Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why I Prefer CrashPlan for Online Backups

Joe Kissell:

CrashPlan developer Code 42 publicly stated a few years ago that a native Mac app was in the works, but for some reason it has so far failed to materialize. Instead—perhaps as an interim measure while the native app is being perfected—CrashPlan now bundles its own copy of Java. That means you can run CrashPlan on your Mac without having to download Oracle’s Java—it behaves just like a stand-alone app. More importantly, CrashPlan’s built-in version of Java is self-contained, inaccessible to other Java apps and to websites, which are where most Java security exploits originate. And it doesn’t include the adware.


First, [Backblaze] file restoration drives me nuts. You log in to your account on the Backblaze website and select the file(s) you want to restore, and what you get back is a Zip file containing those files—in a replica of their original folder structure. So, if you restore a single file that was stored 10 levels deep in a series of nested folders, your expanded Zip file will be a series of 10 nested folders with your file inside the last one. After digging down to it, you’ll have to drag it manually to the corresponding spot on your disk. That’s a minor inconvenience for one file, but a huge hassle if you’re restoring lots of files from different locations.

By contrast, the CrashPlan app gives you the option to restore any file to its original location—either overwriting or renaming any file of the same name. Which is exactly what I want, 90 percent of the time. Or, if you prefer, you can restore files to your Desktop or any other arbitrary folder.


Unfortunately, although Carbonite is pretty good on Windows, the Mac version lacks a number of features I consider essential, including versioning (storing old versions of backed-up files after the original changes).

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

I am a happy CrashPlan user too. Their support is great.

The app, on the other hand, needs improvement. Upload speeds can be slow, manual cache tweets are necessary for larger backup sets, CPU usage does sometimes not follow the configured limits and verifying the backup selection can take forever if you have a lot of data in your backup. From a security perspective, it is worrisome that the private key is shown as plaintext in the app.

I used CrashPlan for quite a while with local backup disks, but Java is just too damn slow for this sort of activity. An initial backup of a few TB would take more than a week.

Eventually I gave up waiting for a native version and thankfully Retrospect came back from the dead, and that's what I use now.

The zip file can overwrite the files in their original location but you can't do it from Finder. You need to go to the Terminal and do `cd' to the place that is the root directory of what is inside the zip file and then type `unzip'.

Surprised this article doesn't mention the only reason I chose CrashPlan over BackBlaze: BackBlaze will delete backups of external drives if they aren't connected to your computer for 30 days. (Unless your computer is switched off for the entire period.)

More recently, they've added email warnings if a drive is unplugged for more than a couple of weeks, but it's still not worth the risk for me, especially with my current upload bandwidth!

@Rich I covered that and other Backblaze issues here.

Ah, sorry, I seem to have missed that post. Looks bad.

Apparently I did read this one, though, because I commented on it:


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