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Crashplan vs. Backblaze: The great duel of online backups

The mandatory Time Machine backup is only the cornerstone of a comprehensive backup strategy. At least one up-to-date copy of irretrievable personal data should always be kept outside the home. This ensures that the backup is not stolen together with the Mac in the event of a break-in or destroyed by elemental damage. But hardly any user would like to regularly deposit backup hard drives with friends or in bank lockers.

A backup in the cloud, in which the Mac continuously stores the current database on servers, is much more convenient. This data can be viewed from any Internet-enabled computer using a browser and, if necessary, restored. The American services Backblaze and Crashplan, which have been on the market for ten years, offer cloud backup for private individuals at comparatively favorable conditions. We ask for a duel.

Round 1: costs

Backblaze and Crashplan want to use financial incentives to encourage customers to remain loyal to the respective service for as long as possible. The longer the contract period, the lower the monthly costs. If you use Backblaze on a monthly basis, you pay $ 5. For a 1-year membership, the monthly price is reduced to US $ 4.16. Those who commit for two years pay $ 3.96 a month. At Crashplan, the monthly price is $ 6. If you opt for an annual membership costing US $ 59.99, the monthly cost is only US $ 5. In addition, Crashplan offers a family plan with which up to ten computers can be secured from US $ 13.99 per month. Both providers grant new customers a free trial period. With Backblaze this is 15 days, with Crashplan it is a month.

Winner: Backblaze

Round 2: scope

In the basic version, both services offer a so-called "unlimited" backup. This means backing up personal files such as documents, photos, music and videos on the Mac. In fact, Backblaze and Crashplan explain on their websites that, among other things, applications in the “Applications” folder and the temporary files belonging to the operating system are not automatically backed up. If necessary, this must first be explicitly selected and included in the respective Mac application for the backup. The number of files to be backed up is just as limited as their storage requirements. In addition, the backup of the content on connected external drives is also included. Mounted network drives are not backed up by Backblaze, however, Crashplan also saves the files from a NAS connected via AFP or SMB. Backblaze keeps different versions of files for 30 days, Crashplan even keeps all changed versions of a file since the first backup. If the Mac is infected with blackmailing Crypto-Locker malware, it can save a lot of money. Files deleted on the Mac are retained by Backblaze in the cloud backup for 30 days, while Crashplan stores deleted files indefinitely. Backblaze is satisfied with the encryption of the files with 128-bit. Crashplan encrypts files with 448-bit before they are loaded into their own data centers.

Winner: crash plan

In addition to a Time Machine and an online backup, it is advisable to create a so-called clone of the system. Applications such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner copy the entire content of the Mac to an external medium. Connected to another Mac, the system can start with the clone and you can work on it as if you were on your own Mac.

Round 3: Software (Mac)

The installation of the Backblaze software on the Mac is effortless. You can call up the settings from the control panel via the menu bar, but these are within manageable limits. You can set the encryption, add or exclude directories from the backup and limit the resources. The software provided by Crashplan is programmed on a Java basis. The big advantage for the provider is that it can be used on different platforms. The big disadvantage for Mac users is that you can tell from the app that it was not developed for the Mac. For years, manufacturer Code42 has promised a native Mac app, but does not keep this promise. The setting options are numerous, however. You can configure how much the backup can affect system performance, limit network throughput and determine the frequency of versioning.

Winner: Tie

Round 4: Software (iOS)

Both manufacturers' iOS apps could use a lot of attention. Basically, you can use these to browse through the backups and load one or more files - with Backblaze only three at the same time - onto the iPhone or iPad. However, the Crashplan app cancels the downloads in the background without an error message, which is unreasonable, especially with large files. Both applications can view numerous types of files and play media content or pass it on to other applications. With regard to the convenience options, the Crashplan app in particular has had untapped potential for improvement for years: Neither a numeric password nor a touch ID to lock the app are supported. Instead, those who value their security must always enter their email address and crash plan password. With Backblaze, access can at least be enabled via Touch ID.

Winner: Backblaze

Round 5: recovery

With Backblaze, files are always restored via the website or the iOS app. In the web interface you select the desired files in directory trees. Backblaze creates a ZIP archive from this, which can be loaded after an email notification. The ZIP file depicts the original folder structure. For a surcharge of 99 or 189 US dollars, Backblaze copies up to 128 GB of files from the backup to a USB stick or up to 4 TB to a hard drive and sends them via FedEx. This amount will be reimbursed to anyone who then sends the data carriers back to the USA at their own expense. With Crashplan, in addition to the web interface and the iOS app, the Java app is also able to restore files that it saves in any directory on the Mac. Alternatively, you can restore files to the same location as they were at the time of the backup. While the files are being selected, the Crashplan app also offers different versions of the files. It is practical that the Crashplan app for the Mac includes a search function to find files to be created.

Winner: crash plan

For bargain hunters: use Crashplan technology for free

A special feature of the crash plan software for the Mac is that users can determine other backup targets in addition to the crash plan servers. In this way, users with installed crash plan software can make their computers available to each other as a backup server. This is a practical solution, but you should make sure in advance that there is enough storage space on the target computer and that the internet connection is sufficient for the amount of data. In addition, the computers must be switched on at least during the day.

Conclusion

With regard to the core offering, the two services are head to head and each offer affordable all-round carefree packages. For individual users without special requirements, Backblaze is the better choice due to its lower price. However, if you want to back up more than three computers - or value archiving and long-term versioning, Crashplan is cheaper. Crashplan's Java application is a lot more powerful than Backblaze's native app. However, the Backblaze apps for Mac and iOS are much easier to use. In the end, power users - despite the unspeakable software and the higher price - are better served with Crashplan.