This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2017-08-22 at 6:49 a.m.
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CrashPlan Discontinues Consumer Backups

by Joe Kissell

It has been a few years since a decision by a major tech company last turned me into a green rage monster [1], but it just happened again. Code42 Software [2] has announced that it’s discontinuing its consumer backup product [3], CrashPlan for Home.

I’ve been using CrashPlan since 2007, shortly after its initial release, and I was so impressed by it from day one that I’ve been evangelizing it ever since. I wrote “Take Control of CrashPlan Backups [4]” about it; I recommended it in numerous other books, including “Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide [5]”; and it was (until now) my top pick in a Wirecutter round-up [6] of online backup services. In short, I have a significant personal and professional investment in CrashPlan, based on countless hours of research and testing — I’ve evaluated more than 100 backup apps! — and now, with a mixture of anger and disappointment, I have to tell you that it’s time to find something else.

Just the Facts, Mac -- Let me set emotion aside for a moment and lay out the facts of Code42’s announcement.

According to Code42, the company has seen tremendous growth in revenue from its small business, education, and enterprise customers, but the needs of those customers have diverged sharply from the needs of consumers. So Code42 decided to put all its resources into serving its most profitable customers.

As a result, CrashPlan for Home will be discontinued entirely on 22 October 2018.

You may notice that date is 14 months from now. Here’s what will happen between now and then:

Code42 has a Consumer Information Page [9] with complete details on the transition.

So Now What? If you’re a Mac user and, like me, find CrashPlan for Small Business to be too expensive and Carbonite to be inadequate, what’s your best bet for a CrashPlan replacement? Here are my thoughts:

Rage Redux -- Now that I’ve delivered the facts, let me get back to being upset for just a bit. As angry as I am about this news, I’m livid about being misled.

Over the past few years, Code42 has made several moves that, in retrospect, were the proverbial writing on the wall. First, the company discontinued its popular multi-year discounts on subscriptions, which had made its already inexpensive service even more attractive. Then, in late 2015, it stopped offering seeding, where you jump-start the backup process by sending in a hard drive containing your first full backup. In early 2016, it canceled its Restore-to-Door service, which let you receive your backed-up files on a hard drive via overnight delivery for an extra fee. And, although the company — after years of promises — finally released a native (non-Java) backup app, that app worked only with its enterprise services, not with CrashPlan for Home (or CrashPlan for Small Business, for that matter).

Each time one of these things happened, I wrote to my contacts at Code42, who downplayed the significance of these changes and assured me, repeatedly, of their ongoing commitment to the consumer market. In fact, as recently as May 2017, a Code42 rep told me the company “remains committed to delivering peace of mind for our home consumer customers through a quality product that is easy to use and affordable.” But, as it turns out, all these moves were steps toward dropping consumer support, and it now looks like Code42 has been working toward this for at least a few years.

And that’s what really bugs me. Never mind the fact that consumers were largely responsible for Code42’s initial success, and that so many people have put their faith in this product and its creators. I understand that businesses need to make money, and sometimes the right decision for the business is something that will make a portion of your customers unhappy. I don’t fault a business for maximizing its profits, or for making difficult changes.

I do, however, fault Code42 for misleading me and others in the press into continuing to promote and recommend a product with no future, (apparently) years after that decision had been made. That’s not cool, guys. You’ve made me look foolish, and in so doing, you’ve lost my respect. (And yes, I have spoken directly to a senior executive at Code42 and expressed my feelings in no uncertain terms.)

If a business had asked me yesterday what I recommended for a corporate backup service, I might have recommended CrashPlan. Today? Not so much. What I perceive as a lack of honor in dealing with the press and its customers has, I’m afraid, turned me off to a company of which I was previously a huge fan.