Evaluating, comparing and figuring out how online backup solutions fit into the market to provide useful recommendations to businesses is one of our prime directives here at Cloudwards.net (along finding the best VPN for porn available). While you can read about the broad results of this work in our best online backup for business overview, sometimes it’s worthwhile to buyers to compare two services side by side.
During this article, we’re going to do just that with two of our favorite business backup tools, CrashPlan and IDrive for Business. Both come at a reasonable cost and are easy to use, but beyond that, there’s a world of difference that will impact which one works best for a business.
Over the course of five rounds, we’ll help you understand that difference so that you can pick the service that makes the most sense for your own needs. While IDrive may earn our final nod as the better service owing mostly to excellent platform support, courier service and generally better value, the details matter and there are plenty of cases where CrashPlan might be the better fit.
The Battle: CrashPlan vs IDrive
Before we get to the good stuff, a little perspective is in order. First, keep in mind that these are online backup tools, which differ from cloud storage tools. If you’re looking to save space on your hard drive or collaborate with business associates, you’re likely looking for cloud storage, instead. Our guide to the best EFSS (that’s “enterprise file sync and share”) services is a good place to start.
As to CrashPlan and IDrive, both are designed primarily for disaster recovery (although IDrive can be used for file syncing, too). Disaster recovery is aimed at protecting your business data so that if a hard drive crashes, you’re not left hoping data recovery software can bail you out (if you’re at that point, check out our best data recovery software overview for the top options).
While IDrive has subscriptions for both consumers and business users, CrashPlan recently decided to limit its services to the latter. In some ways, that might be a good thing. By offloading home consumers, it frees up both server and support resources for SMB owners. Finding out if that’s the case, though, will have to wait until all of CrashPlan’s home users are offloaded, which won’t be until October 2018.
In the meantime, we’re left to evaluate these service as they are right now. To ease that process and help our readers focus on the aspects that matter most to them, we’ve divided up our CrashPlan vs IDrive comparisons into five rounds.
After each round, we consider the merits and declare a round winner. Once done, we’ll process those results to make a final determination of which service, CrashPlan or IDrive, is the best online backup for business owners.
Shall we begin?
IDrive vs. CrashPlan: The Battle Rounds
- IDrive★★★ Best Cloud Backup ★★★
- Continuous Backup
- Incremental Backup
- External Drive Backup
- NAS Backup
- Unlimited Backup
- Private Encryption
- Visit IDriveIDrive Review
Cost, Space and Device Support
In our first round we’ll consider the bottom line. As it happens, CrashPlan and IDrive are two of the most affordable solutions available, far cheaper than comparable tools you can read up on in our SOS Online Backup review and MozyPro review.
Of course, subscription cost is about more than just dollars. It’s also about how much backup space and how many and what type devices are covered. If you’re looking to backup external drives, servers or mobile phones, as a business owner your software needs are going to be a little different than if you only have a few computers to safeguard.
CrashPlan is a great choice if you don’t want to have to crunch numbers and constantly manage your space quota. That’s because it’s one of the few unlimited online backup services for business and there’s only one subscription option available, letting you save your attention for more important business decisions.
|CrashPlan for Business|
At just $10 per month, that subscription is cheap, too. That only covers one device, however, so you’ll need to purchase multiple subscriptions depending on how many computers your business has to protect.
CrashPlan can be used to backup computers running Windows, MacOS or Linux. Each operating system has a dedicated desktop client that can also be used to backup as many external drives as you’d like.
However, CrashPlan can’t be used for NAS backup. That’s going to be a reason to steer clear for some business owners. While a NAS device is itself a backup tool, it makes sense for many reasons to backup your NAS to the cloud. If this is a priority, check out our guide on how to backup your NAS.
CrashPlan also has smartphone apps for Android and iOS. While these tools are great for accessing your data remotely, they can’t be used to backup phone data.
Rather than offer unlimited backup space, IDrive lets you backup unlimited devices under a single subscription. Whether or not that saves your business money will depend on how many devices and how much data you have to backup.
