Looking for an unlimited backup solution for your business? The good (or bad) news is that there are really only two choices to wrap your head around: Backblaze and CrashPlan. Most other backup solutions cap backup space and force your to pay more to increase it.
For some backup buyers, the decision gets even easier — a Backblaze subscription is about half the monthly cost of CrashPlan. However, as is usually the case when it comes software solutions, the bottom line isn’t the whole story.
We’ve previously written about a whole range of additional criteria that savvy business users ought to take into account in our best online backup for business buyer’s guide. The list includes ease of use, security and support, among other criteria.
While we’d recommend taking a peek at both our Backblaze for Business review and CrashPlan review prior to making a decision about your business’s backup and disaster recovery plan, we decided that a side-by-side comparison might be informative and useful, too.
Coming up, we’ll look beyond price tag to figure out which of these two services, Backblaze or CrashPlan, deserves recognition as the best unlimited backup for business today.
The Pros and Cons of Unlimited Backup
Before we get to our comparison, the first thing to do is to make sure your business really needs unlimited backup. That’s because word “unlimited” has a certain seductive appeal that makes all other considerations seem suddenly less important. It’s easy to get trigger happy, and with online backup that’s not a good thing.
The reason for that is that it can take a long time to backup your files initially. If you’ve got terabytes of data to send to the cloud, you could be looking at months. Meaning, once you get your data backed up, it’s a big hassle to switch services.
For many SMB owners, there’s real value in an unlimited backup solution. Businesses today don’t need to be enterprises with massive customer databases to accumulate lots of data, fast. Customer information, media files, financial records and all sorts of files form the backbone of modern ventures, big and small.
Losing that data can put your business in a real bind. On the other hand, backing it all up to the cloud can get expensive, too, when working with scalable options like MozyPro (MozyPro review) or Amazon Web Services. With a low-cost, unlimited backup solution like Backblaze or CrashPlan, you don’t have to worry about that — so long as those services are a right fit for your particular needs.
For some companies, incorporating either Backblaze or CrashPlan can end up costing quite a lot of money, too, however. That’s because both services only support one device per subscription. If you’ve got a dozen computers to backup, you might be better off going with a capped service that supports backup for unlimited devices, instead. A good example is IDrive for Business, which, despite limiting the backup space you get, ranks as the best overall value in our online backup guide (read our IDrive for Business review).
The other issue with both Backblaze and CrashPlan is that neither can be used for NAS or server backup. If that’s something you need, we’d again point to IDrive, which ranks as one of the best server backup and can backup smartphones, too. CloudBerry Backup is another good option, particularly if you want to design a hybrid backup plan for your business. It even works with Backblaze’s affordable cloud infrastructure service, Backblaze B2.
With those caveats out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.
The Battle for Unlimited Backup Supremacy: Backblaze vs CrashPlan
We mentioned earlier that Backblaze is a cheaper option than CrashPlan. The actual cost of a Backblaze subscription is $5 per month for computer. If you sign up for a year, you also get two months for free. A two-year Backblaze subscription will get you five free months. CrashPlan, meanwhile, costs $10 per month per computer, with no discounts for paying in advance.
|Cost per Computer:||Backblaze:||CrashPlan:|
|Annual Subscription:||$50 (2 months free)||$120 (no months free)|
|Biannual Subscription:||$95 (5 months free)||$240 (no months free)|
CrashPlan is still a good deal relative to popular but pricey online backup services like SOS Online Backup and MozyPro. However, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s more expensive.
What comes next is about helping you decide whether or not it’s worthwhile for your business to spend the extra money on CrashPlan or go with Backblaze. Ultimately, there’s no universally correct answer to this question. Both plans are unlimited, but they’re not one size fits all.
CrashPlan vs. Backblaze: The Battle Rounds
First up, we’re going to compare the backup features available with Backblaze and CrashPlan. We’ll be looking at the overall backup process, too, considering user experience and general speed alongside capability.
The one thing that Backblaze does unequivocally better than any other online backup service is ease of use — at least when it comes to creating backup plans. That’s because the Backblaze client does most of the work for you.
After installation, the software scans your computer and looks for files based on type. That includes pretty much all file types other than operating system, applications and temporary files, although you can instruct Backblaze to grab those if needed.
Everything the scan locates gets added to your backup plan.
