PROS / Both the backup and restore process is very easy for a novice user.
CONS / The service lacks two-step verification.
VERDICT / CrashPlan is one of the best online data backup services because it combines good value with performance, usability and security.
Developed by Code42, CrashPlan is among the most recognizable and trusted online data backup services on the market. With its family plan, you get unlimited storage for up to 10 computers, unlimited file versioning and indefinite file retention. The desktop app is very intuitive, and the app received an above-average grade for both the backup and restore phases in our tests. For security, it's the only data backup service in our review with 448-bit Blowfish encryption, which includes a private encryption key. For these reasons, CrashPlan earns the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for best online data backup service.
For our review of the best online data backup services, we evaluated the value of over 30 services. We calculated the cost per computer for 1TB of storage for a large family with five computers, a small family with three computers and an individual.
After eliminating the services that cost too much per computer, we ran multiple tests of the backup and restore performance of 23 services. We recorded backup and restore speeds and evaluated the app's ease of use. After all this, CrashPlan clearly earned its spot near the top of our review.
Price & Value
With CrashPlan, you have three subscription options: individual, family and business. Since our comparison of cloud data backup services focuses on the best plans for a household, we primarily focused on the family plan, which allows you to protect up to 10 computers with unlimited storage for $149.99 a year.
For a large family, CrashPlan received a B- because it costs about $30 per computer each year, but it's important to remember that you can back up 10 computers with unlimited storage. So it's possible to back up 10TB of data if you had that much data. At the small family level of our evaluation, the service received a C- because it costs about $50 per computer, which is slightly below average. 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.
In our backup speed tests, CrashPlan received a B+. This makes it among the fastest services in our tests. To find the speed, we ran multiple backup tests at various times of the day and night, including the weekend, to account for network traffic fluctuations. Then we averaged the speed to find the MB-per-minute rate. Using this rate, our tests suggest that it would take about 10 days to back up 1TB (on our network). In comparison, the average backup speed was about 15 days, while the fastest backup speed in our tests was less than five days.
The app's Ease of Use received an A-, making it one of the most effective apps for a novice user to learn. While there are a lot of features and tabs, the app is designed in a way that makes it easy to initiate a backup set in as little as three mouse clicks. The app never relies on symbols for context. Most of the features have a question mark that you can hover your mouse over for additional information about the feature. This makes it easy to minimize learning curves because the purpose and function of all the various features is readily available.
One downside to CrashPlan is the lack of device syncing, which is a convenience feature that you'll find with many of the apps in our review. Device syncing allows you to have files mirrored on your other computers, which means you can work on a document on one computer and move to another computer and work on the same document without having to use a USB drive to transfer the file. The lack of device syncing, however, is a minor issue though, as it's a matter of convenience and not data protection.
CrashPlan received a B- for relative speed. Similar to the backup performance tests, we ran multiple restore sets at various times of the day and night to find an average MB-per-minute rate. With this app, the average speed suggests you could restore 1TB (on our network) in about two weeks. In comparison, the fastest restore speed in our tests was about 2.5 days. Still, the average speed was over three weeks.
For Ease of Use, CrashPlan received an A. The process takes as few as three mouse clicks. You can also pause the restore to free up bandwidth if you need to. The settings are clearly labeled and accessible while restoring files. In addition, the app provides indefinite file retention and unlimited file versioning, which means you can restore as many versions of a file as you need.
CrashPlan is one of the few cloud data backup services that offers a courier-recovery option, though this comes at an additional fee. Courier recovery is an excellent option if you need to restore all of your backed-up data 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 shown with in the 448-bit Blowfish encryption, which is the highest level of data encryption in our review. The encryption happens before you upload the files to the servers, and you maintain the option to create and own the encryption key. This is a key security feature because it means that you are the only one with the ability to decrypt the files. That said, a private encryption key comes with some responsibility because the service can't reset it if you forget the password you created.
The one downside to the service's security is the lack of two-step verification to log into your account. Two-step verification adds a second step to the login process that requires your attention on the second step. In this way, a hacker can't access your files even if they have your password. However, this downside is minimized if you choose the private encryption option because the hacker would also need the encryption key to view any of the files.
Help & Support
CrashPlan offers plenty of support options to supplement its service. The website has an extensive knowledgebase and FAQs page. These are great resources for troubleshooting issues you face. If you can't find an answer to your question in the wealth of information on the site, you can call a phone number or email customer support, though site lacks live chat. You can also find tutorials and a support forum, which is excellent for sharing issues with other users that have more experience.
CrashPlan is one of the best online data backup services on the market because you get good value with good performance and excellent 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, this app proved to be above average at both 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.