Original photo by Mike Yakaites
CrashPlan for Home Ends Today
Over a year ago, Code42 Software announced that it would be discontinuing its CrashPlan for Home service and software as of 22 October 2018. Joe Kissell, until that point one of CrashPlan’s most enthusiastic fans, explained the situation in “CrashPlan Discontinues Consumer Backups” (22 August 2017). For complete details, see Code42’s FAQ.
October 22nd is now upon us, which means that if you’ve been putting off switching to another Internet backup service, you should get started on that. Our current favorite is Backblaze, and we’re not just saying that because they’re also a TidBITS sponsor. Backblaze charges $5 per month (or $50 for a year, or $95 for 2 years) per computer for an unlimited amount of data. (And if you want to sign up for Backblaze, please click through from a link in this article or a Backblaze banner so they see the value of sponsoring TidBITS. Thanks!)
Other options abound. Code42 negotiated a 50%-off deal with Carbonite, but Joe doesn’t recommend it to Mac users. Other Internet backup companies are offering switchover discounts too, such as IDrive’s $6.95 for 5 TB for the first year deal (that plan regularly costs $69.50). IDrive was Joe’s runner-up in his extensive review of the field for Wirecutter.
For optimum data security, we recommend a three-pronged backup strategy.
- Versioned Backups: Use Time Machine with an external hard drive to make it easy to recover an accidentally deleted or corrupted file, and to provide a restoration option when moving to a new drive or migrating to a new Mac.
- Bootable Duplicate: Rely on software like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper (and there are many others) to make a bootable duplicate that will help you get up and running quickly if something goes wrong with your boot drive. A duplicate is also helpful when moving to a new boot drive or Mac.
- Offsite Backups: Subscribe to an Internet backup service, or figure out a way of storing a backup drive in another location to ensure the safety of your backups in the event of fire, flood, or theft.
If you need help developing a backup strategy that makes sense for your particular situation or assistance with configuring and using Time Machine and the cloning apps, Joe’s Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac remains the canonical reference.
Remember, when it comes to data loss, the question is when, not if, it will happen. We all lose data—I used Time Machine twice just last week to recover older versions of graphics that I messed up while editing.
And then there are a few of us who had a multi-year subscription to CrashPlan, which got extended with a year’s discount on CrashPlan for Small Business. That option was less expensive than the alternatives.
I just wish BackBlaze had a longer history than 30 days for restoration. Earlier this year, I discovered a dozen corrupted files on a shared Dropbox folder. Tracking down what happened, I found that the corruption occurred 1 year prior due to a friend’s PC getting a virus. Fortunately, CrashPlan kept a copy of the versions before corruption. Is it worth paying 2x as much per month to stay with CP for SB when my discount expires? Maybe.
Crashplan gave us a discount on their small business plan at $5 per computer per month. That discount will run out some months from now, but in the meantime, I really like the plan: I get reports by email and it has been plug and play and flexible with regards to bandwidth usage on one of the computers which is used for audio recording.
My biggest problem with Backblaze is that it doesn’t back up applications. Especially with so many applications being available as downloads only, I don’t have the “original” CD for them–and probably wouldn’t be able to remember which applications I needed. Sure, I could burn my applications to a CD, but in a worst-case scenario (my house burns, say), I wouldn’t be able to access the CD anyhow.
Do any of the online backup services really back up everything, including applications? (I can deal with them not backing up system files.)
Strangely no mention here of Arq, which Glenn pitched here:
In fact, I posted a question there some time back looking for commentary on why Glenn likes Arq even though Joe recommends Backblaze, and there was no reply.
Since then, I have moved all my Crashplan backups to Arq+Wasabi (though I haven’t pulled the plug on CP yet, though I will shortly because my discount ends tomorrow). But Backblaze does seem to win the popularity contest around here, and the Command-Control-Power guys seem to like it, too.
So I think someone should chime in and compare the two, or at least explain why the recommendations diverge.
Using Arq is more complex than Backblaze, I think that’s enough of an explanation for why Backblaze is a more general, common recommendation. The complexity starts with the business and support model, Arq doesn’t provide the cloud storage themselves so when there’s a problem, a user has to figure out who’s at fault and who to get help from.