1-year plan $ 4.34 / month
$52.12 billed every year
2-year plan $ 4.34 / month
$104.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$74.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$149.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$74.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$149.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 12.47 / month
$149.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 12.47 / month
$299.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 31.22 / month
$374.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 31.22 / month
$749.25 billed every 2 years
The lowest level IDrive subscription gets you 250GB of backup for a base price of $99 per year. For your first year of service, though, you’ll get a 25 percent discount. If you sign up for 24 months, you can extend that discount. If 250GB isn’t enough, you can opt for different storage tiers all the way up to 12.5TB for $2249 per year (that’s the discounted price).
At first glance, the costs of IDrive certainly seem quite a bit more expensive than CrashPlan and, for many businesses, it probably will be.
Consider, though, that a single CrashPlan subscription costs around $120 annually. For a business with ten computers to backup, you’d be looking at $1200. With IDrive, if you had ten computers with, say, 250GB SSD drives, you’d probably be considering the 2.5TB subscription. At the discounted price of $600 a year, you’d be paying half as much with IDrive as you would with CrashPlan.
On the other hand, if you had ten computers and wanted to be able to backup closer to 1TB of data each, you’d have to opt for IDrive’s 12.5TB subscription, which costs over $2200. In that case, you’d save around $1000 by choosing CrashPlan.
The twist is that, with IDrive, you can backup much more than just your business laptops and desktops. Like CrashPlan, IDrive supports external storage backup. Unlike CrashPlan, that includes NAS devices. In fact, it ranks as one the best online backup for NAS options available today.
Even better, it’s also one of the best server backup solutions. IDrive supports backup for both Windows Server and Linux Server. MS SQL, MS SharePoint, MS Exchange, Oracle Server, Hyper-V and VMWare backup are also supported.
For businesses looking to build a solid hybrid backup solution, all of that makes IDrive a much more compelling investment. Check out our article on the best small business servers for some good ideas on onsite storage options.
Finally, an IDrive subscription includes backup for your mobile devices. Apps let you backup contacts, media and calendar events on both Android and iOS, and texts, call logs and app data on Android. Very few online backup tools include smartphone backup, despite the fact that many business users create and keep quite a bit of valuable data on their smartphones.
Round One Thoughts
Let’s be clear that both CrashPlan and IDrive provide exceptional value relative to most of the business backup competition. As of this writing, IDrive ranks number one in our best online backup for business guide in terms of overall value, while CrashPlan ranks third.
The reason we gave IDrive the number one spot is because of its combination of low cost and platform support is unmatched by any other service we’ve reviewed. That’s also why IDrive wins this round.
However, while IDrive may have an edge over CrashPlan when it comes to value, for businesses with only a few computers to backup but terabytes of data, CrashPlan will usually make more financial sense.
Ease of Use
Backup plans are a good idea until they get too complicated to execute. To ensure that both you and your work associates follow through on your good intentions, consider online backup software with easy-to-use clients. Just like with value, this is an area where both CrashPlan and IDrive really shine. Let’s find out which one shines the brightest.
The CrashPlan desktop client is easily one of best we’ve tested here at Cloudwards.net. Because of the utilitarian nature of their product, many backup companies tend to design clients that are supremely ugly (see our Arq Backup review). That often includes cramming a lot of controls and information into a very small space.
CrashPlan simplifies things, instead, making use of lots of whitespace and an intuitive navigation scheme for a client that’s easy on the eyes and easy to use.
Navigation options are lined up along the left for backup, restore, settings, history and destination. Clicking on any of these tabs populates the central pane with relevant controls. To start protecting your computer, all you need to do is click the “change” button in the backup pane. You’ll be able to tag any folders and files you want for backup.
The developers at CrashPlan missed an opportunity to make their service even easier by automatically selecting files based on file type rather than file location. As an unlimited backup service, users don’t have to worry about managing space, so it makes more sense just grab everything and apply exclusions to unwanted file types.
However, if you’d like, you can simply tag your entire drive for backup for the same reason (CrashPlan is unlimited). That way, you don’t have to worry about missing any critical files. If you don’t care about certain file types, you can add custom exclusions based on file extension.
Once setup, CrashPlan defaults to continuous backup. That means as new files are added to a folder tagged for backup, they’ll be sent to the cloud without you having to do anything. The same is true of files that are changed.
