CrashPlan vs. Backblaze (redux)

Back at the time of the Great CrashPlan Debacle, I looked hard at the pros and cons of switching to Backblaze. What kept me on CP for the time was mainly their unlimited deleted file retention policy. They are now changing that to 90 days. Still better than Backblaze (30 days), but a big enough change that I’m revisiting the question. CP is also more expensive (I back up five Macs). Interested in any further comments on this choice before I make a decision. Thanks!

Moved from CP to BB a long time ago, could not be happier. Also run TM on a 4 bay Synology NAS and a make a bootable clone of Big Sur on my 1TB Crucial SSD drive using Sync Folders Pro+ as of late :slight_smile:

1 Like

I started moved my cloud backup to Arq Backup after the previous change CrashPlan made to file excursions. Arq Backup is great – it backs up whatever files you ask it to, includes all metadata (even old Mac bits like resource forks) and keeps them for as long as you want (whether they are on internal or removal media). You simply pay for the amount of backup storage space you need, and it’s reasonably priced. (You can also use the Arq software to backup to other cloud storage that you pay for separately if preferred.)

However, I hadn’t cancelled my CrashPlan subscription. My internal SSD failed 2+ years ago (before I started using Arq), and part of me was worried that I might still come across some file that I’d failed to recover properly. Seems highly unlikely at this point (and given I had a pretty recent local backup that I restored from at the time), but CrashPlan had many years’ worth of deleted files, so I couldn’t bring myself to cancel it. But the recent email about limiting deleted files to 90 days made it easy, so I’ve finally cancelled!

If you’re not willing to consider Arq Backup and are only choosing between CrashPlan and Backblaze, a few things to keep in mind (not trying to be overly negative, these are just the things that have stopped me from using Backblaze – they might not matter to you):

  • Backblaze discards a lot of metadata when it backs up files. This may or may not be important to you, but metadata can contain what I consider data (e.g. some of the Finder comments I set, and the PDF reader Skim stores annotations in extended attributes). Backblaze don’t provide a list or any easily accessible information as to what they do and don’t backup, but there were historical tests people ran that found most metadata was discarded, and according to a post on Reddit from a year ago it doesn’t sound like anything has changed. And while Backblaze technically backs up file creation dates (which I consider to be basic file info), there’s no way to restore them without paying for Backblaze to send you an external drive with your full backup (which I think is only available in the US anyway). Downloading individual (or groups of) files to restore will result in the creation date being lost. CrashPlan backs up and restores most metadata, and provides clear information on what is and isn’t included. (Arq backs up even more metadata!)
    CrashPlan for Small Business supported metadata - Code42 Support

  • Backblaze is often in an indeterminate state where it says everything is backed up, but some files will not appear on the server’s backup set for up to several hours (see the @mjtsai post referenced above).

  • If you’re backing up external drives, they will be removed from your backup set if they remain disconnected for more than 30 days.

Backblaze works best if you leave the external hard drive attached to your computer all the time. However, Backblaze will backup external USB and Firewire hard drives that are detached and re-attached as long as you remember to re-attach the hard drive at least once every 30 days. If the drive is detached for more than 30 days, Backblaze interprets this as data that has been permanently deleted and securely deletes the copy from the Backblaze datacenter.

https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/217665398-Backing-up-External-Hard-Drives

  • If your computer is ever off or not connected to Backblaze’s servers for more than 6 months, your entire backup will be deleted.

While files are expunged from the servers after 30 days if they’re removed from a computer, your most recent backup snapshot will be retained for 6 months if your computer is completely unable to contact our servers (either it’s shut off, or no internet connection).

https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/217664898-What-happens-to-my-backups-when-I-m-away-or-on-vacation-

In the end, I decided I didn’t want to have to keep thinking about what was being backed up, what wasn’t, whether I would lose Finder comments or extended attributes that contain useful data, how long my deleted files would be retained, whether an external drive I’d backed up was about to be removed because I haven’t plugged it into my laptop recently, etc. So I went with Arq, choose what I want to backup (basically, exclude system files and apps), and pay for the backup space I need. I know it’s all being backed up, will be retained, and will come back to me as it was originally, without anything being discarded.

4 Likes

@jzw thanks so much for the thoughtful and thorough reply. This would make a great TidBITS article all on its own!

1 Like

Thanks. BB does have 1 year and forever options, not just 30 days.

https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/360035247494-Version-History-FAQ

1 Like

Thanks @mikebhm. You indirectly pointed out another difference between CP and BB. Even with the latest adjustment to CP’s deleted file retention period, they still offer unlimited version history for modified files. According to the BB article you linked, deleted files and modified files are treated exactly the same in terms of retention period (30 days by default, or longer for an additional fee).

I have used both in the last six years and apart from points already covered, my main observations are:

-BB is faster at uploading and absorbing data organisation changes.
-CP has more control but the interface is rather clunky.
-Support for both is good but CP probably better, but I needed them more!.
-CP was more prone to needing attention.
-CP backs up only what you tell it to.
-BB backs everything except what you tell it not to. (After editing the default exclusion file types)
-for non tech users I tend recommend BB as more ‘fit and forget’ and simpler.
-I use BB mainly because of the first point. I tend to reorganise my 4TB, changing drives and computers etc. BB keeps up, with CP I was always waiting.

2 Likes