Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Controlling your Crashplan Backup

Happy New Year by the way!

Here's a quick hack I use to control Crashplan on my Windows Home Server.  If you've not tried Crashplan, you're missing out - It's a cloud based and peer-to-peer backup solution that 'just works', complete with the ability to avoid that huge initial backup to your friend's PC by taking the 'seed' backup to them on a USB drive, then sync the changes over the net. There even a smartphone app to get your files on the go.

You can configure it to backup 'all the time', and you can also configure it to run between certain times of day. This was great until I calculated that it would take 4 months to pump my backup up to the Crashplan Cloud running 11pm-8am using all my upstream bandwidth !!

One of the problems of a DSL internet connection is that authough you might have a tasty 20mbit connection for downloads, you only get a 1mbit connection for uploads (or backups) - this is fine until you try to use that connection while the backup is running, things are extremely slow as a result of all the data you're sending 'up' your DSL connection.

Cue a nasty hack to help us out a bit! - this simple script adds a little intelligence to when the backup actually runs. I should point out that Crashplan is configurable in terms of the bandwidth it uses when you're at your PC, or away from it - though with a headless Windows Home Server, I'm always away, so have less control of this, coupled with more than one PC in the house, this is a little limited , but if you have just one PC or laptop it will work fine for you.

I use this simple script to do the following:
  • Run the backup at night time (22:00-08:00) - no-one is using the net at that time 8-)
  • During the day run the backup, unless one of our PC's is being used, in which case stop it.
This works quite crudely by starting and stopping the Windows Service that actually drives CrashPlan. But it means that whenever we're 'not' using the internet connection at home, the backup can have as much as it wants.

Hopefully I wont have to wait 4 months now!