Pros / The desktop app is one of the easiest apps to use.
Cons / The backup and restore speeds were just average.
Verdict / CrashPlan is one of the best online data backup services for Macs because it combines high value for a family with ease of use and excellent security.
Developed by Code42, CrashPlan has established itself as one of the most trusted Mac online backup services. It comes with unlimited storage for up to 10 computers, unlimited file versioning and indefinite file retention for when you delete files on your computer. The desktop app is the easiest to use of the 10 services on our lineup. The backup speed is average, but the restore is very fast. And you can rest easy knowing that this service features some of the best security protocols available, including a personal encryption key. For these reasons, CrashPlan earns the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for best Mac online backup service.
Price & Value
For our review of cloud backup apps for Macs, we started with a relative cost evaluation of the service's subscriptions at three levels: a large family with at least five devices, a small family with three devices and an individual. CrashPlan has three subscription plans: individual, family and business. Since our comparison of Mac online backup services focuses on the best plans for a household, we reviewed the family plan. The only difference between this plan and the individual plan is the number of computers you can back up. The family plan allows you to back up 10 computers with unlimited storage for less than $13 a month, or $149.99 a year. The individual subscription costs about $5 a month or $59.99 a year.
The individual plan offers the best value if you're just backing up one Mac, which is why it received an A- in our evaluation. The service received a C- for the small family because the cost per computer is about $50 a year; and it received B- for the large family because it costs about $30 per computer each year. However, if you use the subscription to its full potential and back up 10 computers, the cost per computer is less than $15 per computer each year, which puts it on par with the most valuable Mac backup services in our review.
In our backup tests, CrashPlan's backup speed wasn't impressive, but it wasn't disappointing either. It was simply average, receiving a C for relative speed. This isn't a terrible downside when you consider all the app's other advantages. We ran multiple backup sets of various file types and at various times of the day to account for network traffic fluctuations on the server side. If you apply its average rate in our tests to 1TB of data, CrashPlan would complete the backup in about 8.5 days, assuming the speed remains constant. For comparison, the fastest service in our tests would complete that backup in less than three days, while the slowest service would complete it in more than six months.
One of CrashPlan's best features is the app's interface. The backup process received an A for ease of use because it has few steps, and everything is clearly labeled and easy to find. Even the most novice user can initiate a backup set with no learning curve.
The one downside to CrashPlan is the lack of device syncing. This is a minor issue, as device syncing is more of a convenience feature when considering Mac data backup. It's a more prominent feature with services that also have prominent file-sharing capabilities. Still, device syncing is a great feature to have because it allows you to mirror your files on all of your devices, which means you can work on a document with your laptop and then work on the same document with your desktop Mac without having to transfer the file using a thumb drive.
CrashPlan received a C+ for relative speed in our restore tests. Much like in the backup tests, we restored the files at various times of the day and on the same network. If the rate we recorded were applied to 1TB of data, CrashPlan would complete the restore in a little less than two weeks, assuming that the rate remained constant. For comparison, the fastest service in our relative restore speed tests was less than three days. Of course, you may experience better or worse results depending on your network limitations.
CrashPlan has indefinite file retention and unlimited file versioning. With some Mac online backup services, if you delete a file on your computer, the file is then deleted from the service's servers within 30 days. With CrashPlan, the files remain indefinitely. In addition, you can maintain an unlimited number of file versions, which means that every time you change a file, a new version is backed up. This allows you to restore the file to any point in its history, much like a virtual time machine.
CrashPlan also offers courier recovery, which costs an additional fee. If you need to recover all of the data you've backed up, but you don't have the time or patience to download the files, you can have the service send your files on an external drive. Instead of several weeks, you can have your files restored in a few days.
If you're concerned about the privacy of your data, you can rest easy knowing that CrashPlan offers some of the best security available. When you back up your files, the app encrypts the data with 448-bit Blowfish encryption before uploading it to the servers. During the upload, it protects the files with 128-bit encryption via an SSL transfer, which isn't as strong as 256-bit encryption but is still very good.
The best security feature of CrashPlan is the option to maintain your personal encryption key. If a Mac online backup service doesn't offer this feature, then it means the encryption keys are maintained on the service's servers. The service can access the files at will. By maintaining your own encryption key, you are the only one who can access and view the files. However, this comes with some responsibility and risk. If you forget the encryption key, which is a password you devise, then CrashPlan can't reset the key or remove the encryption. As such, it's important that this remain a feature you can opt out of.
CrashPlan is one of the best Mac cloud backup services because it provides good value with usability. With the family plan, you get unlimited storage for up to 10 computers. Its backup and restore speeds were average. In addition, the security features are excellent and include the option to maintain your own encryption key. With this service, you can protect the data on your Macs easily.