If you’re trying to decide whether CrashPlan or Carbonite is the best online backup for business decision for you, you’ve landed in the right place. During this head-to-head review, we’ll examine these longtime disaster recovery rivals round by round before picking a winner.
We’ll compare the costs, then turn our attention to the backup and restore processes of each. Then, we’ll finish up with a look at security and support. It’s going to be a bit divisive, we’re sure, but we think we’ve landed on a clear winner for most of the small business owners out there: CrashPlan, though Carbonite comes close.
If neither service meets your needs, don’t fret: we have a full collection of online backup reviews for you to peruse. We’ve also put together a number of other business backup comparisons for your consideration, including a CrashPlan vs IDrive review and one for CrashPlan vs Backblaze.
The Battle: CrashPlan for Small Business vs Carbonite Safe Pro
While neither CrashPlan nor Carbonite are the fastest or even most feature-packed backup tools for businesses on the market, both are capable services that are easy to use and provide good value relative to more expensive options out there.
CrashPlan, for its part, now devotes its entire infrastructure to disaster recovery for businesses, having ditched its personal online backup solution in 2017 (to some dismay). While Carbonite has a personal plan available that ranks among the best unlimited online backup tools, its business plans are a compelling alternative to CrashPlan for Small Business, at least on paper.
Up next, we’ll look at each service over the course of five rounds, as promised: price plans, backup process, restore process, security and support. After each round, we’ll declare a winner, then sum up our findings to crown an overall backup champion.
Bottom line isn’t everything in backup, but for SMBs looking to limit expenses, it’s pretty critical. On that note, up first we’ll evaluate value by reviewing the price plan costs of CrashPlan and Carbonite relative to the total amount of storage and supported devices.
CrashPlan for Small Business
CrashPlan makes things pretty simple when it comes to picking a plan for your business: there’s only one. It’s a good deal, too, with unlimited backup space for just $10 per month.
|CrashPlan for Business|
The plan is called CrashPlan for Small Business but the name itself is something of a relic left over from the days when the company also offered an unlimited backup plan for personal use, too. (If that’s your need, Backblaze has $5 a month unlimited plan for home use.)
While great value for those without terabytes of data to backup, a single subscription is only good for one computer, and CrashPlan doesn’t have discounts for purchasing protection for multiple employees. It also doesn’t provide smartphone backup, like those services in our best backup for mobile article.
On the other hand, you can attach as many external drives as you want to your computer and add those to your backup plan at no additional cost. That doesn’t include NAS devices but its still useful for those with stacks of HDDs to protect.
The plan itself doesn’t impose any file-size restrictions, either, and CrashPlan claims not to throttle your bandwidth if you upload too much data (translation: feel free to go nuts).
We recommend giving the free trial a spin before committing, although you can cancel anytime you like after signing up. The trial is good for one month and like the subscription, it’s unlimited.
Carbonite Safe Pro
While Carbonite’s personal use plan is unlimited, its business options aren’t. They’re also not nearly as affordable.
1-year plan $ 6.00 / month
$71.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 9.33 / month
$111.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 12.50 / month
$149.99 billed every year
There are three Carbonite Safe plans available for businesses: Pro, Power and Ultimate. Each can be used to backup unlimited computers. Carbonite Safe Power also lets you backup one server, while Ultimate includes unlimited server backup.
While we love the unlimited computer backup, the problem with Carbonite is that you don’t get much cloud space for your money. A Carbonite Safe Pro subscription, in fact, comes with just 250 GB of backup for around $270 per year. That works out to over $20 a month.
You can add more backup if that’s not enough, which it’s likely not going to be for more than two or three computers. However, each additional 100GB of backup will cost you another $100 per year.
Subscriptions also have to be paid for annually, so you’re stuck with the cost if you decide to take your business elsewhere. Make sure you take advantage of the 30-day trial before locking yourself in.
Round One Thoughts
If stuck choosing between CrashPlan for Small Business and a Carbonite Safe plan, many businesses would have no choice to go with Carbonite due to the fact that its Power and Ultimate plans include server backup. However, there are many other server backup options out there like those in our best server backup guide that are better, overall.
