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Understanding And Troubleshooting Frequency And Version Settings

Applies to:
  • CrashPlan PRO
  • CrashPlan PROe

Overview

CrashPlan tracks multiple versions of each file as it backs up changes over time. Versions can be restored from a backup to restore a file's previous state, but retaining too many versions can create complications with your backup. This tutorial includes considerations for changing your version retention settings.

What do the frequency and versions settings do?

CrashPlan watches the file-system in real-time for new and changed files in your file selection and adds them to a to-do list.

  • Select Settings > Frequency and versions > Configure to access frequency and version settings.
  • Frequency determines how often files in that list are backed up and is adjusted by the new versions setting in Backup Frequency and Versions menu.
  • Versioning settings define how CrashPlan stores previously backed-up versions of your files.

Over time, frequency and versions settings work together to slowly remove older file versions backed up by CrashPlan (i.e. two months from now, you may not need to restore a file from 8:45 AM when the daily snapshot will do). As your backup grows, these settings decrease memory usage in the CrashPlan app and save storage space at the destination. Older file versions are removed during regular archive maintenance based on your version settings.

Changing frequency and versions settings
We do not recommend increasing these settings to back up more frequently than the default settings. However, if you have a large file selection, consider changing your settings to back up less frequently or increasing the memory allocated to the CrashPlan app.

Frequency and Versions Settings

Backup frequency and versions example

The image above illustrates how the number of versions is reduced over time when using the default settings.

Versions backed up during the last week fall into bucket 1. Based upon the current settings, CrashPlan retains versions as frequently as every 15 minutes. Once versions of a file are between one week and 90 days old, the number of versions retained is reduced to the retention setting for bucket 2. For these versions, CrashPlan retains up to one per day. Versions will continue to be reduced over the next year.

Tip
You can tell CrashPlan to only retain a single version of older files. This may be useful if you have large files that change frequently, but for which older versions provide little value. For example:
  • a database
  • Photoshop project file
  • iMovie project file
  • ProTools project file
To only retain a single version of a file, set your retention settings to:
  • Last week: every week
  • Last 90 days: never
  • Previous years: never
Please note that your retention settings apply to every file backed up to particular destination. In other words, if you are backing up to CrashPlan Central, your version retention settings apply to every file backing up to CrashPlan Central regardless of the backup set to which a file belongs.

Where are the versions I am looking for?

On the Restore screen in the CrashPlan app, clicking the triangle icon next to a file displays previously backed-up versions of that file. In the image below, there are three versions of the file Psych Fall Midterm:

Versions

CrashPlan only backs up a new version of a file if it has changed since the last backup. Here’s an example:

Assume you back up continuously and use the default version setting for documents updated in the last week (every 15 minutes). You edited the file “Psych Fall Midterm” yesterday, but haven’t edited it since. Whereas, you have been actively making changes to the file “ComSci Midterm” for the last two hours. You can expect up to eight versions of “ComSci Midterm” during that two hour period (one for each 15-minute backup interval). However, the most recent version of "Psych Fall Midterm" will be from yesterday.

In certain circumstances, there might be fewer versions than you expect if CrashPlan is trying to back up certain files but can't access them. The most common causes are:

Missing files
If you cannot find a specific file (not a version of the file), additional troubleshooting steps may help you locate the file.

Why is CrashPlan consuming system resources?

CrashPlan monitors changes to files in real time, based on the backup frequency and versions settings selected. More frequent backups or large numbers of files require CrashPlan to use more system resources to process your backup. Even small file selections at higher-than-default frequency can cause the CrashPlan app to delay in backing up your files due to file monitoring.

A common reason for having a large number of files selected is that the entire hard drive is selected for backup. As part of its normal operation, your computer creates and modifies a large number of system and application files, which are small. Because CrashPlan prioritizes its to-do list based on file size and creation date, this data is backed up before other important personal files in your backup selection. Moreover, there is no advantage backing them up, as you don't typically directly interact with system files and application data.

Some symptoms you might see if CrashPlan backs up system or application files:

  • Time to complete backup selection increases, sometimes by many days.
  • Increased system resource usage.
  • Increased cache size.
  • Backup never reaches 100%.
  • Backup status is incorrectly reported.
  • No files are displayed on the Restore screen.