I have to say it takes a certain amount of guts to name your cloud computing backup service “CrashPlan” — because if your service doesn’t work, you’re going to get lots of snarky headlines like the one you see for this article.

Last night, at around 10:30pm, I downloaded and installed CrashPlan on my Mac and now, over 12 hours later, and after only having 1.1GB uploaded out of a 152GB total, I’ve given up on the service and I removed my content — I think, I hope! … there’s no way to actually preserve your privacy and delete your account or confirm actual machine deletion — and I wholly removed the CrashPlan software from my beloved MacBook Air.

The whole CrashPlan experience started off flaky.  Instead of defaulting to backup my entire machine, the CrashPlan software only chose my user directory — conveniently skipping over 100GB of “other stuff” on my computer like all my applications and other vital organs — that I had to go in to Preferences and manually select for backing up.  That should’ve been an immediate red flag that CrashPlan sees itself as an incremental service and not a full-security backup solution for your box.

I don’t care if CrashPlan offers a 30-day free trial.  If the product doesn’t work, then you wasted your time.  Who’s paying me for losing 12 hours of my time babysitting this crash and burn?

The backup was painfully slow — averaging around about 5% of my available upload bandwidth even though I told CrashPlan to use 95% of my CPU when I wasn’t using the machine and everything getting backed up was being pulled from a super-fast SSD.  The CrashPlan estimated timeframe for completing the backup of my data varied between six and 17.5 days.

17.5 days for a backup?!

I uploaded over 150GB of music data to my Amazon Music and Google Music accounts in under three days!

It looked to me like the CrashPlan server crashed this morning around 7:00am Eastern.  The backup started and stopped several times during the overnight and then just finally gave up early this morning when the “backup destination” was “not accessible.”

I know the problem wasn’t on my end, because everything else I use every single day performed just fine.

I originally thought it would be a good idea to have a full remote copy of my MacBook Air in case of theft or fire — but as I was deleting the CrashPlan software from my life this morning, I realized that between Google Docs and Dropbox and Amazon and iTunes Match that I have already pretty much self-preserved my most important data in the cloud and that CrashPlan was a needlessly redundant backup that ended up not being worth the time or effort to conceive.

18 Comments

    1. It was a pretty big disappointment, Gordon. CrashPlan is supposed to be a good choice for the Mac. They have a “hard drive” service. They send me a drive, I back up my Mac and ship it back to them and the big, hard, work is done after they copy my Mac to my account. You have to pay around $150.00USD for that service, though, so you’re paying straight up front with no way of seeing if the product actually works or not.

  1. CrashPlan’s default settings are designed to be unobtrusive (so you don’t notice it running). You can change the settings to make it back up faster. Info is here – http://support.crashplan.com/doku.php/recipe/speeding_up_your_backup
    Typically you can expect to upload about 10-20 GB per day.
    Once the initial backup is complete, the incremental backups (which happen at whatever frequency you like) happen much, much faster.
    Since all your data is encrypted before it is ever sent from your machine, it is totally secure and private. If you deactivate your account, the encrypted files will be removed from our servers after a short delay (this avoids any accidental deletion of backups in case where a customer accidentally deactivates.)
    BTW, the default selection of the ‘home’ folder is based on customer requests. Most users prefer that. But as you mentioned, you can change the selection at any time, to include any or all of the data on your drive(s). Unlike most other backup solutions, we don’t have any limits on file size, type, or location.
    Mike Evangelist – Code 42 Software

    1. Hi Mike!

      I’ve been waiting for you to show up here and post a comment. SMILE! In my CrashPlan research I saw that you always visited blogs with negative reviews to place the company spin your way. While I appreciate that’s part of your job, it does leave one feeling a little cynical about the generosity of the commentary.

      End users don’t know what’s good for them and I know you know that. Do what is best for us, not what is easiest on your servers and bandwidth. We come to you for a full backup solution. You, by default, pick our user directory even though you know it isn’t a complete, machine-recoverable, restoration. That gives us a false sense of being “backed up” and safe. In my case, you only chose to upload 50gigs of my stuff by default instead of triple that for a proper backup. If you’re defaulting to the convenient, and not the necessary, then you need to make that clear to customers up front and then offer us the option of doing a full backup or just an partial one on the first wind up of the backup process.

      You also need to let us wholly delete our data and account on demand. It’s a terrible business practice to fuzzily leave any of our stuff on your servers until it gets overwritten or it “expires.” Make us click an “ARE YOU SURE?” button three times on three different pages if you must — but instant deletion is our right and not yours.

