Available For Mac, Windows, Linux, and Solaris
Mac Desktop Version Reviewed: 3.0.3
Licence Reviewed: US$49.99 – CrashPlan+ Unlimited 1 Year Subscription
Think of CrashPlan as insurance. You may not need it today. You hope you will never need it. You will be glad you have it, when you need it.
Besides death and taxes the other assurance in life is one day your hard drive will fail. That also includes the newest hard drive technology: SSD (Solid State Drive). Your computer may be stolen, and you may be a victim of a home fire or natural disaster. Don’t let your precious files, family photographs, and videos become victims also.
CrashPlan is one of the most complete backup packages I have come across. The most amazing part is you get full control over every aspect of your data. The online storage and corresponding application work seamlessly delivering a level of simplicity rarely seen in such a powerful service.
Depending on the data bandwidth you allocate the initial backup may be rather slow. It must be remembered that upload data speeds are in many cases lower than that of download speeds and in some cases by a significant margin. Therefore, depending on the volume of files you intend on backing up, the initial backup process may take hours, days, or even months to complete.
Imagine doing a local backup to a USB drive of all your important data. If you have a 1 Terabyte hard drive then this process will take a good few hours to complete. Backing up the same volume of data over a limited speed internet connection will take a very long time.
If you simply can not wait or do not wish to assign such a high level of bandwidth to your backup procedure then CrashPlan also has you covered. A service they call seeding allows the user at a cost to request a drive to be shipped from CrashPlan in order to undertake the initial backup. Upon receipt of the drive the team at CrashPlan will merge the information to their servers and users will be able to instantly access and continue backing up to their account. This process takes a couple of days. Even if your data is confidential in nature and you don’t wish to simply send the drive through the assigned courier service there is no need to worry as your data is securely encrypted on your computer before it is transferred to the drive CrashPlan sends you.
Likewise, CrashPlan can do restores of your data by shipping out the most up to date backup on a hard drive. This is a perfect solution should you need the information immediately and don’t have the bandwidth available or time to be without the data. This is also a paid service but one many users will no doubt appreciate. The only limitation is these options are not available in all regions. Even if you are outside of these regions the as low as US$3.00 per month unlimited plan is very appealing.
When performing backups the most recently modified data will be transferred first. This is incredibly useful as this information will generally be projects you are currently working on and therefore can not live without. One would assume that any data which is older has previously been backed up via other means. It should always be remembered that a single backup solution is not enough. Despite the flexibility and power of this service and the software it is imperative that you also have other backup solutions.
Users can also start restoring their data almost immediately, even when the initial backup is still in progress. This is a perfect solution for the moment where you accidentally delete or misplace an important file, or in the worst case scenario your hard drive dies. At least this way you can access as much of the content as possible. This depends on how many files have already been successfully backed up.
Another incredible feature is the ability to add or remove content from the backup procedure even when it is currently transferring. Many users would be used to stopping a process like this when using their computer and an external drive. Generally, it takes a couple of minutes to stop the transfer. CrashPlan doesn’t skip a beat. It simply makes the changes and gets back to business.
CrashPlan comes in a variety of options. Depending on your needs they have services to fit all budgets and sizes. All the way from a free plan to complete enterprise solutions. CrashPlan+ Unlimited is the cornerstone of this review and comes in three different packages as shown below:
The low cost of the service is nothing short of amazing. Besides the entry level plan you have the ability to backup an unlimited amount of data. Competing services also offer similar deals. Where CrashPlan becomes the leader of the pack is the ability to select files and folders which are located on external drives. Many of the competing services will only allow users to back up their main bootable drive or the drive which their client application resides on.
The setup process was seamless and I was able in a matter of minutes to begin my first backup to the service. All I needed to do was chose the directory, folder, or series of files and the upload commenced. Through the application users are given access to a plethora settings and vital information.
Users are shown the status of their backup including the options which have completed, such as a local backup. Those which are ongoing are also presented, such as the initial backup to the CrashPlan servers. Pausing the backup is also available through this interface. This is handy for when high bandwidth processes are taking place, such as video conferencing. Should you forget to un-pause the backup procedure, the application will continue the backup from where it left off exactly 24 hours after being paused. The team at CrashPlan have thought of everything to secure your data.
You may be wondering what file size limitations the CrashPlan service has. The good news is there is no limitation. You can take those excessively large video files and CrashPlan will back them up and handle them with ease.