The benefit of backing up by file type is that you don’t have manually tag folders and files like you do with most backup services. Having to do so takes more time and can lead to overlooking files, leading to critical gaps in your backup plan.
In this sense, Backblaze is a true set-and-forget backup solution. All of your email files, documents, images, videos, accounting files and everything else will be protected, no matter where they’re located on your computer.
If there are certain file types you don’t want to backup, you can add those to an exclusion list, although with unlimited backup space, that’s unlikely to be necessary for most people.
You can also exclude specific folders or drives. The desktop client itself is complicated as it needs to be, which is to say that it isn’t complicated at all. There’s a button to pause and start backup, another for restore options and third for settings. That’s it.
Backblaze defaults to continuous backup, which means that files are sent to the cloud as they’re newly added to your computer or altered in any way. If you prefer, you can turn continuous backup off and opt for scheduled backups instead, for example if you wanted to have it run overnight so that it doesn’t interfere with your other work.
The Backblaze scheduling options are limited compared to many other backup clients. For example, there’s no option to only run backups on certain days. However, we’ve never encountered any issues with Backblaze interfering with our system resources during testing, so it’s probably best to just leave continuous backup on to ensure maximum protection.
During tests conducted for our most recent Backblaze for Business review, the client tagged 90GB of data on our test computer for backup. The client has a button to estimate initial backup speed, and calculated it would take approximately four days. This was over a WiFi connection with 20 Mbps upload speeds.
After about 12 hours, our backup was nine percent complete, short of the 12.5 or so it should have been at based on Backblaze’s estimate, but not by much. While it’s hard to be exact, we calculate that Backblaze was about to backup around 16 to 20GB per day.
In terms of ongoing performance, Backblaze runs smoothly thanks to the use of block-level backup, which means that only those parts (blocks) of a file that changed get sent to the cloud — assuming the full file has already been backed up.
CrashPlan misses an opportunity when it comes to ease of use by not backing up by file type. That’s not to say that backing up with CrashPlan is hard; it’s just not as blissfully simple as it is with Backblaze.
With CrashPlan, you’ll need to tag all of the folders and files you want to backup by using the backup view in the desktop client.
That can take some time and it’s easy to miss files. That said, because CrashPlan gives you unlimited backup space, you could just tag your drive folder for backup, which will grab everything and somewhat solve the problem.
You’ll probably want to exclude system and temporary files from your backup if you do that, since including them will consume bandwidth and often then can’t be used for recovery without causing problems for your computer, anyway. This, again, will take time, since you have to add exclusions by extension.
Once you do have your backup plan in place, CrashPlan runs backup continuously just like Backblaze does, so you can be sure that going forward everything will be protected — so long as files are kept in folders that are part of the backup plan.
The CrashPlan client isn’t quite as minimal as what you get with Backblaze, but it’s still excellent. Navigation tabs along the left side and plenty of white space give it a modern and intuitive feel.
You’ll find more advanced scheduling options than what you get with Backblaze, with the ability to set backup to run on only specific days of the week. More useful is a feature that lets you instruct the client to use only a percentage of the CPU for backup processes while the computer is being actively used.
CrashPlan can also automatically halt backup when your laptop battery gets low, which is a nice addition. Beyond that, there are a bevy of other controls available in settings that Backblaze simply doesn’t have, giving users more power over what’s going on.
CrashPlan incorporates block-level backup, too, only recopying parts of files that changed. All in all, its relatively smooth service once you get past your initial backup.
That, however, can take some time. In our testing, we were only able to backup around 8GB per day with our 20 Mbps WiFi upload connection. That’s just shy of what CrashPlan itself quotes as the average customer upload speed: 10GB per day.
Round One Thoughts
Between Backblaze and CrashPlan, there’s no question that Backblaze is the easier service to use thanks to its set-and-forget design. In fact, it’s probably more appropriate to call it install-and-forget, since there’s very little that really requires setting.
CrashPlan’s going to take a bit more work. However, it also gives you more customization options than Backblaze, whether for scheduling or limiting the system resource impact of the backup processes.
Then again, CrashPlan seems to make so little use of available bandwidth and computer power that it seems a bit silly to bother with these settings. Backblaze doesn’t either, but it does a much better job getting files into the cloud than CrashPlan.
Round one goes to Backblaze for its combination of simplicity and better backup speeds.
Next up, we’ll consider the opposite process: getting files back from the cloud. Recovery features help businesses get back up (pun alert) and running quickly after a hard-drive crash.
