CrashPlan Review – A flexible multi-platform backup solution

CrashPlan is a multi-platform backup solution written by Code 42 software. The software has been available for approximately a year but I just discovered it recently. It seems like I’m always searching for a backup solution that will meet my requirements. In the past I’ve always had to compromise or use multiple different solutions. My basic requirements are:
  • Software that is easy to use and reliable
  • Software that is compatible with Windows and Macintosh computers
  • Offsite backups are preferred, however local backups to a central server is acceptable. Since I have multiple home computers, including laptops, I’d prefer not to rely on external hard drives.


As a home user I have two different types of files I’d like to backup. Smaller text based documents and much larger multimedia files. In the past I’ve used several remote backup solutions, for example Mozy, to backup the smaller files. I used a synchronization product, foldershare, to automatically create multiple copies of the larger multimedia files to other computers I owned.

CrashPlan offers several unique features that allow it to meet all my requirements. It’s one of the few backup solutions that support Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also supports backing up to other computers you own, your friends’ computers, or to CrashPlan’s servers.

Off-site backups help protect from local disasters. Some examples of local disasters would be flooding, fire, a power surge, or more severe like an earth quake. For home users off-site backups can be expensive and are very slow.

Remote backup services are becoming more inexpensive and are now available for under $10 a month. However even with broadband the time it takes to backup, and perform restores, is still a major issue. Backing up 20 gigs of data to a remote backup solution could take weeks and restoring this data could take several days.

CrashPlan has a solution to both of these issues by allowing you to backup to other computers you own, your friends’ computers, or an folder on a second internal or external drive . It allows you to perform the initial backup locally to another computer in hours instead of weeks. Than you can create another copy of your data to a second remote location. You could also take your computer, or the backup on an external device, to the remote location for the initial backup or to do a large restore if necessary. Since you are backing up to another computer you own or a friends’ computer the most likely it there will be no additional cost for storage.

Backups are compressed and encrypted before they are sent to the remote computer and are stored in an encrypted format. So if you are backing up to a friends’ computer or CrashPlan’s servers they won’t be able to read your data. Previously when I was using a synchronization program for large files I could only use computers I owned. This is because the data was readable on the remote computer.

CrashPlan offers two versions of their software, a free basic version and a Crashplan+. The major difference is the basic version only performs daily backups and saves the most recent copy. The pro version performs backups more frequently, every 15 minutes by default, and stores multiple versions of the files. The basic version is free and CrashPlan+ is $60. You only have to license the computers you are backing up. It’s free to run the client that is only used as a backup destination. You can also backup to CrashPlan’s servers for approximately $5 per month.

My new backup solution is to backup my home machines to a local file server. I have access to remote server which holds a second copy of the data. This ensures I have a local source to perform quick backups and restores. Plus just in case I have a second remote off-site backup.

Updated 10/2009:

I’ve been using CrashPlan on windows and mac computers for well over a year now. The program has been easy to use and has worked with no problems. They have been providing updates improving the product and adding new features quarterly. If you need a backup solution I’d recommend testing CrashPlan. It’s easy to use, reliable, and flexible enough to meet most users, and their friends, needs. They also have a similar solution available for business users.

Comments

  1. Thank you for the write-up, and the update! I’ve been looking for an alternative to Mozy that supports Linux, and CrashPlan looks like just the thing.

  2. Yes, thanks for the nice write-up, and especially the update! It is good to know that after many months of usage you are still satisfied with Crashplan. I intend to use it to replace Retrospect.

  3. Ginny Newsom says:

    I am wondering if you have reinstalled your data with this system. I know some programs seem great until you have to access the stored data. then the problems kick in. Have you had any experieinces with that? Thanks for your comments.
    G

  4. I’ve performed restores from Crashplan’s servers as well as another computer I own. The restore from Crashplan’s servers was a few small documents, less than a meg. The files were restored in less than a minute after I hit the restore button. I’ve done a few larger restores from a second computer I own. These worked fine as well.

    Probably the biggest advantage Crashplan offers is the ability to backup to multiple destinations. You can quickly backup to, and restore from, a second computer, usb thumb drive, or external hard drive for free. Then also to be safe backup to a different location, either a friends computer or Crashplan’s servers. Backups and restores to other locations will be slower but still work well.

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