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Reviews and expert opinion CrashPlan

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo Cloud Hosting Expert

CrashPlan is a great cloud backup option for any small business with up to 199 employees. It’s secure, easy to use, and offers unlimited cloud backup for your entire company. Its fast, automatic backups set CrashPlan apart, but you have to pay per device and it does cost a bit more than some competitors.

Overview

Set-It-and-Forget-It Cloud Backup for Your Small Business

CrashPlan home page
CrashPlan is a convenient way to protect your small business’s data

There are a lot of cloud backup services out there that claim they have what it takes to protect your small business’s data. But most of those focus on home backup first and small-business plans second. CrashPlan is different. CrashPlan is a cloud backup solution specifically for small businesses.

It’s designed to make sure you never lose your data, and to make life easy for you and your employees. Automatic backups won’t suck up time or bandwidth. Unlimited versioning means your files won’t ever be deleted unless you delete them. Restores are easy for any user, in the office or on the go. Pay-per-device pricing is straightforward.

And oh yeah, it offers unlimited cloud backup with some of the best security in the business.

CrashPlan works with Mac, Windows, and Linux, and can back up computers, servers, and external drives. It’s intended to protect files you “create, edit, and access,” so things like documents, projects, photos, and videos. But it can’t back up the files that make your computer tick, like operating system files and application files.

If you’re looking for a cloud backup that will take a mirror image of each and every device on your account, look elsewhere. But if what you’re after is automatic, easy-to-use protection for your company’s most important files, read on to find out if CrashPlan is your backup plan.

4.3

Features

What It Lacks in Quantity It Makes Up for in Quality

Data Server Locations US and Australia
Backup and Restore Options Continuous (default), scheduled (optional), offline backup, backup from external drive, backup reports, idle backup options
Limits and Restrictions File type restrictions, bandwidth throttling,
Applications and Operating Systems Windows, macOS, Linux; iOS and Android apps
Encryption Keys 256-bit AES, private encryption keys available
File Access Web, desktop application, mobile devices
File Sharing Yes
CrashPlan features
CrashPlan has limited features, but they’re designed with your small business in mind

CrashPlan doesn’t offer as many features as some of its competitors, but it still has a number of quality options designed to make your life easier.

You can set your CPU usage to throttle bandwidth during transfers. This is helpful if you’re running a backup while your computer is active because your upload will use less processing power. It’s also helpful because CrashPlan can speed up transfers when your computer is idle. This is great for overnight transfers, but your device still needs to be turned on and connected to the internet.

For added peace of mind, CrashPlan offers ransomware recovery. If you’re hacked and your files are held for ransom, CrashPlan will restore your files to the latest version and you won’t have to pay a bounty to set them free.

And you can manage and restore files from anywhere, 24/7, via the desktop app or any internet-connected device.

These features are great, but let’s dig a little deeper into what makes CrashPlan tick.

Backups

CrashPlan will back up all subscribed desktops, laptops, and servers, and it will back up your external hard drives for free. It can also back up network-attached storage (NAS) on Mac and Linux, but not Windows. But you can’t back up mobile devices.

There are no file-size restrictions, so back up whatever you want, whenever you want. However, CrashPlan isn’t meant for backing up operating system files, application files, and such, so there are system-level file-type restrictions.

With CrashPlan hybrid backup, you can back up files to multiple destinations, be it the CrashPlan cloud or your local computers, hard drives, or mapped drives. Once your backups are complete, you’ll have the same files at each location. However, you cannot share or sync files between devices.

I really like that CrashPlan gives you a real-time backup status report on the desktop app. You can also have backup reports sent to you by email. The report shows how many GB (or TB) are getting backed up, the current completion percentage, estimated time remaining, and a description of the current file being uploaded.

Backup Scheduling

By default, CrashPlan runs automatic, continuous backups. These “smart” backups use a real-time file watcher to protect the files you’re currently working on first. You can set continuous backup frequency to be anywhere from every 15 minutes to once a day.

