15 December 2013


I was planning a post on protecting your data whilst travelling, but some events this evening mean that I want to write and publish this ASAP.

CrashPlan is a well-known system for backing-up data and I have been using it without a problem since some point early this year. Part of the data it has been backing-up are my travel photos - about 7000 photos. 68GB of data. 7000 totally irreplaceable pictures.

Part of my backup solution is to have the files within my Google Drive folder on my laptop, which in turn is backed-up by CrashPlan to their cloud system and to an external hard disk.
NB: Google Drive is very useful, but it is not a backup service and should not be treated as such.

I took a look at the data which was backed-up tonight as my external hard disk is dying and that tends to focus the mind. Looking at what CrashPlan says is backed-up (i.e. what I can restore) vs. what is in my Google Drive folder of my laptop and there is a major difference between the two - CrashPlan simply didn't show me most of the content as available for restore (i.e. I know I've got it backed-up).

Houston, we have a problem.

I spent a couple of hours tonight looking at why this is happening, as from what I had seen through the user interface the backup of my Google Drive data was working as I'd expect. I eventually found this support article: https://helpdesk.code42.com/entries/23348058-CrashPlan-and-Google-Drive
The user interface was reporting that everything was being backed-up properly and yet it wasn't. Whooops.

Given that I work in IT security you'd think that I'd have manually verified that the backups were working as expected and that the data was recoverable (an untested backup is useless) - simply, I hadn't. My bad.

One very quick change to the laptop later and CrashPlan "found" the data it previously was unable to do anything with and as I type it is currently backing-up the data to its cloud system.

There are similar articles for Dropbox, Skydrive and Evernote, for those interested - which if you are using CrashPlan to backup any of those services should be all of you, if nothing else to verify that it is configured and working as you expect.

Now would be a good time to verify that your backups are working as expected - the data is being backed-up and that you can restore it.