So like many people nowadays, my life is increasing digital. Work, health info, legal info, photos (over 10,000 family photos alone). Having worked in IT for 20 years professionally and 30 years if you count messing around as a teen I have seen just how bad a data disaster can be. So in 2011 I decided to sign up with one of the many online backup companies out there. This way if anything ever happened to one drives where we store these irreplaceable artifacts of our existence, there would be a backup in another location that I could restore when I was ready.
I looked around and choose a company that fit my needs, one of the primary ones was I wanted a client for every platform including linux as I tend to store a lot of stuff on our linux server. Very few companies offered what I wanted at the time, so I choose the one that would let me backup multiple machines, and covered all the OS's I run. I choose Crashplan.
Account creation was painless, client setup too. Their client let me limit how much bandwidth I used (important since I didn't want to saturate my connection with backups or go over my broadband companies 250GB a month cap). I hooked the account to auto refill from my primary bank debit card. After 24 hours I started getting results and emails on those results. So I was all set, I let things run and occasionally glanced at the emails coming in to make sure things were working ok.
On March first, I got a call from my credit union, letting me know that my debit card had been lost during a data breech. They told me a new card was being issued and offered to kill the old one, but said I could wait, since I had other methods of reaching those funds I had them kill it immediately, after all they would have covered a fraudulent use, but why put them to that expense. I then began the ardous task of updating all the companies that I had given this card number to for automatic mothly payments. Being human, I missed one, Crashplan.
As I mentioned I did not check my backup reports every day. I wanted to believe in the "set it and forget it" dream. Unfortunately, thats what it is at this point still. Make no mistake I do not blame CrashPlan totally for what happened. To the contrary, they did nothing "out of line", though I believe there is a way they can much better serve their customers in the future.
On March 8th they tried to charge my old card. It failed, they emailed. The email hit my Gmail catch all account and dumped straight into the spam folder. Why this happened I have no clue, the last email from them that stayed in my inbox was a backup report on March 5th. On March 25th my wife was looking for some photos on her drive and couldnt find them. I told her no problem let me just restore them. I logged into CrashPlan and saw that the size of all my backups wast zero and the table they were in was all pink. I started digging. I soon found the emails in my spam folder and reactivated my CrashPlan accout. It was too late though. I contacted their support and was told they had tried to charge the card for a week and since it was declined they evnetually deleted all of my data assuming that I wasnt coming back.
As you can see, I am carrying plenty of the fault here, but there is a hole in their notification process. If you set it and forget it, and something happens to the email you can loose everything in less than 17 days and you may not find out until its too late. There are some things that CrashPlan could do to make this better and possibly cut back on some customer churn.
1. Automated SMS or Telephone notifications: An autodialer that leaves a voicemail that says, "Hello, this is CrashPlan, please contact us immediately about an urgent business matter."
2. Application notification: In order for their system to backup your machine they have an app that runs on your machine. If this connects to their server and there is a problem (even if you have no new files to backup) it should SCREAM, and berate you non stop. Popups, flashing screen, loud sounds, locking your desktop with a screen saver that requires you to log in using your CrashPlan account info.
The whole point of a set it and forget it is to be able to forget it. Well I did, and it may have cost me, I wont ever know. Will I stay with CrashPlan, well I paid for another month so time will tell.