While Backblaze has a “restore options” button in its desktop client, hitting that button sends you to Backblaze.com. All recovery operations take place there, requiring you to login into your account.
Logged in, you’re given three options to restore files: download a .zip file, USB flash drive and USB hard drive.
In most cases, you’ll probably want to use the first option. The latter two are part of Backblaze’s courier recovery service, which costs $99 for flash-drive recovery (up to 128GB) and $189 for hard-drive recovery (up to 4TB). The service seems pricey, but you get a refund if you send the storage device back to Backblaze within 30 days.
Zip-file recovery simply downloads a zip file to your computer made up of all the files you’ve selected to restore. The process is easy, but Backblaze limits single zip file recovery to 500GB per file. You’re also limited to five requests at time.
It’s even more odd and inconvenient that Backblaze doesn’t give users an option to restore files to their original location. That means that once your zip file is ready (Backblaze will send you an email letting you know), you have to put everything back where it belongs yourself.
If you’re on the move, you can access the files you’ve backed up on your smartphone with apps for Android and iOS. The app design is reasonably straightforward and gives you an option to share files with others, too.
On a final note, Backblaze does let you recover previous versions of files if the current one isn’t what you’re looking for. Access to version history is convenient when confronted by unwanted file changes or file corruptions, including corruptions caused by ransomware.
However, previous versions are only kep for 30 days and there’s no way to alter the versioning policy, which is too bad since Backblaze provides unlimited storage.
CrashPlan lets you select files and restore them directly from the desktop client, which is a plus in its favor. Just click on the “restore” tab and check off all the files you want. There’s no limit to how many files you can download at once, either, like there is with Backblaze.
You can either to choose to download your files to new location or restore them to their original location, saving you from having to reconstruct your file system. CrashPlan even lets you change the file permissions and file names as part of the restore process.
There’s a toggle for “version,” too, which lets you access your version history. CrashPlan actually puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to being “unlimited,” letting you store unlimited versions if desired by altering your backup plan’s versioning policy.
CrashPlan also lets you recover files directly from the browser interface, in addition to mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
Round Two Thoughts
Up until early 2016, CrashPlan offered a courier recovery service. Hopefully, now the company is focused entirely on business customers (home users have until October 2018 to vacate the premises), the powers that be will consider reinstating it. Courier service can be extremely valuable to businesses that have lost a substantial amount of data and need it back quickly.
Courier recovery is also the only real advantage Backblaze has over CrashPlan when it comes to recovery. CrashPlan lets you recover files from the desktop client and to their original locations; Backblaze does neither of these things, forcing you to initiate recovery online, wait for a zip file that can’t be more than 500GB in size and rebuild your file system once it’s ready.
CrashPlan has a much better approach to versioning, as well, protecting old file versions indefinitely, while Backblaze only keeps them for 30 days.
Part of implementing a successful backup plan for your business is maintaining sufficient oversight that that plan is actually going, well, as planned. Administrator tools that let you not only manage billing but view backup statistics and run reports help a lot. Round three will take a quick look at these capabilities for Backblaze and CrashPlan.
Backblaze provides account oversight through its web interface. Sign into your account and, if you’ve signed up for Backblaze for Business, there will be a “business groups” header about halfway down the left margin. Below this header, you’ll find links for “group management,” “invite and improve” and “users/computers.”
Group management lets you create groups, which for Backblaze are collections of users billed under the same credit card. Basically, as the business owner, you need to set up a group in order to pay for service for your employees. This lets you pay for not only Backblaze online backup, but Backblaze B2 service, too.
Once your group is created, you can generate an invitation link that your workforce can use to sign up with. As you probably guessed, the invitation and approval process is managed by clicking on the invite and approve link below the business groups header.
From there, you can copy the invitation link for pasting in another channel like Slack or email the invitation link. There’s also a Remote Management and Monitoring (RMM) option that lets you remotely install the backup software for your user base. To use RMM, you’ll need to invest in an RMM tool like Munki or have the coding chops to script the deployment yourself.
The final business groups link, users/computers, let’s use monitor backup data to ensure everything’s running smoothly. It also lets you access files backed up by your user group, so long as the individuals it that group have given you permission to do so.
You can also setup Backblaze to receive summary emails for backup processes. By default, these are only sent out monthly, but that frequency can be changed.
