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CrashPlan was created by a Minnesota based company called Code42. CrashPlan itself has only been around since 2008, but has amassed quite a dedicated user base. CrashPlan still offers unlimited storage without file size or bandwidth limitations of any kind. They offer rare features not commonly found in online backup, such as the ability to create custom backup sets to send to different locations – such as a local drive or another location as well as online.Excellent Cloud Backup for those wanting to backup to multiple destinations.
- ability to backup to multiple destinations – including a local drive
- supports Windows, MAC and Linux
- unlimited storage without bandwidth or file size limitations
- “Seeded Backup” and “Restore to Your Door” features
- ability to create custom backup sets
- mobile app’s for iOS and Android devices
- free version only allows backup to cloud for 30 days
- no file syncing or file sharing abilities
- multiple destinations can make confusing/complicated
- support may not be as responsive as should be
Access: (Rating: 8/10)
With CrashPlan, users can access backed up files via the CrashPlan Central web interface or the CrashPlan client installed on a computer. With CrashPlan mobile apps, users can access their files backed up to the cloud from anywhere. Files that are updated in the cloud are flagged for update on your mobile device, and with one touch, you have the latest files with you.
Backup: (Rating: 10/10)
Good backup strategies shouldn’t rely on one backup destination, but instead incorporate backing up data both locally and to the cloud. CrashPlan provides this feature and more.
Restore: (Rating: 10/10)
Because a backup is only as good as its ability to restore lost files and folders when needed, CrashPlan provides what they call “Guaranteed Restore Technology” that ensures a backup is ready when you need it. Each night CrashPlan runs integrity checks on backup files and automatically fixes problems. When it can’t fix an issue, the software notifies you via email.
With CrashPlan you have three different ways you can do a restore: Restore files from your desktop, Do a Web Restore, or Do a Guest Restore
Share: (Rating: 0/10)
CrashPlan doesn’t offer file sharing via their online backup product. To learn more about why Crashplan doesn't agree with the trend of file sharing in an online backup and recovery product you can read Code24’s Executive Brief on “Topic of Why File Sync/Share is Not Endpoint Backup”.
Sync: (Rating: 0/10)
As with file sharing, CrashPlan doesn’t offer syncing via their online backup product.
Security: (Rating: 10/10)
Your first line of defense is an account password entered each time the CrashPlan application is launched. From there, CrashPlan uses 128-bit encryption while transferring your data, and 448-bit encryption when data is stored on their cloud servers. Users also have the ability to use a private archive encryption key that is either randomly generated or chosen by the user.
CrashPlan also uses geo-redundant servers located throughout the United States and around the world. These servers comply with military-grade security standards that conform to industry best practices for power redundancy, cooling and fire protection. All CrashPlan data centers follow industry standards for physical access security and are monitored 24/7.
Help & Support: (Rating: 10/10)
CrashPlan provides support ticket, live chat, and phone support. Getting free phone support is important when dealing with a backup or restore issue, and this is something that most other cloud backup providers don’t provide. Granted, it’s not available 24/7, but it’s still better than the lackluster offerings of other backup, sync, and cloud services.
CrashPlan Pricing and Plans
- Unlimited Offsite/Local Backup
- 30 Days of Online Backup
- 128-bit File Encryption
- Available for Windows, Mac and Linux
- Unlimited ONLINE Backup
- Multiple Destination Backup
- 448-bit file encryption
- Available for Windows, Mac and Linux
- Unlimited ONLINE Backup
- Multiple Destination Backup
- 448-bit file encryption
- Available for Windows, Mac and Linux
No Bandwidth Caps
No File Size Restrictions
No File Type Restrictions
Help and Support
Restore Individual Files
Version History: unlimited
NAS Drive Support
External Drive Support
Encrypted File Transfer
Encrypted File Storage
What we Like About CrashPlan
Backup Sets and Multiple Backup Destinations: CrashPlan allows you to create different backup sets of data. For example, you can create one set containing photos that backup to the cloud, and another set that contains large work files that backup to an external hard drive or off-site work computer. You can also select different times to backup different backup sets. Maybe one set is backed up every day and another is backed up on a weekly basis. The list of possible destinations includes CrashPlan Central(online), Friend, Another Computer, and Folder. However, backing up to CrashPlan Central isn’t an option with the free version.