If you don’t want continuous backups, you can schedule backups to run at specific times on specific days. You can manage your backup schedule from both the desktop app and online console.

CrashPlan backup scheduler
Scheduling backups is simple with CrashPlan

Restores

One great thing about CrashPlan is that restoring files is easy for any user. You can restore from any desktop app or browser with just a few clicks. And you’ll never have to pay for a restore with CrashPlan, unlike some competitors.

CrashPlan will retain as many versions of your files as you choose, so you can restore previous versions as needed. And it will keep your files and versions backed up for as long as you want, even if you delete the original file from your computer. Not many competitors give you this level of file protection and retention (See Ease of Use for more.)

While it will not back up mobile devices, CrashPlan has a mobile app (for iOS and Android) that lets you restore backed-up files on the go.

Unfortunately, CrashPlan doesn’t offer a courier recovery service, so you can’t get offline restores, like you can with some competitors, such as Acronis True Image.

Security

Your password is your first level of defense when it comes to security, but CrashPlan gives you the option of setting up two-factor authentication and a custom encryption key. CrashPlan stores default encryption keys in a dedicated vault that’s separate from your user data and administrative data, but you have full control of your custom key.

CrashPlan encrypts your files using 256-bit AES encryption, which is the US National Institute of Standards and Technology standard. It encrypts your files at their source and keeps them encrypted during backups, restores, and at rest.

Another security measure CrashPlan takes is a 5-minute sign-out timer on its desktop app. This feature is designed to help prevent malware and phishing attempts. (See the Performance and Support sections to read about my experience with this.)

The 5-minute sign-out timer isn’t the most user-friendly feature, but it’s one of the reasons CrashPlan is right up there with the competition when it comes to security.

Data Center Security

Your small business’s data will be stored in a CrashPlan data center in either the US or Australia. But no data is transferred between data centers. CrashPlan owns and operates all aspects of its data centers, from cloud stack software to servers, networks, and security.

Its platforms and product code go through rigorous quality tests, and it conducts annual audits on its products and infrastructure. CrashPlan is also an ISO027001-certified organization, which means it meets leading international standards for information security.

4.7

Ease of use

Smooth Sailing after Setup

Setting up your CrashPlan account and adding users and devices takes a number of steps and is a bit slow, but once you’re set up, everything is pretty simple.

Automatic backups make life easy, and CrashPlan offers some great ease-of-use features to help you customize your experience.

Easy File Selection for Backup

If you want CrashPlan to back up every supported folder and file on your device(s), just leave it be and let it get to work. If you prefer to pick and choose what gets backed up, CrashPlan makes it easy with its Manage Files option on the desktop app.

CrashPlan Manage Files button
Manage the files you back up with the click of a button

Manage Files gives you a file-tree view of your entire device. It’s simple to navigate by clicking on drive, user, folder, and file names, and it’s easy to choose what gets backed up by checking or unchecking the boxes on the left. A red symbol on the right indicates that the folder isn’t supported for backup.

CrashPlan file selection for backup
Just tick the box to select folders and files for your CrashPlan backup

Versioning and File Retention

One of my favorite things about CrashPlan is that you control how many versions you keep and how long your files are retained.

CrashPlan’s default version retention is set at every 30 minutes for your newest files, with daily versions after 1 week, weekly versions after 90 days, and monthly versions after a year. But changing those settings is easy, if you prefer more- or less-frequent versioning.

CrashPlan Frequency and Version settings
I love how easy it is to control your version and file retention with CrashPlan

How long CrashPlan keeps your files (and your backed-up versions) depends on your Remove deleted files selection. CrashPlan sets this to “Never” by default, which means it will keep your files forever even if you delete them from your device. You can change it to be as often as every day, if you want.

Backup Sets

Another great CrashPlan feature is the ability to create different backup sets for different locations and groups of users. So, for example, if you want your Finance team to see files related to your business’s bottom line but you don’t want Sales to have access, you can create a backup set so those files are only backed up and accessible for Finance.

