Crashplan is ending. Who to use now?
August 22, 2017 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Crashplan has just announced it won't service home users anymore. The options it suggests are crashplan for small business or carbonite both of which are very expensive. What cloud backup solution should I consider instead for multiple computers across three locations.

I back up four computers. My desktop and laptop at home. My office computer. And my parents computer at their house. Carbonite charges per computer so the cost is crazy. Also, I've heard that they delete your files after 30 days rather than just archiving it like Crashplan did.

On my roomiest computer I have a little over a terrabyte of document files (mostly raw pics). So I'd like something with unlimited storage. Given that HD prices keep dropping, it's not clear why cloud storage has become so expensive. What are my options here?

Ideally I'd like something that will archive old versions of files and keep files that I delete. Access to the cloud files is nice but not mandatory. Something that can also sync document folders across computers would be fabulous.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
I and nearly everyone I know (based on some frenetic twitter & slack activity) are moving to Backblaze rather than Carbonite. I'm fifteen minutes into my initial backblaze backup, and so far.. so good? For what it's worth, The Wirecutter is making the same recommendation.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I love Backblaze myself but it is a per-computer charge of $50/year or $5/month. I don't know if that's comparable to your current cost. I have never used it for a restore and I don't believe it versions your files. If you're wanting to sync across machines, have you considered Google? They do full computer backups now and do have versioning and cloud access. I have not used it for anything more than photos but their storage is pretty cheap imo.
posted by possibilityleft at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2017

Last time I looked at Backblaze it was an all-or-nothing approach to backups - as in, you couldn't specify the folders you wanted backed up, so it had to be the entire drive.

Which might be fine for some people but I've a load of folders (including one which has 2TB of OTA recorded TV shows) which I don't care about backing up.

Has that changed?
posted by mr_silver at 10:21 AM on August 22, 2017

I use Backblaze. I haven't had to restore from it, but I know it's very popular so I'm assuming the reliability is at least reasonable.

Mr_silver: You can specify specific folders to exclude from a Backblaze backup if you don't want to bother uploading them.

Backblaze charges per-computer, and I don't believe they keep old versions of backed-up files. It does back up external drives connected to a computer, though, so if you're on a Mac, you might consider getting an external drive, designating it as a Time Machine backup, and then having that drive in turn backed up to BackBlaze. Time Machine does keep old versions of files for as long as it has extra disk space to do so.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:31 AM on August 22, 2017

Backing up a Time Machine drive to Backblaze or anywhere else is actually not a good idea. The way Time Machine works, it stores hard links to directories and files that haven't changed. That way each backup looks like a complete set of your files even though it isn't. The problem is, a backup utility can't tell (since they are hard links, they literally look like copies of the file) and all of that will get backed up. It will take a huge amount of time and space.
posted by kindall at 10:43 AM on August 22, 2017

It's not for everyone but you could roll your own with Bittorrent Sync. Very easy to use, and as you say storage is cheap. I would stick an extra HDD in each of the desktops and have them all backup amongst each other. Obviously this only works if there's a high chance of them being online at the same time often enough.
posted by the long dark teatime of the soul at 10:48 AM on August 22, 2017

Given that HD prices keep dropping, it's not clear why cloud storage has become so expensive.

Completely, transparently clear to me. First get the marks nicely locked in to your free!!! product or service, then start charging for it. Oldest business practice in the book. The Cloud wouldn't even be a thing without it. At least they didn't do a Google and just wind the whole service up altogether.

What are my options here?

Thank The Cloud for its former generosity, then give it the roo fingers and pony up for a couple of local external hard drives for each computer.

Keep them unplugged for most of the time; when you run a backup session, use the drive with the older existing backup on it. That renders you very resistant to hardware failure and human failing, and pretty much ransomware-proof, at very low complexity cost. The same cannot be said for most backup workflows based on permanently online backup drives.
posted by flabdablet at 11:02 AM on August 22, 2017 [7 favorites]

I know you said you wanted something that was "unlimited" but I think that's a little unrealistic. I realize that HDD space is cheap, but bandwidth is not always cheap, especially for daily use. And shapshots further complicate things.

Take a look at, which includes daily and weekly snapshots as well as daily rsync.

