CrashPlan Backup Service Abandons Home Users as It Jumps for Enterprise

CrashPlan Backup Service Abandons Home Users as It Jumps for Enterprise

CrashPlan is a popular cloud-based backup solution that many (myself included) use to backup their computers and external drives. But the company's announcement this morning to focus on business-to-business services leaves consumer customers hanging, despite their promise not to do so. Those of us with particularly large backups on CrashPlan's consumer service have a problem that raises a greater question about cloud-based backups in general.

If you're like me, you have a small RAID backup drive at home for your local backup needs. You also have some additional drives in other locations should your house burn down or suffer a break-in. And, you also spent the better part of a year waiting for all of those files to back up to CrashPlan's servers at the amazing pace of roughly 1 mbps. Finally, you're there. CrashPlan's weekly reports regularly tell you you're 99.9-percent backed up. And what happens? CrashPlan decides you're not worth it.

The company will let you finish out your current subscription. They'll even add two months of free service on top of your current plan. But that two months won't be enough for those with large backups whose plans expire soon, and not sometime next year. As people may begin backing up to CrashPlan's "preferred partner" for the transition and longtime consumer-side competition, Carbonite, many photographers with large backups are bound to have nothing in the cloud for some time during the overlap of CrashPlan's subscription running out and the catch-up work that needs to happen to get all those files onto another cloud service.

So is it worth it? The $60-per-year plan provided unlimited backup for one computer and any hard drives connected to it. That was a good deal, even for the relatively slow backups and restore speeds you could expect. For a doomsday scenario, it's not a bad price to pay to ensure you'll always have your data somewhere, no matter what. But now that we see how quickly a company can start the clock on a countdown to erase all that data that we waited so long to get online, we have to ask ourselves if something like this is even worth it to us?

For me, this is it. I won't be paying an additional $15 per month for the discounted but roughly equivalent Carbonite service just to start the seasons-long backup process all over again, nor will I be paying double what I've been paying to switch to CrashPlan's small business solution. I'm just going to invest in even a few more drives and place them around in a few more locations. What will you do?

Background of lead image courtesy of Jorge Gonzalez.

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24 Comments

Reginald Walton's picture

Never liked that service. Tried it on a trial basis and it was awful. Took forever to remove it from my Mac. I use idrive.com, much more user friendly and a better price point.

reinout smit's picture

Try Backblaze much faster upload and restore speeds. When I compared them 2 years ago Backblaze won on speed and they cost 5$ a month or 50$ a year. And when you have a nas check their b2 for your backups

I originally had backblaze, but switched to Crashplan since they never delete files even if the file has been deleted off of my computer. I could upload much more than my computer was able to hold. I would delete files of my Mac to make room for more, and had peace of mind that they would still live on Crashplan.

Peter Guyton's picture

The pricing on these things are VERY difficult to compare. Read the PC magazine review of the options here https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2288745,00.asp

The devil is in the details and I personally still like the concept of cloud backup because I firmly believe you should have one copy of your stuff offsite and I'm not going to truck around in my car to shuffle a spare RAID array to some offsite location (nor do I want to buy an additional drive).

The ones to look at, if you are game, appear to be (based on a quick glance of the PC magazine article + some back-of-napkin pricing for 5TB of storage):

Backblaze
1Drive
OpenDrive
Crashplan for Small business
Acronis True Image 2018
Carbonite

1Drive and OpenDrive I believe deserve further scrutiny because they are not priced by PC, only by storage. So if you are a studio wanting to backup 3 PCs, then you are not tripling the price, it stays the same. With Carbonite and Crashplan for business you pay PER PC and the costs go up.

Crashplan for Small Business is on their older platform which is behind a release or two from their Enterprise stuff, so it makes me wonder if it will last as well, plus I'm pissed off at them at the moment :-)

Backblaze is super cheap at $59/yr unlimited storage but the upload speed is one of the slowest (according to PC magazine comparison). But to backup 3 PCs you need to spend $177/yr

1Drive would cost about $99/year for 5TB (unlimited PCs) and gets the best scores.
Opendrive would cost about $99/year for 5TB (unlimited PCs)
Acronis looks like it would cost about $179/yr for 5TB
Carbonite will cost about $99/year for the "plus" version which most people would need.

Don't waste your time with Mozy, SOS online, as their pricing when you get into 5TB range appears to be over $1900/yr. SpiderOakOne looks to be $279 for 5Tb.... need to look at that further.

Anyway, another sad thing is that Crashplan eliminated the free client that allowed you to backup from one PC to another PC (without using their cloud storage). It was a great, little known tool. you could backup from a Home PC to an Office PC over the internet... for free.

Good luck with finding a replacement everyone....

