Use Crashplan to Backup Everything

IT FAIL Many years ago I lost everything. Well, not everything, but I had a RAID failure on an important file server that caused me to lose a fantastic collection of music, some photos and various other important files. I was already pretty good about backups and redundancy, but I put too much faith in that one RAID volume, and I didn’t have a backup of a lot of the data that was on it.

I became slightly compulsive about backups. I never wanted to lose important data again. For a few years I got by with rolling backups to external disks, which I would store in safe deposit boxes or other “safe” places. But when the amount of seriously important data I was storing reached a certain point, I knew my backup system wasn’t going to scale well.

That’s when I found CrashPlan. If you buy the 4-year subscription, it works out to something like $3.96 per month for unlimited data backups. I bought the service and installed it on my workstation. But I quickly found that it doesn’t let you back up network drives and shared folders. And that’s where much of my critical data is – on a file server with a big RAID volume so my business and personal files are available regardless of which computer or device I’m using, at absurdly fast speeds and configured to handle a couple of disk failures without causing a major interruption. Eventually, after hours of searching forums and blog posts, I came up with a way to trick CrashPlan into thinking shared folders on your network are actually local folders on your computer’s hard drive.

And it’s surprisingly simple.

How to Backup Windows Shared Folders over the Network using CrashPlan (From a Windows PC)

Step 1 – Configure the CrashPlan service to run as your local user account.

Let’s say your account on your Windows PC is named “ralph”. Configuring the CrashPlan service to run as user Ralph is pretty simple.

ss (2014-10-25 at 02.25.18)Click “Start”, then type “services”. Click on the first result, called “Services”

After the Services app has started, find “CrashPlan Backup Service” in the list of services and double click it to bring up its properties. Click on the “LogOn” tab, then click the option “This Account” and click the “Browse” button. Type in your user name (in this example, “ralph”) into the big white box and click the “Check Names” button. After this, click OK, then you’ll have to enter your account’s logon password back on the “LogOn” screen for the service.

Click “Apply”, then return to the “General” tab and click the “Stop” button to stop the CrashPlan service. Now click the “Start” button, which will run the service as your user. Every time your computer reboots, CrashPlan will always run as your user, which will make the rest of the stuff we do in this guide work nicely.

Step 2 – Create links to your remote shared folders

Let’s say you have a NAS drive on your network where you store your photos, home videos, or whatever. Or maybe it’s another desktop machine on your network that you’d like to backup. Doesn’t matter, as long as you have full access to it from your Windows machine where CrashPlan is installed.

Run “cmd” as Administrator by clicking Start, typing “cmd”, then right-click the “cmd” icon and click “Run as Administrator”. This is kind of like running su in a linux shell session.

We’re going to link each remote folder to a local “linked folder” from your computer’s C: drive, using the system command mklink. Let’s say you have two shared folders out there on the network you want to backup with CrashPlan:

  • “HomeMovies” on the network computer named “rhonda”, and
  • “Business Files” on the NAS drive named “CompanyNAS”

Type the following commands in the cmd window:

mklink /D c:\home-movies-linked \\rhonda\HomeMovies

mklink /D c:\company-nas-linked "\\CompanyNAS\Business Files"

Step 3 – Tell CrashPlan to backup the “linked” folders on your C: drive

Open up CrashPlan and click on “Change” in the Backup screen. This will let you browse your computer’s local drives and folders. Expand C:, and check the new “folders” you created. Click “Save” and CrashPlan will start indexing and backing up those folders, over the network!

That’s it!

Pretty slick, right? For less than $4 a month you’re now able to backup absolutely everything that’s shared on your network!


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