PROS / The desktop app was very easy to use in both backup and restore phases.
CONS / The service lacks two-step verification.
VERDICT / CrashPlan is one of the best cloud backup services, because it combines high value with performance, usability and security.
Developed by Code42, CrashPlan is one of the most recognizable and trusted online backup services on the market. The service provides unlimited storage for up to 10 computers, unlimited file versioning and indefinite file retention. The desktop app is extremely easy to use, and the performance tested above average for both the backup and restore phases. In addition, it's the only service in our review that utilizes the 448-bit Blowfish encryption, which includes a private encryption key. For these reasons, CrashPlan earns the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for best online backup service.
As part of our evaluation of online backup services, we started by evaluating the value of over 30 services. We calculated the cost per computer to back up 1TB of storage for a large family with five computers, a small family with three computers and an individual with one computer. After eliminating the services that cost too much, we tested the backup and restore performance of 23 services, measuring backup and restore speeds and evaluating the app's ease of use. After all this, CrashPlan clearly earned its spot near the top of our review.
Price & Value
CrashPlan offers three subscription plans: individual, family and business. Since our comparison focuses on the best plans for a household, we focused on the family plan, which allows you to protect up to 10 computers with unlimited storage for $149.99 a year.
At the large-family level of our evaluation, the service received a B- because it costs about $30 per computer each year, but keep in mind that you can back up to 10 computers with unlimited storage. So it's possible to back up 10TB of data if you had that much data. The service received a C- at the small-family level because it costs about $50 per computer each. The cost for the individual plan is $59.99 per year for one computer, which is why it received an A- in our relative cost evaluation.
CrashPlan's backup speed received a B+, which put it among the fastest services. To determine the speed, we ran multiple backup tests at various times of the day and night, including the weekend, to account for network traffic fluctuations. The average speed suggests that it could back up 1TB in about 10 days. In comparison, the average backup speed was about 15 days while the fastest backup speed in our tests was less than five days.
The desktop app's ease of use received an A-. There a lot of features and tabs, but it's designed in a way that makes it easy to initiate a backup set in as little as three mouse clicks. The interface doesn't rely on symbols, so every feature is clearly labeled so you know what it is immediately. Most of the features even have a question mark next to it so that when you hover your mouse over it, a definition of the feature appears. This alleviates any learning curves you may experience almost immediately because the answer is readily available.
One downside to CrashPlan is the lack of device syncing. This is a minor issue, as this is more of a convenience feature than a backup feature. However, device syncing is still a common feature among cloud backup services – five of the 10 services in our review have it.
In the file-restoration tests, CrashPlan received a B- for relative speed. Similar to the backup performance tests, we ran restore sets at various times of the day and night to find an average rate. With CrashPlan, the average speed suggests that it would take the app about two weeks to completely restore 1TB. In comparison, the fastest restore speed in our tests was about 2.5 days. Still, the average speed was over three weeks.
CrashPlan received an A for the ease of use of the restore features. You can restore files in as few as three mouse clicks. You can pause the restore. The settings are clearly labeled and accessible while restoring files. In addition, the app provides indefinite file retention and unlimited file versioning. This allows you to restore the file to any point in its history, much like a virtual time machine.
CrashPlan is one of the few services that offers courier recovery, though this costs extra. Courier recovery is an excellent option if you need all of your data stored quickly. Instead of downloading the files, the service sends you an external hard drive. This can turn a week's long process into a few days.
CrashPlan's devotion to security is evident in the 448-bit Blowfish encryption. It's the only service in our review with this level of encryption. The encryption occurs before you upload the files to the servers, and you have the option to maintain your encryption key. This means that you're the only who can decrypt the files. Of course, this comes with a significant responsibility, as you can't reset the encryption key if you forget it.
The one downside to the service's security is the lack of two-step verification, which is a security measure that requires two steps to the login process. This security feature requires your presence with the second step by sending you a PIN via text message, phone call or email. In this way, a hacker can't gain access to your account if your password is compromised. However, the lack of two-step verification is minimized if you choose the private encryption option because the hacker would also need the encryption key to view any of the files.
CrashPlan is one of the best cloud backup services, because it provides good value with performance and usability. With the family plan, you get unlimited storage for up to 10 computers at a price that offers good value relative to other services. In our performance tests, it proved to be above average with its backup and restore speeds. In addition, the security features are excellent with 448-bit Blowfish encryption and the option to maintain your own encryption key.