I have a problem. My Mac Pro, where most of my files are warehoused stored is on a slow Internet connection. Thanks to the wonders of monopolized Internet territories, I should have speedy uploads in the 2014 – 2016 timeframe, when LTE finally arrives in my area.
My area was supposed to be greenlit with WiMAX by the end of 2010, from Clearwire. They even opened a store in my area, in anticipation. It was a pre-WiMAX market, one of the few Clearwire abandoned. Thanks, guys. The store went out of business when Clearwire started running low on cash, and it became clear they weren’t going to upgrade the towers until LTE landed.
So, I have a problem. I have 1.5 TB worth of stuff to back up to CrashPlan Central, and only 384 kbps of upload speed. I might be able to increase that if I rewire the phone line to my street. No thanks.
Here’s what I did to solve it.
Granted, CrashPlan offers a $125 service wherein you can send in a hard drive with a clone of all your files. $125 to cut someone else’s bandwidth bill? What’s up with that? Instead, I came up with a creative solution.
I grabbed a couple of Seagate GoFlex FreeAgent drives, and using FireWire 800, cloned my internal to external drives.
Then, I took my MacBook Air, and using my new Thunderbolt adapter, booted from my cloned FreeAgent drives. Important: Make sure the computer you cloned onto those external drives, is powered off during this process.
Finally, I reconfigured CrashPlan on the external drive, to target all the files that I needed to backup. The partitions on my Mac Pro had been converted to folders off of the main boot drive.
As a result, CrashPlan did take awhile re-seeking every file on the drive, but picked up right where it left off. Since CrashPlan is a block-based backup system, it identified that the files had moved around, and resumed backing up. Since I have OC-3 lines accessible to me (at insanely-great pricing, I might add), it is very easy for me to just open up a laptop in the background, while traveling, and have those at-home machines back up.
Now that my Mac Pro is caught up, I simply turned it back on when returning home, and after a re-sync, it now is backing up only the files that have changed since performing the off-site upload.
Granted, many people don’t have access to OC-3 lines. But, you may have access to an office Internet connection that sits mostly unused all day. Doing this will allow you to avoid paying the $125 to mail a hard drive to CrashPlan.
Note that this process may not work with all online backup services. I only tested it on CrashPlan, but it should work with any other backup service that supports block-based backups.
CrashPlan is an essential tool in my toolkit. Starting at the inexpensive price of $0, I hand it out to all my friends, often which I find have never backed up in their lives. It allows for backing up to a friend’s computer, or to an external hard drive, in a set-it-and-forget-it manner that no other free tool really does well. CrashPlan Central takes it a step farther, allowing for encrypted cloud backups to CrashPlan’s storage servers.