Considerations for defining your backup policies (CrashPlan)

Overview

CrashPlan's default backup settings to protect your data are based on real-life data management experience in a wide array of environments, and they serve as a solid foundation when setting the backup policies for your users. However, every business has unique circumstances that may require customized settings for their CrashPlan environment. This article provides considerations to take into account when defining what, how, and where data is backed up.

For assistance with defining your backup policies, contact Sales for information on our consulting options.

What to back up

CrashPlan is designed to protect data located on users' devices and works best when all users' files are backed up. By default, we back up the entire user home directory, which is where most users keep their files. The default file selection ensures a comprehensive backup. However, there are some scenarios in which you may wish to add or remove files from the default selection.

Add files to the default file selection

You may wish to add directories to the default file selection if:

  • Your corporate device image is configured to keep user data outside of the user's home directory
  • Additional user data routinely lives outside the user home directory

Exclude files from your file selection

Excluding files from backup increases the risk of missing something that may be important. However, there may be cases where it is desirable to exclude certain file types or directories:

  • Media
    • If you have limited storage or certain compliance requirements, you may wish to exclude media. You can exclude:
      • Certain directories such as the system's default Music or Video folders
      • Specific media file types
    • If you have an unlimited plan or high storage capacity, include media in your backup. If you have concerns about bandwidth consumption, there are a number of ways to address bandwidth concerns more directly, while still protecting those types of files.
  • Directories that don't typically house business data (e.g., C:\Personal)

Soft and hard links

  • CrashPlan backs up soft links, but not the target of the soft link.
    • If you back up a soft link, only the link is backed up—not the target of the soft link.
    • Windows utilizes soft links for folder redirection, which can be used to move the location of folders to another location or drive.
    • Be aware of soft links in your backup selections.
  • CrashPlan follows hard links when examining your drive for files to back up.
    • It can take more time to process backup selections when they include many hard links.
    • Deduplication prevents data with hard links from occupying redundant storage space.
    • Some software and utilities, such as Apple's Time Machine utility, use hard links to accomplish their tasks.
    • Avoid including hard links in your backup selections.

System files

Exclude system and application files from your backup, since backing up these types of files could prevent user-created data from backing up efficiently. These types of files are excluded under the default backup file selection.

Backup file priority is based on file size and creation date: small, frequently-changing files such as system files are backed up before other files in the backup selection. This can prevent backup from fully completing, or significantly increasing the time required for backup completion.

Open files and databases

Rather than relying on application-specific "hooks," you should back up application "dumps" (that is, exported or copied versions) to increase the efficiency and consistency of your backups and restores from these types of files. Creating an application dump saves a snapshot of the application's internal files. Then, use the CrashPlan app to back up the dumped files.

Be aware of these limitations on backing up common types of open files and databases, such as SQL databases, virtual machines, Act! databases, Outlook PST files, or Exchange databases.

How to back up

CrashPlan is very flexible, allowing you to configure backup settings to work best with your network, compliance requirements, and users' usage patterns.

Devices with multiple users

The CrashPlan app's default installation backs up the file selections for all user accounts on a single device to the same archive. If you have multi-user devices, you can install the CrashPlan app for each user account separately. Installing CrashPlan app per user:

  • Backs up each user's data to a unique archive for that user
  • Protects each user's data with a unique password and encryption key
  • Limits users to restoring their data only

Performance

The CrashPlan app is designed to operate in the background so that backup is invisible to your users and system resources are optimized for user needs:

  • The CrashPlan app runs at the lowest system priority.
  • Default settings further restrict the percentage of CPU that the CrashPlan app is allowed to use. There are separate CPU settings based on whether the user is active (engaging with the keyboard or mouse) or away.
  • On laptop computers, the CrashPlan app is configured by default to stop backing up when the laptop's battery reaches 20% or less. The CrashPlan app won't use up battery life when users need it the most.

Bandwidth

There are several ways to back up without saturating your network. If you have significant bandwidth constraints, update your settings in the listed order below, until you've found the optimal configuration for your users and your network.

  1. Limit the transfer rate.
    • Ensures your users are continuously protected.
    • You can choose different settings based on whether the backup destination is on your LAN or across the WAN.
  2. Restrict backup schedule.
    • Restrict the time of day backups are allowed to run.
    • Users are not continuously protected.
    • Do as a last resort if you cannot utilize QoS on your network, and bandwidth throttling is unable to meet your needs.

Network restrictions

You can control which network interfaces or Wi-Fi networks are allowed for backup. Restricting Wi-Fi networks or network interfaces is a great way to avoid mobile data overage charges if your users connect their computers to mobile data networks and have limited data plans.

  • For hot spots, exclude Wi-Fi networks by name.
  • For USB modems, exclude the network interface.

You can also use Wi-Fi network restrictions to prevent users from backing up while connected to networks with limited bandwidth, such as your corporate guest Wi-Fi network.

Frequency, versions, and deleted files

By default, CrashPlan provides continuous data protection for unlimited file versions and unlimited retention of deleted files. However, there are some use cases where the defaults may not be appropriate for your organization or for a subset of your users:

  • Where compliance requirements dictate policies for retaining past file versions or deleted files
  • If your users are backing up very large files or virtual machines

For details about how to update frequency and version retention defaults, see our Backup settings reference

Where to back up

CrashPlan provides the ability to back up to multiple destinations. For the best protection, back up to more than one destination. A common scenario is to back up to one on-site destination for faster backups and restores, and one off-site destination for disaster recovery. Destinations can be user configured or administrator configured.

If you don’t see the option for local destinations, contact our technical support team to enable them for your organization.

Administrator-configured destinations

CrashPlan cloud

User-configured destinations

Local folders such as external hard drives

Reasons for user-configured destinations
  • Empower your users to augment their backups.
  • Backup sets enable your users to back up additional personal files that are not allowed to co-mingle with their corporate backups.

Reasons for disabling user-configured destinations

  • Compliance
  • Corporate control
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