CrashPlan for Small Business is a cloud backup solution which stands thanks to its ease of use and enhanced functionality, but also thanks the unlimited storage quota it offers to Windows, Linux and Mac users from as little as just $10 per month, per device.
Despite the name “CrashPlan for Small Business”, this is a backup application which is available for both individual (home based) users as well as anyone wishing to use the service in a business or industrial setting. The unlimited cloud storage which is included within the plan is undoubtedly one of the biggest selling points of CrashPlan, especially so given that this cloud storage extends to include any external hard drives attached to a device as a part of the backup plan as well unlimited historic versions of any backed-up files.
With all of this being said, it is clear that CrashPlan have one of the most generous cloud backup offerings and I am keen to have a deeper look into the service further and see how useful this solution really is – vamos!
- Well designed and easy to use cloud backup service
- Continuous (always on) protection of data by default
- Unlimited cloud storage space & historic file versioning
- Support for secure AES 256-bit encryption
- Multi-factor authentication (2FA) support
- External drives included in unlimited storage quota
- Web based management and recovery console
- Only supports file level backups (no disk image backups)
- Powerful set of additional features including email reports
- Simple, good value pricing @ $10 per device / per month!
In this section of my review, I will be looking into the usability of the CrashPlan for Small Business backup application in more depth in order to see how easy it is to install, configure and use. I will then make use of the application for myself in order to assess how well the service performs and how effective it is as a cloud backup solution.
I will begin this work by looking at the installation of the CrashPlan desktop app before advancing on to look at how backups and restores can be made alongside some other key features of the service. If you want to try the CrashPlan backup service out for yourself, then remember you can take advantage of the 30-day free trial by clicking here first.
The CrashPlan installer is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux devices and can be downloaded from the official CrashPlan website where a 30-day free trial is available. Once signed-up for the service and logged into a CrashPlan account, the download page itself will list all available downloads including the 184MB Windows (x64) download which I will be making use of myself for this review.
Once downloaded, the installer itself is quick and simple to run, requiring just a few clicks before reaching the final screen and the CrashPlan software itself then being ready to use. One of the first things which is requested by the software (as can be seen below) is to login to the application using a CrashPlan (Code42) account in order link up the software to the cloud account and continue with the initial configuration of service.
And with this the CrashPlan desktop software is installed, a very quick and easy process overall and one which is in-line with many other cloud focused backup solutions. In the next section I will be looking at using the CrashPlan backup software to back up a Windows PC to the cloud before then, a little later on, covering the process of restoring data using both the CrashPlan app and the Code42 website portal as well.
Backing Up to the Cloud
The main focus of the CrashPlan backup service is on providing file-level backups to the cloud, something which CrashPlan continues to do very well. Not only does a CrashPlan for Small Business subscription provide unlimited cloud storage for each subscribed device, but also support for multiple backup sets and unlimited historic file versioning which is great to see on such a reasonably priced subscription (especially so given that this is becoming much harder to find in the could backup world of late).
Creating a new backup set begins in the file menu of the application where the new backup setup tool can be initiated. Once the new set is given a name, the second task of selecting any files and folders to be included in the set can begin (via the built-in file picking tool which can be seen in the image below).
NB – Before moving on with the review, it should be noted that CrashPlan do not include any methods for easily including all popular file and folder locations into the new backup set. They do, however, allow the selection of the current user’s Windows profile folder (as can be seen below), something which will in most cases will be sufficient for including the most important documents.
After selecting which files and folders are to be included in the new backup set, we can then specify the destination upon which they will be stored. Naturally, whilst the unlimited cloud storage which is included with a CrashPlan subscription will for many be the natural choice here, the CrashPlan app also allows backup sets to be stored on locally attached storage or NAS devices as well.
NB – Note that multiple external hard drives can be included in a CrashPlan backup set and will remain backed-up even if an external drive is removed from the system for a long period of time. This approach to backing-up external hard drives is different (much better) 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!
With the storage location set, our new backup set will begin analysing the device and running immediately, this can be monitored within the application on the main home screen as can be seen below.
At this point, CrashPlan will now 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 the backup set (although version thinning is applied by default, but can be adjusted as required). Should we need to adjust these settings at any time then this can be down from the main settings menu found towards the top right part of the main CrashPlan application’s homepage.
As was mentioned a little earlier on in this review, the CrashPlan service will, by default, set all of our backup sets to run continuously in real-time (i.e., every few minutes the software will automatically check for any changes in our selected files and run the backup should changes be found). Should we need to change this behaviour for any reason, for example, setting the software to only run between specified times on specified days, then this can be configured under the backup set scheduling screen as is seen below.
As can be seen above, we can specify that the backup set should only be run on selected days of the week and between certain times. Furthermore, via the “Frequencies and Versions” page, we can also specify how frequently any files are checked for changes (which ranges from every 15 minutes onwards) as well as being able to specify how long to keep historic versions of files for.
As can be seen above, whilst we can keep unlimited historic version of our backed-up files forever, we can also make use of the version thinning settings which mean, over time, less frequent copies of these files are kept in order to help manage CrashPlan storage space.
NB – Whilst CrashPlan does allow for specifying some historic versioning restrictions, it is important to remember that there is unlimited cloud storage available within the subscription and this applies to the historic versions of any files as well. With this in mind, I see no incentive to restrict this setting too much (the default settings will most likely be fine for most CrashPlan users, but these can be set to longer retention periods should you need to).
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 zero-knowledge 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 the device making for one of the most secure forms of cloud backup encryption currently available. 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 for enhanced protection of the account to boot.
