Tuesday, August 22, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

CrashPlan Discontinues Consumer Backups

CrashPlan (Hacker News, MacRumors, Reddit, 9to5Mac, Backblaze):

Thank you for being a CrashPlan® for Home customer. We’re honored that you’ve trusted us to protect your data.

It’s because of this trust that we want you to know that we have shifted our business strategy to focus on the enterprise and small business segments. This means that over the next 14 months we will be exiting the consumer market and you must choose another option for data backup before your subscription expires. We are committed to providing you with an easy and efficient transition.

They’re keeping the small business plan, which at $10/month is twice the cost of the individual version (which itself had gone up quite a lot in recent years). This is the only transition option that will preserve your years of backup history. If you switch to another provider and later find out that you need to restore a version of a file from 2016, you’re out of luck. Plus, depending on your data set and connection speed—my mother has less than 100 GB of data but only a DSL connection—it may take months just to upload the current versions of your files to another provider.

I’m not sure what differences there might be in switching to the business version, but based on the way the company has behaved I no longer want to rely on them. I would prefer to transition my family members to a service equivalent to CrashPlan Home, but there doesn’t seem to be one that’s good. (See the Backblaze and Carbonite caveats below.) Right now, the leading contender is probably Arq, which is a bit more complicated to set up and not as easy to remotely monitor, though probably cheaper in the long run.

For years, I’ve relied on CrashPlan both as an offsite backup and as a long-term history. I have a bunch of clone drives that I don’t rotate, so I have some ability to go back and get old files. But what I liked about CrashPlan was that it would let me go back and get any version of any file. That’s not easy to manage with local backups both because of the available software and the limited drive sizes.

After running into CrashPlan limitations a few months ago, I realized that I could no longer rely on it for long-term history and started using local Arq backups for that. However, I’d like to find another solution (other than clones and Time Machine, which corrupts itself too often) so that I don’t have all my eggs in one basket.

Joe Payne:

This is not an easy course of action for us at Code42 for a couple of reasons. First, we have consumers who love our CrashPlan for Home product and trust us every day to protect their personal files. Second, our number one core value at Code42 is “Put the Customer First” and our announcement today may seem to be at odds with that. But, it is precisely this core value that led us to the strategic decision to focus on business customers. And, in order to serve businesses well, we need to prioritize their needs–which have diverged from the needs of the consumer.

[…]

The benefit for our business customers is that we now have a singular focus on solving their complex data protection, security and compliance challenges. In addition, we will be able to accelerate our R&D investments that strengthen our technology foundation and further our data protection innovations.

Joe Kissell:

On 22 October 2018, the consumer version of the CrashPlan app will stop working entirely — that includes local and peer-to-peer backups. So, even if you weren’t backing up to CrashPlan Central (Code42’s cloud storage space for consumers), you won’t be able to keep using the CrashPlan app.

[…]

Code42 offers a discount on a Carbonite subscription, along with assistance in migrating to Carbonite. […] Unfortunately, while Carbonite is not bad on Windows, I would not recommend it to Mac users, because the Mac version offers neither versioning nor the option to use a personal encryption key. Plus, Carbonite artificially restricts upstream bandwidth, making it significantly slower than many competitors.

[…]

Backblaze is fast, reliable, and secure, and it costs $5 per month per computer. […] Backblaze stores deleted files and older versions of files for only 30 days, whereas CrashPlan lets you keep them indefinitely.

[…]

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. […] 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.

Update (2017-08-24): Peter Cohen:

Look, not to go all Fox Mulder here, but Crashplan’s consumer product pullout demonstrates an important principle: You can’t trust anyone when it comes to the safety of your data.

That’s why your first defense against data loss should be the local backup. Preferably multiple copies, but that amount of redundancy may not be for everyone. But don’t trust yourself. Find an offsite service that you trust to store your data. Use them as a secondary line of defense.

Storing your valuable data in the cloud is an excellent backup practice. Just don’t make it your only one.

Update (2017-08-28): See also: Backblaze (FAQ, tweet), Retrospect.

Charles Perry:

If @crashplan had simply raised prices, I would have paid. But if I have to redesign my backup strategy anyway, I might as well shop around.

Update (2017-08-29): See also: MacVoices.

Update (2017-09-04): One great feature of CrashPlan was the regular e-mails telling me when each Mac last backed up and how much data had been copied. Unfortunately, the e-mail that I got from Backblaze was actually misleading. About two weeks after removing the Backblaze trial from my Mac, I got an e-mail telling me that my files “are automatically being backed up.”

This is a good MacInTouch thread about Backblaze, CrashPlan, and Retrospect (via John Gordon).

Update (2017-10-03): Joe Kissell:

After carefully comparing 19 services and testing six, we believe that Backblaze (currently $50 per year per computer) is the best online backup service for most people, as it offers a great combination of useful features, unlimited storage, and excellent performance at an attractive price—the proverbial cost of a latte per month. Backblaze offers fast, reliable backups, as well as the simplest setup process I’ve seen and a number of nice touches.

[…]

Runner-up IDrive is more expensive than Backblaze and offers only 2 TB of storage, but it lets you back up from or to network volumes, offers indefinite retention of deleted files and old versions of files, lets you seed an initial backup at no charge, and provides the fastest throughput of any service in our test group. If Backblaze isn’t suitable for your needs and you’re willing to spend a bit more, IDrive may be an excellent choice.

