Crashplan+ Review

This is a short review of Crashplan+, which is an online backup service from the fine folks at Code42.

The really, really short version is that you should go get your credit card and buy at least a year subscription right now.

Quick survey:

Do you have any important photos on your computer?
Do you have more than a few songs you’ve purchased that you love?
Do you have a few videos of your kids that only exist on your hard drive?
How about those important tax or accounting documents for your small business?

If you answered yes to these questions then you should be backing up your computer(s). Seriously. There is one thing that all hard drives do – fail.

Most common drives in a computer are mechanical – which means there are moving parts within that little box that spin around at speeds greater than 5,400 rotations per minute! These parts are moving all the time when you using your computer. Eventually, this drive will go toes-up and stop working. If your super lucky (winning-the-lottery-lucky) you might be able to get data off the drive when it breaks. Even better, you might be able to go long enough on that drive without it breaking to get a new computer and start the spin of the roulette wheel all over again.

The great news is that on-site backups have been super easy to set up for the last few years. On-site means a backup of the information on the drive inside of your computer to another drive (most likely an external drive that is attached via a USB cable) that stays relatively near the computer. Here in the Koerner house, both my wife and I backup our computers to little Seagate drives that are tucked next our monitors. Software like Time Machine and Windows Backup and Restore are great solutions that you can set up and forget about. They work diligently in the background making copies of your photos, pictures and documents as you work.

Sounds great right? You’re saying, “Well now I have my stuff in two locations, so the odds of both those drives going bad is slim.”

Well, that’s true. Having your data on two drive is a smart idea. Just like putting on your seatbelt when driving. But how many of us have a car that has airbags as well?

That’s what Crashplan+ is. Airbags for your computer…Wait, that doesn’t make sense. Let me explain.

On-site backups are great if your problem is just a hard drive gone bad, but if your system is stolen or damaged you’re still toast. Now you only have one copy of your data. Natural disasters aren’t very picky when it comes to damage. Most likely, if your house is flooded the same drive you back up to will be damaged. Off-site backups are backups stored somewhere other than where you computer spends it’s time – preferably in a geographically separate location.

Off-site backups complement on-site backups. They give you another layer of security when it comes to the integrity of your data. If something happens to your computer and the local on-site backup (like theft or the aforementioned flood) your data is still safe somewhere else.

So, back to Crashplan+. I had been looking for an off-site solution, but none of them were as easy as on-site backups via Time Machine. Either the software looked funky or the billing was confusing. How many gigabytes and how often were things backed up? Ugh. So then I heard about Crashplan+ from a friend of mine.

I downloaded their 30-day trial and began to back up all of my important files. Their software and billing is easy to understand and after checking the files I wanted to back up it was off. A few days later (for me it was around 20 days – I used the super fast connection at my work to do most of the backup. For home users it might take a bit longer.) I had my most important documents securely stored on redundant servers somewhere miles away. Now every time I import some new photos into iPhoto or some new songs into iTunes, Crashplan+ waits for changes and then without much fanfare begins to back them up for me. If something happens I can order a drive with my data to be delivered to my door, or use their tool to restore my files to a new hard drive.

Some of my favorite features:

  • You can tell it what to ignore and what to watch or just let it backup everything. Very customizable if you want to ignore some files (Apps you can download again for example).
  • There is no limit to the amount of space you can use for backups. With my recent purchase of a new laptop my local backup drive was too small. With Crashplan+ I’ll never have a ‘too small’ drive that won’t hold my backups.
  • Accessing my backups is super easy. I can do so through their app on my computer, or in an emergency from a web browser on any computer. I can download a whole folder or just a few files within minutes. This already saved my bacon when I absent-mindedly deleted my daughter and I’s most important Minecraft world.
  • They also recently launched mobile apps for Android and iOS that allow you to view your files ala Dropbox. The advantage over Dropbox is that it’s all of your files – not just a single folder.
  • It’s also fairly inexpensive. I subscribed to a 2-year Crashplan+ Unlimited plan for $89.99. That’s less than $4 a month to make sure all my photos, songs and documents are safe.

So give Crashplan+ a try. My experience has been nothing but positive. The service is by a bunch of nice folks working in Minneapolis, MN making software I forget about – and it helps me get sleep at night. How could you not like it?


This article was written while listening to Kina Grannis – Stairwells