Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crashplan meets Dropbox meets Google Drive

Setting the Scene
For over 1 year now I have been using Crashplan to backup my essential home server datafiles.

I do already have an elaborate multi copy system in place that has worked well for over 15 years (!!), so one might ask why change?

- Until recently upload DSL speeds did not make it practical to store large data in the cloud

- Until recently the cost of storing large data in cloud was prohibitive
- By large data I mean over 1TB
- Use of a reliable and fast services could mean I could store the bulk data in the cloud, have access to it anywhere, and save myself the admin of maintaining a home NAS and backp strategy


I've been /testing/ this for about 18 months now.  I still did not cut over to it, so all in all it's turned out like an additional backup.  In a nutshell

- With Crashplan you buy a typically yearly subscription and have one computer or multi computer home licenses

- You backup to a Crashplan server in Europe or America
- There is no limit on the data you can upload
- It is fully encrypted
- For Windows it's running as a service and there is a GUI to check the progress
- The big gotcha is that for me I get an average of ONLY 3Mbps upload speed.  ( 0.37MB/sec). I checked with Crashplan and this is typical.
- So some simple math:  If I backup a 200GB Virtual machine. That would take 153 hours or over 6 days initially.   Then on subsequent starts assuming 50% of the VM is touched whilst running then this is a further 75 hours of backup.  Too long! 
- Another way to look at it: In 1 day you'll upload about 31GB
- On the plus side Crashplan support is very good, I even had a Telco/ screen share with support to fix a problem
- 60 USD per year or 150 for the multi computer version
- There are some fancy options to send Crashplan a disk with your initial data, but not valid for Europe, only USA.

Google Drive

- Now with storage options upto 30TB 
- However anything over 1TB gets expensive
- 1TB is 120 USD per year
- You have a cloud mirror of a nominated directory on your local system
- Actually this directory can exist on multiple local machines you have whilst signed onto Google. Example, I'm using 400GB storage, so all machines on which drive is installed have that 400GB taken.  Any changes to any replicate to all machines and to cloud)
- I've had multiple issues (12 months back) using the Google Drive free client and large files and number of files (> 100K files)
- Since switching to the paid and excellent Insync client, I've had zero issues.
- Using Insync I'm able to upload at 2.8MB/second to Google which is close to my Fibre upload limit.
- This translates to 230GB/day upload limit
- gdrive has an architectural current filesize limit of 5TB


- Attractive personal 1TB storage costs 120 USD per year
- As standard a local disk storage is mirrored to cloud
- Unlike standard Google drive your can elect to replicate selective parts of the local system to the cloud
- Like Google drive you can have multiple computers and any change to any file on any system as mirrored is reflected to all your other computers and Cloud
- Dropbox for Business has a minimum of 5 users who each need to pay 120 USD per year.    (600 USD minimum)

However you must have 5 users and each user can only have 1 Million files.  I did a check of one of my drives as above and I saw almost 2M files.  So this would not work for me

- In testing I got at least 2.8MB/sec upload speeds. In other words restriction is Wirespeed, and there are options to throttle the speed as you want.
- Options under Android OS  so that photos taken are automatically uploaded to my Dropbox, very nice.

The Others

I've also tried Amazon drive and Microsoft Cloud and a few other lesser products.  None of these go up and beyond the TB data plan limit either at all or without crazy prices.

Not doing this all at home
It's quite a simple task to buy, configure and use a home NAS (Network Attached Storage) device.  In fact I'd recommend Synology and QNAP as low maintenance high function home storage hubs.

But for reasons of security i.e. theft you need to consider matching offsite Storage so you are back to copy disks or Cloud.

Mobile Futures
Our needs may not be typical, but ideally we'd like to store all our data including music and photographs and ideally at least VM (Virtual Machine) environments in the Cloud.  Principally so we can access them from any place.  In the future we may be constantly Globally mobile so Cloud storage would be absolutely perfect.

Conclusions in Jan 2015

For me, if I only needed to store 1TB and less than 1M files DropBox would win easily.   It is 120 USD per year and the upload and download speeds are limited by the speed of my Fibre.

Although I've not lost any further data since moving to Insync with Google Drive client my prior troubles left me cautious and bitter and I'm still daily staging my data to a local copy drive which is what Google Drive on the host sees.

Crashplan throttles your download and upload rates to about 3 Mbit/sec and this is almost a showstopper of an issue now that our Fibre connection allows for an upload speed in excess of 10 times this limit.

If I could wave a magic wand I'd ask DropBox to cut us a special deal for say an unlimited 2 user plan, then Agata and Marcus could switch predominantly to Dropbox and fully if they allow more than 1M files.   So we're waiting Mr Dropbox, and until then we continue to use these 3 products together. In addition to our already comprehensively paranoid local and remote backup strategy!

#crashplan  #dropbox #googledrive