When it comes to affordable computer backup for your business, we have to give a strong nod to CrashPlan. $10 a month for unlimited backup is a much better deal than $22 a month for 250GB, and CrashPlan doesn’t lock you into a one-year commitment.
Next, we’ll introduce you to the basic backup features and processes for CrashPlan and Carbonite, and figure out which provides the best combination of convenience and features.
CrashPlan for Small Business
Backup with CrashPlan isn’t quite as easy as using unlimited rival Backblaze, but the overall experience is still satisfyingly simple. To create a backup plan, you’ll use the desktop client to tag objects in your file system for backup.
Click on “backup” in the navigation options down the left side of the client, then click the “change” button under “files.” You’ll be able to select both folders and files for backup.
We recommend backing up at the folder level, then excluding files you don’t want to be backed up later. You can actually exclude by file type if you want to skip over system, temporary files and the like.
You’ll also be able to set a backup destination. While the destination is the CrashPlan cloud by default, you can backup to external drives if you’re looking to implement both cloud and local backup, which is recommended if you subscribe to the 3-2-1 backup school of thought (and you should).
The CrashPlan for Small Business client runs continuous backup, meaning files are protected in near real-time when new files are added or existing files changed. If you prefer less regular backups, you can make use of the client’s scheduling features to restrict operations to certain hours or certain days.
However, in general, you should be fine running with continuous backup since, in order to conserve bandwidth, only the delta of altered files gets copied over to the cloud rather than the entire file (if that was Greek to you, check out our block-level sync article to find out what we’re talking about).
On a final note, CrashPlan compresses files by default. Generally, compression is used to decrease file space in the cloud, however with CrashPlan that shouldn’t be a problem for you (because unlimited).
CrashPlan states that the compression process also speeds up your backup and that it’s lossless, meaning it won’t degrade your files in any way. However, in our experience compression more often tends to slow a backup down. We’d recommend shutting it off if you’re experiencing slow uploads to see if that helps move things along.
Carbonite Safe Pro
In many ways, setting up backup plans with Carbonite entails much less work than CrashPlan. That’s because it takes the Backblaze approach of scanning your computer and backing up all files of a certain type, including documents, images, videos, emails and most other common file types.
While we like that approach for unlimited backup, Carbonite caps your total data, which can make simply grabbing everything a terrible approach, especially if you have multiple employee computers attached to your account.
If that’s a problem, you can login into the Carbonite browser interface and create backup policies that can be applied to computers on your account, restricting backup to certain folders and file types.
In fact, you might want to tweak it anyway since Carbonite has a default policy in place that restricts backup to the desktop folder, documents folder, Outlook data folder, my pictures folder, my music folder and my videos folder (on Windows). Temporary and system files are also excluded by default.
Backups run continuously with Carbonite Safe to help keep your drives protected in near real-time, but you can opt out if you want to only backup once a day or disable backup during certain hours.
Carbonite only backs up the changed parts of edited files, like CrashPlan, so it should run pretty efficiently without disabling continuous backup. Carbonite also compresses files using what the company states is lossless zlib compression. There’s no option to turn it off.
Round Two Thoughts
The biggest problem most people will have backing up their files is the same for both CrashPlan and Carbonite: speed. While that’s not a huge issue once you complete your initial backup process, getting over that hump will test your patience.
We’ve tested both services, and in both cases, it took us well over an hour to backup a gigabyte worth of files. If you have 500GB of files to backup, you’d be looking at probably close to a month to complete the initial stage.
You can read our general article about expectations for backup speed to learn more regarding impacting factors, but the central issue with both services seems to be an absence of much infrastructure.
If backup speeds are a big concern, consider a service with multiple data centers around the world, instead, like Rackspace Cloud Files. (Paired with CloudBerry Backup to manage the backup process, of course, as detailed in our getting started with Rackspace guide.)
On to the matter at hand, we’re giving round two to Carbonite. The use of file-type backup combined with file-location backup, in addition to the ability to create backup policies, makes it easy to design complete backup plans.
Just as important as getting your files into the cloud is being able to quickly and easily get them back when disaster strikes. With that in mind, round three is all about file restoration.