Spoken like a true, frugal photographer. :-)

You can certainly go back to using multiple external hard drives or some other local option. What most people fail to realize, though, is that you are playing Russian Roulette with your data anytime you use a local backup. All you need is to get hit by one good ransomware virus and it can take out not only your local data, but any drives you have plugged into your computer (including backup drives). If you don't realize immediately that you are infected and plug additional drives into your computer you risk infecting them as well. To be fully protected, you really need a good revision-based, off-site backup such as what Carbonite provides so you can easily recover from ransomware infections. It's only $59 for a single computer (using a personal plan) for UNLIMITED data, which is pretty cheap. If you want a bare metal image of your whole computer (using an external hard drive) so you can restore everything, including your operating system, it's only $99 (plus the cost of an external hard drive). If you are concerned about your mirror image getting infected, they also offer a plan for $149 that includes courier service. If your bare metal backup gets infected, they will put a mirror image copy of your system on an external hard drive and ship it to you overnight for quickest recovery. With the last two offerings you could potentially be back up and running in about a day. The only reason you should have to pay for their business plan offerings is if you have a server, a NAS drive, or about 8-10 or more computers after which a business plan may become more cost effective. Carbonite is probably the first and oldest name in the game for cloud backup services (and least costly) and is a great option for photographers.

http://partners.carbonite.com/hbcs

Peter Guyton's picture

I believe the $59 Carbonite plan does not backup external hard drives. So to be fair, most photographers would start with the $99 "Plus" plan which is not the least costly. iDrive is not unlimited but allows unlimited PCs for one price. 5TB of storage would be about $99 with iDrive. It also gets better reviews than Carbonite most of the time, like here https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2288745,00.asp Though Carbonite seems to do much better than they used to.

Backblaze is definitely the low cost leader $59/year. I just worry that Crashplan left the market at $59/year because they were losing money and if they were, how is Backblaze doing it?... or maybe they are next to go or raise prices.

If you want to backup multiple computers, OpenDrive and iDrive seem to be the cost effective the way to go. If you are backing up one PC and a lot of data, Carbonite & Backblaze and maybe Acronis, though OpenDrive and iDrive are in the same price range as Carbonite "plus".

I saw another reply that said Backblaze was fast but the PC mag article found it to be second slowest.... so I don't get that. I'd always heard they were fast too.

Douglas Turney's picture

First let me say that every method for backing up data has advantages and disadvantages. Each person needs to evaluate the options and pick the best one for them at the time. As far as multiply local drives and local storage there is a way to minimize the damage ransom ware can inflict. First always use good safe virus practices. This is really important and stops lots of problems. Second is always having a drive or a couple of drives disconnected from your network. I like to use a 3 drive rotation method. Down load files to my photos 1 hard drive. I also use another drive running Time Machine on my Mac so I have a backup there too but that's really for other reasons. Then after two weeks make a backup of my photos 1 hard drive to photos 2 hard drive. I use photos 2 hard drive for the next 2 weeks to load files to. Then when those two weeks are up I copy photos 2 hard drive to photos 3 hard drive. Hard drive 3 is used for the next two weeks to load photos on. After those two weeks photos 3 hard drive is backed up to photos 1 hard drive and the cycle continues. The two hard drives that are not in service are stored in my credit union's safe deposit box. Yes they know me well there. Kind of nice. This isn't perfect but reasonable and practical. Cloud base backup is great but will always be suspect to issues like Crashplan. Yes my plan does have issues with what happens if data is corrupted during mirroring which a higher level RAID system can help minimize. With my system the most data I might be out of is about 2 weeks worth.

Peter Guyton's picture

FYI, Acronis True Image 2018 was released this week and has specific anti Ransomware functionality that may not exist in other tools. I guess it actively monitors for encryption attempts and stops it before it gets going..... It also has a local backup option as well. Seems like one to look at in more detail (if one is staying with cloud backup).

Douglas Turney's picture

Thanks Peter. I'll look at Acronis True Image 2018 to see what it offers. Another line of defense never hurts.

Chad D's picture

tried it some time ago and had issues with the software?

recently been using Gdrive paid business account for online

older stuff on HDD sent off site

part of my plan was to be more mobile but have a huge selection at easy to get which is not any of the backup sources sadly
so far Gdrive has been pretty quick and safe and kinda think a lot more are going to be going to it ? hope the pricing and unlimited stays with them but we are talking google so who knows :)

Has anybody tried amazon's Glacier service? It looks neat and reliable, what is your experience?

Anonymous's picture

I considered Glacier before going CrashPlan years ago, but the prices for getting data OUT of glacier struck me as high.

I don't understand why this is a big problem. I got the notification today and I migrated over to a business plan. They won't be charging me the new price until November next year and even then it is only $10/mo. I guess my backup is small, I only have 2TB as of now, but I didn't really see the problem in this. Am I missing something bigger other than some people principles were violated? They are still backing up my data just fine.

