By Charles P. Jefferies
The market for online backup services has exploded with high-speed Internet. Today we take a look at CrashPlan Automatic Online Backup, which securely backs up your files to the company’s servers for a monthly fee. Read our review.
There are two versions of CrashPlan — the standard and Pro. The standard version is for personal use while Pro is designed for businesses and enterprises with 10 to 100,000 computers. This review will focus on the standard version.
CrashPlan is free for personal use, allowing you to back up to your own external drives and other computers for free. Adding unlimited online backup to CrashPlan starts at $54/year.
The company also offers CrashPlan+, a beefed-up version of the standard CrashPlan. It offers real-time protection, higher-grade encryption, and removes the ads present in the base version.
The CrashPlan software is a 30MB download from the company’s website. The install is straightforward and takes just a few minutes to complete.
I like how CrashPlan is fully integrated into one window. The interface is generally straightforward; navigation is handled on the left. The main window shows what files are being backed up and backup status. The base version of CrashPlan has ads on the left under the navigation, which change frequently and are annoying. They are only removed by purchasing the $60 CrashPlan+ upgrade; however I think they should be removed with the purchase of a basic online backup plan.
CrashPlan automatically chooses files to back up; on my computer, it automatically selected my user account and all folders and files under it. Users can of course select everything they want to back up manually by clicking Change.
Restoring files is generally intuitive. Check the files you want to restore; by clicking the links at the bottom you can change which version of the file to restore, where to restore it, and how to treat existing files.
The Settings tab allows users to fine-tune the program.
Files selected for backup can be verified at most once a day; the $60 CrashPlan+ upgrade removes this limitation and allows for continuous backup.
I noticed my initial backup was taking a while so I checked the Network tab and found that the default sending rate is only 300 kbps and less when the computer is in use; if your Internet connection is fast enough, setting this to a higher number will improve upload speed.
In addition to the company’s online servers, users can back their data up to other computers, attached hard drives, and other online backup providers. I like how CrashPlan offers this functionality; I have not seen it from other online backup solutions.
How long the initial backup takes depends on two things: how much data is being backed up and Internet upload speed. The first 2GB of files I uploaded took several hours to complete on my cable Internet connection. Make sure you change the default connection limitations as shown above to match your Internet connection — once I did this my speeds greatly improved.
If you have 100GB+ of data to back up, the initial backup could take weeks. CrashPlan offers a $125 seed backup service; they will send you a 1TB external hard drive and instructions on how to place your data on it. You then ship the drive back to CrashPlan and they will transfer the data for you.
Closing CrashPlan does not close the program — it runs in the background and resides in the system tray. Right-clicking the icon and pressing Sleep will pause backup.
CrashPlan is a user-friendly online backup solution for home users. Downloading and installing the software is simple and takes minutes.
Naturally there are drawbacks to Internet-based backup services; the initial backup will take a long time since upload speeds are generally slow. Additionally, remember that no Internet connection means no backup.
CrashPlan has options to back up to other computers over a network or to external drives, which I like.
I do not like how CrashPlan has ads in the non-plus versions, even if you purchase the online backup service. Another downside of the non-plus version is the fact that it only backs up once per day instead of continuously.
Despite the drawbacks, CrashPlan is a recommendable service; its $54/year online backup price is comparable to other vendors’.
- Easy to install and configure
- Runs automatically in the background
- Easy to restore files
- Unlimited online backup space
- Ads in the non-plus version
- Continuous backup only available Plus version
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