Hard Drive Fail - Crashplan/Code42 Success
Usually we only write our experiences on the Internet when we have a crappy experience with a company. I wanted to share a great experience i have had over the last couple of days with Crashplan. They saved my photographs!
What's your personal data back up plan? You have one right? If you don't are you prepared to lose all of your photos if (more like when) your hard drive crashes or you drop your phone in the toilet? A couple of years ago i signed up for Crashplan from Code42. I had tried some other providers but they all had restrictions. The uploads got throttled when you hit a certain amount (even though the plans were "Unlimited") or they would not back up external hard drives etc. Crashplan had no such restrictions and they were $5 a month for unlimited storage. You download some software, set up your backup and away you go. The first back up can take days, weeks, or months depending on how much data you have but once it is up in thier cloud storage, anytime you add new data to your local hard drive it adds it to the cloud archive immediately. Currently I have about 1 Terabyte on Crashplan. This is almost entirely photos and videos.
Well, yesterday I woke up to a dead external drive that housed my primary data set for (Photos and videos) for my Adobe Lightroom catalog. This data represents 14 years worth of pictures which includes all my irreplaceable family pictures and paid work. My back up plan is as follows. I keep all my photos on an external drive under a single directory structure. I then back that up to a second external drive which is a mirror archive of the primary drive. In addition I back all of this up to the Crashplan infrastructure so I have off site copies. While the hard drive failure is a pain, it certainly is not (and should not be) a surpirse. Anything that spins at 5400 RPM for 2-3 years is bound to fail. One day we will all have affordable SSD drives with no moving parts but they will still be subject to errors and electrical spikes etc. Anyhow, I managed the backups using the Crashplan software. It checks for changes every 15 minutes and keeps both the second hard drive and the cloud data set up to date. Of course I was concerned with the failure but had confidence in the plan I had in place.
So now the fun starts. I go out and buy a new primary drive and go to restore the data set from the secondary drive. Uh, Oh! All the data appears to be on the second drive but it is not giving me the option of that drive as a restore point in the Crashplan software. I know I still have all the data in the cloud at Crashplan but it would literally take 14 days to download a TB worth of images. To restore from a local hard drive would take 10-12 hours. Crashplan does have the option to mail you an external hard drive with all your data if you need them to, but it is money I would rather not spend if I don't have to. So....I look up the support page and read through all the help documents. Nothing seems to help. The only option I have left is to call Crashplan support. In the current environment of "offshore" support I was not expecting a good experience. I pick up the phone at 5:15 EST on a Sunday. Within two minutes I am talking to a live human being and they appear to be US based. I explain my problem and she immediately sends me to Tier 2 support. I work in a service provider environment so I was pleased that the rep knew this was above her level of support and immediately sent me to a software expert. Less than 2-3 minutes go by and the phone is picked up by Tim P. He listened to my problem, logged into my account to see how it was set up and then asked to take remote control of my PC. I gave him permission and he went to work. He decided it seemed like an error in the back up data base cache files. He deleted all the old cache files and told me to let it resynchronize. I knew that would take all night so he told me he would send me an email with his contact info and a ticket number. Let it sync and then see if the data was available as a restore point. This morning I woke up to the data being correctly synced and the second external hard drive being available as a restore archive. Estimated time to restore 10 hours. Way better than the two weeks to download (though it is priceless to know that is still an option if i need it!).
The long and short of it is this, if you don't have a back up plan you should. If your data doesn't exist in at least three places (with physical diversity) it doesn't exist. For the $5 a month I pay to Crashplan I honestly was not expecting much in terms of live support. I can say the support I recieved far exceeded my expectations. It's not often we write about good experiences with service providers, but I cant put a price on how valuable this data is to me (14 years of photography), and how well Crashplan and Code42 responded to my needs. If you lost all of your family photos going back to your first digital camera in 2000 how much would you be willing to pay to retrieve them? For me it would be a lot. The good news is it looks like I don't have to worry about that. I now have a fully restored data set on a new primary hard drive. I am upgrading my back up drive to accomodate more capacity and all the while I know I have an offsite data set if things happen to go really badly. Well done Crashplan. I can't thank you enough for the service you provide. Well worth the small amount it costs for the peace of mind you provide! #drivefail #Code42 #Crashplan #whatsyourstory