If you want to, you can set a backup schedule instead by visiting the desktop client settings. However, the only reason to do so would be if the backup process was interfering with your Internet bandwidth, and we’ve never found that to be the case.
The scheduling controls are relatively simple, with options to backup between specified times and on certain days of the week.
Restoring files is even easier than backing them up. From the restore pane, just tag the files you want back and click restore. Toggles let you change the version restored, restore destination, file permissions and file name.
If you don’t have access to your computer, you can also restore files from a browser or access them on smartphone. Both are easy to use, but the browser has some additional features to help your easily manage your account.
These include admin tools to monitor total storage and backup processes for not only your computer, but those of your associates.
Options for adding and deactivating users, viewing active devices and generating reports also add to CrashPlan’s ease of use from an administrative perspective.
The IDrive desktop client has a similar layout to what you get with CrashPlan, but a lot more going on. That’s largely because IDrive also has more settings to play with than the CrashPlan client.
For some users, this is going to be an issue, since it also means IDrive takes a bit more getting used to. For those who want more control over their backup operations, though, it’s likely to be worth the tradeoff.
Tabs for backup, restore, scheduler, sync, server backup and settings are lined along the left margin. Clicking on any alters the central pane so that you can manage that particular task.
Backup plan creation with IDrive is similar to the process with CrashPlan. Using the backup tab, you have to manually tag all of the files and folders you want to save. However, unlike CrashPlan, you don’t have unlimited backup space to work with.
Because of the capped space you get with IDrive and because you’ll potentially have many devices sharing the same backup allotment, you have to be more careful about what you’re tagging. However, as the account admin you can at least limit backup space for specific users so you’re not left trying to juggle everything.
IDrive also defaults to continuous data protection, although backup won’t begin until 15 minutes after a file gets changed or added. From the client settings pane, you can increase that number, but there’s no way to decrease it.
The IDrive scheduler pane also lets you plan scheduled backups. You can select days, start times and even cut-off times during which your backup will run.
File restoration can be managed from the desktop client by clicking on the restore tab.
Tag everything you want for backup and just click “restore now.” You can restore files to their original location or a new location.
Mobile access and browser access is also available if your not on your own computer. As with CrashPlan, the web interface also has some basic admin features to make your life easier, including reporting.
Round Two Thoughts
Neither client is going to cause you fits and both should get you backing up in relatively short order. While we like the minimalistic feel of CrashPlan over the somewhat busier look of IDrive, the real separation between these two services when it comes to ease of use stems from the fact that CrashPlan provides unlimited backup while IDrive does not.
The ability to just “grab everything” makes backup plan creation a five minute task that you never really need to worry about again. With IDrive, you’re likely going to have to more carefully manage what’s getting sent to the cloud and what’s not. Nobody likes extra work.
Storing your business data on servers owned by somebody else can be an unnerving proposition. To decrease the risk, it’s always wise to look for certain security features before committing. Must-haves include secure data facilities, encryption and versioning capabilities.
Round three will explore what steps our two feature online backup providers take to keep business data safe, and which one takes the most.
CrashPlan encrypts all data prior to transfer to its data centers so that anyone intercepting it in transit won’t be able to make heads or tails of it. The method of encryption used is AES-256, a protocol that’s uncrackable for all practical purposes (a brute force crack would take billions of years).
By default, CrashPlan keeps all encryption keys stored in its data center, that way, if you ever forget your password, the company can reset it. Encryption keys are kept on a separate server from where your files are kept to prevent your data being compromised during a breach.
If you’d prefer that nobody but you have access to those keys, you can opt for private encryption instead.
Private encryption is certainly more secure. However, if you forget your password, you won’t be able to recover your data, so there is a tradeoff.
To ensure the safety of its data centers, CrashPlan adheres to various industry security specifications, including ISO 27001, SOC 1 and SOC 2. Data centers are also monitored around the clock for trespassers and built to withstand natural disasters.
CrashPlan is also HIPAA compliant, offering business associate agreements (BAAs) to businesses that work with sensitive patient health data.