NB – Be VERY CAREFUL to make sure you remember your archive password if you chose to use one, CrashPlan do not have any ability to recover your backed-up data should you forget this password! If you would like more information on how zero-knowledge encryption can help in securing device backups then be sure to check out my guide to The Best Zero-Knowledge Cloud Storage.
With the backup encryption (optionally) set, the new backup set will be ready to go. As was mentioned earlier on, the application automatically monitors our files for any changes every few minutes, so there is not really any need to backup manually when using CrashPlan (we can simply save any changes and allow the software to start running in the background straight away).
In the next section of this review, I will be looking at the process for performing a restore within the CrashPlan app (and then also via the CrashPlan web portal as well) before finally looking a little deeper at some of the other features and settings available to us when using the CrashPlan service.
Restoring data from CrashPlan can take place in two forms, these are from within the CrashPlan desktop software itself or via the CrashPlan (Code42) web console, potentially allowing us the ability to recover our files from anywhere in the world with an internet connection available.
Looking at the desktop app first and we can start the restore process via the big blue “Restore Files” button found towards the top right of the screen. Once pressed, this button will direct us to the main in-app restore screen from which the restore job can be configured.
NB – If you have set an archive password within CrashPlan then this must be entered before reaching the restore screen which is shown above!
As can be seen in the screenshot above, once we are in this main restore screen, we can configure three important settings in order to get our restore running, these are:
- The location from which to restore (this can be the CrashPlan cloud storage service or local / NAS storage if this has been configured and is in use).
- The date and time to recover files 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 correct version).
- The files to recover themselves (the file picking tool allows locations for backed-up files and folders on the device to be browsed to 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.
NB – As per the screenshot above, we have the option to specify where restored files are to be saved to and the option to overwrite any files in the target directory when necessary to do so. This is a very useful feature to see in any piece of backup software!
Clicking on “Go” will set the restore job running, the progress of which can be monitored on the main application home screen. Once this in-app restore is complete, we can move on to have a look restoring via the CrashPlan web-based console, a set-up which means we can access our backed-up files even without access to our device at the time.
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 console, the first thing to do is to select any files which are to be restored. This is a similar approach to that which was seen in the CrashPlan app earlier on in this review and one which requires simply selecting the version date (if applicable) and then browsing to and selecting the files we wish to recover.
After the web service has started to process the restore request, we can download any restored files via a link which is then created towards the bottom of the webpage (as can be seen below). After this link is made available, the restore process becomes like downloading any other file in a web browser and, once complete, we can then manually move these restored files back to their specified locations.
And with this, the restoring of data within CrashPlan 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 functions of backing-up and restoring data now covered, we can go on to look at some of the other functions available within CrashPlan for Small Business. First of which has to be the excellent web-based console which was seen in the last section and, with restoring files aside, allows CrashPlan users to manage their account and all of the devices backed-up within it.
As can be seen above, another important feature of the CrashPlan service is the backup reporting service, a service which sees CrashPlan send status updates on any connected devices and their current backup status straight to a registered email address. A very reassuring service when everything is working as it should do and a useful notification method should any problems with the backup 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 being able to see how much cloud storage is being consumed by any attached devices (plus the ability to manage the devices in the account).
Moving back into the CrashPlan desktop application again and it is the main settings screen where we find numerous additional settings for controlling how the application itself will function. Under the “usage” tab we can, for the current device in use, set the performance limits (which allows us to limit things such as maximum CPU usage and 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 storage plus any locally defined storage devices) 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 run in the background) is the pause button. This can be found by right-clicking on the CrashPlan icon in the Windows system tray and 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 any backed-up data secure. First and foremost, amongst these options is the ability to apply strong zero-knowledge AES 256-bit encryption to any backed-up data before it ever leaves your device.
NB – If opting to make use of encryption, be sure to remember your password, CrashPlan will not be able to recover any data resulting from a lost or forgotten password!
Other security features found within CrashPlan include the ability to lock the desktop application with a password and support for turning on multi-factor authentication (2FA) to protect 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 per month!
This all-inclusive pricing model includes unlimited cloud storage per device, unlimited historic file versioning plus the ability to backup as many external hard drives as you might require.
CrashPlan for Small Business FAQ
CrashPlan (formally called CrashPlan for Small Business) is a cloud-based backup service offering both home and business customers unlimited backup storage plus unlimited historic file versioning for a simple monthly cost of just $10 per device.
Yes, CrashPlan makes use of highly secure zero-knowledge AES 256-bit encryption for all backed-up data, 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) for the account as well as password protect the CrashPlan application 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).
Yes, CrashPlan makes use of the Windows VSS (Volume Shadow Copy) service to ensure any open files which might be included within the backup set are still backed-up when open on the device in question.
Whilst CrashPlan is undeniably a great choice when it comes to making cloud backups, there does exist various other competing products and services which might be better suited to your own cloud backup requirements. Be sure to check out my guide to the best CrashPlan Alternatives right here on BestBackupReviews.com for more details on some alternative CrashPlan solutions.
CrashPlan Review Summary
CrashPlan is undoubtedly one of the highest rated 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 data plus 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 with this service nor does CrashPlan come with any kind of recovery media builder either. We do however get the ability to use 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 will run and how much bandwidth the software will be allowed to consume.
Overall, CrashPlan remains a great choice for anyone working in the IT and creative industries or simply for anyone who has large amounts of data to keep backed up and secured in the cloud for minimal cost, a great job CrashPlan!