Online backup to the CrashPlan servers is but one of a series of options available to users. The application contains everything you will need to backup your computer to another computer you own, a external or network attached hard drive, or you may have other third party online storage solutions you would like to use such as DropBox. You can also invite friends or family to backup their data to your computer or a drive connected to your computer with this application.
Initially, I was concerned over this option. In reflection I feel this is a perfect solution for friends and family members who do not, and generally will not, backup unless forced to or until such time as they experience their first data loss.
CrashPlan incorporates a high level of encryption regardless of the selected backup method. User’s data will be encrypted on their hard drive with a 448-bit Blowfish encryption algorithm prior to transfer. Then during the transfer this data will have another layer of encryption added which is at a rate of 128-bit. Whilst no encryption method can be one hundred percent secure, you can be assured that your data is in good hands with CrashPlan. The encryption used is superior to many online purchasing and banking encryption options.
Considering the application is free it is impressive to see such control and security over users’ data. You would expect an application with this functionality to be an additional cost rather than being supplemented in the service.
Recovery is one of the most important areas we need to look at. There is no use having a fantastic service on paper if you are unable to get back your data quickly and adequately. Users have no concerns here either. Remember your information is encrypted prior to leaving your hard drive therefore making it irrelevant where the data is saved. Be that on an external drive or on the CrashPlan servers, no individual will be able to restore or read the content until a request is made directly from your account.
Users can use the CrashPlan application or log in to the website remotely in order to restore any data. You can restore a single file or the entire collection of your files and folders. This is perfectly suited for people who are travelling for business and need to access that backed up presentation for instance. Having restored from both the application and website I can assure everyone that this is not a complicated process and works seamlessly.
In addition to a standard restore you can also bring back different versions of a particular file. This makes going back to that document from one week ago a simple solution. Users of the versioning can also determine the frequency in which file versions will be backed up along with disabling the functionality.
It is important that you make sure the email account you use with CrashPlan is still accessible on a regular basis. Should an error in the transmission of your data occur you will be automatically emailed with the problem at hand, with instructions on how to rectify the problem.
Another significant feature of the CrashPlan service is they will store your files forever. Even when you delete them. This results in users being able to access their content no matter how much time has elapsed. This is just simply incredible and completely takes away the human error factor which can result in permanent loss of data. You may be concerned with this procedure but CrashPlan will delete your deleted files permanently upon request.
Additional built-in options also allow duplicated files to be a thing of the past and a complete history of every event is available in the application.
The best part of CrashPlan is it is a set and forget backup option. With that in mind it is recommended that you access your backups on a regular basis to make sure your information is in intact and still readable.
If you’re still not entirely sure the service is for you, you can always try the 30-day Free Trial which will give you full non-restrictive access to the capabilities of the software and the CrashPlan service. There is also no long term contract to contend with. If you are not completely satisfied they allow you to easily cancel at anytime and the funds from any unused months will be immediately forwarded to your credit card.
This service is as professional as they come. From as little as US$3.00 per month for an unlimited plan you will be foolish not to sign up to the service. The advertised product is exactly what you get and it works remarkably well. Therefore I will be awarding this title a rare MyMac review rating of 10 out of a possible 10.
I just started my second year of Crashplan service. I love it. Took one week for the initial backup, but I was out of town while it backed up so it just kept running. I also have my grandmother’s photo files backing up to my computer which then goes to Crashplan. That might take a while since she refuses to leave the computer on all of the time ( 🙂 ). Slowly but surely.
I agree 10 out of 10 from me too. Great pricing and great customer service.
I was a happy customer thinking Crashplan had my back until my hard drive crashed. When Crashplan sent me my restore disk ($124) whole directories were missing, including all my photos from 2006 and my entire music folder (THOUSANDS of files). And all Crashplan has to say to date is that something “went wrong during the monthly maintenance that purged a chunk of your data but we don’t know why because the logs exceed the 3-week window.” Really? What kind of insurance is that? Ticket #81325.
UPDATE: Upon further investigation, today Crashplan has determined the cause of the purge and took steps to restore my missing folders to my backup archive. I’m thrilled. They are sending me a Fast Restore drive with all my files – free of charge – AND refunding the $124 I paid for the original Fast Restore drive that had the missing folders. Still waiting to understand WHY the error occurred and what measures are being taken to prevent it from happening in the future. My decision to stay with Crashplan, and my continued endorsement of Crashplan to my circle of influence, hinges on it.