Backblaze offers unlimited storage for a fixed price (with many caveats) while Arq plus pay-for-what-you-use storage has unknown, variable costs; many people may want file retention longer than 30 days but don’t want to be faced with making an economic decision about retention duration. Most people probably don’t think through the scenarios this far but in a big disaster situation, where you have to restore everything, the download costs of the cloud storage Arq uses can feel like getting kicked when you’re down.
Installed Backblaze, saw that it wasn’t possible to back up the applications folder. Deinstalled Backblaze.
I’m now using Arq. What a special special app: the interface is not very sophisticated. I want to see when a file changed. Instead you can only navigate by the date of the backup. The backup itself stopped for no reason. I was very unhappy as I noticed this after I had a computer problem. At least the support is fast and not totally incompetent like the Crashplan support.
Well, if you go into “preferences / advanced”, you can set “include file list in backup logs and email reports” and then go to menu “Backups / View backup session logs” to see a list of which files were backed up with each pass - though it may be more detail than you want to see. If a file is large, it may show each chunk of the file being uploaded on separate lines. And you have the logs emailed to you after each backup is complete, or specifically after an error occurs (Preferences / Email), so that may clue you in if the app isn’t backing up for some reason.
I agree with Curtis that Arq is really meant for more sophisticated users than something like Crashplan or Backblaze. However, I find that its has great backup performance, great flexibility for backup destinations, and restores when I have to do them have been as easy as something like Time Machine, at least for me. That said - for a non-technical user, I’m not sure that I would recommend Arq over something like Backblaze.
Curtis, thanks for those helpful insights. I had gathered those general pros and cons from reading the posts, but really wanted to hear it from someone who had more experience with both the products. So thanks.
Let me add that Wasabi storage pricing is very cheap, possibly the cheapest out there. And for a small amount more, I got the unlimited egress option, so there’s no incremental cost in downloading data. So no fear of getting kicked when you’re down.
Let me also point out that any of these products that offer the periodic (say monthly) full audit of your backup to ensure consistency and completeness have to download data to perform that operation. So don’t assume that you will only pay for egress bandwidth when you have an emergency and have to restore files.
The only possible exception to the above is if one of the services with integrated front and back end software is smart enough to do the audit on the server side. I’d be very impressed if that were so, and if I had a ton of free time I could inspect the traffic to figure out the answer to that myself. But if any of you has insight into this, I’d love to hear it!
Wasabi definitely has the cheapest per-GB storage rate, I didn’t know they had an unlimited egress price that’s still slightly cheaper per-GB than Backblaze’s B2. When a cloud backup is not the only backup, it’s a copy of data one never expects to use, it might make sense to pay the cheaper legacy price and pay the $0.04/GB for downloads.
Wasabi uses the same API as S3 and clearly is not only for backups but for many of the same range of uses as S3; not only having much lower storage prices but the choice to not pay for data egress is a smart way to entice people away from Amazon.
Sounds like you’re a potential customer
A little tricky getting all the keys and passwords straight but good record keeping solves the problem.
A little training helps to also understand the concept of wasabi buckets. I use them to keep one family member from being able to access the backups of the others within Arq, mainly to reduce exposure in the event their mac is stolen or hijacked.
Both Arq and Wasabi have generally offered helpful and responsive tech support.
The Arq+Wasabi discussion made me wonder if anybody has experience with using the current Retrospect with Wasabi or another cloud storage.
I use Retrospect with Dropbox (2TB) and local NAS as targets. I also use Timemachine.
I store images on an 8TB thunderbolt 3 drive and whenever my MBP connects that Carbon Copy Cloner backup my photos to the NAS
I had the same concern re Backblaze not backing up applications. I also have a fair number of apps that are obtained as downloads. They are often delivered as .DMG images. I found that by default, BB did not backup DMG files, but it was easy to delete that exception in the BB preferences. I try to keep my download apps (as DMG files) in a dedicated folder, and BB then happily backs them up. Some apps arrive as ZIP archives, which BB does backup. For others, you can zip them up yourself. I’ve found it to be a reasonable approach, and has forced me to be a little more diligent about organizing my collection of apps and other downloaded assets in one place.