While this will make life easier when it comes to access security, you have to take some complicated steps to achieve it and keep your backups running smoothly.

Setting Up an Account

Setting up an account and installing CrashPlan is easy, but it takes longer than some other cloud backups. And adding users and devices, as well as adjusting settings, can get tedious.

Once you’ve signed up, you’re redirected to your online console so you can add devices or users. Since I’m a one-man show, I chose to add one device: my MacBook Pro.

CrashPlan Add User and Device
Adding devices and users on the CrashPlan console can take some time

To install CrashPlan, you’ll have to select and download the appropriate installer for your operating system. With Macs, you need to manually give CrashPlan (Code42) full disk access in your computer’s privacy settings or it won’t be able to back up all your files.

Mac full disk access privacy settings
I don’t like that CrashPlan doesn’t automatically get full disk access to a Mac

In order to start a backup, you’ll need to add a destination (or destinations) for the backup by clicking the Add destinations link on the desktop app.

CrashPlan Add destinations link
CrashPlan requires you to choose a backup destination

You have the option of backing up your data to either CrashPlan PRO Online (the cloud) or to a local destination, meaning any local device, external hard drive, server, or mapped drive.

But your initial backup can’t be done to an external drive, so it will only occur while your computer is on and connected to the internet. While this could take days, weeks, or even months, CrashPlan runs in the background, so it won’t impact your company’s performance.

You can manage the heck out of your backups and settings from both the online console and desktop app. The online console lets you do everything you can do on the desktop, plus manage your subscription, users and devices, reports, and more.

CrashPlan gives you a lot of settings options, but some of them can get confusing, so you may want to leave that part to your IT specialist.

4.6

Performance

Competitive Speeds but Limited Functionality

CrashPlan says you can expect to back up an average of 10GB of data per day as long as your computer is running and connected to the internet. I wanted to see for myself what it could do, so I ran three backups on three different days, at different times, to see if day of the week and time of day impacted performance.

Before starting, I unchecked everything in my file tree except a 3GB folder of documents, photos, and videos on my desktop.

CrashPlan folder selection for backup
Select folders and files for backup with a few clicks

I started my first backup at 8:45 on a Monday morning, and I was shocked to see how quickly CrashPlan backed up my 3GB: just 33 minutes. This was 20 minutes faster than IDrive and more than three hours faster than Carbonite for the same test.

Based on my tests, I’d say time of day and day of the week might impact backup speeds, but I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that CrashPlan is faster than IDrive and Carbonite.

Unfortunately, CrashPlan doesn’t notify you when a backup is complete. But you’ll get a message on the desktop app when it’s done that tells you how long ago it finished and how many files and GB (or TB) were backed up. You can also choose to receive backup reports from your online console, but these aren’t in real time.

CrashPlan backup completion update
CrashPlan tells you when a backup finished but doesn’t send notification

I’m going to dig down into the details now, but you can skip ahead to the Restoring Files section if you’re in a hurry.

My normal internet speeds are 8Mbps for uploads and 29Mbps for downloads. CrashPlan claims it doesn’t throttle bandwidth (unless you change your CPU usage), but a speed test during my backup showed speeds a bit slower than normal (7.26Mbps for uploads, 24.1Mbps for downloads).

I ran my second test with the same 3GB folder on Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. This test clocked in at 42 minutes, nine minutes longer than my Monday-morning backup. CrashPlan doesn’t have fair use limits, so I can only assume time of day and internet traffic caused the slower upload.

My third and final test came on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. This backup took 38 minutes. I was surprised by this middle-ground result since my internet speeds were faster on Sunday (7.55Mbps uploads, 30Mbps downloads).

Restoring Files

As soon as your backup is complete, your data is immediately available for restore. But even though you can see what you’ve backed up down to the file level, you can’t actually access and open any backed-up files in the CrashPlan interface. Carbonite provides this type of functionality, and I’d love to see it with CrashPlan too.

