UPDATE 2018: The short answer is, don’t bother doing this. Since this article was written Crashplan has been updated and changed a lot; and although the software in this article has also been changed, we gave up on this method. There are backup solutions available that do not require such difficult work and also which do not rely on a volunteer developer to keep his software up to date. Backup needs to be simple and reliable, Crashplan on a Synology NAS is neither.
Backing up using a cloud-based backup service is a really good idea. We like Crashplan, and we have used it for a while. In fact, if you have a friend or two who also use Crashplan, you can back up to each others’ computers, for free. This makes Crashplan by far the best free cloud-based service available if you do it that way – or even if you pay to backup to Crashplan itself, it’s still not bad.
Anyway, let’s assume you’re convinced of the merits of backing up regularly offsite, and of using Crashplan. If you’re not, then you won’t find the rest of this article very interesting.
Crashplan installs as a bit of client software, which then interacts with the local storage, and remote storage. If you just have one machine, and install Crashplan on it, everything is simple. But for us, things are slightly more complicated. We have several machines, and they all keep their data on a network. When a local hard disk fails – which happens now and again – that way we don’t lose our work. So we have a shared local network server that we keep our work on. It is a Synology Diskstation DS413j. Like all Diskstations, it runs a version of Linux and is a server in its own right which can be used to run all sorts of software. So for a while we have been trying to find a way to run Crashplan on it. Previously we ran Crashplan on a local PC which used the Diskstation disks as network drives, and this machine backed everybody’s files up to the cloud. This was not ideal because 1) It put a lot of load on one PC, and 2) it only worked when that PC was on, which is not ideal for backup, which ideally ought to ‘just happen’ without human intervention. So, what to do? Read on to see.
Another great feature of Crashplan that sets it apart from other backup services is that it has a client for Windows, Mac and also Linux. All of these play nicely together. So it would seem as though one ought to be able to simply load the Crashplan Linux client onto the Diskstation, and the problems would all be solved? Well, not quite. Although when we finally discovered how to do it, it’s not very much harder than that.
The problem is that Crashplan requires a working version of Java to work properly. And installing Java on a Diskstation is not straightforward, because there are a lot of different versions of the Diskstation and they don’t all use the same version of Java. And although there’s some good instructions online from various people, articles date back some years, and some advice is now out of date as Diskstation, Crashplan and Java have all been updated.
Luckily, there’s one diligent developer at PCLoadLetter who, as a public service, has created a DiskStation package for both CrashPlan and a suitable version of Java. You need to install both of these, and run them. There are a few other changes to make but in short, that’s what it adds up to. It’s not supported by CrashPlan but so far, he seems to be pretty good at keeping it all up to date.
Or for a simplified version of the instructions – that might not work for everyone but ought to be pretty straightfoward for most people – see Scott Hanselmann’s very user-friendly guide “How to set up CrashPlan Cloud Backup headless on a Synology NAS – Backup Strategies”
Good luck – it’s not quite a seamless process, but with a bit of work we got it going. Let us know how you get on!