You will have to setup an rsync job to get data over there. It's bi-directional too, for your syncing document requirement. If you're willing to do that, you may also look at a Digitalocean server, which is $5 a month.
posted by teabag at 11:04 AM on August 22, 2017

There is a Slashdot thread attempting to answer this question as well here
posted by teabag at 11:06 AM on August 22, 2017

Consider Arq. It's a one-year purchase of the software, and then the ongoing costs are only for the platform you're backing up to. I'm using it to backup to Amazon Glacier, which I think would cost you $4 per month for a terabyte, although there's an initial upload cost and restore is slower. Google Coldline is $7 per month per terabyte, but has no upload cost.

I'm using the Mac version and I'm very happy with it. I have no experience of the Windows version.
posted by siskin at 11:10 AM on August 22, 2017

After losing my solution to a corporate merger, I ended up rolling my own Nextcloud server on HostISO which offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth for $14.99/month. Also offers you the opportunity to have data hosted on a server in the country of your choice (I got mine out of the US post-election.) Setup was really easy if you've done any web installations like Drupal.
posted by notorious medium at 11:15 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also see the Hacker News thread on this topic - it seems to have lots of suggestions, but no clear consensus.
posted by siskin at 11:15 AM on August 22, 2017

I am considering iDrive. Their minimum plan is now 2TBs and they also offer a 5TB version. Unlimited computers (plus mobile devices) and keeps deleted files forever.

In addition, they are offering 90% off the first year for Crashplan users (check their blog). They also offer 50% off their yearly rates (not just first year) for anyone who has access to a .edu email account.
posted by tuxster at 11:44 AM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

Keep them unplugged for most of the time; when you run a backup session, use the drive with the older existing backup on it. That renders you very resistant to hardware failure and human failing, and pretty much ransomware-proof, at very low complexity cost. The same cannot be said for most backup workflows based on permanently online backup drives.

This solution only works if you store one of those drives offsite and that, on a regular (and reasonably frequent) basis, you remember to manually kick off the backup and then (once it has completed) drive over to the offsite location to swap the drives out.

I'm not entirely convinced that this is less complex than paying $50 a year and having off site backups just happen automatically.
posted by mr_silver at 12:11 PM on August 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

Depends what you classify as "expensive", but SpiderOak fulfills a lot of your requirements:

* unlimited devices
* archives old versions
* a 1TB plan is $12/month or $129/year; 5TB is $25/month and $279/year (so, not exactly cheap)
* you can sync folders across devices with very fine-grained control
* I don't know what you mean by "access to cloud files", but if you mean you can access your storage via a web interface, then yes, you can do this


* it has Windows, Mac and Linux clients
* they are very security-conscious (don't lose your password! they can't reset it)

They have deals every so often that make it less expensive. After taking advantage of one, I pay $159/year for unlimited space.
posted by number9dream at 1:04 PM on August 22, 2017

I would highly recommend Backblaze. Love them. On a mac in particular, the Backblaze client app is 10x better written and less resource hungry than the Crashplan app. Their option for creating a custom encryption key is also worthwhile if you want to protect the privacy of your data as much as you can.

I used to think I could do my own cheaper backups through Amazon Glacier or Google Nearline - and then months go by and I forget or never get around to backup. I have accepted this limitation in myself and give my money to a completely automatic and unattended service.

That said I've been a loyal Crashplan user for years - on the family plan that just got cancelled. I spent a happy holiday setting up backup on my parent's computers without them even knowing.

They also are very transparent about their infrastructure and have done personal/small business computer users a great service by publishing real data on hard drive failure rates. cu
posted by sol at 1:22 PM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you have Amazon Prime you get unlimited photo storage as part of it. I also have the cheapest data plan, which is 100 GB for $1/month. A 1TB account is $5/month if 100GB isn't enough, but if most of your 1TB is photos you might be fine.

The Amazon Cloud app works like Dropbox, in that you can sync to a folder on your computer, but you can also choose not to sync folders if you just want stuff in the cloud.

I also keep backup hard drives on and off site, just because.
posted by Huck500 at 1:50 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Backblaze did me wrong and was a pig in the performance deparment (much worse than Crashplan for me), so I am not considering them. I am currently looking most closely at Arq, but I haven't completely decided yet.
posted by primethyme at 4:44 PM on August 22, 2017

I pretty much gave up on backing up my whole computer to the cloud when Crashplan became such an annoying resource hog on my aging Mac. I've moved to a more content-based system and I am very happy with it so far.