CrashPlan file-level view
I wish you could open your backed-up files from the CrashPlan interface

With my backups in the books, I tried a restore to see how easy it would be and how long it would take. I clicked the Restore Files button on the desktop app to get started.

CrashPlan Restore Files button
Starting a CrashPlan restore just takes a click of the Restore Files button

I selected my 3GB folder and CrashPlan brought up a window with Restore File Options. These include selecting where you want the files restored, renaming files if they already exist in that location, and adjusting permissions.

By default, CrashPlan restores to your Downloads folder, but you can restore to any location on your computer by clicking Other in the Save selected files to dropdown. I chose to download my restore to a “CrashPlan Restore” folder I had created.

CrashPlan Restore Files Option - save selected files to location
Picking your restore location with CrashPlan couldn’t be easier

I started my restore at 1:15 p.m. on a Wednesday and it took CrashPlan 58 minutes to download my 3GB back to my computer. This was surprising given my backup speeds.

One thing that drove me crazy about CrashPlan was that I got kicked out of the desktop app over and over again. This happened when I tried to manage files, restore files, change settings, or even just go to the home screen. And each time, I had to log back in. I submitted a support ticket and found out this is part of the CrashPlan security protocol. (See the Support section for more.)

Deleting files with CrashPlan is easy and immediate: Just uncheck the box next to what you no longer want backed up. CrashPlan will then give you a warning to ask if you really want to permanently delete the files. This second step makes it a pretty foolproof process.

4.5

Privacy

Compliant and on Par with the Competition

Upon signup, CrashPlan needs details about you and your small business – just the basics. You’ll also need to add a payment method to your account.

CrashPlan signup Business Info
CrashPlan collects basic info about you and your business upon signup

CrashPlan will use your personal data to provide you with its products and services, evaluate your usage to improve user experience, and potentially contact you with tailored advertising for products and services that might interest you.

CrashPlan will not sell your personal data, but it will share it as necessary to operate its business. This means it may share your personal data with affiliates and business partners in order to provide products and services. It may also share your data if required by law.

CrashPlan is subject to the regulatory enforcement powers of the US Federal Trade Commission. It will help your small business meet a number of compliance requirements, including, but not limited to:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The compliance side of CrashPlan gives you peace of mind, but I don’t love the loopholes in the privacy policy that allow the company to share your personal data for marketing purposes. That said, it’s basically what you’ll find with all cloud backups, and you can opt out of marketing if you want.

4.3

Support

Limited Options, but Support Is Solid

CrashPlan has some moderately helpful support articles, FAQs, and how-to videos, but when it comes to actual human support, your options are limited to online chat and support tickets. There’s no phone support unless you’ve already created a ticket or you need immediate disaster-relief restore.

There are no help options on the desktop app, so you have to use the online help desk for all your support needs.

Once you finally find the help desk (bring a GPS and a snack), click Create a Ticket to get technical support or request things like restore help. You can create a ticket 24/7, but the response time varies depending on the severity of your issue.

To start a live chat with one of CrashPlan’s “Customer Champions,” you have to click the floating Support button on the right. Live chat is available Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central time.

CrashPlan Cloud Backup Review
CrashPlan’s help desk isn’t easy to find

The help desk also lets you manage your account, see CrashPlan product updates, watch how-to videos, and more.

I created a ticket to ask about my issue with the desktop app kicking me out over and over again. Since CrashPlan makes sure “urgent matters get the fastest response… based on the severity of the issue,” I figured I might be waiting a while. I was wrong. I got a response within 24 hours.

CrashPlan Cloud Backup Review
CrashPlan’s Customer Champions identify your issues and provide solutions

Turns out, the reason I got kicked out of the app is the 5-minute sign-out timer I mentioned before. Despite it being annoying during use, this feature actually boosts my confidence in CrashPlan’s security. The Customer Champion gave me the steps to shut it off, if I wanted to.

He also went out of his way to identify a potential future issue based on the way I had configured my CrashPlan installation. And he again provided me with steps to fix it.

