How to speed up CrashPlan restore

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CrashPlan Headless Automatic Online Backup
CrashPlan Headless Automatic Online Backup

Problem / Outcome Summary

  • This article is an opinion article that will also show you a couple of tricks that should help you speed up your CrashPlan restore.

Why might I want to read this?

  • To speed up your CrashPlan restore
  • To learn a little more about how CrashPlan works

To be clear, why shouldn’t I just use the standard CrashPlan restore?

To be fair, you absolutely can use the standard CrashPlan restore. However, you may find that your restore speed does not perform as fast as you expected. In my case, the CrashPlan restore window on my Mac said it was running at between 15-20Mb/s. That speed is not bad in my country, however the CrashPlan application said at this rate it would be several weeks before my data was restored. On top of that, doing a few calculations, I found my actual restore speed was 4Mb/s. This was not going to be a product I subscribed to for long if I couldn’t speed this up.

Why I chose CrashPlan as my personal backup solution

After some fairly extensive research, it’s benefits over other (as at December 2015) cloud backup solutions are quite substantial.  In particular it’s price, it’s unlimited backup and it’s promise to ‘Never Delete anything’ gives you an outstanding retention time-frame that no other product currently beats.  It’s application is also fantastic, (well almost – more about that below) and a really big deal to me is that it offers true private encryption so your social security numbers or IRD numbers aren’t plastered all over the web begging for identity theft.  Seriously, for the price, no other product get’s close to the value of Code 42’s CrashPlan. After several months of use and a catastropic failure on my NAS filesystem (therefore a CrashPlan restore), I’ve now decided to sell my offsite NAS backup and replace it with this.

Why CrashPlan is the only product that could restore my data

As mentioned above, I recently had a catastrophic file system corruption which required me to restore my entire backup.  The thing about file system corruption is that on the outside, your files still look like they’re fine.  They still copy and you can still back them up.  Unfortunately this means any automated backup solution will actually back up the corrupted files intact so that when you restore them, you just get a duplicate corrupted copy.  Most other backup solutions do not allow you to ‘go back in time’ with your files and those that do have limitations to how far you can go.  CrashPlan however allows me to do this, which is exactly what I had to do.  Had it not been for CrashPlan’s ‘never delete anything’ policy, I would have lost all my files.

The CrashPlan restore speed problem

So I needed to restore my data.  CrashPlan’s Mac app was slow.   I had two issues:

  1. Restore speed running at an actual 4Mb/s
  2. The client had frequent disconnections, similar to that of unplugging a network cable.  The error I was getting was ‘Unable to restore because destination is unavailable’ and this error would come and go randomly, stopping the restore in the process.

Searching on google through the CrashPlan forums and generally there were rumblings that the Mac app was not great and worse that the Code42 support (customer champions) were not so great either.  After much scouring of the web, I phoned and when that failed, logged an online ticket.

I waited and unfortunately the response from Code42 seemed to align with the complaints on the internet.  Knowing how support centres work (I’ve run a few myself), there are SLA’s (or KPI’s) to meet.  Unfortunately some call centre managers let this become a priority over quality.  Here’s what happened:

  1. The response was fast and apologetic and I expect largely copy and pasted
  2. I was informed 1-3Mb/s was a typical restore speed and no suggestions were made to help resolve this
  3. I was informed an average data restore rate for CrashPlan is 10-30 gigs per day
  4. I was informed if I happened to have a fast internet connection it is unlikely to make a difference because it’s an affordable shared service
  5. It was implied (albeit very politely) that Code42 are only interested in helping me if my restore speed is less than 1Mb/s, to which I’d need to provide logs.

It was essentially then left to me to argue for my case.  It’s worth pointing out that most customers of this service wouldn’t have enough skill to argue successfully with the customer champions which is a pet hate I have with customer service these days.  That said, the service is very very cheap and the product is still very good.

So I realised there was no avenue for help from Code42 if I was getting more than 1Mb/s, disappointing.

How to speed up a CrashPlan restore and prove the customer champion was incorrect

  1. Change your CrashPlan client
    1. I switched my CrashPlan client from Mac to Linux.  My new speed was 70Mb/s.  The client didn’t disconnect all the time.
  2. Run simultaneous clients
    1. I was able to run both my Mac and my Linux restore clients simultaneously.  This sped up the CrashPlan restore to the total of both speeds

It is clear that as eluded to on various forums and web sites, the CrashPlan Mac client performs very poorly and the customer champions aren’t working toward customer service targets, rather a ‘quick response and close rate’.  It is also clear that the response surrounding the alleged ‘design’ of the Australian data centre to be around 4Mb is inaccurate. To give you an idea, on just the linux computer, I restored 53GB of data in about 60 minutes.  Compare that to the suggestion that I should only be able to restore 30GB in an entire day.

As always, we welcome your insights and opinions in the comments section below.

For a quick howto on how to set up CrashPlan on Ubuntu Linux, have a look at our HowTo article here.

Marshalleq