You can have the same backup set go to multiple destinations as well. This is a huge leap forward in data redundancy and the triple security of knowing your data is safe online, offsite, and even on a local drive. It also allows for reduced bandwidth and system resources. But if all of this seems too confusing, just use CrashPlan’s continuous backup to save critical data to CrashPlan Central.
Destinations for Your Backup Setups:
- Friend: You can backup files on your computer to a friend’s computer. All files are encrypted so your friend will not be able to view them or see what you are backing up. Your friend can allot a certain amount of space to you.
- Another Computer: Backup files to another computer within your CrashPlan account.
- Folder: You can backup files to another folder on you computer (to prevent you from accidently deleting or over-writing important files) or to an external hard drive.
- CrashPlan Central: This is the online backup, and you can either signup for a 10GB or unlimited account.
True Unlimited Backup: CCrashPlan is one of few companies offering a truly unlimited backup. They don’t enforce a file size or bandwidth limitation. Other companies, such as Mozy, have either eliminated their unlimited backup option, or implemented bandwidth limitations or individual file size limits on their previously unlimited storage service.
“Seeded Backup”: If you have a lot of data and are concerned about the amount of time and bandwidth it takes to back up everything to CrashPlan Central, use their Seeded Backup option. For $124.99, CrashPlan sends a 1TB drive to connect to your computer. The recipient backs up to the external drive, and when it’s finished, ships it back to CrashPlan. The company will then load everything onto their servers. No worries, your data is encrypted, so no one can see it. You can then set up your computer to incremental backups from that point on.
“Restore to Your Door”: Let’s say you have to do a full system restore, or maybe it's just a large restore and you don’t want to attempt it over the Internet. CrashPlan essentially does the Seeded Backup in reverse. It’s called “Restore to Your Door” and for $124.99 (or $164.99 for overnight delivery), CrashPlan sends a 1TB drive with the requested data. This can save huge amounts of time and frustration if you’re dealing with large restores and slow or troublesome Internet connections.
iOS and Android Devices Apps: CrashPlan released mobile applications for both the iOS and Android smartphones. You can now download, view and share files directly from these mobile devices using the free mobile apps available in their respective app stores.
What we Don't Like about CrashPlan
No Online Backup with Free Version: The free version doesn’t allow users to backup to CrashPlan Central(online). You also can’t set up multiple backup sets with the free version. Even worse, you’ll be bombarded by advertising.
No File Sharing: CrashPlan doesn’t support sharing in it's online backup product. If you want to share files online and collaborate on work, look to SugarSync instead.
No File Syncing: CrashPlan also does not support file sync between computers or devices via it's online backup product.
Complexity: For some users the ability to create multiple backup sets and send them to a variety of destinations with different timing is confusing. If you have a large amount of data, it’s easy to get lost. Sometimes just creating a backup that automatically sends data online is enough.
How to Backup using CrashPlan
One of the best features CrashPlan+ boasts is the ability to not only select what you want backed up, but where you want it backed up to – the cloud, a local drive, a friends computer, another computer on your CrashPlan account, or even to another folder on the same computer.
Automatic File Selection
CrashPlan automatically selects your personal files like music, photos, and documents for backup, but by default doesn’t backup system files. You can manually add any file type to the backup, including system files.
Once file types are selected, CrashPlan continuously watches for changes to your files and works quietly in the background. You can have those changes backed up as often as once per minute.
Efficient with De-duplication
CrashPlan uses data de-duplication to determine what it has already backed up, and what it still needs to back up. CrashPlan breaks files into smaller pieces, analyzing them to determine if it’s already backed up. When it determines that it has already backed up that piece, it moves on to the next piece. The process is Analyze -> Compress and Encrypt -> Transmit -> Store. It continues this process until all data in the file is backed up. By doing this, Crashplan ensures that only unique information is backed up, saving both bandwidth and storage space, and making future restores faster.
Backing Up to Multiple Locations
If you are backing up to more than one location , which is strongly suggested, CrashPlan will prioritize your backup. It will backup files first to local folders, then to computers on the same network, and finally to the Internet or computers connected via Internet.