The Rock Steady Backup System*:

Local Time Machine backup of everything.
For important, secure documents: Dropbox ($Free).
For casual documents: Google Drive ($Free).
For photos: Google Photos ($Free).
For photo redundancy: Amazon Prime ($Free-ish, as I'd have Amazon Prime without it).
For music: iTunes Match ($24/year).
For video: Can no longer be arsed to worry about it. If it's not streaming, I'm OK with spending a few bucks now and again to rent or buy something on iTunes or Amazon. (~$5/month).

And that's about all I've got on my computer. I'm sure there may be other types of things you have on your computer, but I'd consider distributing them to some other platform before I paid for whole computer cloud backup again. Actually, in your case, I might set up Backblaze or Carbonite on your parents' computer and tell them to pay for it (or pay it for them as a gift) just for simplicity's sake, but that depends on your parents' tech savvy.

posted by Rock Steady at 6:23 PM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I used to use backblaze, but I gave up and switched to crashplan awhile ago. (In fact, I was planning on asking this exact same question.)

The reason I switched from baclblaze to crashplan is that backblaze deletes files after 60 days or something like that if it can't access the file. This means that if you back up an external HD, you have to reconnect it in that time period or it will delete the whole thing, which is a huge pain since it takes so long to back things up in the first place. Once I realized that I had to re-upload 500 gb from my external hard drive, I switched over to crash plan.

This may not be an issue for you, but I'm personally not going to use backblaze after that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:13 PM on August 22, 2017

Oh, actually, backblaze deletes a file after 30 days, not 60. That's a problem not only for external hard drives but also if you accidentally delete something and don't realize it within that 30 day window.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:35 PM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

This solution only works if you store one of those drives offsite and that, on a regular (and reasonably frequent) basis, you remember to manually kick off the backup and then (once it has completed) drive over to the offsite location to swap the drives out.

I find that keeping one set of drives at home and the other at my workplace deals adequately with both of these issues.
posted by flabdablet at 10:38 PM on August 22, 2017

I have had very poor experiences using Arq on Amazon Cloud Storage. Two different backups got corrupted for no apparent reason, so I had to re-upload 1TB worth of stuff. Then I migrated to a new computer and the old backup set no longer works. It does not give me a lot of confidence that the backups are working at all.
posted by wnissen at 9:50 AM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Re: Nextcloud, does it encrypt the files on the remote server? I can't tell from the docs.
posted by sweth at 10:18 AM on August 23, 2017

Another Crashplan refugee - since I only back up my wife's computer to CrashPlan, it looks like it might even be cheaper for me to move to their small business plan for one year with the 75% discount they're offering. But after that...

Backblaze has a 30-day deletion policy that makes them a hard sell for me. I like everything else about them, but if a folder of precious photos from 2006 is silently corrupted, I can't guarantee I'd notice within 30 days. And then, boom, Backblaze only has the corrupted versions. I'd still have Time Machine backups, and the 1 and 2 year-old Time Machine disks that are stored off-site (in my office), but why am I paying for a cloud backup service if they won't have my back in an all-too-plausible scenario?

There are Backblaze reps in the aforelinked Hacker News thread - including one of the founders, who made a couple of very nice comments - and he says that based on the massive feedback, they are seriously re-thinking their 30-day retention policy. So I guess I'm going to wait and see. If they go to 6 months, at least, then I'm on board.

Otherwise, I'm not sure what to do.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:03 PM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation to use some sort of cloud storage only for important documents/photos and do local backups for everything else. I do this:
- SpiderOak for my documents/photos (but other services are fine for this as well)
- Network backup to a local NAS for Window's equivalent of the Time Machine feature (which backs up music and videos as well)
- Google Play Music for my music collection
- External HD backups for system image and all vaguely important files. I rotate between a couple of HDs for this.
posted by Aleyn at 2:36 PM on August 23, 2017

I've started a backblaze trial. It will take 42 days to backup my computer, which would be unacceptably long if I weren't still running crashplan.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:33 AM on August 28, 2017

42 days? Yikes.

Does anyone have experience with Carbonite? I was planning to sign up for their plan, since it appears they're prepared to make the transition pretty seamless.

The only other cloud backup I've used was Mozy, and I had a bad experience when I tried to restore with them.
posted by Groovymomma at 8:11 AM on August 28, 2017

I just checked again, and despite not having had a sudden increase in my volume of files, the estimate is now that it will take 51 days for the initial backup.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:09 AM on August 28, 2017

(Please do post progress updates when you can - at least I'm very interested. And are you saturating your upstream bandwidth? How has it been affecting the rest of your internet usage?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:10 PM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

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