I do not have experience using the current Retrospect with Wasabi, but I am also interested. This page discusses the option:
That changed today.
(I’ll continue to use B2 and OneDrive myself.)
Brings back ancient memories. Was a nice solution for a while, with the Client-Server topology to backup multiple Macs on a LAN (or WAN?). I was sad to see it go.
I am a little surprised to see all the desire to backup applications here, since applications are readily available from whatever source you got them from before.
And more to the point, Backblaze or any Internet backup service should be just a part of your overall Internet backup strategy, such that you’d always have a Time Machine backup and bootable duplicate that would have the apps.
The only situation where you’d care if your apps were backed up would be if there was a catastrophic fire or flood or whatnot that destroyed your local backups too. At that point, the effort of having to download apps from the Mac App Store or their respective sites doesn’t seem significantly different from downloading them from Backblaze. The only extra effort is remembering (or realistically, waiting until it’s obvious) what you need and going to additional Web sites. And it all pales in comparison to dealing with the event that destroyed the local backups.
When I upgraded to High Sierra last year, I intentionally did a clean install and didn’t bring over any apps. Then I installed just those I needed manually as I needed them, which resulted in a much cleaner system. Admittedly, I install a ton of stuff for testing, but still, a clean sweep of the Applications folder wasn’t a big deal.
Agreed. One can always take screenshots of the applications folder and keep a file with a record of all the license keys. Those will get backed up and will become a reference for the restoration. I suppose there are some apps out there that are highly configurable, and the loss of the configuration files would require a lot of manual work to recover. The IntelliJ IDE is an example with lots of extensions and plugins. You’d want to be sure the configuration files are being backed up remotely.
I don’t see why some people can’t understand why some users want their applications backed up along with their data. I for one have no idea what all the applications, extensions, downloads, and other support material are on my machine. It would be extremely difficult to recreate my working environment from scratch, attempting to remember all that was installed and/or where it came from (if it still exists online at all).
Backblaze IS a part of my backup strategy (the offsite part), and I want to easily reconstruct my operating environment in one of the worst case scenarios, the destruction of everything in my house. (Including Time Machine and bootable images). When Backblaze won’t save everything, even if I’m willing to pay for the space, it is just another inconvenience that I have to live with.
(BTW, CrashPlan would back up everything, and for me this complete offsite collection was the greatest loss when it was discontinued.)
I’m not saying you shouldn’t back up applications; I’m just saying that in my experience it’s not a big win in a tertiary backup for most people for the reasons I stated.
I don’t want someone who hasn’t thought their individual situation through carefully to get hung up on “Backblaze doesn’t back up applications” as a problem, because it’s not in nearly all cases. Configuration files, preferences, licenses, and so on are almost always stored in ~/Library so downloading new copies of apps doesn’t require any more setup than switching to a new drive would.
So yes, if you store data in /Applications (don’t do that), rely on programs that cannot be downloaded ever again because the company is defunct (store a DMG of the installer elsewhere), or the like, not backing up the Applications folder could be problematic in the event of a catastrophic disaster that destroys your primary and secondary backups as well.
In that case, you’d want an offsite backup service that lets you back up absolutely everything,
I agree that CrashPlan originally backed up everything, and I had it that way for the longest time. One day last year I found I was not getting backed up for 4 months. I was already at the maximum Java memory for the backup engine. Tech support eventually determined that I reached a CrashPlan file count limitation on a backup set that caused the scan for new files to never finish. Tech support also said they stopped supporting system file backups. Once I removed the applications and all of the system folders the total file count went down to where the backup could run again. For me, it was a matter of prioritizing my generated data over what is already provided by Apple.
I stopped backing up apps about 15 years ago because when I did have to restore everything the backed up apps never worked properly, if at all. I ended up having to reinstall anyway. In the case of Adobe apps, brushes, palettes, etc would get messed up in the process.
But then I don’t have that many apps, I do have a lot of stuff that runs inside other apps.
The whole point of backing up apps is to speed the restore — and if that’s the case you wouldn’t do that via an online backup anyway.