      At my upload rate of, perhaps, 2 gigs a day based on my 12-hour experience with your service — it would’ve taken me 75 days with my computer always on and connected to the internet to do my first full backup and that is wholly unacceptable as a consumer solution.

  2. As someone who’s quite experienced with a lot of different backup services including Crashplan, and has helped hundreds of my clients with services like this, it sounds like your review is far too emotional and lacking in facts, statistics or research. You didn’t list your upload bandwidth but regardless, you should know that an initial backup of 152GB over the internet will take quite some time (days or weeks) and occasional interruptions of service are to be expected. I encourage my clients to utilize CrashPlan’s unique option where they FedEx overnight a drive to you for a speedy initial backup. Should you ever need to restore quickly, the overnight drive option is again a nice feature that the competitors don’t yet have.

    Anyway I’m sorry you had a bad experience. You’re obviously quite emotional about it and appear to be looking for revenge by writing such a shallow and scathing review. For the sake of your readers and your work, do more research next time and leave the emotion aside.

    1. Oh, I love troll comments like this — so full of sanctimonious bile and feigned outrage! Ha!

      Go back and carefully re-read the review.

      Why would I pay for FedEx backup service when the free trial fails?

      Why can Amazon and Google upload over 120 gigs of my local music in less than three days each?

      Why would CrashPlan take an estimated 75 days to upload the same amount of material?

      How do you explain the screenshots that the fatal problem was on their end with their non-responsive servers?

      Sorry, but I used their product, it didn’t work. I wrote what I discovered. I shared my screenshots.

    1. Wow, i’m just a fella who came across this site to get a feel for what folks think about crashplan and I assure you Scott Martin that it is you who sound like “a child”.

      1. I appreciate your keen eye, R. Powell! SMILE!

        It is unfortunate that there are some people who go to blogs looking to make trouble. The internet is still the Wild West in many ways — people out scheming for their own shallow self-interests — even if those motivations are not always expressly made clear.

  3. I was a lot more patient than David and waited 4 weeks to complete a 50GB backup on CrashPlan Central. During the initial backup, I noticed that the process was very weird: there were days that the backup was like 70% or 80% complete and the next day it went back to like 35% or 40% and started backing up the same untouched, unmodified files! I am SURE I was not changing 10-20GB of files and I am also sure they were simply losing track of what needs to be backed up online because my local backup archive (completed long before the online backup) was not behaving like that (i.e. it was not re-backing up those files)!
    After that things were running fine for a week and today the backup software re-scanned my files and started the online backup at 34%!!! So, I wanted to see if things are even worse and tried to restore a file from the online archive (restore from local archive was tested and is OK). Chose yesterday (April 15th) as the date of reference and the dialog box says “no files found”. Tried different dates like April 14th, 13th, 12th etc. and in all cases I get a message “no files found” for restoring! Which means that they either deleted or removed access to all previous versions of my online backup archive!
    So, I am paying for nothing and I cannot feel secure that my backup archive will be available online when I need it.
    I communicated all this to their technical support but I guess it will take them another week (that was the delay the first time) to come back with a response.
    I liked their policy of keeping forever copies of deleted files but now I have to start looking for a more serious backup provider. It’s a pitty because their software works like a charm when backing up on an external drive.

    1. That is an alarming story, Yiannis, and I thank you for sharing your direct experience with us. It must have been quite a shocker to discover you didn’t have any backed up files!

  4. “The best free way to back up personal data.” That’s a quote from the crashplan front page.

    So why are you expecting a full system backup?

    1. Ha! If CrashPlan is now just a paid, slower version, of Google Drive for backing up “personal data” — then they’re in even worse shape than I thought in my original review. If what you claim now was their business mandate when I published my review, the CrashPlan guy would have told me that — he’s incredibly active in defending CrashPlan on the web.

      Here’s precisely what he said here in his comment:

      But as you mentioned, you can change the selection at any time, to include any or all of the data on your drive(s). Unlike most other backup solutions, we don’t have any limits on file size, type, or location.
      Mike Evangelist – Code 42 Software

  5. I don’t have near the experience those of you writing in this blog have. But when CrashPlan told me it would take 39.5 days to upload (now 25.9 days) my files, it un-nerved me. So I shall not purchase the service. It will take a while for CrashPlan and programs like it to fix the long time frame for uploading. David’s note on uploading his music to Amazon certainly underlines my feelings. I believe CrashPlan likely is an excellent program but definitely a work-in-progress.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure what CrashPlan is trying to be now — it seems like they’re moving away from critical hard drive failure restorations and more to a selective backup service.

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