CrashPlan for Small Business
You can restore backup files directly from the desktop client by clicking on the “restore” tab. A file tree will let you check and uncheck folders and files. When you’re ready to restore, just click the “restore” button near the bottom of the screen.
You can also restore past versions of files. CrashPlan can be set to save every version of every file, which is useful for both rollbacking unwanted changes and file corruptions. Because you get unlimited backup space with CrashPlan, there’s no harm going with unlimited versioning, either.
CrashPlan will also let you restore files to their original location automatically or download a .zip file to your hard drive to work with manually.
In addition to the desktop client, you can access files from the CrashPlan browser interface and mobile apps for Android and iOS. This provides a convenient means of getting at files on the road and on computers that don’t belong to you.
Carbonite Safe Pro
Carbonite also supports file recovery directly from the desktop client. However, it’s only for recovering everything at once. There’s an option to recover individual files, too, but it’ll redirect you to the browser interface to manage the recovery process.
When recovering all of your files using the desktop client, you can choose to recover everything back to its original location or download a .zip file.
Web restores let you select content to download by checking the box next to it. There’s no option to restore individual files to their original location, so you’ll have to handle that part on your own.
Carbonite also has mobile apps for Android and iOS that you can use to access your files. By default, Carbonite always retains at least three versions of files backed up on Windows computers. However, versioning isn’t offered for the Mac client for some reason.
Round Three Thoughts
There’s really not much to separate the restore process between CrashPlan and Carbonite. Both are relatively easy to use, have good versioning capabilities (unless you’re a Carbonite Mac user) and let you restore files to either their original locations or download them in a zip file. Both also have smartphone apps to access your files from.
CrashPlan, however, offers a more flexibility. For one, you can restore individual files to their original location, while Carbonite only lets you do so if recovering your entire backup. Also, Carbonite forces you to recover individual files via the browser GUI, while with CrashPlan you can do so using the desktop client, too.
The security of files stored in the cloud is always a big deal, especially for business users. Next up we’ll cover the encryption options and everything else you’ll want to know about before letting either company safeguard your files.
CrashPlan for Small Business
When you send files to CrashPlan for backup, they’re encrypted end-to-end. That means your files are rendered unreadable before leaving your computer and don’t get put back together until you recover them. In transit, they’re also protected using transport-layer security (TLS).
By default, CrashPlan manages the encryption keys for you, which allows the company to reset your password if you forget it. However, it also means your files could be decrypted either by the company through the request of law enforcement, or by someone who steals those keys from the CrashPlan server (breaches are usually inside jobs).
To secure against those possibilities, CrashPlan has an option for private encryption that you can and should enable. Doing so means that only you can decrypt your files.
The encryption protocol used by CrashPlan is AES, which is the same protocol used by most other cloud providers, most banks, and most government organizations. The level of AES used is 256 bit, which with present technology would take many billions of years to crack through with brute force.
We mentioned versioning earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again here as this feature lets you potentially undo the damage caused by ransomware programs like CryptoLocker and CryptoWall. Once you remove the offending malware, just rollback corrupted files to clean copies, and you should be good to resume business without having to shell out thousands of dollars.
One big miss with CrashPlan is two-factor authentication (2FA). By not including this feature, stolen passwords are much easier to use since no additional security clearance will be required for logging into your account on unfamiliar machines.
If you’re sold on CrashPlan except for the absence of 2FA, the good news is that the service is compatible with many single-sign-on (SSO) services like OneLogin. Setting up the integration will cost you more money but will give you more control over user passwords, minimize phishing opportunities and let you enable 2FA.
SSO use also decreases user password fatigue by letting your workforce use the same credentials for multiple tools, including many of those services mentioned in our best enterprise sync and share guide.
Carbonite Safe Pro
Carbonite takes most of the same steps as CrashPlan in keeping your files secure. Files kept server-side are encrypted using AES and protected in transit with TLS. The encryption is end-to-end, though not private by default.
If you prefer to keep your encryption keys to yourself and not let the company manage them, you can enable private encryption. However, you have to do so prior to your initial backup; if you change your mind and want to add 2FA later, you’ll need to backup all of your files again.