If you enable backup sets, consider specifying the backup priority. CrashPlan’s goal is to make sure data is backed up to at least one destination before moving onto the next destination. As long as one destination in the set is complete, CrashPlan moves on to back up the other sets.
CrashPlan continuously backs up your files, but you can change this setting to a scheduled backup if you prefer to have more control.
Secure and Safe
All CrashPlan+ backups are encrypted using 448 bit BlowFish encryption. CrashPlan differs from other backup services when it comes to how they handle files that are backed up to their service and then deleted from your hard drive. With CrashPlan they never delete these files from their backup. You have to manually delete them from the backup yourself. This insures that you can always retrieve a file you may delete from your hard drive by mistake.
How to Restore Using CrashPlan
A backup is only as good as it’s ability to restore lost files/folders when needed. This is where CrashPlan excels. They provide Guaranteed Restore Technology that insures your backup is ready when you need it. Each night CrashPlan runs integrity checks on your backup files and automatically fixes problems that it finds. In a case where it can not fix an issue, they notify you via email.
CrashPlan has three different restore options: desktop, web, and guest restore.
Restoring from a desktop can be confusing because of the options available, but this is what makes CrashPlan such a flexible tool.
Restore from Desktop
Doing a restore from your desktop can be a bit confusing because of the options available – but this is what makes CrashPlan such a flexible tool. We've outlined the steps here:
Image courtesy of CrashPlan.com
- Select the “Restore” from your desktop application
- Choose the source from where the files were backed up. This is where you want to restore TO. All computers and devices that you are backing up will be listed in this drop-down.
- Next choose the backup destination. This is where you want to restore FROM. All potential destinations will be listed, including online(CrashPlan Central) if you have the paid version.
- You can now search for specific files you want to restore using the search box, however this is not required. If you don't search for specific files, all files that were backed up will be displayed in the box below the search entry box.
- Check the box next to the file/folder you want to restore.
- If there are multiple versions of the file, you can click on the “most recent” link, and then click on the date and time of the file you want to restore and click “ok”
- Files are restored to your desktop by default. Click on the “desktop” link to select another location to restore the files to if you don't want them going to your desktop. Clicking the “Desktop” link will cycle through the restore location options available. Your options for where to send a restored file include: your desktop, to their original location on your computer or to another folder that you choose.
- By default restored files will replace existing files that it finds in the same location. If you would rather have the file renamed when it is restored, rather than replacing(over-writing) the existing file, you can click on the “Replace” link and it will change to “Rename”.
- Finally click the “Restore” button at the bottom of the screen.
With CrashPlan you can also do restore using the guest restore at a friends computer. You have to physically be at the friends computer to use this option.
How is this option useful? Let’s say you have hard drive failure, but you’ve been backing up your data files to a “friends” computer(this could also be another computer you own in another location – an office for example). Now you can easily go to that friends computer with a USB drive and quickly restore your files and bring them back and restore them onto your new hard drive. Yes, you can use the internet to restore them as well, but using a physical drive is much faster.
The steps involved in using the guest restore are similar to the steps for a desktop restore:
- Click on the “Friends” tab rather than the “Restore” tab
- Select “Guest Restore”
- You will now be prompted to enter your “account password”
- Choose the file from where the file(s) were backed up
- From the backup destination list you will select the destination from where you want to restore the files – in this case your friends computer.
(from this point the steps are the same as the desktop restore)
Use a web browser and the web restore function to restore files from CrashPlan Central(online). You can only do this if you have CrashPlan+. This option is not available with the free version of CrashPlan.
- Open up your web browser.
- Sign into your online CrashPlan account
- Click on the “Computers” tab
- Find the source computer to which you would like to restore files, and press the “Restore button”
- Select the files and folders you want to restore from the file tree. (Note: Web Restore has a 250MB limit per restore.)
- Press “Restore”
Crashplan is a great option for users looking to create redundant locations for their backed up data, and won’t have any problems managing the complexity of it. It is not a file sharing or a file syncing tool, so users will need to keep that in mind. However, CrashPlan provides an unlimited backup solution at a reasonable price.