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I Use CrashPlan for Live Offsite Backup February 19, 2010

Posted by Robert Harder in Utility.
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One of my favorite podcasts SecurityNow had an advertiser that offered an online/offsite backup service and after trying Carbonite, Mozy, JungleDisk, and CrashPlan, I ended up settling with CrashPlan as my favorite to back up my Macs.

Unfortunately this all happened a few months ago, so I don’t remember all the details about why I liked or disliked each of the products, but here are some brief thoughts on each one.


I had been using JungleDisk for a year or so, and I liked that I could be confident that my data was being encrypted on my end and that no one else could decrypt the data. The security was my number one concern.

I didn’t particularly like the way the tool integrated into my life, but that’s a preference thing. You may like it just fine. JungleDisk essentially makes available to you a network disk that mirrors whatever you’ve specified that you want to back up. I did find it convenient when I was on my laptop and wanted to retrieve something from my desktop—I could just retrieve it from the network disk.

JungleDisk the software only cost me $20, but it uses Amazon S3 for the backend storage, so my monthly bill came from Amazon. Eventually it just got too expensive for me. My backups grew to 30GB then 50GB then 80GB, and I could see I would want more backed up in the future. The monthly bill was growing to $20. That’s when I decided to look elsewhere.


Because Carbonite was an advertiser on the podcast, I learned that they offered unlimited backup space for about $5 per month, or so they claimed. I checked out Carbonite. It makes me feel dirty. Everything about their business feels creepy to me, and ultimately they were disqualified because I was not satisfied with their encryption technique which, as I recall, involves them having the ability to decrypt my files.


I had high hopes for Mozy, because people seemed to think it was Mac-like. Ha. Mozy was OK, but restoring files was a pain, and again I did not trust their encryption techniques.


Somehow I stumbled onto CrashPlan, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned as often as Mozy and Carbonite. I use it on several of my computers, and I am paying for the family plan (all my computers, unlimited storage) for about $100 per year. Some things I like about CrashPlan:

  • You can use it for free to back up to your own external drives, other computers, etc, so if you don’t want to pay for online storage, you can still use it as a nice backup solution locally. Near as I can tell, you could also install this on a friend’s (or your parents’) computer and have them backup to your computer for free remotely, if you’re willing to spare some hard drive space. You could have an arrangement with a friend so that each of you backs up each others’ data (encrypted, of course), so as long as your houses don’t both burn down simultaneously, you should be OK.
  • You can encrypt your data locally with locally-controlled keys that cannot be decrypted by anyone else. You have the option to choose to have the keys stored with CrashPlan so that if you forget your password, you can still access your data, but that’s not what I wanted. How nice of them to offer both services.
  • Truly unlimited backup space. I found people on various forums complaining with all these services (except JungleDisk/Amazon S3) that “unlimited” really meant 50GB or so, but CrashPlan’s stance is unequivocally, “Unlimited means Unlimited,” and I appreciate that.
  • Easy interface, easy restore.


That was my adventure, trying all these backup plans. I now use my Macs’ built-in TimeMachine backup for local backup and recovering accidentally-deleted files, and I use CrashPlan to backup offsite.


1. Caue Rego - August 12, 2010

Thanks so much for this post, this was very informative. I’ve been using free dropbox for years now, and out of the blue (after hearing Leo Laporte talking so much about Carbonite) I decided I’m going to get a cloud backup. After an extensive research, and reading about all the options I stumbled upon this post and was stunned it talked exactly by all the options I was looking for and had about same experience I’d have years from now if I decided to try them all.

Amazing, and thank you again for sharing this info!

2. Mac backup - August 24, 2010

I tried a few of these services for my personal data, but they are slow, buggy and hard to contact. That’s why my mac backup solution is Remote Data Backups – underground data centers, fast reliable transfers, free 24/7 phone support and over a decade of experience.

3. Robert Harder - August 24, 2010

@Mac backup Sorry to hear of your troubles. I haven’t tried the one you mentioned; it’s a bit rich for my blood, but I support competition! Thanks.

I’d be curious to hear of any others that people like.

4. Barton - September 28, 2010

Mozy also offers the option of storing your encryption key, or you can keep it to yourself.

5. Brian - February 14, 2011


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