Duplicati – replacement for CrashPlan

In years gone by I have used and recommended CrashPlan – the free home version was an exceptional offering and directly led to paid subscriptions at various client sites I managed. It was robust, scalable and because of the format of the backups, resistant to cryptolocker. Sadly, this was discontinued last month and thus many people using the free version were left high and dry (including me!). Taking it upon myself to find a solution (for home as well as friends) I stumbled upon Duplicati (https://www.duplicati.com/). It’s quite highly rated and so far, I can see why. I’ve found it to be reasonably easy to set up, straightforward to implement and easy to restore (at least under test circumstances). Here are a few screenshots of how I’ve got it set up.

The set up at home – note the interface is via a tiny internal web server.

From this image you can see I’m backing up “Family Files” which are documents and pictures etc and “Network Backup”. In reality these are the same sets of files – backing up to an external harddisk drive once a day and out to the a network drive. Two sets of backups, all happily encrypted and spaced out in case of calamity. The expanded “Family Files” backup looks like this:

Expanded view

It’s fairly straightforward and you can see some details of the actions one can take with the backup. In the network backup, I have it mapped in the destination into a UNC path – defeating any cryptolocking attempt to screw up all local files or mapped network drives. This is all very easy to set up, really quite straightforward. Here are a few of the options when configuring a backup:

Step One – starting with a name! I recommend using the encryption in case your backup media is nicked.
The Storage Type drop down has quite a few options, including network, Dropbox etc

At home I’m backing up across my local network, but I’ve set up Dropbox as a destination and it is quite easy to do. The system guides you through it and makes it relatively painless.

What to back up?

Tick and flick – what is important to  you? In my case, I’ve got no real interest in backing up the whole machine – the files are what’s valuable to me. Note the “Hyper-V Machines” up the top. I’m going to try this out at some point and see how it goes!

Set the schedule for backups 
Managing the backups

Here we don’t mess with the Remote volume size. There is a smart backup retention – it intelligently manages the backups based on size and time frames. The option for it looks like this:

I’m all for automatic management

I’m all for a system that helps with these tasks, especially managing retention which can be a drag. After finishing this off, it’s a click for OK and off it goes. The full backup usually takes a while (depending on size and where the backup is going) but after that it just grabs the changes in the files.

My testing with data restore has been 100% successful thus far which is encouraging. A presenter years ago started off his seminar with the statement that backups are optional, restores are mandatory and this has stuck with me ever since. While I still use Time Machine Backups on my Macs, I’m confident (at least for now) that I’ve found a solution for the PCs and servers in the fleet as well. If you decide to try Duplicati out and have different results I’d be interested to hear about it. If you don’t have any backups – then get around this now – no backups is the worst possible situation to be in!


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