Giving CrashPlan a try…

You might recall me having an advanced case of the mutters about Mozy a while back. To save you the trouble of clicking that link and reading what I said at the time, the summary is that Mozy, a company I was previously happy to recommend for online backups on the grounds that they offered an unlimited storage option, had decided not to do that after all, and instead offer a pricing plan that was clearly designed to make people with lots of stuff to protect go away. As my contract doesn’t run out for about a year, I’m not in any great rush to find a replacement, but knowing my tendency to not get round to things, I decided to take another look at what’s currently on offer.

After some reading, researching and general muttering, I decided that CrashPlan would be a good starting point. Their offering is a little different from most – in addition to backing up to their secure storage, you can also back up to a friend’s computer, and they can back up to yours, so long as you have the disk space available. This is an interesting option, and while you could set this sort of thing up yourself, the CrashPlan software can do it automagically. It’s a good option, as if you need to do a restore, it’ll be a lot quicker to take your computer to a friend’s home and copy restore your data at LAN speed. It’ll also do local backups to external disks if you want it to – personally, I’m quite happy with Time Machine, so I don’t see any need for this.

If you want to use the local or “with a friend” options, the basic CrashPlan software and service are free for non-commercial use, which is nice to know.

Prices for the cloud storage version, CrashPlan+ start at $2.50 per month for 10GB, $5 per month for unlimited storage for one computer, and $12 per month for unlimited storage on up to ten computers. There are quite substantial discounts if you pay for one or more years up front, which can take those prices down to the equivalent of $1.46, $2.92 or $6 per month.

They support Windows (32-bit and 64-bit), Mac, Linux and Solaris, which should cover most people’s needs, and they also offer a business-level “Pro” service for somewhat more money.

Installing and configuring on my iMac was as simple as you’d expect. Unlike Mozy, CrashPlan is configured from a standalone application rather than a preference pane, and if you want a menu bar indicator, you’ll have to install a beta, with support offered only through their forum.

As they’re offering a free 30 day trial, I’ve disabled Mozy and installed CrashPlan. Of course, it’ll take a lot more than 30 days to back up all my stuff, but that should be long enough to tell if it’s going to work. If it does what it says, then I’ll probably sign up for a year initially.

Things to like about CrashPlan:

  • Unlike Mozy, they don’t delete anything from your backups unless you tell them to. Mozy like to purge deleted files from the backup after a while, which is a bit odd, as one of the prime reasons for having backups is recovering from mistakes rather than actual disasters.
  • Unlike Mozy, they say they are committed to providing an unlimited storage option. I’ll be happy if they stick to that
  • They are quite sensibly offering a 10% discount on one-year subscriptions to people switching from Mozy. Not a deal maker, but nice to have.

Things not to like:

  • None so far, I’ll let you know…