CrashPlan for Small Business: A Complete Tour

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Backup Tab

A screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Backup tab
CrashPlan Backup Tab.

This is the "Backup" tab of the CrashPlan PRO software. This is the first screen you see when you open CrashPlan.

Here you can see the various backup "Destinations" including CrashPlan PRO Online (their online backup service called CrashPlan for Small Business) which I'm using, as well as possible Folder destinations (not shown here but we'll look at it below).

The next section, called "Files," lists the drives, folders, and/or files selected for backup. Any drives or folders listed will show the number of files included within, and all entries show an averaged total size. You can see the Total at the bottom of the list if you have multiple backup sources.

The Change... button opens the Change File Selection screen where you choose what data to back up. See the next screenshot for more about that.

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Change File Selection Screen

Screenshot of the CrashPlan Change File Selection Screen
CrashPlan Change File Selection Screen.

This is the "Change File Selection" screen in CrashPlan. This is the screen that appears after clicking the Change... button on the main "Backup" tab.

Here you'll find a standard tree-style listing of your hard drives and other storage devices (like flash drives or other USB attached storage) that you can choose to have backed up to whatever destinations you've chosen.

Mapped drives can not be backed up from unless you install CrashPlan for each individual user on the computer who needs to do so. You can read more about why on CrashPlan's site here.

You can continually dig down through your drives and folders, selecting individual files to be backed up if you wish. A folder or drive can have either a checkmark, indicating that all other folders and files within are included, or a solid black selection, indicating that some of the folders and/or files within are not included.

Clicking the Show hidden files checkbox will do just that, allowing hidden files to be selected or unselected in the list above.

The Cancel button will close the "Change File Selection" screen without saving your changes. The Save button will close this window, applying whatever changes you made.

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Restore Tab

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Restore tab
CrashPlan Restore Tab.

This is the "Restore" tab in CrashPlan. If it's not obvious by the name, this is where you can select data to be restored from a previous backup.

The drives, folders, and/or files listed here should duplicate the selections made on the "Change File Selection" screen discussed in the previous step above. This is fairly straightforward since I only have a single backup destination (CrashPlan PRO Online), which is listed at the top of this screen. If you have more than one backup destination, you'll have a drop-down box with choices.

You might also notice the search box, which makes finding a single file buried deep within several folders very easy. Otherwise, you can drill down through the drives and folders until you find what you want.

One or more drives, files, and folders can be selected for restore. Any combination will work.

The Show hidden files checkbox will show all the hidden files you've backed up, allowing those to be selected for restore as well. The Show deleted files checkbox will show files that are currently deleted on your computer but are obviously available for restore.

Near the bottom of the screen, you'll see a "Restore the most recent version with current permissions to Desktop and rename any existing files." message, with most recent, current permissionsDesktop, and rename clickable:

  • The most recent link opens a date/time window where you can select the version of the data you want to restore, based on a date and time. This is the file versioning feature of CrashPlan.
  • The current permissions link changes to original permissions when clicked, allowing you to keep the permissions of the current data on your computer once the restore is finished or to restore the content with the permissions it had when it was backed up.
  • The Desktop link cycles through original location and a folder (Desktop) as it's clicked, giving you the further options of restoring the data directly back to where it was backed up from or to a specific folder you specify.
  • The rename link changes to overwite when clicked. Renaming is usually a better idea than overwriting, especially if you're planning on restoring back to the original location which may or may not have some of that data still there.

Finally, once you have the data selected you'd like to restore, have selected the version and permissions of that data you want, and have a restore destination chosen, click the Restore button.

CrashPlan will show a Restore Status section at the bottom of the window and you may see a Restore Pending message appear. How long CrashPlan takes to prepare your data for restore depends on a number of factors, but primarily it has to do with the quantity of data you choose to restore. A few files should only take a few seconds, an entire drive much longer.

Once the restore is done, you'll see a message like "Restored to Desktop at [time]..." or some other wording depending on the restore choices you made.

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General Settings Screen

A screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO General Settings screen
CrashPlan General Settings Screen.

There are several sections in the "Settings" tab in CrashPlan, the first of which is "General."

You'll find plenty of fairly self explanatory options on this page, including the name of your computer as you'd like it identified to CrashPlan, whether to launch the program when the computer starts, and language options.

