I've been using CrashPlan's consumer offering for some time now, and have been very happy with it. So when I heard about their Pro version aimed at small-to-medium businesses (up to 200 workstations), I was naturally intrigued. Much like the consumer version, CrashPlan Pro (various pricing) works by installing a desktop client, which uploads your files onto an online server for safe-keeping in the cloud.
It's not exactly the same, though: Whereas CrashPlan's consumer version allows you to back up to a friend's house, this option is disabled in Pro. You obviously would not want your company's information backed up on computers belonging to your buddies of your employees, even if it is securely encrypted.
By default, The CrashPlan Pro client backs up Windows' current user folder (i.e, C:\Users\USERNAME). It doesn't railroad the user, though: Each user can configure their own backup sources and choose which files and folders they'd like to include in their backup set.
As an administrator, you probably wouldn't appreciate having to go to each user's workstation and configure their backup sources and setup. Fortunately, you don't have to. CrashPlan Pro provides an elegant Web-based dashboard, with a Mac-like aesthetic and easy configuration options.
Using this management console, you can drill down to each computer with a CrashPlan client in your computer and remotely select which folders to back up and how much network and CPU resources to use. The management console is clever enough to let you browse the file-system tree of the computer you're configuring, so you can simply explore the hard drive and select what to back up just as though you were sitting at the computer itself.
If you're concerned about users modifying your carefully-selected options, you can password-protect the CrashPlan client so they would need to know their own account password (which you can set) to make any changes using their desktop client.
CrashPlan PRO's console isn't just for configuring your users and computers, though: Once you're done with the initial configuration, you can keep using the console to monitor your organization's health. You can see at a glance how many computers are online, what's the total data set size (how much data your organization backed up in aggregate), how many users are online, and more.
One interesting gimmick is geolocation: If you have users roaming about with laptops, you can use CrashPlan PRO's online dashboard to see their locations on a map. This is done according to the computer's current IP address, so it's far from accurate, but should at least give you an idea if a computer is still in the state or country it's supposed to be in.
The last thing I want to mention is pricing: Rather than go with a "one size fits all" philosophy, CrashPlan PRO offers numerous plans to fit anywhere from 3 to 200 computers. Users can elect whether they wish to pay for each seat (and get unlimited data), or pay for each GB (and get unlimited seats).
CrashPlan PRO is simple and efficient. If I had my own small business, it would be my backup solution of choice.
This story, "CrashPlan Pro makes SMB backup a snap" was originally published by PCWorld.
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