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CrashPlan

A Full Review of CrashPlan+, an Online Backup Service

User Rating 4 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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CrashPlan is one of my favorite online backup services and has a top spot in my unlimited online backup plan list as well. While just a few would be impressive, CrashPlan nails the four most important things when it comes to online backup: pricing, security, usability, and speed.

Read on for a detailed look at their plans, prices, and features, plus my experience with the service. I also recommend taking my CrashPlan tour for a detailed walkthrough, including screenshots.

CrashPlan Plans & Costs

Updated April 2014

CrashPlan (formerly called CrashPlan+) offers two backup plans, either of which you can have for substantially discounted prices if you prepay for anywhere from one to four years:

CrashPlan Unlimited

CrashPlan Unlimited lets you backup an unlimited amount of data. No restrictions. The Unlimited plan also only allows backup from a single computer.

Here's the pricing for this plan: Month to Month: $5.99 /month; 1 Year: $59.99 ($5.00 /month); 2 Years: $114.99 ($4.79 /month); 4 Years: $189.99 ($3.96 /month).

CrashPlan Family Unlimited

CrashPlan Family Unlimited also allows an unlimited amount of data to be backed up to CrashPlan's servers. The difference in this plan verses the Unlimited plan is that Family Unlimited allows backup to your one account from as many as 10 computers.

Pricing for this plan: Month to Month: $13.99 /month; 1 Year: $149.99 ($12.50 /month); 2 Years: $289.99 ($12.08 /month); 4 Years: $429.99 ($8.96 /month).

You can compare the prices of CrashPlan's plans with other online backup service plans in the following price comparison tables: Unlimited Online Backup Plan Prices and Multi-Computer Online Backup Plan Prices.

CrashPlan also offers a business online backup plan called CrashPlan PRO as well as an enterprise plan called CrashPlan PROe. See my Business Online Backup list to see where CrashPlan's business-class plans rank.

CrashPlan offers a 30-day free trial of their online backup service but they do not offer a truly free online backup plan, as some services do. See my List of Free Online Backup Plans if you're interested in looking at one of those.

Note: The CrashPlan desktop software, which powers all of the CrashPlan online backup plans, is completely free and is actually one of the better free backup software programs in existence. If you're only interested in local backup or backup to a friend's computer, give CrashPlan (the free backup tool) a try. See my CrashPlan: A Complete Tour for more information.

CrashPlan Features

CrashPlan is an automatic backup service. Files and folders of your choosing are backed up, also only when you choose so, when the CrashPlan software detects a change in that file.

This selective, incremental, and fully automatic backup system keeps the latest version of everything you want backed up to CrashPlan's servers without you having to do anything.

Beyond these basic features in CrashPlan, which are part of any real online backup service, you'll find the following features in their online backup plans:

Backup Software Support: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, OpenSolaris & Solaris
Native 64-bit Software: Yes
Mobile Apps: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
File Access: Desktop software, mobile apps, and web app
Backup Options: Desktop software, CrashPlan's Seeded Backup service
Restore Options: Desktop software, web & mobile apps, CrashPlan's Restore-To-Door service
Multiple Computer Backup per Account: Yes, in some plans
Transfer Encryption: 128-bit AES
Storage Encryption: 448-bit Blowfish
Additional Encryption Option: Yes, password or custom 448-bit key
Multiple Backup Destination Option: Yes
File Versioning: Yes (Unlimited)
Idle Backup Option: Yes
Locked/Open File Support: Yes
Multi-Device Syncing: No
File Sharing: No
Integrated Player/Viewer: No
Backup From Mapped/Network Drive: Yes on Mac, Linux, & Solaris; No in Windows
Backup From Attached Drive: Yes
Backup Frequency: Anywhere from once per minute to once per day
File Selection: Drive, folder, and file
File Exclusion: Files and folders ending in a specified way; regular expression
Bandwidth Control: Yes (Advanced)
Backup Status & Alerts: Email and Twitter
File Size Limits: No, but restoring files over 250 MB is only available via the desktop software
File Type Limits: No
Bandwidth Throttling: No
Fair Use Limits/"Small Print": None; See CrashPlan End User License Agreement (EULA)
Support Options: Web form, email, phone, live chat, discussion forum, FAQ, text and video tutorials, reference guide, knowledge base

CrashPlan uses seven data centers: three in the US (two in Minneapolis, MN, and one in Atlanta, GA) and one each in Japan, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. Each data center is certified SAS 70 Type 2 compliant. The data you back up is stored at the closest data center to your location.

Note: While most of the plan information in the last section, and feature information in this one, probably answered most of your questions about what CrashPlan can do, please know that they have a very well written and extensive FAQ section here that you should reference if needed.

My Experience With CrashPlan

Overall, I love CrashPlan. It's simply one of the better online backup services out there, at least right now. If you'd like some more details about what I like, and don't, about CrashPlan's online backup plan, read on:

What I Like:

Obviously the price is right. With a 4-year prepayment for the CrashPlan Unlimited plan, you can pay a little under $4 per month for completely unlimited backup. That's a good deal no matter how you look at it.

As I mentioned in the introduction at the top of the page, I also really like the level of security that they encrypt data with on their servers. Some other online backup services use similar encryption levels so it's not a killer feature in and of itself, but I think it's important to mention that CrashPlan didn't cut corners here.

Their software is extremely easy to use. Most people familiar with any kind of system-level software would be comfortable digging around and setting up an initial backup without any instruction. In other words, it's intuitive, which is important because backing up is so important. Something unnecessary, like hard to use software, just makes backing up less likely to be done properly.

Maybe most importantly, I've found CrashPlan to be speedy in all three areas to look at in an online backup service: file preparation, upload, and download. Granted, much of this can can attributed to your available bandwidth at any given time, but when compared to some other services, I think CrashPlan does well here.

A little on my upload times: my upload connection regularly tests around 5 Mbps and my initial upload was around 200 GB. That took about five days of upload time, day and night. However, it was all in the background and, aside from a few short moments, I didn't notice a slowdown during my Internet usage.

Other than that, I enjoyed the advanced, and completely optional, control settings like network utilization, an almost continuous one-minute backup, and very easy initial setup and upload process.

Finally, while this might seem relatively unimportant, as someone who gives advice and teaches about computers, I very, very much appreciated CrashPlan's extensive, to say the least, Frequently Asked Questions page, which can be found here.

What I Don't Like:

There's little not to like about an online backup service like CrashPlan when it keeps your important data safe, day in and day out, at a more than fair price.

However, one issue I have with CrashPlan is the inability to backup from a mapped drive in Windows. CrashPlan explains here that this is due to the way in which mapped drives work in Windows, and I can appreciate that, but it's still unfortunate. That same link has an unsupported workaround which you should check out if interested.

My final issue with CrashPlan didn't apply to me, and may not to you either. CrashPlan offers an optional "seed" service, designed to help those with a lot (over 100 GB) of initial data get their stuff to CrashPlan's servers faster. In involves sending a hard drive to your home, backing up locally (very fast), and then mailing it back. There's nothing wrong with that - my issue is that the service costs $124.99. No, you don't get to keep the drive. It's a bit steep, that's all.

Their similar "restore to your door" service for fast restoration via a mailed hard drive is similarly over-priced.

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