Look after yourself and your data

A long time ago in a galaxy far away..

Looking back at my younger days of IT, I had plenty of time and disposable income. I spent plenty of all-nighters installing and breaking linux distros and various other toys, and when it did break, it took many hours of troubleshooting or eventually re-installing and re-configuring again. (backups? pfft).

As I get older, I find myself paying extra for better quality products that save me time and make my life easier.

Another trend is I’m more concerned with my online security and data protection. With having a family, I want to ensure my photos & videos are backed up, and with the increasing number of website hacks (Adobe,Snapchat) I want to keep my online identity safe.

The culmination of these trends is I’m now using CrashPlan for backups, and LastPass to manage my passwords.

Backups

I first heard of CrashPlan through Scott Lowe. Scott is an incredibly smart guy, so when I heard he was using it, I looked into it.

CrashPlan can be used for free by installing the agent on 2 PC’s or NAS, and backup across devices, even if the devices are across the internet. By signing up for the paid subscription it allows you to backup to the ‘cloud’. Having that offsite copy is essential in a backup strategy. There’s no limit to the amount of data you can backup.

I backup my laptop to the NAS, and to the ‘cloud’. I purposely chose a QNAP NAS because there’s a CrashPlan QPKG client for it (requires QNAP forum login), so the files that are on the NAS can also be backed up to the ‘cloud’. Having 500GB in the ‘cloud’ might sound great, but try restoring that. It would blow many download quotas. That’s why it’s important to have a local and offsite backup. Last year I put an SSD in the laptop and used CrashPlan to restore my data from the NAS to my laptop. Piece of cake.

The Family subscription allows up to 10 devices to backup to the ‘cloud’ so my wife’s laptop is also covered.

The paid subscription of Crashplan keeps unlimited file versions, and the agent continuously backups changed files, so after my wife realised she’d messed up a word document she was working, she was easily able to restore it to the version from 20 minutes ago. I was a hero that night.

There’s plenty of cheaper DIY solutions, and I know people that copy to an external drive every month, or six, IF they remember, but CrashPlan just takes care of this for you. There’s a weekly email letting you know how much data each device has backed up, and when it last checked in. If a device doesn’t check-in for 3 days, you’ll get an email letting you know.

I’ve had to use their support once, and I was very impressed with the speed of the replies, and had my issue resolved quickly.

Most people only lose a significant amount of data once. They learn the hard way. Don’t let it happen to you.

CrashPlan makes my life easier, and for AU$13.75 a month, it’s worthwhile. Check it out.

Passwords

I hear more in mainstream media about websites being hacked and millions of user details obtained. If you use a simple password you’re looking for trouble.

It’s good to see more websites enforce a complex password rule, but some have slightly different requirements, so I couldn’t always use my ‘standard’ website password. I know I know, it’s a bad practice to use the same password, but c’mon, it’s crazy to expect anyone to remember them all. I started to forget the variants of passwords, so I looked into KeePass.

KeePass is open source and free. I was able to generate random complex passwords, and have it automatically remember or fill in login prompts. It was OK, but sometimes it wouldn’t capture or fill in the login prompts. But it was free. It wasn’t simplifying my life as much as I’d hoped it would.

I looked into LastPass. It wasn’t open source, but it was also free. I trialled it, and found it very easy to use. I dived right in and used it for everything. The only downside, now that all my passwords were too complex to remember, I had to have my laptop available to login to anything. LastPass also offer an iPhone app for premium customers to get to your password vault. Going premium brings a lot of other perks, all for $1 a month. Really, $12 a year? That’s nothing. I can’t see how they make money, but if you can’t afford $1 a month, you have bigger problems than password management.

There’s more to it, so I would suggest you read more about it.

LastPass secures, and simplifies my life. And for $1 a month it’s an easy choice.

Disclaimer

I’ve written this with no incentives from either CrashPlan or LastPass. I’ve been a paying CrashPlan customer for 2 years, and Lastpass for 1 year. These are products I believe in, and as such I approached CrashPlan to support the Melbourne VMUG so others can have the realisation I have to protect their data.

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