What’s a good online backup service? (Crashplan can do only 10 GB per day)

I used to back up my computer with Crashplan, but the service failed after I parked some big videos from our MIT Ground School class on a secondary drive. I was able to get it started again by beefing up its RAM allocation to 8 GB (it seems to use 3-5 GB; this is why I want every computer to have 64 GB of RAM minimum!) and cutting the backup interval to once/day (attempt to prevent a new backup starting from causing an in-progress upload to file).

The backup is unbelievably slow. Windows says Crashplan uses 0.1 Mbps most of the time, i.e., about 1/10,000th of the provisioned Verizon FiOS 1 Gbps symmetric link. My information will be at risk of drive failure for the next 83 days (about 830 GB of stuff that Crashplan missed during its failed period).

I pinged the Crashplan folks for support. It turns out that their goal is 10 GB per day:

Looking at your recent history, I’m seeing that you’re getting above-average upload speeds to us. CrashPlan users can expect to back up about 10 GB of information per day on average if their computer is powered on and not in standby mode.

In other words, the consumer who buys a $360 laptop at Amazon with a 1 TB hard drive, fills it up with family photos and videos, and then subscribes to the service will not have a complete backup until 3.5 months of being continuously connected (maybe not for a year if the laptop is turned on only when in use). The consumer who captures or modifies 1 hour of video every day will never get a complete backup, I don’t think.

[Update 5/6: Since the bandwidth used, according to Windows, is the same 24/7, I’m 99 percent sure that Crashplan is throttling to 100 kbps. The customer support emails use some careful language: “We do not apply throttling based on the size of your backup. We also do not limit upload speed based [on?] file sizes or types.”]

I started with Crashplan in 2012, according to this post on the topic:

[Update 11/15/2012: Based on the comments below, I installed CrashPlan. It is uploading 2.2 Mbps currently, maxing out the admittedly feeble Comcast cable modem upload capacity. So this makes it 22 times faster than Carbonite, throttled to 100 kbps.]

Given that it is only 1/20th of its former speed, I wonder if Crashplan has now discovered the miracle of throttling while charging customers for “unlimited” service.

“Why I Switched to Backblaze from CrashPlan” (February 2017):

I failed to get CrashPlan to complete a single successful backup on my new machine for a full month. … After I cranked up Backblaze to the fastest possible, I was shown a transfer speed of 208.14Mbps. Remember CrashPlan? That was at 2.4mbps. So 100x the speed. But could Backblaze really do this in an actual upload? … .it only took Backblaze 18 hours to upload 641GB of data. 735 thousand files. … I’m switching over to Backblaze because of the nice interface, and because of the speed, and well, mostly because they actually can back up my computer.

How about following this guy with a switch to Backblaze? It is $60/year., half the price of Crashplan at $120/year for a single computer, but I think Backblaze adds fees for persistent storage of older versions (6 cents per GB per year, so a 6 TB hard drive could run up a $360/year bill?). This memory usage comparison showed that Backblaze required only 1/25th as much RAM as Crashplan.

Or maybe it makes sense to subscribe to both? Use Backblaze to make sure that you actually can restore your computer if it fails within one of the multi-month windows in which Crashplan is hundreds of GB behind. Use Crashplan to restore an ancient version of a file.

13 thoughts on “What’s a good online backup service? (Crashplan can do only 10 GB per day)

  1. Depends how much data. The most flexible is probably Arq, which lets you backup to any storage service. You can get unlimited data on GSuite Google Drive for $720/yr; I currently have 90 TB on there, and it’s very fast, should come close to maxing out your connection.

  2. How quickly would you run up against monthly traffic limits set by your ISP? Most of them start to cap at 1TB?

  3. I feel much safer with backups stored where I can see them. No network worries, no company-going-out-of-business worries.

    I use Time Machine on my Mac to back up to another drive. (Drives are relatively cheap, so tapes are no longer necessary.) Windows must have an equivalent.

    Every few weeks, I swap drives to an off-site location. That way, I’m covered, to some degree, against earthquakes and fires.

    It’s easy, reliable, not too expensive, and not too much work.

    Always remember to test your backups periodically by restoring files from them. If you don’t do that, you don’t really know whether they’ve worked. I discovered this the hard way at a former employer. They had an elaborate, expensive backup system, but the backups didn’t actually work either time I tried to do a restore.

    • Time Machine is not an offsite backup though. But that said, it works reasonably well. (Reasonably since it wore down and killed the HDD of my iMac back in the day.)

  4. Get rclone, and you are not locked in to one cloud provider. You can then backup to S3+Glacier and/or Backblaze. All these backup providers like Crashplan are running off AWS anyways, and make you pay for their pretty GUIs with limitations like you just experienced, and a markup.


  5. Can you just, like, contact the NSA and ask them for a backup copy?
    Their data centers are pretty large and (hopefully) well equipped.

  6. For folks with large amount of video/photo files, nothing beats having a local NAS like Synology. It’s designed to be on 100% of the time, cheap enough, you can have 2 or 4 drives, 12TB each, for tons of space. Most smart TVs and other devices will nicely see it on the network, so you can watch your footage without getting your laptop/iphone, etc.

    But most importantly, online back-up is built-in. You can just point it at your AWS (or any other cloud) account and it will happily encrypt your data and push it at full speed into the cloud. The cost is $0.023 per GB (standard AWS S3 pricing).

    • I agree NAS to cloud is the best strategy. Back up all local computers to the NAS (via Time machine, Windows back up, whatever) and from there to the cloud with one of the natively supported solutions. I’m partial to QNAP but Synology is also perfectly fine.

  7. I mount an encrypted 500 Gb file as a Truecrypt drive. Crashplan used to be able to do sane and functioning incremental backups (only backing up the bits of the file that actually had changed since last time).

    These days Crashplan just flat out fails to back up the huge file. Does anybody know of a service that can do such a backup reliably?

    (I’m also on a fast connection, so speed is not a problem. I’ve also got a great Synology NAS doing local backups ATM)

  8. My personal current favorite is Backblaze, but my guess is any service providing ‘unlimited storage at limited cost’ will throttle your usage.

  9. Yev with Backblaze here -> Normally wouldn’t post, but wanted to make sure you had the Backblaze facts before you switched or made any long-term decisions. At the moment Backblaze has a 30-day version history, so after 30-days of a file being changed or deleted, we’d no longer keep that file in the backup – which might not work for your use-case. We have Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage (with a TON of integration partners) that CAN act as an archive, and is just $0.005/GB/Mo ($0.01/GB download) – which is about $5/TB/Mo in larger terms. Here’s a link to that service integration page if it’s interesting -> https://www.backblaze.com/b2/integrations.html

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