15 Comments

[…] is a complete nightmare for customers; Kissell is one, of course, and Michael Tsai is […]

Being an early adopter of Crashplan, and having recommended it to many others, I also am quite disappointed with this outcome. One of the great things of Crashplan was that I was able to exchange backups with other private computers, e.g. with friends, or business partners, where each would back up the other's data, while not being able to look at their data without having their password. I paid for the service regardless, even though I didn't use their cloud storage, because I would get the "backup every 15 minutes" feature that way, which is effectively a Time Machine-over-internet. it seems that neither "Crashplan for Business" not their partner Carbonite does offer such an option.

I did beta test a small dev's backup solution in early 2016, which is written in Go, and which leaves the user in full control. It was originally called Duplicacy and is now called Acrosync. See https://acrosync.com/home.html - I helped making it more Mac friendly (by reporting lots of related issues :), and it has great potential because it is basically just the engine to perform incremental backups on any kind of external storage you want to use - hard disk, file server, Amazon S3, ftp, and more. And it's open source. Like git for backups. It still doesn't use advanced techniques like FSEvents to learn of FS changes on the Mac, but maybe now some devs see its potential and pick that up.

Michael, I think you need some kind of new tag about software companies firing their low-end customers. As you're well aware, it seems to be a growing trend.

I've always wondered why companies didn't just think to CHARGE for low-end home options vs. abandoning it. I've been a huge supporter of CrashPlan for years. However, the way I utilized it, had no reason to purchase what they sold at that level as I only used the friend to friend option.
I would have gladly paid - but their only option was a jump to a different product priced out of my range of justification for home use.

All this does is cast doubt on their future of support for the SMB market. Many companies leave that space as well - always grasping for the gold ring of the Enterprise market.

@Sam I don’t know. In this case, maybe it costs a lot to maintain the separate client software and to provide customer support for home users, who don’t have their own IT staff.

"In this case, maybe it costs a lot to maintain the separate client software and to provide customer support for home users, who don’t have their own IT staff."

Certainly possible. But I've always thought a key motivation behind "fire your low-end customers" is to force price hikes for everyone who has a mission critical need for an app, and to keep them from using the low-end variant of the product.

In other words, it's not that the low-end customers are unprofitable, but that the company thinks it can be more profitable by firing the low-end customers.

I guess I'll be moving to Arq and Backblaze B2. I'm wondering if running Backblaze alongside Arq/B2 can be considered a secondary cloud copy?

@Chucky The way CrashPlan handled this, it doesn’t seem like they expected many home users to switch to the business product. If they wanted to hike the prices they could have just kept doing that. Instead, they really burned their reputation with such a drastic change. If the plan was to entice with low prices and then hike them, I don’t think they executed that very well. I think your idea may be right for some of the other companies/products, though.

@Matt Using two different apps and data formats is better than one, but it’s not ideal. And it looks like Backblaze only has one data center.

Software company offers a service that it promises to be available indefinitely for cheap. Users flock and develop a naïve dependence. Aghast when dream is shattered. Film at 11.

[…] the news today that CrashPlan is exiting the consumer market, many folks are beginning to scramble looking for the next best backup solution. I can tell you […]

I said good-bye to CrashPlan some time ago and I am glad I did:

It was slow, unreliable, a memory hog, still relied on Java, had doubtable security and their Twitter support published lie after lie …

I use now a mix of Arq, Backblaze and Time Machine, depending on the machine. iOS backups are almost impossible, unfortunately. And backing up cloud-store data including IMAP mail is another challenge …

Consumer backup does not work as a business model outside a very limited offer like Backblaze because real consumer do not use backup services. So you end up with pro users and their expensive data flood, greetings from Amazon Cloud Drive and other failed unlimited offers!

@Matt: Since I already use Backblaze, I will not use B2 as well. Their offer is less expensive than others but that is mostly due to limited reliability. The west of the US is just one earthquake / tsunami away from needing more reliability …

BTW, Arq is fine but tends to be slow, especially in comparison to Backblaze and if you need a restore. And it needs a logged-in user while there is no continuous backup.

Arq is fine but tends to be slow, especially in comparison to Backblaze and if you need a restore.

I think this may also depend on the cloud service, no? For several weeks now I'm using Arq with OneDrive (the one TB that comes bundled with Office), I did some test-restores (in the range of a couple of hundreds MB) and I found it pretty fast – at least compared with CrashPlan.

– Tom

I did beta test a small dev's backup solution in early 2016, which is written in Go, and which leaves the user in full control. It was originally called Duplicacy and is now called Acrosync. See https://acrosync.com/home.html - I helped making it more Mac friendly (by reporting lots of related issues :), and it has great potential because it is basically just the engine to perform incremental backups on any kind of external storage you want to use - hard disk, file server, Amazon S3, ftp, and more. And it's open source. Like git for backups. It still doesn't use advanced techniques like FSEvents to learn of FS changes on the Mac, but maybe now some devs see its potential and pick that up.

Sorry for the late response....but I wanted to publicly thank Thomas Tempelmann for posting this information. Been on the hunt for an easy way to run rsync on my Surface Pro 3 (Windows 10 Pro), I already have the server set up for such connections from Linux and other *nix boxes, but *nix tools running on Windows remain a mystery to me. Cygwin could work but it's a little uh, is clunky the word I want? http://cygwin.com/ Perhaps Windows subsystem for Linux, but that's a lot of stuff just for one Linux app, well two I guess, SSH and rsync. https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/commandline/wsl/install_guide

Acrosync's functionality and price were both reasonable. Thanks again.

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