CrashPlan has a very nicely designed admin portal to manage computers protected under your business account. The primary view is a dashboard with statistics for checking storage utilization and file restores over the previous month.
There are additional tabs along the left margin for users, devices, app downloads, settings and account. Users and devices have expandable menus with additional tabs, too. Under users, you’ll find options to view active users and deactivated users, manage account invites and assign admin privileges.
Devices, meanwhile, has some nice options to view usage for specific devices belonging to each user. That includes viewing connection status and number of restores, in addition to total used storage.
Below the main readout for the device, you can check the client settings for that device, along with alerts. You can mandate client settings for your team, too, by navigating to the admin portal settings view.
Options include setting a backup schedule for the computers under your control and requiring private encryption. If you prefer not to have to login to the admin console to monitor backup statuses for your workforce, you can also set delivery of automated reports for devices that haven’t been backed up recently.
Round Three Thoughts
Backblaze only introduced its “groups” functionality, which effectively let it be used as an SMB online backup solution, back in early 2017. That’s probably why, as of this writing eleven months later, its admin experience feels pretty underwhelming. We’d like to see options to mandate more settings and a more comprehensive dashboard.
CrashPlan, meanwhile, does those things already and does them well.
Data safety in the cloud has been a hot topic since the mid-90s and a string of high-profile data breaches and other security issues relevant to SMBs in recent years has only fueled the fervor.
Then there are issues like the NSA’s notorious PRISM initiative, in which the agency obtains data from cloud services to scan for information related to terrorist activity. While this won’t impact most people legally, the fact that the government is funneling data into a top-secret database leads one to wonder what else is going on that we don’t know about. Granted, it could be worse.
Much of the worry over cloud security, however, is unfounded so long as cloud services take proper precautions scrambling your data and securing its data centers, and provides additional features like two-factor authentication and zero-knowledge encryption. In this round, we’ll see if that’s the case with Backblaze and CrashPlan.
Backblaze encrypts data both in transit and at rest, which is step one to making sure your data is secure. The level of encryption used is AES-126. AES, which stands for advanced encryption standard, is the protocol recommended by NIST and the one used by most financial institutions today.
While AES-126 isn’t as strong as AES-256, neither are known to be crackable and, because it isn’t as complex, it encrypts and transfers files more quickly. Backup files in transit are also protected with TLS/SSL to prevent online eavesdropping. All in all, your files should be pretty safe so long as your encryption keys are.
By default, those keys are stored in Backblaze’s data center. Hypothetically, that means that a Backblaze employee, a government agency via court order or a hacker breaching the server where your encryption key is kept could decrypt and view plaintext copies of your files.
If that worries you, Backblaze will let you opt into private encryption instead, turning Backblaze into what’s commonly referred to as a zero-knowledge service. With private encryption on, Backblaze won’t be able to reset your password if you lose it, but only you will have access to the encryption keys for your files, meaning only you can ever decrypt them.
Well, that’s true unless someone gets ahold of your Backblaze password. Weak passwords are far easier to brute force crack than 126-bit encryption keys and are a common security gap for many businesses.
As a remedy for that particular issue, Backblaze lets you turn on two-factor authentication for your computer and mandate it for your associates through the Backblaze admin console. With this feature, whenever you login from an unfamiliar machine, you’ll be asked to enter a special security code sent by text message to your mobile phone.
That way, if someone steals your password, they’ll also need to steal your phone before they can access your backup account — unless they steal your computer instead, which is why you should always encrypt your hard drive.
CrashPlan takes similar precautions to Backblaze, encrypting your files both in transit over the Internet using both AES and TLS/SSL. The level of encryption is actually stronger, with CrashPlan opting for 256-bit instead of 126-bit.
That same level of encryption is maintained while files are stored at rest in CrashPlan’s data facilities, too, ensuring that anybody who breaches a server where your files are kept won’t be able to decipher them without your encryption keys.
The keys are kept on a separate file server than their corresponding files, which will limit potential damage if those keys are somehow acquired. However, all of that could be undone by an unscrupulous employee or an overbearing government agency, so you’re best off taking advantage of CrashPlan’s private encryption option.
As with Backblaze, opting for private encryption means that if you lose your password, you lose access to your data, so make sure and keep it somewhere safe like a cloud password manager.
Unlike Backblaze, CrashPlan doesn’t provide a native option for two-factor authentication. Given that, you’ll want to make sure both you and your work associates have taken appropriate steps to create strong passwords.