One of the prevailing cybercrime concerns that businesses have to worry about today is ransomware, which works by corrupting files and holding the clean versions hostage for a big payout. While CrashPlan won’t help keep ransomware off your computers, it’s excellent versioning capabilities will keep you from having to pay up.
The reason for that is with versioning, you can revert back to clean copies of your files once you’ve removed the ransomware from your system. CrashPlan happens to have one of the best versioning capabilities of any online backup we’ve tested, letting you design your own policy to keep prior versions forever, if you want.
On a final note, CrashPlan’s clients include seven of the world’s ten largest technology companies and 47,000 businesses overall, attesting to the trust put in its security infrastructure.
IDrive has similar security specs to CrashPlan, including the use of AES-256 to encrypt your data. Like CrashPlan, the company holds onto your encryption keys by default on separate servers from your files, but you can opt for private encryption if you prefer.
Data facilities are secured with climate control systems, secured racks, 24/7 surveillance, motion sensors and breach alarms. The company also maintains regular audits, including SSAE 16.
IDrive retains the previous ten versions of any given file, which should be enough to protect your content against ransomware attacks and other issues that require a rollback. However, we’d prefer customizable versioning.
Round Three Thoughts
Both online backup services provide most of the security measures business owners are likely to want, including AES 256 encryption, private encryption and secure, audited data centers. Both are also missing a few security features, notably an option for two-factor authentication.
Your data will be safe with either service and neither really does anything to set itself apart from the other with the exception of CrashPlan offering customizable versioning. While it’s likely versioning with IDrive will be enough to protect your business from having to pay out in the event of a ransomware attack, CrashPlan’s better approach gives it the win in round three.
Online backup is about disaster recovery and getting your business systems back online as quickly as possible. Top backup tools for businesses also provide excellent support to ensure that when you run into problems with that process, you’re not left in the lurch. During round four, we’ll be weighing the support networks of both CrashPlan and IDrive.
CrashPlan hits the trifecta when it comes to support: telephone, email and live chat channels are all available. The variety is nice, since different user have different preferences.
Unfortunately, CrashPlan does limit support hours for telephone and live chat to weekdays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. That means in many cases, you’ll be forced to use email.
Emails from customers are monitored 24/7, however, so you should be able to get help during off hours. Rather than sending an email, you’ll actually be filling out an online form that results in an email response. Tickets from customers are triaged based on priority, but in our experience even basic questions receive a reply within half a day.
Hopefully, now that CrashPlan has decided to provide services only to business customers, those response times will improve. Even better would be 24/7 live support.
In the meantime, if you do find that your can’t wait a few hours for a resolution, CrashPlan does have a nice support center that includes guides for admins and basic users, with the ability to search for content based on keywords.
There’s also a support forum, but it doesn’t appear to get much use.
For business that may need to get in touch with support immediately at any given time, including nights and weekends, IDrive is a good choice thanks to 24/7 live chat support. We’ve tested this feature in the middle of the night on a few occasions, and were able to initiate a chat session quickly each time.
If live chat isn’t your preferred means of contact, IDrive provides 24/7 email support, too. Telephone support is also offered, but restricted to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.
IDrive also has a great online support center with tutorials, FAQs and troubleshooting articles that will get you over most humps. There are video tutorials, too, but they tend to be pretty basic.
IDrive currently holds an A+ ranking from the Better Business Bureau (Code42, CrashPlan’s parent company, is unrated).
Round Four Thoughts:
Based on our own dealings with CrashPlan and IDrive, both have competent support agents that provide clear, relevant answers to questions. Both also offer three different channels to contact support and excellent knowledge centers.
We have to award this round to IDrive, however, based solely on the fact that you can access live chat whenever you need it. If you’re fine waiting a few hours for a response, CrashPlan should suffice, too.
File Copy Speed
One of the most frustrating parts of the backup process is getting your data into the cloud initially. Any way you slice it, you’re going to be in for a long wait if you’re trying to move hundreds of gigabytes of data over the Internet. That’s true regardless of your Internet speed; we’ve yet to find a backup service that makes even close to full use of available bandwidth.
That said, some online backup services run more quickly than others. Some, as we’re about to see with IDrive, also provide a convenient, no-cost workaround to this problem.
