Studies of Life

Learning by doing.

A great free – and secure – Crashplan alternative: Duplicati

10 November 2017 by Jim

I really liked Crashplan as a set-it-and-forget-it solution to having an off-site backup. As you may know, it’s best to have at least 1 on-site and 1 off-site backup. 5 local backups don’t do you much good if your house burns down, for example, or you lose your external hard drive.

So when Crashplan stopped providing service to individual customers (they only do business customers now) I had trouble finding an alternative. All the files I need to keep actually fit into about 3 GB of Dropbox storage, so they are kind of backed up already, since Dropbox keeps 30 days worth of versions for your files, but it’s best to not rely on a single company. There are horror stories of people losing their files with every one of the cloud providers.

So, each of those providers, because there are many, offers quite a bit of storage… you get 15 GB with Google Drive, and gigabytes from Microsoft, and BOX, etc.

Duplicati is a great free and open-source backup utility that can use all of that free storage in the cloud as a backup drive. It uses very little resources (I checked) and runs quietly in the background, like Crashplan used to. It’s exactly the solution I needed.

Its biggest advantages are that it:
– encrypts your backup so while it’s stored in the cloud, it remains private
– stores backups in (by default 50 MB) chunks that are quick to upload, unlike uploading thousands of small files individually
– is highly customisable (file exclusion / inclusion / schedule / compression)
– allows you turn your free cloud storage that you are not using into something useful that you’d otherwise need to pay for
– takes few resources (an incremental backup takes on average 1 minute in my case (see screenshot))
– scales well (I read about people backing up 200 TB with Duplicati without issues)

I’m using it to backup my 3 GB of essential files kept in Dropbox to Google Drive, because I had no use for Google Drive so far. It’s inferior to Dropbox in terms of syncing speed and reliability, because it uploads every file individually (no matter how small) instead of in batches, for example. So now I found a way to put this storage to good use.

I think it’s great that a community of developers is passionate enough about the lack of good backup options that they go out and make one themselves. That’s why I want to share it, in the hopes it will be as useful to you as it is to me.


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One Comment

  1. The clincher for me with crashplan was that my first backup is a large local USB drive. The reasoning is that the most likely disaster is a hard drive crash, and the last thing one wants is to restore (in my case) 500GB over an adsl connection, which would take weeks. From a local usb it takes a few hours. Then of course we want remote backup for if there is a fire or burglary. Crashplan covered both of these beautifully. I’m still narked with them

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