On the other hand, CrashPlan’s versioning policy, as discussed earlier, gives you better protection from ransomware than the 30-day retention period granted by Backblaze.
Round Four Thoughts
This round is a tough call. CrashPlan’s stronger encryption protocol is a bit of a moot point at this point in time, other than the fact that it might contribute very slightly to its slow data transfer speeds, which isn’t a security issue. The primary differences between this two services are that Backblaze provides two-factor authentication and CrashPlan has a much stronger versioning policy.
Both CrashPlan’s lack of two-factor authentication and Backblaze’s lackluster, 30-day versioning policy are pretty big misses. Because Backblaze does have limited versioning that should help protect you against ransomware so long as you act reasonably fast, we’re giving it the edge when it comes to security.
Fast, competent support for technical issues and other concerns is essential to a good backup plan. Most backup solutions have email support, but without proper staffing, you could be waiting days for a response.
The best backup solutions also offer a means of live support, either via chat or telephone. In our final round, we’ll compare support channels between Backblaze and CrashPlan, in addition to looking at at their online knowledge bases.
If you require telephone support, you’re probably out of luck with Backblaze. The company does provide purchasable 24/7 phone support, but only if you’re using its cloud infrastructure service, Backblaze B2.
Regular users of Backblaze online backup, both home and business, can make use of live chat to talk to agents. Unfortunately, this support channel is limited by the fact that it’s only open during business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST).
While all of that’s disappointing, Backblaze does redeem itself considerably with very fast, around-the-clock email support. In testing, we often received responses to inquiries within two hours. That’s not going to work for some business users, but it should suffice for most.
We’ve found support interactions, both over live chat and via email, results in generally clear, on-point responses.
If you can’t wait a couple of hours, Backblaze also maintains a decent online support center. The site is divided by category to make finding articles relevant to your needs easier. There’s even a dedicated category for business backup, with subsections for getting started, licensing and common questions. The support site is searchable, too.
CrashPlan also provides live chat support and limits it to business hours, though those hours are Central Time rather than Pacific Standard Time. The exact hours are 7 a.m. through 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, which should work better for more users than those hours provided by Backblaze (at least in the U.S.).
CrashPlan one-ups Backblaze by offering telephone support, too. Support technicians are available by phone during the same hours that live chat is offered.
CrashPlan also has a ticketing system for email-based support that gets monitored 24/7. Tickets are triaged based on how impactful the issue being reported is, so critical issues get pushed to the top of the queue. Response times for low priority issues, based on our experiences in dealing with CrashPlan support, are generally under 12 hours, even on weekends.
The CrashPlan support site also provides help in the form of an administrator guide, general user guide, release notes and articles. A search bar lets you find relevant help more quickly. There’s a CrashPlan community, too, where you can find announcements and service status updates.
Round Five Thoughts
Both backup services provide plenty of material for those who prefer to figure things out on their own. Support articles are usually easy to parse and cover a broad range of topics. Both also provide 24/7 email responses, although Backblaze seems to be more timely in getting back to customers.
Both provide live chat during business hours, too, with CrashPlan maintaining a larger operating window than Backblaze.
All in all, they’re pretty evenly matched. Likely the biggest difference maker and the one that will sway some business users is the fact that CrashPlan provides telephone support and Backblaze doesn’t — unless you’re a B2 customer willing to pay for it.
The bottom line is that both Backblaze and CrashPlan are very good backup services for small and medium-sized business. That’s good, since they’re also the only two subscription-based, unlimited online backup options available to businesses right now.
Choosing between the two isn’t easy, despite the fact that Backblaze comes at half (or less) the cost. Aside from being cheaper, Backblaze also provides much easier implementation, making it perfect for those who like to keep things simple while also making sure that absolutely all critical files get protected.
Two-factor authentication is another advantage. Backblaze is also faster and provides courier recovery service, and that’s going to rightly convince many SMB owners that it’s the best choice for their company.
Ultimately, however, we’re giving this fight to CrashPlan. The primary factor in making that decision is its much better admin portal, which is essential for monitoring covered devices to ensure that everything is in compliance with your business backup policy. CrashPlan outperforms Backblaze in some other key areas, too, including having more client settings to tweak, a more user-friendly recovery process, a better versioning policy and telephone support.
Thing we’ve got it all wrong? Convince us in the comments below. Thanks for reading!