To get an idea of how quickly files could be moved to the CrashPlan servers, we conducted a few speed tests using a 1TB compressed folder made up of various file types. These tests were performed over a WiFi connection with 25/22 Mbps download and upload speeds.
Here are the results:
|Test One:||Test Two:||Average:|
Based on these upload times, we could expect to move about 8GB a day into online backup. CrashPlan itself states that users can usually expect to backup around 10GB per day, so our numbers were in line with that.
However, If backup speeds matched our available bandwidth, we should be able to upload a 1GB file in a little under six minutes — a rate of about 10GB per hour. It’s expected that file transfer speeds during backup won’t completely match bandwidth since those files need to be encrypted first. Still, operating at around four percent of bandwidth is pretty disappointing.
Once you do get all of your data into the cloud, things should run more smoothly. CrashPlan processes files at the block level, meaning that only the parts of files that changed get copied to backup rather than resending the entire file.
Download times were better in our testing, but still rather long. CrashPlan used to offer a courier recovery service, but that was discontinued in early 2016, so you’ll have no choice but to wait.
We performed the same tests with IDrive as we did with CrashPlan over the same WiFi network. The results were much better.
That’s still running at around 1.5Mpbs — only a small percentage of the 20Mbps upload bandwidth of our WiFi network. While that’s better than twice as fast as CrashPlan, businesses could still be left waiting days or weeks before their initial backup completes.
The bigger difference between CrashPlan and IDrive is that IDrive actually does something about this wait: it provides a backup and recovery courier service called IDrive Express.
Use this service, and IDrive will send you a 3TB external hard drive that you can use to transfer your data onto. Because it uses USB instead of sending data over the Internet, the transfer process will be significantly faster. USB 3.0 transfers at speeds of roughly 480Mbps, meaning you can load 1TB of data onto the disk in about five hours.
Once your data is one the drive, mail it back to IDrive and technicians will load the data directly onto the server for you. This processes will cut the time it takes to get your data online to a few days instead of weeks. Everything is encrypted, start to finish, too, so you don’t have to worry about the delivery man stealing your client list.
Unlike similar services offered by online backup companies like MozyPro, IDrive Express is also free up to three times a year for business subscribers.
On a final note, IDrive, like CrashPlan, processes changes to uploaded files at the block level to speed things up after the initial backup process is done.
Round Five Thoughts
One of the most consistent complaints about any online backup service that we hear about is how long those initial backups take. It’s a strange thing, too, given that cloud storage services like Egnyte Connect and Sync.com can move a 1GB file in just a few minutes.
We’ve yet to hear a satisfying explanation from any online backup service about why this is; most companies will tell you that bandwidth speeds are theoretical and encryption slows the process down. That’s all true, but not to the point where the process should be only using four or five percent of your available bandwidth.
Unfortunately, there’s no one backup we can point to that impresses. That said, IDrive nicely circumnavigates the problem with its free IDrive Express service.
The nice thing about CrashPlan and IDrive is that, once you know what each service offers, it should be pretty easy to pick the one that makes the most sense for you. That’s because even though they’re such close competitors, there are many marked differences between them.
Here are few sample use cases:
Use CrashPlan if …
- You only have a few computers to protect
- You have terabytes of data to backup
- You want a set-and-forget solution
- You want customizable versioning
Use IDrive if …
- You have NAS devices and servers to protect
- You have a few computers with smaller hard drives
- You have smartphones to backup
- You need courier backup and restore
- You need 24/7 access to live support
IDrive provides device sync, too, which CrashPlan doesn’t. We didn’t touch on that particular feature in this head-to-head because, frankly, for most business users it’s not going to be a difference maker. The reason for that is there are much better sync tools out there, which you can read about in our best EFSS or best cloud storage overviews.
All that said, forced to pick a winner between CrashPlan and IDrive, IDrive seems to be the smart choice on paper. It provides support for more devices, better speeds, more accessible support and courier recovery and backup. Even if you’re only looking to backup computers and not servers and smartphones, often times IDrive makes more financial sense.
That’s our final verdict, anyway. We’re sure many of our readers have their own assessments on the matter, and we welcome comments below. For other SMB needs, our best accounting software and best data recovery software guides might also be of help. Thanks for reading!