ACOM Crashplan Service

Crashplan in ACOM: The Basics

If you are a full-time staff member, ACOM offers software called "Crashplan" for backing up your workstation or laptop files.  Crashplan runs in the background and over time sends backups of your files to a storage server managed by CISL.   Files are encrypted by Crashplan for privacy and security. 

Crashplan is configured to install automatically and will back up your "profile" -- that is, your documents, desktop, settings, etc.  The operating system or large data directories are not included in Crashplan backups.  Currently Crashplan works while your desktop or laptop computer is connected to a UCAR internal network or via a VPN connection.


 

Questions and Answers

  • How do I get set up with Crashplan?
    Chances are, you've already been set up.  Contact Tim or Garth to see if you qualify for a license.  We are offering licenses to those ACOM staff who also qualify for Google Apps accounts.  Crashplan also requires a CIT password for authentication. We will then ensure the software is installed on your ACOM-issued PC or Mac.  The first time you run Crashplan, encryption keys are set up which prevent anyone except you or your sysadmins from restoring your files.

     
  • What can I back up?
    Crashplan is intended for documents -- primarily those in your "profile" which includes your Documents folder, your desktop, photos, preferences, etc.  You can add externally-attached media but we ask that you don't select more than 250GB of data to back up via Crashplan.  Garth and I are working on other means to back up large data repositories that may exist on your workstation.  Crashplan is not a tool for backing up the operating system or applications -- when a disk fails, we usually re-image a new disk with a new OS and let you reinstall your applications as needed.  After that step, Crashplan can be used to restore your profile (and other selected) files.
     
  • Why should I use Crashplan if I already have "Time Machine"?
    We prefer that ACOM staff use Crashplan for several reasons -- external hard drives have a higher failure rate than internal drives and events that can corrupt files on the workstation or laptop can just as easily corrupt files on the external drive.   For example, a computer can become infected with ransomware which will encrypt a user's files -- files on Time Machine drives may be encrypted first, preventing a user from using it for recovery.
     
  • How many devices may I back up?
    Our licenses allow you to back up to 5 UCAR-owned devices (Macintosh, PC/Windows, or PC/Linux).
     
  • How long are backups retained?
    File versions are kept in 4 hour increments for up to a week. After a week, the last version of the day is kept for 90 days. The final version will always remain in backups, unless the staff member deletes their file.

  • What if I'm on travel or at home?
    We do not have a capability of backing up across the Internet unless you establish a VPN connection with the Cisco Anyconnect VPN client.
     
  • How do I manually run a backup?
    Crashplan runs every 4 hours.  But if you want to run a backup at any other time, select the Crashplan icon and choose "Show Crashplan".  In the resulting dialog box click "Backup" and then the little arrow to the right of Destinations (in the screen shot below, the server would be ACOM's server, not "wales.ucar.edu"):

     
  • How do I pause a backup?
    In the destinations window, when a backup is running, a pause icon will appear.  Click on it to pause the backup.


     
  • Okay, I've lost a file -- how do I get it back?
    Either your sysadmin can restore a file for you, or you can restore one yourself.  The restore can be slow -- about 50GB over 20 minutes or slower if the restore involves a large number of small files.   CISL has some screen shots on the restoration process on their FAQ page at https://www2.cisl.ucar.edu/wsst/faqs/crashplan.  Below is a summary of how I restored a file on my Macintosh:
    • Click the Crashplan icon on the toolbar (looks like the silhouette of a house) and select "Show Crashplan"
    • Click on "Restore"
    • Browse to the File by expanding folders.  Once you find the files or folders click on the boxes to select.
    • Usually you want to restore "most recent" but you can click on the link "most recent" and restore a prior version.  Similarly you can select where to restore the file to and whether to rename any existing files.
    • Finally click on "Restore".  In my case, 6GB took about 12 minutes to restore.
       

Additional Resources

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