Vic Wukovits Wednesday, March 5, 2014 0

You really need to back-up your computer. Some folks use an external hard drive, and others use an online back-up service that sends your back-up files into the “cloud.”

I use both, and having that type of redundancy in place has saved me from potential disasters.

The last time I wrote anything about online back-up services was in 2009, so it’s safe to say some things have changed. The biggest change for me is the provider I use for my online back-up services.

Before, I used Mozy, and it worked just fine. I got charged based on how many computers and how much data I was backing up.

At first, it seemed reasonable to pay about $20 per month for back-ups. But then my data grew, and I had the need to back-up other computers. Before long, I was paying close to $50 a month for online back-ups. While my data was safe in the cloud, my cost had grown substantially.

That’s when I heard about a new service I decided to try. I first heard about CrashPlan ( when I read a review of the service that touted it for the new pricing structure it brought to the online back-up industry.

CrashPlan allows you to back-up as much data as you want for a fixed price. For home users, the CrashPlan+ plan allows back-ups from up to 10 computers with unlimited amounts of data for the same price every month.

So you can try it out, the company offers the first 30 days of service free. Should you wish to continue after that, you provide them with credit card information and your back-ups keep going.

CrashPlan works on Mac, Windows and Linux, so it’s safe to say your platform is supported.

I first tested CrashPlan+ on my MacBook Pro and backed up almost 300GB (gigabytes) of data. It took a while (many days) to perform that initial back-up, but after that, my MacBook was steadily backing up whatever new files had been added or changed from my back-up set.

The second machine I tested on was my PC at home. I wanted to see if there was any noticeable difference in the interface or performance.

After backing up nearly 100 GB there, the third computer I backed up was my iMac, on which I store a lot of data. I opted to back-up 1.5TB (terabytes) of files, which took weeks.

By this time, I’d already started paying my monthly fee. But I’d been pleased with everything during my 30-day trial period. I’d even restored a few files here and there to test the validity of the back-up, and all was well. Little did I know that I was about to test the back-up service even further.

About a month after I’d backed up my iMac, I noticed one of my external drives (not a back-up drive) started acting strangely. By that afternoon, it stopped responding altogether.

This 1TB external hard drive stored all my iTunes music, legacy job files and more. I didn’t have a local back-up of this drive, as Time Machine doesn’t allow for back-ups from external drives. It was time to test the CrashPlan back-up.

I set the restore to download my back-up files to a new external 2 TB drive and waited … and waited … and I found out it takes a very long time to download 1.5 TB of data.

CrashPlan does offer a “Restore-to-Door” service that will deliver your back-up files on a drive to your location for a nominal fee ($164.99). For files that are critical for business, that would have been a welcome option. But I could live without these files, or at least live without them long enough to be patient.

A week or so later, I had all my backed up files back on my local computer. Thus far, I’d paid for about a month of back-up service through CrashPlan+, and my total cost was $13.99. That’s right — CrashPlan+ costs $13.99 a month to back-up up to 10 computers with unlimited data. If you pay up front for the year, it gets even cheaper.

When you also factor in that the CrashPlan software allows you to back-up to local computers over the network or local hard drives for free, I think you’ll see the value in their offerings.

Whether you use another provider for your online back-ups or don’t have one yet, I think CrashPlan offers the best deal around.