I have, for many years, recommended that people use CrashPlan to backup the data on their PC. It was great because it:
- was free to use for home users and simple small business use
- created an automatic backup – you didn’t need to do anything to keep it running
- could make an offsite backup – keeping a copy of data away from your PC
- kept revisions of files – so you could restore a version of a file from last week if you accidentally overwrote it
- allowed you to make local backups – on a USB drive or second PC
- allowed you to backup to someone else’s computer, free – meaning offsite backups didn’t need a paid subscription
- would email to let you know if your PC hadn’t backed up for 3 days – and then again after 5 days
- would email a weekly summary to let you know how things are going
- kept itself to itself, without getting in your way or justifying its existence by ‘scaring’ you into paying more for services you didn’t need
Last year, CrashPlan withdrew its free home-user service. They gave everyone plenty of notice: if you already use it, you can keep using it until October 2018. Now is the time to start moving to an alternative.
Choosing an alternative backup system
I have tried most, if not all, of the backup programs and services that are available: some paid-for, and some free. None offer all of the advantages of CrashPlan’s old service. I have settled on Backblaze as the service that I am going to recommend that most people use.
Backblaze does most of what CrashPlan did:
- creates an automatic backup – you don’t need to do anything to keep it running
- makes an offsite backup – keeping your backed up data away from your PC
- keeps revisions of files for 30 days – so you can restore a version of a file from last week if you accidentally overwrite or delete it
- will email to let you know if your PC doesn’t back up for a week
- emails you a monthly summary to let you know how the backup is going
- keeps itself to itself, without getting in your way or justifying its existence by ‘scaring’ you into paying more for services you didn’t need
There are some notable differences though:
- Backblaze uses about a quarter of the memory to run in the background than CrashPlan did – so your PC will have more available memory
- Backblaze costs US$50 per year (so about £35) – less than a many of the other similar services, but CrashPlan Home was free
- Backblaze backs up onto the Backblaze servers over the internet – it won’t backup to an external hard drive or to one of your other PCs
- CrashPlan’s free Home service only actually backed up your data once per day. Backblaze constantly monitors your data and backs up whenever you change an existing file or add a new one.
The $50 subscription is per PC, not per account, so if you have two PCs that need to be backed up, you will have two subscriptions – but you can do that in one account, on one bill with one shared login.