CrashPlan for Small Business is a cloud focused backup solution which stands out thanks not only to its ease of use and enhanced functionality but also the unlimited storage quota it offers to Windows, Linux and Mac users form as little as just $10 / month!
Despite the name “CrashPlan For Small Business”, this is a tool which is available for both individual (home based) users as well as anyone wishing to use the service in a business or commercial context. The unlimited cloud storage is undoubtedly one of the biggest selling features of CrashPlan, given that this extends to include any external hard drives as well as in providing unlimited historic file versions, it is clear that CrashPlan has one of the most generous “unlimited” offerings of any backup service provider.
With all of this being said, I’m keen to have a deeper look into CrashPlan for Small Business and see how useful this cloud backup solution really is, let’s go!
- Well designed and easy to use cloud backup software
- Unlimited cloud storage space
- Unlimited historic file versioning
- Support for secure AES 256-bit encryption
- Support for app password and multi-factor authentication (2FA)
- Continuous (always on) protection of data
- External drives included in unlimited storage quota
- Easy to recover files using the client application
- Web based management and recovery console
- Only supports file level backups (no image backups)
- No disk or system imaging tools
- Powerful set of additional features including email reports
- Simple, clear and good value pricing @ $10 per device / per month
In this section of the review I will be looking into the usability of the CrashPlan application in order to see how easy it is to configure, use and also how well the service performs as a whole.
I will begin by looking at the installation of the CrashPlan app before advancing on to look at how backups and restores can be made, if you want to try CrashPlan for yourself then remember to take advantage of the 30 day free trial by clicking here first.
The CrashPlan installer is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux users and can be downloaded from the CrashPlan website where a 30 day free trial can be obtained. Once signed-up and logged into CrashPlan, the download page itself lists all available downloads including the 184MB Windows (x64) download I will be using for this review.
Once downloaded, the installer is quick and simple to run, requiring just a few clicks before reaching the final screen and the CrashPlan software itself being ready to use. One of the first things required by the software (as can be seen below) is to login using a CrashPlan (Code42) account in order link up the software and continue with the configuration of service.
And with this the software is installed, a very quick and easy process so far. In the next section I will be looking at using the software to backup a Windows PC and then a little later on covering the process of restoring data using both the CrashPlan app and the Code42 website option as well.
Backing Up within CrashPlan
The main focus of CrashPlan is on providing file-level backups to the cloud and as such, this is something they do very well. Not only does a CrashPlan subscription provide unlimited storage for each subscribed device but also support for multiple backup sets and unlimited historic file versioning which is great to see, especially given that this is becoming more of a rarity in the could backup world of late!
Starting a new backup set begins in the file menu where the new backup setup tool can be initiated, once given a name, the second task of selecting files to be included in the backup set can begin (via the built-in file picking tool as can be seen below):
* Before moving on it should be noted that CrashPlan don’t have any methods for easily including all popular locations into the backup, they do, however allow the selection of the current users Windows profile with a single click (as can be seen below), something which in most cases will be sufficient for including the most important user documents.
After selecting which files are to included in the new backup set, we can then specify the destination upon which they will be stored. Naturally, the unlimited cloud storage included with a CrashPlan subscription will for many be the natural choice however, should we want or need to, the CrashPlan app also allows backup sets to make use of locally attached storage instead of or alongside the including cloud storage.
* Note that external hard drives can be included in a backup set and will remain backed-up even if the external drive is removed for a long period of time. This approach is different to many other leading cloud backup providers who often require external drives be plugged-in at least once every 30 days for them to remain an active part of the backup set!
With the storage location set, our new backup set will begin running immediately, this can be monitored on the main CrashPlan application home screen as can be seen below:
At this point CrashPlan will automatically run the backup in continuous mode as well as make use of several other default settings such as the keeping of unlimited historic versions of any files which make up part of the backup set. Should we want to adjust these settings then this can be down from the settings menu found at the top right of the main CrashPlan app homepage.