The default values for the CPU usage are probably fine unless you find that backups are slowing down your computer when you're using it. If so, adjust that When user is present, use up to: percentage down a little.

The "Backup Status and Alerts" section near the bottom of the window deserves some attention here as well:

I highly recommend you setup backup status alerts in the form of email notifications. Personally, I have email alerts setup to send me a weekly status report when things are backing up as they should. I get a warning email if there hasn't been a backup for one day, and a critical email if not for two.

I find the weekly email comforting. It's like CrashPlan telling me "hey, I'm still doing my job." It's not annoying in the least. Obviously the warning and critical emails are something I want as soon as possible so I can act on the problem. What good is an automatic backup system when it's not backing anything up?

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Backup Settings Screen

A screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Backup Settings screen
CrashPlan Backup Settings Screen.

This section of the "Settings" tab in CrashPlan is called "Backup" and is probably one you'll decide to make changes to depending on how you want CrashPlan to function.

The first option, Backup will run:, can be set to Always or Between specified times. I recommend choosing Always unless you know for a fact that there is a time frame everyday, or on certain days, where you don't want a backup occurring.

The Always option doesn't mean that there will constantly be data backing up, it just means that the software can be operational at any time. Backup frequency is configured a bit later on this screen, which I detail in the next step in this tour.

Next is Verify selection every:. This is how often CrashPlan scans your selected drives, files, and/or folders for changes. As you can see, I have mine set for 1 day. Based on how I use my computer, this seemed like a reasonable amount of time to see if something I'm working on has changed and tag it for backup.

The Filename exclusions: section allows you to automatically skip files or folders that end in a certain way (e.g. mp3, -old, etc.) even when that data is technically included in your backup selection.

Advanced Settings allows some finer control with data de-duplication, compression, encryption, and a few other things.

If you have groups of folder or files that you'd to use different settings with, click Enable next to Backup sets and configure that. Most home users probably won't need to use this.

I skipped Frequency and versions for good reason: it needs its own section. See the next step in the tour for more on that.

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Backup Frequency and Versioning Settings Screen

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Backup Frequency and Versioning Settings Screen
CrashPlan Backup Frequency and Versioning Settings Screen.

This is the "Backup Frequency and Versioning Settings" screen, part of the CrashPlan Backup settings on the "Settings" tab.

This screen can look different depending on whether or not you use the CrashPlan for Small Business service, the online backup service that works with the CrashPlan software. My discussion below assumes you do.

Backup Frequency is how often CrashPlan backs up. Your options range from every day, up to every minute.

Additional versions to keep from indicates which versions you want CrashPlan servers (or whatever backup destination you've chosen) to keep, based on various time periods. This feature is called file versioning.

An example, based on my personal CrashPlan setup which you can see in the screenshot above, should help explain this process:

I have CrashPlan backup to their servers each hour [New version]. For the week prior to today [Last week], I'd like each of those to-the-hour backups to be available for me to restore.

My guess is that I probably don't need access to down-to-the-hour versions of anything more than 90 days prior to last week [Last 90 days] so just one version per day for that time period is probably fine. I probably need even less specific access for the year prior to the last three months [Last year] so I'd like CrashPlan to delete all but one backup per week.

Lastly, for years prior to this last one [Previous years], one backup per month should be fine.

You don't have to be as forgiving as I am to CrashPlan's servers. If you like, you can slide everything from Last week even up through Previous years up to whatever length of time you have Backup Frequency set to. So you could, in theory, have CrashPlan backup each and every minute, and keep each of those minute-by-minute versions forever.

The Remove deleted files option is just that: it indicates how frequently you'd like files you delete to be retained in your backup destination. Since accidentally deleting a file, that you only much later realize you need, is a key reason for having a backup system in place, I set mine to never.

Finally, the Defaults button returns all settings to CrashPlan's default settings, the Cancel button closes this window without making changes, and the OK button saves whatever changes you've made.

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Account Settings Screen

Screenshot of the CrashPlan Account Settings Screen
CrashPlan Account Settings Screen.

This is what the "Account" section of the "Settings" tab looks like in CrashPlan.

Personal Information is pretty clear. The Change Password.. button jumps you to the "Security" section, which you can see on the next step on the tour.

The Manage account link sends you to CrashPlan's website where you can manage your account with them.

You'll see License information if you've purchased CrashPlan for Small Business.

