BackBlaze vs CrashPlan

About two years ago I began to practice what I preach to all my customers, family and friends about data backup:

Backup everything or you are playing with fire!

playing with fire no backup

So I quickly began to look for the lowest cost solution to the problem (I am a bit cheap what else can I really say). The first choice of course was to utilize the wealth of old hard drives I had sitting around.  I bought a hard drive dock that let me use these internal drives like a thumb drive.  It was a great win as I killed two birds with one stone.

  • Utilized a bunch of hard drives that were collecting dust
  • Didn’t have any recurring costs to worry about

That was until the primary deficiency this approach had reared its ugly head, me!  Yup this relied on me to spend the time to update the backup sets on a frequent basis.  In addition (since I was extra paranoid), I was trying to rotate hard drives with my safety deposit box (effectively creating an offsite backup solution).  Time for a better solution!

A little while later it was recommended by a good friend to try CrashPlan a true cloud based backup solution.  Being ever thrifty, I took advantage of a cyber monday deal and signed up for two years.  Honestly, the solution worked well and had the following advantages:

  • Granular control of backup inclusions
  • Cross platform application (Java based)
  • Reliably performed automated backups
  • No size limitations

The other side of the coin over two years (and a new solution, more on that later) showed the following cons of the CrashPlan solution:

  • Java application was a resource hog
  • Configuration for initial setup was kind of bad the UX experience was simply not intuitive
  • Random issues with the backup application required manual cache index clearing on a more frequent basis than I would like

Now that my two years is up I decided to give BackBlaze a chance at the same friend’s recommendation.  He was encouraged by their informative blog posts and reviews across the web.  I will also fully admit, I was swayed by the more cost effective price for a year of service as well (compared to CrashPlan at full price).  I am impressed with the service thus far.  Here are my initial observations:

  • Application is native and has a virtually undetectable resource impact
  • Configuration was a snap partially because there really wasn’t any
    • BackBlaze chooses to backup your entire disk minus a few file type exclusions
    • The only configuration I would recommend is adding a private key to your backup set for stronger protection
  • No size limitations
  • Mobile application is more useful than the CrashPlan equivalent on iOS

I will say it is not all roses, as I am a bit of a control freak, thus losing the ability to define backup locations does irk me a bit.  I would also have a problem if I was currently data capped by my ISP, which thankfully is not the case at this time.  The file retrieval mechanism feels a bit “janky” but it does the job.  It essentially uses a web page with links to download a zip of desired files for restoration.

So really that is about all I have to say at this point.  I think BackBlaze is a solid contender with a better price point and ultimately a better client application.  The verdict at this writing would be as follows:

  • Technical savvy users who want fine grain control – CrashPlan
  • Less savvy users who just want to backup data – BackBlaze

If you found this helpful and choose to go with BackBlaze please use my referral link and both of us will get a month for free!


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