Crashplan Pro

This looks interesting. Retrospect’s been sucking wind for years. Code 42’s Crashplan Pro is now offering similarly priced, multiplatform backup solutions. Furthermore there’s an expensive but not impossible online option. For a little under $500 per year I could backup my and my wife’s primary computers. (Most online backup solutions don’t offer nearly the storage space or bandwidth I’d need to do this at that price. JungleDisk, for instance, charges $0.10 per gigabyte upload and $0.17 per gigabyte down, as well as $0.15 per gigabyte per month.) I could also backup all our systems locally to hard drives.

The one thing Crashplan doesn’t seem to offer that Retrospect did is support for tape drives, but these days external hard drives are cheaper per-GB than tapes anyway; and I haven’t plugged in my DLT drive for a couple of years now.

Unlike most backup vendors, Code 42 does seem to understand the difference between network and local backup. They know you don’t just treat remote drives the same as a local drive. (I’ve been positively shocked at the ignorance of some vendors about this.)

I could still use a single Time Machine disk per Mac for local backup and restore of individual versioned files. Crashplan would handle the major disk and full system failures. I could stop swapping out Time Machine disks manually. (Yes, I’m paranoid. Running two independent backup solutions really appeals to me.)

What do folks think? How reliable is this? Does Crashplan actually understand the Mac file system, and can it do reliable restores? Do they have enough redundancy on the server to withstand failures on that end?

12 Responses to “Crashplan Pro”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    Of course there’s no way to interpret the $500/yr claim without knowing how much local storage you have, and the backup period you are using (hourly, daily, etc.), and the amount of novel data you are generating each period.

    The last is important because you really, really don’t want to be encrypting whole disk images and shipping them to an online service. Giving a black hat access to lots of identical or near-identical messages encrypted under different session keys is about as good a present as you can make short of handing him your private key. So you want to send only the diffs, file-by-file or block-by-block or whatever.

  2. Matthew Dornquast Says:

    We’re far faster than JungleDisk/S3 both on initial backup, restores, and total disk used. The reason is we have better compression & more efficient transports. Take a look at our 1 year programs for even more savings on disk.

    Also – we have no bandwidth caps or fees. We’re able to do this because again, we’re many times more efficient than S3 in terms of bandwidth.

    Code 42 Software, creators of CrashPlan – is first and foremost a mac shop. We’re at Macworld every year (stop by and say hi!) and we all have macs. We support resource forks + meta data.

    You’ve got 30 days for free! Back up 50GB, mutate the data a bit, watch how only the new bits flow up – restore it all back – you’ll be happy!

    And best of all – you can have on-site AND off-site backup for 1 software license.



  3. Steve Blundy Says:

    I’ve heard a few stories about people having their laptop stolen along with their backup drives. One was on NPR the other day, poor girl lost years and years of her photos. I think U2 and a director, who’s name slips my mind, had it happen to them too. Fat lot’a good the drives do in that situation. There’s also fire and the like. So off site appeals to me, but I was also wondering about backup formats that aren’t attractive to thieves. I also have a Time Capsule, but agree it isn’t a very complete solution.

  4. Matthew Dornquast Says:

    Oops – I forgot to jump on my soap box about tape & drives. (Hops on)
    Ok here is why we don’t do tape – I’ve been burned too many times. You back up to the tape, you put it on the shelf, and you pat yourself on the back for being a good boy and backing up. A few months goes by, you haven’t backed up because the good boy doesn’t like being a tape’s arm & legs. Maybe you got busy. Anyway –

    You crash, or you make a mistake, so you go fetch your 2 month old backup and get started. Only – it doesn’t work. Humidity, scratch, dirty tape head, who knows? Who cares? The point is, you can’t get your data back.

    That’s why we used disk. Not because its more reliable – but because we can test your archives automatically.

    So what isn’t obvious, but imensely cool is this: CrashPlan destinations verify your entire backup automatically every 7 days (configurable) and if they detect any error do two things:

    1. Notify you! “Hey bozo, that 1990 pentium 133 box with the 1TB usb drive doesn’t work anymore. Your backup is toast.”
    2. Heal around error! Those files affected by corruption are automatically requested from the source and sent over again.

    All of this goes on automatically, behind the scenes, for everyone, continuously. You can’t do THAT with S3.
    How long would it take to backup your 50GB? Now how much would you pay to restore it all automatically every week? We validate your archives here in central. If you backup to your own machine, it validates them too.

    So that’s why we’re so much better than tape. We take it to backup to the next level – we assume failure and look to detect it and notify. We test your restores automatically so that you no longer have to be a tape’s arms and legs and when it comes time to restore, you know it’ll work. Our latest release (today) added a whole bunch of new validation checks at destinations – it’s a free upgrade for everyone. Even those that bought 2 years ago.


  5. Mogden Says:

    Why not a solution like Mozy or Carbonite? Mozy offers unlimited storage for 5 bucks a month, not sure about Carbonite.

  6. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Current MozyPro pricing for business accounts:

    Desktop Licenses: $3.95 + $0.50/GB per month
    Server Licenses: $6.95 + $0.50/GB per month

    That’s a couple of hundred bucks per month at my data volume.

    Plus the server edition only seems to run on Windows. :-(

    Carbonite seems to be Windows only, and seems to not handle in the hundreds of gigabytes.

  7. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:


    One thing I’m curious about: how much redundancy and backups is there on your servers? If the hard disk holding some of my backup data dies, is that backup data then just lost?

  8. Mogden Says:

    Is there anything in the business edition that you actually need over the home version of Mozy?

  9. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Primarily the centralized administration of a small LAN.

  10. Steve Y Says:

    Elliotte- I would expect Code42’s destination servers to be proper RAIDs, which can withstand 1 or more drive failures, depending on setup. If it can’t withstand a drive failure, it shouldn’t be called a server.

  11. Don Says:

    I wish Code42 would either lower their price on single licenses or offer a family pack. At $25 a pop, it doesn’t cost a ton, but most households who would *use* this product have multiple machines. My family would need to put out $150 for CrashPlan.

    I know Code42 needs to run a server for dynamic DNS, which costs the company money, but maybe they should release a freeware or $10 version of CrashPlan that requires the end-users to use one of the many dynamic DNS providers, like DynDNS or OpenDNS. On top of that, don’t offer support and take a few nifty features away to encourage users to purchase a better version of the software.

    Christmas is coming up and the economy is tanking Code42, sale time!

  12. Chris Says:

    The entry level Crash Plan is now ad-sponsored and free…unfortunately the + version is still the same price :) Might be able to talk the wife into $40/copy version but $60 is tough in this economy when I already have JungleDisk/S3…but I’m still pondering it, especially if Code42 adds in a few other features I’d like such as backup sets to backup certain data to different places… ie: critical data to both local and remote but only certain files to local….

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