That’s why you clone your drive regularly. If the drive dies, you buy a new one and restore from the bootable clone and you’re back up and running in hours, not days. Since it’s a clone, there are no issues with apps not installing correctly or missing serial numbers.
The few data files missing from the clone you can restore from the cloud backup.
A good suggestion…I’ll need to start cloning.
This is the real reason in my mind. I’ve got some apps that took forever to find in the first place that are quite specialized. I have no desire to have to try to hunt them down again. Also, some that I’m running old versions of. I have no idea what version. I just know I won’t be able to get it again.
I know I am late to this conversation but we had NO idea that CrashPlan for Home was being discontinued. Despite receiving weekly emails that the backup was going fine, we never received any notice from CrashPlan that the service was ending. Anyway, my computer died last week - I mean the hard drive completely failed and the computer would no longer boot up. After getting what we could from hooking up hard drive externally, we thought we still had backups from CrashPlan. All of the backups are on our own personal hard drive but encrypted by CrashPlan account, which we can no longer access. I have tried calling/emailing/texting CrashPlan to no avail. We have lots YEARS of family photos, financial data, tax documentation, documents, etc. This is HEARTBREAKING, and I can not believe that CrashPlan doesn’t have a way to allow us to just log in to get an encryption key. Is there perhaps anyone on this discussion that has some suggestions or knows where I can turn for help??? Thank you for much for any and all help.
I wonder if you could subscribe to CrashPlan for Small Business using your account and get access that way. Perhaps try contacting the CrashPlan for Small Business support, if they use different addresses?
I almost suggested the same thing, and it’s the only slight hope I can think of. However, I doubt it is possible, because IIRC Crashplan small business doesn’t offer local backups, but only remote ones.
Thank you for the suggestion - yes, we have contacted CrashPlan and tried that route but they told us that will not work. They have permanently deleted all accounts and can’t get it back, and the fact that the data is on our remote drive makes no difference.
I switched to CrashPlan for Small business last year when they announced the discontinuation of the home plan. I backed up locally and to the cloud up until a month or so ago when I switched to ARQ. So unless they changed in the last month or two, CrashPlan for Small Business does indeed back up locally.
Sorry to hear it. Those of us in tech who heard about this plan knew that this was going to be the outcome for some people. It’s a real shame that Crashplan was so insistent on pursuing such an unethical and anti-customer course of action.
Very sorry you are facing this. I’m afraid your only option is to try one of the drive recovery companies at this point.
Well then, as far as I am concerned, that means you can’t trust CrashPlan for anything and you should’t use them for anything no matter what
I assume you also tried to escalate your problem when talking to their front line support people, right?
It really shows a lack of competence and/or customer care if they did indeed attempt to contact you, got a bounced email back (I assume), and also saw that connection attempts were still coming from your account. Especially with your data still in their storage system.
Is there anyone on TidBITS Talk from Crashplan or with contacts at Crashplan who can confirm all past customer data is indeed now irrevocably gone?
Thank you for the comments. Yes, we have put in multiple requests via their website contacts, made telephone calls to corporate office, texted the IT support. All basically told us the same thing : Sorry we told you, you should have known this was coming, it’s all gone now. We still have our data locally (it is not on their storage system) and can’t understand why they can’t just recreate our account for a short window to let us get in and get the encryption key for our own drive! I haven’t given up hope and will continue to hound them, so it will at least make others aware of CrashPlan’s lack of support and caring.
I’m very depressed to hear about this too—I know all too well how unreliable email is as a notification method, so for something as serious as this, it would have been nice if they’d revved the software to put up alerts.
Here’s hoping you manage to escalate to someone who can do something!
I also used Retrospect years ago. My hope is that Retrospect, installed on a separate Mac computer doing nothing but backing up two Mac office computers, would be immune to ransomware attacks, since it has its own communication system which doesn’t require mounting servers visible to the office Macs. It seems like Arq has to be installed on the computer it is backing up.
There is an open source project, Plan C, that purports to implement the ability to restore CrashPlan backups on macOS. I am pursuing this option for a family that has also lost irreplaceable files.
That’s great news! Please keep us posted on whether you get it working or not.
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