Of less concern is that Carbonite uses 128-bit AES instead of 256-bit. That’s not nearly as secure a cipher but only relatively speaking. It would still take billions of years to crack, just not as many billions.
Carbonite, like CrashPlan, also has a deep versioning feature as we noted earlier. Like CrashPlan, that makes it helpful for rolling back file corruptions caused by ransomware, which could otherwise sink your business.
Where CrashPlan misses, Carbonite hits by allowing users to enable 2FA. When logging into your account from an unfamiliar machine, you’ll be required to enter a security code sent via text. As long as whoever stole your password doesn’t also snag your smartphone, your files should be safe.
Carbonite also supports SSO integrations if you’d prefer more oversight regarding your employee passwords.
Round Four Thoughts
We have no qualms about recommending either service from a security standpoint, and that’s mostly thanks to the inclusion of private end-to-end encryption and powerful versioning features. However, the absence of two-factor authentication will rightfully dissuade some business owners from choosing CrashPlan to protect their hard drives.
In light of that, we’re giving round four to Carbonite.
With our battle tied at two rounds each, this final round is for all the marbles, and for this final round, we’ll be covering support. Finding responsive and reliable help when needed is a critical concern for businesses dealing with disaster recovery.
CrashPlan for Small Business
We love the fact that CrashPlan provides multiple avenues for direct help for technical problems. Those include two options for live contact in chat and telephone support. While live help isn’t available 24×7, the hours are reasonable: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT, Monday through Friday.
For evening and weekend support, you’re not totally on your own since CrashPlan monitors its email queue around the clock. CrashPlan triages tickets to determine severity, meaning your critical issues should prompt reasonably fast responses. Even on non-critical issues, our test emails to CrashPlan usually resulted in emails back within a few hours.
If you’re more of a DIY type, the company also provides a searchable knowledgebase packed with support articles, in addition to guides for both users and account admins.
Carbonite Safe Pro
Carbonite offers telephone support during weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST. However, there’s no live chat option for those who prefer written communication.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with Carbonite via email 24×7, providing a means of getting help when the call center is closed. Our test emails resulted in responses usually within a half day and often within a few hours.
Help is also available via a support knowledgebase if you need it. Carbonite maintains a dedicated section for its business backup solution, which includes articles on using its various admin features.
Round Five Thoughts
Both services offer decent technical help options. While we’d like to see 24/7 live support, that’s uncommon among providers unless you go with a service like Acronis Backup, which offers 24/7 premier support for businesses if you’re willing to pay for it (read our Acronis Backup review).
While it won’t make a difference for many business owners, we’re going with CrashPlan for its inclusion of live chat.
If we’re going by round victories, this battle falls in favor of CrashPlan, three to two. We’d be woefully amiss, however, to suggest that each round victory should carry the same weight. Many of the features we touched on will be more important to some business owners than others, which could potentially sway the victory either way.
However, for the bulk of business owners out there, we believe CrashPlan is a better overall choice than Carbonite. The biggest difference between these two services is cost and device support. There are variances in backup processes, restore processes, security and support, but for the most part, they’re less convincing reasons to choose one or the other.
CrashPlan gives you unlimited backup for your computer for just $10 a month, and that includes local drive backup. A Carbonite Safe Pro subscription, meanwhile, can be used to backup unlimited computers, but you only get 250GB of backup for the base price, which is more than twice the cost of CrashPlan on a per month — and you have to pay for a year up front.
The only case in which we’d really recommend Carbonite over CrashPlan is if you have NAS devices or servers to backup since CrashPlan doesn’t support those machines.
However, if you’re looking for server backup, you probably want a backup service with better data-transfer rates, such as CloudBerry Backup (read our CloudBerry Backup review) paired with a cloud IaaS service like Rackspace or Amazon S3.
For businesses looking for an affordable computer backup solution, there just aren’t many better solutions out there than CrashPlan for Small Business.
Winner: CrashPlan for Small Business
If you remain unconvinced that CrashPlan will be the optimal choice for your business, don’t forget to give our best backup for business article a looksie. We also welcome questions and comments, which you can leave below. Thanks for reading.