Time Machine is good, but sometimes glitchy, with remote disks connected to AirPort Extreme behaving erratically, and other limitations to what you can do – not least that you can’t back your data up online. And that’s where new cross platform backup solution, CrashPlan steps in.

Developers, Code 42 Software offer the solution, making it available free to consumer and small business users, with the more powerful and robust CrashPlan+ service introduced yesterday for enterprise users (which costs $59 US for real-time backup and web restores). In other words, this easy-to-use solution scales for every user, from individual to enterprise users.

The software will automatically back your data up to other computers, external hard drives or even the company’s eminently affordable online back-up service. (And it’s all protected by hardcore security protocols – CrashPlan+ offers 448-bit encryption).

Online service, CrashPlan Central, offers unlimited online backup/storage and costs from as little as $3.50 US per month for individuals and under $5.00 for a family plan (there’s a free 30-day trial, also). You’re not required to sign up to CrashPlan Central though, because CrashPlan can back up to friends’ computers for free.

The software is widely compatible – Windows, OS X, Linux or even Solaris platforms are all covered. Users can backup in multiple ways: locally, remotely and online. CrashPlan also offers automatic backup, which the company claims to be so efficient users won’t even be able to tell it’s going on.

The solution reduces file size by using advanced compression technology. It identifies duplicate files and parts of files and stores them only once. When files change, only the new information is backed up.

Once your files are backed up, CrashPlan continuously checks your files are 100% healthy and ready to restore when you need them. If it finds any problems, it fixes them.

CrahPlan+ offers version retention – the ability to specify rules for removing versions and files from your backup after you no longer care about them. It’s also pretty easy to set the frequency of backups and the number of versions to keep, using slider controls to specify versions to retain over specific periods.

The user can set the frequency of backup, for example: hourly for the first week, while a file is being worked on, then retaining fewer versions as the file gets older.

Code 42’s co-founder Matthew Dornquast said, "Relying on cloud computing as your only backup can be dangerous, as Sidekick users recently found out. CrashPlan can back up to local disk, a friend’s disk, and the cloud in the form of CrashPlan Central. Spreading the risk this way make your data safer."
"Other backup systems use disk space in a comparatively wasteful way. CrashPlan’s frugal approach means less disk space and backups are faster and much more efficient."

CrashPlan works on PCs, Macs, Linux and Solaris. It will also back up from any of the operating systems listed to any other platform it supports.

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