Getting Started with CrashPlan

To get started, you need someone in an IT support organization to create an account for you in the Georgia Tech CrashPlan cloud and then you download and install the client software on your laptop or desktop. You may configure several devices under your account if you wish.

(You CANNOT independently buy an individual Code42 CrashPlan license and have it work in our environment. You can purchase a discounted personal subscription to the CrashPlan Home service.  See Personal Backups.)  


A. Getting Authorization for Your Account

In order to use CrashPlan to back up a system, you will need to have your GT account authorized on the CrashPlan master server by your unit's backup administrator. Contact your unit's IT support organization to have your account enabled. You may contact the OIT Technology Support Center (TSC) and they will forward the request to your unit's contact. In the near future we will have a direct email address for this request; currently you can use support@oit.gatech.edu.


B. Download the Client Application

Then you need to download the CrashPlan PROe Client installer.  You have two alternatives:  Either

  1. Go to https://crashmaster.gatech.edu:4285 with your browser
  2. Log in with your GT credentials
  3. Click the 'App Downloads' Link on the left side of the page.  On the App Downloads page, you can choose the platform you are running on.

or

  1. Based on your computer, choose one of the following links to download the 4.8.1 (recommended) client directly from Code42.
    Windows 64-bit
    Windows 32-bit
    OS X
    Linux

or

  1. Make sure you are downloading the black-colored enterprise version of the software, not the green-colored personal version.
  2. Be sure the version you get is version 4.x or earlier.  It will automatically upgrade if it's too old.  We don't recommend version 5 clients yet.
  3. Go to the URL http://support.code42.com/Administrator/5/Planning_And_Installing/Code42_Platform_Installers, search for CrashPlan App Links For A Single Device, and download a CrashPlan App installer (not the server version). Version 4.8.1 is the best choice as of this writing.

C. Install the Client

Run the PRO Client Installer you've just downloaded to install the software. For Mac OS X and Windows, this involves clicking the installer package and answering the usual questions. Then just three more steps:

  1. The installer should open the CrashPlan application for you.
  2. On the "Create your Account" screen, click the button that says you have an "existing account."
  3. Enter your GT account and password.  For the PRO Server host name, use crashmaster.gatech.edu

That should do it. Assuming you have a network connection, you should see your client connect to the backup servers configured for your organization and begin backing up to the first one of them.  CrashPlan should not require further attention on your client system.


The Web Dashboard

If you would like to view the status of your backups or retrieve files via a web client (not for sensitive data), you can connect to the master server with a web browser at

https://crashmaster.gatech.edu:4285

You log in with your GT account and password and you should be able to see the status and change the configuration of the CrashPlan clients on all of the devices you have registered.


Performance considerations

When you do your first backup to each backup server, there can be a great deal of data to be moved, depending on how much you've accumulated on your computer. Movies, photos, and music can take up an enormous amount of space. Your system will take as much as a day or two on a fast network like we have on campus; on a home DSL connection it can take as much as two months to complete the backup. Once this first backup is done, only incremental changes that aren't stored on the backup server are shipped across the wire. This is much lower volume and generally not noticeable in most situations.

For these reasons, we make the following suggestions for the first backup

  • If practical, connect the computer to a wired campus network port until the first backup is completed on all servers. You can tell from the CrashPlan application Backup screen when the backup is complete. For 50GB, figure on about one day per backup destination to complete the backups. If a wired network connection isn't practical, connect to the campus wireless network (LAWN). It will take a bit longer.
  • In the CrashPlan Pro client, go to the Settings>Network tab. Make sure the four Limit Sending Rate items are set to "None" for the initial on-campus backup. 
  • If you have a laptop, once the first backup is complete, consider going back to the Settings>Network tab and resetting the four Limit Sending Rate items to "200Kbps"; this setting generally doesn't overwhelm home DSL or coffee shop network uplinks. 
  • If you think your backups are slowing down your network or your computer, go to the Backup screen. If a backup is running, you will see a "Pause" symbol out to the right (two vertical lines in a small circle). Click it; it will suspend backups to that server for 24 hours. Be sure to suspend backups to all servers if it decides to switch to another one. If your problems clear up in a few seconds, you have found the culprit -- see the last point about limiting the sending rate or the next point about limiting backup times.  You can resume backing up by pressing the "Play" symbol (a right-pointing triangle in a small circle) at any time.
  • On desktops that will be awake at night, if you are bothered by the performance of the online backups, consider visiting the Settings>Backup and changing the setting of "CrashPlan will run: Always" to a setting that does backups only at night. You will lose the immediate backup feature, but backups will not run when you are using the computer.

Planning for fast restores

Should you need to restore all of your files, it will come to your attention that it's going to take at least as long to restore all of your files as it did to back them up. This may be too long for your comfort if you're having to deal with a failed hard drive or a stolen laptop. There are two things you can do to improve this situation:  

  1. CrashPlan allows you to restore files selectively from the client application or through the web. You can grab the files you need and work elsewhere while your system is being restored. Fortunately, this even works when you are out of town.
  2. You can back up your files to an attached USB hard drive. Restores are much faster from locally attached drives. This of course requires advance planning, but is worth it if you are on a tight schedule when disaster strikes. To accomplish this, you simply add a suitably large USB hard drive to your system using the manufacturer's instructions. Then in the CrashPlan client application, you choose Destinations>Folders and select a folder on your USB drive. CrashPlan will update the backup archive on the USB hard drive whenever it is connected.