Cloud Cuckoo Land

My, how time flies. It doesn’t seem it but it was back in 2013 that I signed up with Crashplan for a cloud storage account to backup our data. Multiple people in one household banging away with multiple digital cameras generates a lot of data, some of which is worth protecting, and my original regime of writing out optical storage media, starting with CDs and going on to DVDs (though not Blu-ray), had become less than viable. We’d got a little over 200Gb of data between us.

The initial upload of data would, given the very limited speeds possible on our archaic copper wire telecoms infrastructure, have taken about 4 months, so I also signed up for a fibre optic broadband service. Welcome to the modern world – well, almost. My service is still not blazingly fast ‘cos there’s still over ½ mile of archaic copper wire between me and the cabinet – I get about 1Mb upload – but my initial upload now got done in one month.

Everything then went swimmingly. The Crashplan software seemed reasonably well designed and we continued uploading incremental amounts of data as our photographic collection grew. (We do discard the rubbish, as we did in the days of real film, unlike some folks.)

Six months ago the rug got pulled out from under our feet; the gentlefolk at Crashplan announced that “they were withdrawing from the home/consumer backup market”. Sod! [Just look at the management bullshit on that page.]

The Crashplan bullshit also announced, though, that “they had partnered with Carbonite” to which their home customer base was invited to switch. [See the same Crashplan page above.]

Now, I’d have thought that “partnering with” would include a painless data migration path, the data that I had initially spent a whole calendar month @ 24hrs a day uploading. Wrong. The extent of the partnering appeared to be limited to a 50% reduction in cost for the first year. Crashplan home customers would now have to spend almost another 2 months (our data volume has, of course, increased in 5 years) uploading their precious data to the cloud, in the form of Carbonite, yet again.

Well, thanks for nothing to the dishonourable bastards at Crashplan. Personally, I wouldn’t even offer you a blindfold.

Actually, at one point I calculated that it could have taken me the whole of that first year to upload the data again. That’s because Carbonite originally throttled the upload bandwidth to 1Gb/day after the first 200Gb. Look, you don’t need a paid-for service with modest amounts of data; you can accumulate at least 30Gb with free services like Google Sync, Dropbox and MS OneDrive. The paid-for solution space IS large amounts of data. However, they may have seen sense because I now read that they Caronite has supposedly removed that throttling. So, as you were and back to 2 months uploading, then.

I suppose, just out of desperation, I did sign up for the first year at Carbonite. Having done so I swiftly became disheartened, though. The straw that broke my particular camels back was noticing, and I fail to understand why, that with constant uploading to The Cloud, any streaming of TV programs on catch-up slowed to the point where buffering and stuttering was frequent – the programs became unwatchable. I measured my download speed and my usual 15+Mb download had slowed to ~3.5Mb. Now why does something that I thought was just uploading knacker download speeds to that extent? I wasn’t prepared for 2 months worth of that so I cancelled my automatic renewal and uninstalled the Carbonite client software.

Once bitten, twice shy. I no longer wanted to rely upon some distant CEO’s whim so I needed another solution.

Optical media still being a pain in the derrière given the data volumes, even with the possibility of Blu-ray, I settled on a 2-bay NAS [Network Attached Storage] device, set up as RAID-1, plugged into my router. This I could make accessible to all our machines. Admittedly my new solution would not address the offsite backup requirement. IT professionals know that, as well as locally available backups for swift restoration, for which we have external hard drives, one should also have an offsite backup to protect against dire disasters such as your business premises/house burning down but if our house burns down we’ve got much bigger problems than salvaging a few digital images. That aside, being RAID-1 (twin copies in the NAS), three things would need to fail more or less simultaneously to lose anything, both drives in the NAS and the source laptop/desktop concerned.

The Cloud is an appealingly neat solution but we really need better access speeds to make it properly viable. The UK, having been hamstrung for too long by its BT copper wire infrastructure, still has areas of the country where even basic fibre optic broadband is not available and copper wire download speeds limited to a few meagre Mb are the norm. We also need companies providing the services to be honourable enough not to suddenly decide to screw their customers by changing their business model.

So, a lingering 2-fingered salute to Crashplan. You do not deserve business.

2 comments on “Cloud Cuckoo Land
  1. Dyslexic says:

    Yes uploads do destroy the download speeds. A download still has to acknowledge the packets received, and they get queued up in your upload.

    Blame BT openreach for their faux fibre network, or even Maggie Thatcher who stopped BT from putting in a fibre broadband network to allow the fledgling cable providers to compete.

    Anyway i’me all right jack, I have over 500 gigabytes on my cloud using the MS devil. Works a treat and now I never have to copy files from one machine to another, it just happens.

    Oh on a NAS. I got caught with one. The box died, not the disks. Sent the box back, also had to send the disks back. For data privacy the disks had to be wiped. Luckily all my eggs were not in the same basket.

    • JC says:

      Yes indeed, that Thatcher/BT decision years ago was a disaster.

      I get the need to acknowledge receipt of data but having the acknowledgements for uploading at 1Mb swallow 12Mbs-worth of download capacity seems like a poor deal.

      Glad “you’re all right Jack-ee” and it’s always good not to have too many eggs in one basket.

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