drive for GSuite Business ups the limit for <5 users to 5TB, I will definitely switch to that. I will also continue to look for a good option for an off-site "server" (most likely just something like a raspberry pi with two mirrored 6TB drives) that I can set up with SSH and 5 TB.


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