In late August 2017, I received a nasty birthday present. I learned that CrashPlan, my beloved online backup service, was shutting down its Home plan. I have been a CrashPlan user since 2011, so needless to say I was not happy about this. I knew I needed to look at CrashPlan alternatives, but frankly it took me a few months to decide what I wanted to do.
If it was just me involved it would be one thing, but over the years I have recommended CrashPlan in blog posts, cheat sheets, products, webinars, public speaking, and to friends and family.
Countless people have signed up for CrashPlan because I use it, and for this reason I was/am quadruply annoyed at this situation.
Why was I Using CrashPlan?
Online backup plays an important role in my data security setup. My backup system consists of 3 key components:
- Local backup: I have an external hard drive connected to my computer, and do an automatic backup to that every hour. It’s just fastest and easiest to have this data locally if I need it.
- Clone backup: I also have a backup drive connected to my computer that takes an exact copy of my drive. That way if my drive bites it, I don’t have to lose any time. I can boot from my clone and be up and running in minutes, and then I can worry about getting my drive repaired/replaced and copy my clone back to it.
- Offsite backup: I want to have my data backed up to somewhere far away from my physical location. If I have a fire or a flood at home, chances are whatever happens to my computer will also happen to my local backups. This is especially important living where I do (Vancouver) which is due for a “big one” earthquake someday. I have found online backup the easiest and most convenient way to accomplish this, and this is what CrashPlan did for me.
What CrashPlan Alternatives Did I Consider?
There are many, many offsite backup strategies to use, but I still wanted to use online backup (glutton for punishment, I suppose).
For me, there were three services that I thought about.
This would be the easiest option since I already have and know CrashPlan and my data is already there. I also like their data retention policies. The price would (eventually) be double than what I was paying for CrashPlan’s Home plan, but I could live with that.
I was tempted to take them up on the 75% off for the first year option to give myself some more time.
At the end of the day though, I don’t want to keep giving money to a company that has annoyed me so much. I know this is a purely emotional response, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Also, one thing I do not like about CrashPlan is their Java client. The silver lining of the CrashPlanpocalypse is I can finally get away from that.
This is alternative #2 that CrashPlan offers. They have worked out a deal with Carbonite where CrashPlan users get 50% off an online backup plan. Not bad. One thing I do not like about Carbonite is that on Mac there is no file versioning, which (somewhat) defeats the purpose of backup for me. I want to be able to roll back a file if I need to.
I have also heard that their upload speeds are very slow and their default storage allowance is too low for my needs. So Carbonite was a no-go for me.
This is a funny one because I wrote a blog post back in 2014 about my possibly-impending switch to Backblaze. I never did pull the trigger, mainly because I didn’t relish the thought of re-uploading all my data. So much for that concern.
Everyone I know who uses Backblaze loves it, and price-wise it is the same as what I was paying for CrashPlan for unlimited storage. It also doesn’t use a Java client, which is great.
The one thing that I don’t like about Backblaze is their file retention policy. Backblaze only keeps deleted files for 30 days. CrashPlan kept them forever. I can’t think of a time I needed to restore an older deleted file from CrashPlan, but I liked knowing that I could.
Then again, perhaps storing deleted files forever is one of the things that made CrashPlan for Home unsustainable. Who knows.
I decided that since I have my local backup as well, I can live with a 30 day deleted file limitation. If I accidentally delete something and don’t notice it until 31 days later, I should be able to fish it out of my Time Machine backup.
Backblaze is what I ended up going with, and my upload is about 50% done as I type this.
There were other options I considered like Arq, a NAS at another location, or even having an external drive in a safe deposit box, but I wanted something easy and automated. I don’t trust myself enough to have a backup system reliant on me doing something.
CrashPlan users out there, what did you end up doing? If you have any thoughts or ideas, share them in the comments or on Twitter.