CrashPlan review

Psst. Want to hear about yet another backup tool with online storage? No – don’t run away yet. This one’s good. With so many different kinds of free and cheap online backup and storage tools making the rounds, a service needs some genuinely unique selling points to make it stand out. CrashPlan fits that category.

We discovered CrashPlan when we were looking at CrashPlan Pro – an industrial-strength, networked backup tool with both client and server components. It’s comprehensive and powerful – but too specialist and expensive to win the Mac gem tag.

CrashPlan is more than just a cut-down sibling of CrashPlan Pro. It’s easily installed and quickly scans your machine for documents to back up. Though cross-platform (there are Windows and Linux versions too) it’ll intelligently select the folders it thinks you need to save – but you can change that, of course.

Here’s the cool part. CrashPlan has one of the easiest-to-use destination selection dialogs we’ve seen in a backup tool. You can save to a local folder, a networked computer or, our favourite option, a ‘friend’. That means you can back up to the computer of someone else with a CrashPlan account. This free feature is one we haven’t seen in any other backup tool – and it’s ideal for team working.

CrashPlan+ is an upgrade that adds continuous, real-time backup, removes ads and provides priority customer support. If these are things that are important to you, this costs $60 (£38). You can also save to CrashPlan’s own servers at CrashPlan Central for $54 (£34) – $4.50 (£3) a month, which isn’t much for unlimited, secure backup. Most similar services impose hard limits on storage.

OUR VERDICT

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for us to stay loyal to one backup tool with so many good ones around. We’ll say for now that CrashPlan has moved into pole position for our everyday backup – while Dropbox remains our choice for file sharing and ‘live’ documents.

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