As was mentioned a little earlier on, CrashPlan will, by default, set all of our backup sets to run continuously (i.e. every few minutes the software will automatically check for changes and perform a new backup when any changes are found). Should we need to change this behaviour, for example setting the software to only run between certain specified times on specified days, then this can be done under the backup set scheduling screen.
As can be seen above, we can specify the backup set only be run on certain days of the week and between certain times, furthermore, via the “Frequencies and Versions” page we can also specify how frequently the files are checked for changes (this ranges from 15 minutes onwards) as well as specify how long to keep historic versions of files:
As can be seen above, whilst we can keep unlimited historic version of files forever, we can also make use of the version thinning settings which mean, over time, less frequent copies of these versions are kept in order to help manage CrashPlan storage space.
Before moving on with the review, a look at another important part of the CrashPlan settings screen should be covered, this is the “Security” page and, amongst other things, a page which will allow us to set secure AES 256-bit encryption on our backups.
As can be seen above, CrashPlan gives us the option to set an archive key password which will encrypt all data stored in our account, this includes any backed-up files before they even leave our device. We also have the option to password protect the CrashPlan app itself (to stop unauthorised device users from opening it) as well as set a security recovery question to boot.
* Be very careful to make sure you remember your archive password if you chose to us one, CrashPlan do not have any ability to recover your backed-up data should you forget this password!
With the archive encryption password (optionally) set, the new backup set will be ready to go. As was mentioned earlier on, CrashPlan automatically monitors our files for any changes every few minutes so there is not really any need to backup manually, we can simply save any changes and allow the software to start running in the background.
In the next section of this review I will be looking at performing a restore using the CrashPlan app (and then the website) and then finally looking a little deeper at some of the other settings available to us in the CrashPlan application.
Restoring within CrashPlan
Restoring from CrashPlan can take two forms, these are from within the desktop software itself or via the CrashPlan (Code42) web console, potentially allowing recovery of files from anywhere in the world with an internet connection!
Looking at the desktop app first and we can start the restore process via the big blue “Restore Files” button towards the top right of the screen, once pressed, this will take us to the main in-app restore screen
* NB – If you have set an archive password then this must be entered before reaching the restore screen as is shown above!
As can be seen above, once in the main restore screen, we can then select three important things to get our restore running, these are:
- The location to restore from (this can be the CrashPlan cloud storage or local / NAS storage if configured).
- The date and time to recover from (if a historic version of a file is required then the date picking tool can be used to select the nearest date to the version you require).
- The files to recover themselves (the file picking tool allows locations of backed-up files on the device to be browsed and selected).
With these aforementioned settings configured, we are ready to set the restore running, simply click on the “Restore Files” button at the bottom right of the screen to continue.
* Note, as per the screenshot above, that we have the option to specify where restored files are to be saved and the option to overwrite any files in said target directory when necessary to do so, a very useful feature to see in any piece of backup software.
Clicking “Go” will set the restore running, the progress of which can be monitored via the main application home screen. Once this in-app restore is complete, we can move on to have a look at the web based console restore, a set-up which means we can access our backed-up files even without access to our original device.
* NB – at this stage, if one is set, you will be prompted to enter your archive password in order to continue!
Once in the web-based restore tool the first thing to do is to select any files to be restored, this is a similar approach to that seen in the CrashPlan app and requires simply selecting the version date (if applicable), browsing all that is backed-up and checking the files you wish to recover.
After the service has had a moment to process the request, we can download the restored files via a link which is created towards the bottom of the webpage (as can be seen below). After this link is available the restore is effectively like downloading any other file in a web browser and, once complete, we can then manually move files back to their specified locations if necessary.
And with this the restore section is complete, there isn’t really too much else to note when performing restores within CrashPlan, they are easy to work with and function well, be it via the desktop software or the web-based recovery console.
Other Features of CrashPlan
With the two core functionalities of backing-up and restoring now covered, we can go on and look at some of the other, less mainstream functions within CrashPlan for Small Business. First of which has to be the excellent web-console which was seen in the last section and, with restoring files aside, also allows CrashPlan users to manage their account and all of the devices within it.
As can be seen above, one of the other important features of the CrashPlan service is the backup reporting service, a service which sees CrashPlan send status updates on connected devices and their current level of backup straight to an email address. A very reassuring service when everything is working as it should and a useful notification method should any problems ever arise.
