Backup Software for the Museum

Backup Software for the Museum

I was recently talking with some folks at the Scarborough Museum regarding disaster contingency planning. With my computer background, I quickly thought about backups and off-site storage of important computer files.

Time Machine logo with space background By FHKE - ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) - via https://www.flickr.com/photos/fhke/240086966I have a Mac, so for my personal use I have Time Machine for my local backups. It is awesome and easy to use. It allows me to go back to the version of a file I had on just about any date.  It was great when I had to replace a disk drive. However, in the event of a major disaster, I know I need a good off-site backup solution.  I use CrashPlan for that and love it. But, I didn’t know if it would be really good for the Museum, they use various Windows based systems. I also wondered about costs for them. 

I thought about their requirements.  They have a multi-terabyte disk drive they use for local backups.  That gives them a good system to restore the occasionally damaged or corrupted file from a backup on site. To accommodate their backups, off-site storage needs to be large, very large. Photos scanned at 600dpi and saved in TIFF format make for large files. A recent scan project that another person was doing resulted in hundreds of files all nearly a gigabyte each. So, off-site storage needs to accommodate that. Because of the local storage, they will seldom, and hopefully never, need files recovered from off-site. If they do, recovery can be slow, so restoration speed isn’t paramount. I can’t imagine the Museum needing to backup Android or IOS devices anytime in the near future so those capabilities are nonexistent. Another important aspect of their requirements is how they use their systems. Generally, they are used for a short time, when the volunteers are there. Real-time backups to the cloud aren’t critical as long as backups to the cloud can occur before another individual uses the computer on another day. Another critical requirement is that the software should be easy to use. It should be set and forget. Finally, the off-site storage should be inexpensive; the museum has a limited technology budget. That said, I know you get what you pay for and free or super inexpensive software typically doesn’t have adequate feature.
After considering basic requirements, I began an internet search.

My first stop was PC Magazine’s site and a review of The Best Online Backup Services for 2015.

They listed three as their “Editor’s Choice” services: iDrive, Crash Plan, and SOS Online Backup.
IDrive has a 1TB storage limit, which disqualified it as an option in my mind. Because I dropped iDrive my contention, I added their next choice, Carbonite to my list for consideration.
Next stop, About.Com’s site and 34 Online Backup Services Reviewed. Their top choice was BackBlaze followed by Crash Plan, Carbonite, and SOS Online Backup.  Back on the PC Magazine site, BackBlaze was number six on their list, so I felt it should be a top contender.
That gave me four off-site backup storage services to consider.

Crash Plan
BackBlaze
Cost
$59.99
$59.99
$59.99
$50.00
Storage
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited
Copies
Unlimited
12
Unlimited
Unlimited
Retention
Unlimited
90 Days
Unlimited
Unlimited
External/USB
Yes
Yes
Yes
Business Cost
CrashPlan Pro for businesses. $9.99/month
Business version $15.99/month 
BackBlaze for Business $50.00/computer/year

Cost: Not enough difference to matter. Although some have free versions, their features are scaled back enough that none of their free versions should be considered.
Storage: All are unlimited.
Copies: Carbonite only keeps 12 versions of a file. This isn’t really an issue for documents and images, however, can be a killer for databases that change daily. The other three services keep unlimited copies of files.
Retention: Carbonite has a retention period of 90 days. If you delete a file, you need to restore it within 90 days. If you don’t, it is gone. I can visualize a situation where a file is deleted and no one notices for months and then the file can’t be restored. Because of that, I thought their retention policy is inadequate for the museum, so I dropped Carbonite from further consideration; however, I believe it is still an excellent choice for personal use.
External/USB Drives: The three remaining products all backup External and/or USB Drives.
Business Costs: Most reviews and pricing notes relate to individual licenses for software. In the case of the museum, a business license(s) would be necessary. I was taken aback by the additional costs for the business use. I contacted the three remaining products via email for cost information for the Museum’s environment.

CrashPlan replied with a form email. We would need CrashPlan Pro for $9.99 per month ($119.88/year). 

SOS Online Backup impressed me with their response.  They sent an email indicating that someone would call. An individual did call and provided pricing for our environment. He told me that as a non-profit we would receive their best possible pricing. A computer plus an external drive would require two licenses which would run $15.99/month ($191.88/year). To backup all five computers at the museum, the license would run $34.99/month ($419.88). I really appreciated the call. Again, I think it is an excellent choice for personal use, but not the best pricing model for the Museum.

BackBlaze and BackBlaze for Business are the same price and have the same features. $50.00/year ($4.16/month). Clearly the most cost effective choice.
BackBlaze Online Backup Logo

For the Museum, I recommend BackBlaze Online Backup for Business as the archive and backup off-site as their solution. See: BackBlaze Online Backup for Business for more information.

Backup Solutions

I have been trying many different cloud storage solutions.  I use Drop Box to share working drafts of
various documents with other church members. 
It works really well.  I love how
it alerts me when another board member makes a change to a file. 
I have also been using Google Docs to share files with my
wife, family members, and friends.  It is
super the way it integrates with Picasa and provides a great platform for
sharing pictures.
I also use Syncplicity. 
It is a cool little program that sync’s my genealogy files off site.  I really like it; the free version provides 2GB of data space but the paid plan is excessively expensive.  At $15/month for 50GB, which would not be
enough, it is the most expensive of the various plans for off-site storage.
Having been in Computer Security for many years, I
understand the importance of having off-site backups.  I have known that the hodgepodge of things I
have been using are not really safe and effective.  I needed to put together a plan for myself.  I really like my local backup program.  Being a Mac owner, I find Time Machine is very
awesome.  Set it and forget it.  It is awesome.  I have a 2TB, USB connected backup drive,
which provides plenty of storage for my modest 320GB local drive.  Nevertheless, I really want to get something
off-site – just in case.
I considered four different off-site backup solution
providers.  (I did not consider Norton
Online Backup because of a past negative experience.)  They were, Back Blaze, Carbonite, Crash Plan,
and Mozy.
In considering a cloud (off-site) backup solution, I looked
at price, ease of use, and reviews.  I
quickly dropped Mozy Home from consideration. 
At $5.99 per month for 50GB and $9.99 per month for 125GB, it was just
too expensive.
I have several friends that use Carbonite.  At $4.92 per month for unlimited it was
definitely a contender.  I could be happy
with the basic “Home” version, as I do not need the External Hard Drive Backup
or the mirror image backup.
Then I looked at Back Blaze and Crash Plan.  They were both $4.17/month on a 1-year plan and
included unlimited storage.  Back Blaze does
not backup your Operating System nor your Applications.  It does backup attached storage, however,
that is not important in my case because the attached storage is only a backup.
 Moreover, really, if I have a catastrophic
problem I am not going to want to reinstall all my apps, even if I could
remember all the apps I have.  Crash Plan
Plus appears to back up everything and have unlimited space for the same price.
From my research, I had a good idea of the products I
thought were desirable.  I then Goggled “online
backup services reviews 2012” and started looking.
PCSupport.about.com ‘s writer Tim Fisher said his favorite
was Crash Plan Plus.
Computerworld’s review of “Five Backup Services keep yourData Safe” liked Crash Plan except that it took way to long to upload the first
time.  They then selected Mozy Home as
their selection.  I really do not care
about the several daylong upload times to get things started, but I can see
where some others might be.  The bottom
line is I selected Crash Plan Plus.  I
downloaded the 31-day free trial with the intent to purchase the plan the first
of next year if it works as well as I think it will.