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My Backup Buddy Says Bye-Bye (or CrashPlan Calls it Quits)

I have been a CrashPlan for Home customer for five years now, as I mentioned in my post, Backups ... Just Do It! At $150/year, CrashPlan for Home is already one of the most expensive annual services I purchase. Over that time, I have only needed to recover files a couple times, so mostly they got paid to safe keep files using about 300GB of disk space. I back up two desktop PCs and one laptop, but as there is a 10 device limit on the family plan, that could have been three desktops, two laptops, and two phones. I have been very judicious about what I back up. On my main desktop, I have 3.5TB of disk storage - of which about 1.5 TB is actually being used, but I only backup about 160GB of data from it. Basically, just my documents folder, pictures, and personal videos. Not a lot of reason to back up my Steam folder. From all three computers I back up, the total is around 300GB. Sounds like CrashPlan is making good money for very little work. I guess not enough.

I received an email from CrashPlan on August 22, 2017, stating that

[CrashPlan/Code42 has] shifted our business strategy to focus on the enterprise and small business segments. This means that over the next 14 months we will be exiting the consumer market and you must choose another option for data backup before your subscription expires.

I read this as, "We aren't making the level of annual revenue per user (or unit) (ARPU) we'd like to from you, so please go piss off." OK. How about a refund for the unused months since I still have several more to go? (Their FAQ says, "No. Now, could you please go piss off like we asked in the first place?" I made up that last part.)

CrashPlan offers two options: becoming a CrashPlan for Small Business customer or switching to Carbonite. Let's look at those, shall we?

The pricing for CrashPlan for Small Business is $10/month/device. So, for me, that would be $30 month or $360/year. (They are offering 75% off for the first year.) That's a pretty steep jump. I could finagle my backup scheme down to just two devices, but that's still $240/year for what I thought was overpriced at $150 year. However, that's not the deal killer. What is the killer? CrashPlan for Small Business does not support local backups. Are you effing kidding me? Every expert in the field says to use the 3-2-1 backup strategy. That is, have three copies of your important files with two local copies (one you are using and a second a local copy of that file on a different medium), and one copy offsite. That has not changed. So now, not only do I have to pay considerably more, I still need a separate local backup scheme. (Luckily, there are lots of free local backup options to choose from.)

So Carbonite maybe? OK. Doesn't look so bad, $60/year/computer. If I continue with backing up three computers, that's $180/year. Unlimited storage though (like CrashPlan had). I could pare that down to two computers, but there are a few things on the third I'd like to keep separate. Oh, wait! Carbonite has a multiple computer option .. for .. $270/year. WTF? Unlimited computers, but .. oh .. you .. have .. got .. to .. be .. kidding Only 250GB of data!?!? I already backup more than that? Oh, only another $100 for every 100GB over that. So for me, $370/year. Well, it's a good thing I don't have a lot of video of my kids. 1TB would cost me $1050/year. Holy crap! That $180/year is looking pretty good. I wonder what Code42's kickback from Carbonite is? (Still no integrated local backup for the local copy either.)

After searching around, Backblaze seems to be the one recommended by Lifewire, the Wirecutter (via the Verge),  Tom's Guide and Ars Technica. It's worth noting that several of those only prefer Backblaze now that CrashPlan is exiting the consumer market. For my three computers, it would be $50 per computer per year or $150. Seems like the same number I've been paying. (They don't have a multi-computer discount, so it's three separate accounts.)

PC Mag prefers IDrive, which for $70/year for 2TB (was 1TB earlier in 2017) and unlimited devices (including smart phones) seems like a bargain. IDrive is also on the other's lists. The Wirecutter, for example, put it second because it was more expensive than Backblaze for a single computer even though IDrive was faster in their tests. (It was not the fastest in PC Mag's tests.) However, when I start looking at potentially five devices (as I really should be backing up our smart phones), IDrive is cheaper so long as I stay under the 2TB storage cap. IDrive has an option to back up locally as well as to the cloud, but it appears to be a one or the other choice rather than syncing to both as CrashPlan did.

CrashPlan. I'm gonna miss ya. Thanks for the backups .. and the unexpected pain. Bastards.

So, What's Next (November 3 Update)

There are lots of good reviews like Lifewire's 21 Online Backup Services Reviewed, PC Magazine's The Best Online Backup Services of 2017, and Tom's Guide's Best Cloud Backup Services 2017. For me, those just point to the front door.

I looked at several of those in detail but ultimately decided on IDrive. It was between IDrive and Backblaze, but I liked IDrive's ability to back up just what I want versus BackBlaze's approach of backing up everything. (Backblaze can be configured to back up only certain files/directories, but you have to work at it.) I really only need to back up things I would truly lose if my computer was stolen or one of the drives died. There's no need to back up the OS or my gigantic Steam drive. If the boot drive dies, I likely replace it with a bigger one. I periodically reformat and reinstall Windows and the apps anyway as they tend to suffer bit rot over time. If a drive dies, I'll take that as a sign. I also like IDrive's higher level of encryption and the ability to set my own encryption key.

For former CrashPlan users, they offer a 90% promo - $6.95 - for the first year. It's $70 per year after that, but at $7, I can give it a really good long workout before I commit real cash. (It's still half what I was paying to CrashPlan and CrashPlan couldn't seem to survive on that.) This is available to anyone switching to IDrive from any other online backup service. I had to respond to an email from IDrive's support team with a screenshot of my CrashPlan window showing my active account or an email containing a receipt showing I was a customer. I sent them both plus the email from CrashPlan saying, "Thanks for the money. Now scram!"

Since this only solves the "online" portion of the 3-2-1 backup strategy, I also looked at Lifewire's 32 Free Backup Software Tools. I haven't decided on one yet. I will need to use a second program to do my local backups. I could make a local backup to my file server from the devices I want to back up and then back up that single machine to IDrive. That would let me only run one backup application per machine. That seems a bit convoluted, and when and if the time comes I need to get files from the online service (rather than the local backup), I'd rather return them to the machines that they came from directly rather than use an intermediary. If running two backup applications seems too taxing, I may go with the alternate strategy.