Finally, near the bottom, you'll see the version number of the CrashPlan software you're currently running as well as a number, generated by CrashPlan, to uniquely identify your computer.

I've removed my expiration date, product key, email address, and computer identification number from the screenshot above for my account privacy.

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Security Settings Screen

Screenshot of the CrashPlan Security Settings Screen
CrashPlan Security Settings Screen.

The "Security" section of "Settings" tab in CrashPlan deals with just that.

The checkbox at the top of the screen gives you the option to require a password to open CrashPlan, which you set in the fields directly below, inside the Account Password area.

The Archive Encryption area lets you choose between various encryption levels for your backed up data.

Please know that if you choose the Archive key password or the Custom key option, which require you to supply either a password or custom 448-bit key, you are required to remember that provided information in the case of a restore. There is no way to reset either if forgotten. The Standard option has the least risk because there's nothing to remember... and is plenty of security for most people.

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Network Settings Screen

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Network Settings Screen
CrashPlan Network Settings Screen.

Network related settings in CrashPlan can be found in the "Network" section of the "Settings" tab.

The Internal address shows your private IP address, while the External address (mine is blurred out above for privacy) shows your public IP address. These IP addresses are not changeable here, CrashPlan is simply reporting them to you.

Click the Discover button to force CrashPlan to test your network connection. This would be useful if you've recently lost your connection and reestablished it but CrashPlan isn't recognizing that.

The Configure... buttons next to Network interfaces and Wireless networks is used to enable or disable CrashPlan access to specific network interfaces or wireless networks. You shouldn't normally have to do worry about making changes here.

Optionally enable a proxy with the Proxy enabled and Proxy PAC URL options so that all of your backups are filtered through a proxy server.

If you find that backups to CrashPlan's servers are hogging too much bandwidth when you're using your computer, you could solve that problem by choosing a limiting speed in the Limit sending rate when present to drop-down box.

The Limit sending rate when away to refers to when your computer is idle. It can probably remain at None unless it's hogging your network bandwidth to the point that other devices on your network aren't able to work efficiently since your backups are running.

The buffer size and TCP packet QoS settings should only be adjusted if you're familiar with the concepts involved in controlling your network traffic.

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History Tab

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO History Tab
CrashPlan History Tab.

The "History" tab in CrashPlan is a detailed, up to the moment listing of what CrashPlan is doing.

This is useful if you're not quite sure what CrashPlan is up to, or if there was a problem and you'd like to investigate what might have gone wrong.

All entries have a date and time, making it pretty easy to track down what you're looking for.

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Folders Destinations Tab

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Folders Destinations Tab
CrashPlan Folders Destinations Tab.

The "Folders" section of the "Destinations" tab in CrashPlan is where you configure backups to locations attached to your own computer, like another hard drive, attached USB storage device, etc. You can also back up to a shared folder on your network.

In the Available folders box will be listed all folders that you've selected as backup destinations. You can add more with the Select... button and delete selected folders with the Delete... button.

I skipped the "Overview" section of the "Destinations" tab because there isn't much to discuss. It just contains shortcuts to Folders and Cloud, both of which is talked about in these last several steps of this CrashPlan walkthrough.

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Cloud Destinations Tab

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO Cloud Destinations Tab
CrashPlan Cloud Destinations Tab.

The last section in the "Destinations" tab in CrashPlan is called "Cloud" and contains information about your backup to CrashPlan PRO Online, the friendly name given to CrashPlan's servers.

You'll only see information here if you've subscribed to CrashPlan for Small Business, the online backup service offered in conjunction with the free CrashPlan software program. See our review of CrashPlan for Small Business for more information.

Under Backup Destination: CrashPlan PRO Online you'll see the current backup progress or status, your quota on CrashPlan's servers, the current space you're occupying, and the connection status.

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Sign up for CrashPlan

Screenshot of the CrashPlan PRO logo
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CrashPlan is, without a doubt, one of my favorite cloud backup services. Prior to Backblaze coming along, CrashPlan was my top recommendation. It still is if you need unlimited file versioning, one of CrashPlan's killer features.

Be sure to read our full review of CrashPlan for Small Business, complete with the features they offer, updated pricing information, and a lot more on what I like (and don't) about their backup plans.

Here are some additional cloud backup resources you might like:

Still have questions about online backup or CrashPlan? Here's how to get a hold of me.