Other useful features available within the web console include being able to configure the application performance settings (CPU usage limits, battery management etc.) as well as seeing how much cloud storage is being used by your devices plus the ability to manage the devices in the account themselves.
Moving back to the CrashPlan desktop app again and the main settings screen contains numerous settings for how the application itself will work. Under the usage tab we can, for the current device, set the performance limits (which allows us to limit things such as maximum CPU usage and, when applicable, stop the backup running when a certain battery level is reached and so on).
The “Destinations” tab allows us to see all available storage options for the software (this being the CrashPlan cloud as well as any locally defined storage targets) and under the “Network” tab we can limit the bandwidth the application can use, a setting which can be varied depending upon the idle state of the device in question.
Finally, another useful setting (when using backup software which continuously backs up data in the background) is the pause backup button. Found by right-clicking on the CrashPlan icon in the Windows system tray, it allows the backup to be paused for a specified amount of time (from 1 hour upwards), ideal if you are doing certain work on the device which would benefit from the backup set being temporarily paused.
CrashPlan for Small business has several options to help in keeping you backed-up data secure, first and foremost is the ability to apply strong AES 256-bit encryption to any backed-up data before it ever leaves your device.
* If opting to use the encryption be sure to remember your password, CrashPlan wont be able to recover any data resulting from a forgotten password!
Other security features of CrashPlan include the ability to lock the desktop application with a password and the turning on of multi-factor (2FA) authentication for the account.
Code42 (CrashPlan) Support
Support from Code42 is generally very good and in addition to live chat and phone based support options, they also have a very informative support website and FAQ section which provides answers to most common issues found using the software.
CrashPlan for Small Business is priced at just $10 per device / per month, this includes unlimited cloud storage, unlimited historic files versioning and the ability to backup as many external hard drives as you might require.
CrashPlan for Small Business FAQ
CrashPlan (CrashPlan for Small Business) is a cloud based backup service offering both home and business customers unlimited backup storage and historic file versioning for a simple monthly cost of just $10.
Yes, CrashPlan makes use of strong AES 256-bit encryption, this means any backed-up data is securely encrypted before it leaves the device whilst being backed-up. Additional security features induce the ability to turn on multi-factor authentication (2FA) as well as password protect the CrashPlan app itself.
More information on security and encryption standards at CrashPlan can be found by clicking here.
Yes, despite being named “CrashPlan for Small Business” the software can be used by anyone including personal, non-commercial, home users.
Yes, CrashPlan is not only capable of backing up an unlimited amount of data from any external drives, but it will retain this data as a part of the backup forever, even if the external drive is unplugged from the device for long periods of time.
Yes, when using CrashPlan on a Mac or Linux device, any network drives which are pre-mapped to the device in question can be included in the main CrashPlan backup. This does not apply to Windows devices whereby NAS devices can’t be backed-up to CrashPlan due to a technical detail of how the Windows operating system works (click here for more information on this issue).
CrashPlan Review Summary
CrashPlan is undoubtedly one of the leading cloud backup providers, a fact which becomes evident when you start looking into the software and cloud backup service on offer in any kind of detail.
To start with, for a simple subscription fee of just $10 / month, each device will receive unlimited cloud backup storage, unlimited historic file versioning, optional use of the web-console for restoring and even the ability to backup an unlimited number of external hard drives (without the restriction which sees many other cloud backup providers requesting external drives be plugged-in at least once per month to remain backed-up).
Functionality wise and it should be pointed out this is a file backup service only, this means that full system image backups are not possible nor does CrashPlan come with any kind of recovery media builder either. We do however get the ability to use very detailed reports for keeping a check on our device’s backup status and the ability to fine-tune how our backups perform including, amongst other things, how often the schedules run and how much bandwidth the software will be allowed to consume in specified circumstances.
Overall, CrashPlan remains a great choice for anyone working in the IT and creative industries or simply anyone who has large amounts of content to keep backed up and secured in the cloud for minimal cost, a great job CrashPlan!