I also contacted chat support with some basic questions that I couldn’t find answers to in any support articles or FAQs. The agent was polite and knowledgeable and was able to quickly answer all my questions. He also emailed me a transcript of our chat.

I wish CrashPlan had a support phone number, 24/7, or even weekend support, and that its articles and FAQs were a bit easier to find and navigate. But based on my experiences with submitting a ticket and live chat, the human support it does have is very good.

4.2

Pricing

Simple Pricing That Lets You Scale Up with Ease

CrashPlan pricing
CrashPlan has straightforward pricing, but it’s a bit pricey

CAPTION TEXT: CrashPlan has straightforward pricing, but it’s a bit pricey

CrashPlan for Small Business has the most basic pricing structure going. It’s $10.00 per month per computer or server. And CrashPlan says the price will never change. It also lets you back up external hard drives for free.

There’s no annual contract. No cost for install or restore. No tiered-plan structure where you have to pay more to get more.

While some competitors offer lower prices, you’ll quickly find yourself restricted by data limits, catches, and annual contracts.

You can add or remove computers and servers at will with CrashPlan, and your company’s monthly bill will be automatically adjusted.

CrashPlan also gives you a free 30-day trial, so you can decide if it’s right for you and your business before committing. However, you do have to provide your payment details up front, and you’ll be automatically charged after the trial ends.

CrashPlan accepts most major credit cards as well as PayPal. It does not accept Bitcoin, bags of coins, or other alternative forms of payment.

Comparison

How does CrashPlan match up to the competition?

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CrashPlan REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

CrashPlan is a great cloud backup option for any small business with up to 199 employees. It’s secure, easy to use, and offers unlimited cloud backup for your entire company. Its fast, automatic backups set CrashPlan apart, but it does cost a bit more than some competitors.

While there’s a lot to like about CrashPlan, it does have some downfalls. You can’t back up mobile devices, you can’t share or sync files between devices, there’s no courier recovery service, and its support options are limited.

But if you’re looking for unlimited, automatic backup for your small business that gives you security and peace of mind, CrashPlan is worth the price of admission.

FAQ

Is cloud backup beneficial for businesses?Absolutely. Cloud backup is designed to protect your business’s data from all potential threats, including hackers, natural disasters, computer crashes, and deletions by disgruntled employees. Think of cloud backup as a safe haven for copies of your most important data. So if a file gets deleted from your device or held for ransom by a ransomware attack, there’s no need to worry because you have it backed up in the cloud and available for easy recovery.How much cloud storage is enough?This totally depends on what you need to back up (and it’s a bit like asking how long is a piece of string!) 250GB is a good starting point if you have one computer and just want to back up things like documents, photos, and videos. Double that if you need to back up an entire drive and system image. If you’re a power user, have lots of data, or have a small business with multiple computers and users, consider plans with at least 5-10TB, though an unlimited-data plan might be more cost effective.Is CrashPlan good for large businesses?No. CrashPlan is designed for small businesses with up to 199 employees. If you need a cloud backup service for a business with more than 199 employees, CrashPlan’s parent company, Code42, does offer a large-business alternative called Code42 Enterprise. Other cloud storage providers, such as Acronis, Backblaze and iDrive offer solutions for large businesses. You can see other options in our list of the best cloud backup and storage solutions for 2022.Does CrashPlan have unlimited backup?Yes, CrashPlan offers unlimited-data cloud backup for files you and your users “create, edit, and access,” so things like documents, projects, photos, and videos. It’s not for backing up entire drives or system images, so despite unlimited backup, you can’t create a mirror-image backup.

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo
Josh is a longtime writer and editor with experience in everything from content writing and copywriting to screenwriting. He has an MBA and loves analyzing and overthinking everything. His passions include creative writing, film and TV, sports, spreadsheets, and most of all, spending time with friends and family by the lake. Josh grew up in Maine, lived in California for many years, and now calls jolly-old England home.

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