Adam Chandler's picture

I agree. While it's a little irritating, the migration is painless and $10/month for unlimited storage doesn't seem too bad. What I really like about Crashplan is that it lets you create and prioritize backup sets so you can make sure and upload the most important stuff first. I don't think any other companies have that feature.

John Teague's picture

I had the same reaction: no big deal. I haven't done extensive research into other cloud backup solutions, but Crashplan gives me fast, continuous backup of my PC and its attached external drives, and it's unlimited. In the small amount of research that I did perform, I couldn't fine many services that offered that combination. I'm up to 4TB right now and sleeping peacefully while Crashplan transparently transfers the dozens of GBs of photos that I add every week.

Adriano Neves's picture

+1 CrashPlan for Small Business is still looking to be the best solution, at the best price. Nobody else seems to offer versioning as CrashPlan has (including deleted files) and that alone would be enough for me. Linux compatibility is also important as I backup directly from a Synology NAS. I looked into Synology's C2 cloud backup (about to be open from closed beta soon), Carbonite and Backblaze B2 and none is even similar.

Depending on how you're using it the fact that it's $10 per month per machine rather than a flat fee or something based on the amount of data that gets backed up makes a big difference (especially if you're a hobbyist rather than using it for business). For example I have a laptop, a desktop and a file server all with CrashPlan so just transferring directly over would be $30/month which is a bit of a price hike.

I'm a hobbyist, but I stick all my data on one computer...my NAS, which is recommended.

dale clark's picture

You are not missing anything. Very cheap price for what you are getting IMO. Crashplan is fantastic. I'm surprised how many "professional" photographers don't have business insurance. So no surprise they balk at a Data backup service.

It's amazing to me how many people use a consumer service for their business. And they do it in the name of saving a buck. How much is your time and reputation worth when you lose images? Backups are not rocket science. Its a pretty mature aspect of any IT shop and well documented. You need to do your homework before signing up for anything or anybody. I'm not surprised as Crashplan throwing in the towel. Their pricing is not sustainable for the amount of infrastructure they need. This is definitely a case of if it sounds too good to be true, it is not true.

First, your backups need to be LOCAL and OFFSITE. You need local for the recent and most useful backups and restores. Then you need to ARCHIVE which means you will not be normally accessing this data unless it's critical need. You need to really examine your internet connection. Unless you have a decent UPLOAD ( upstream) speed, the cloud will never work well because it takes too long to get the data up into the cloud.

I run two types of local backups for different reasons. I use TimeMachine for the "oops" of my day.. delete a file by mistake etc.. I use CCC to clone my drives for the fastest recovery from a total system failure. I also send cloned drives offsite 10 miles away.. I've been evac'ed twice in 5 years for fire threats. I use AWS Glacier with an OSX app that interfaces to Glacier to provide my long term archival copies. This paid for itself recently with a 260 Gb recovery. It took 3 days to get restored but I got it. And the total cost was 20 dollars. The actual storage fees had been pennies up to that point. Key is that it is ARCHIVES and not accessed very often.

I've played with BackBlaze on my Windows 10 VMs but its not a "recovery" backup. And it wont back up servers. AWS doesnt care, it will do it all.

Is my solution cheap? Depends.. Some of my data is priceless with scans from single printed images. How do you price that? Or my 200 gb database that I had to get back? I spend about 250-350 a year in total on my backups which includes a new drive or two for my clones. I spend close to a thousand for insurance on my cars which are easily replaced. I think 350 a year for irreplaceable data in a real datacenter ( AWS, run by pros, designed for redundancy ) is very cheap insurance.

Simon Patterson's picture

Ah, the cloud. Never trusted it for backups, and with news such as this, it's unlikely I ever will...

Mark Harris's picture

Only yesterday I found that some old files were corrupted on disk, and that I had backed up the corruption to my three on-site backups. Even TimeMachine had pushed the original file off the end of the timeline.
But I didn't even sweat, because I knew that CrashPlan had every version of that file over in Ireland.
Five minutes later I had the originals restored. And the $120 a year I pay for the pro service I save by not neurotically buying new disks every year so that I have a clumsy collection of old snapshot backups in the office (which was my previous solution that I abandoned when I upset a client by having the same scenario play out a few years back, and had only corrupt copies of some of their old files.)
Having said that, the company loses a lot of cred in my eyes by blackmailing consumers into upgrading.

One of the things I liked about crashplan is that it allowed a duplicate local back up to be made. So I was backing up not only to the cloud, but also to an external USB drive. That way, the few times I needed to do a restore, it was quick and easy. And also I had the comfort of knowing my most recent photo shoots we're backed up the same day. Do any of these other services also provide for a duplicate local back up?

Read my earlier comment on backing up! I did not know they had "pulled the plug," but that's another reason to rely on our own backups. It's all about the money to them all. As Hagar the Horrible once said, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you!" (your money...my addition :-)