CrashPlan and CrashPlan Pro, Revisited


An update from my prior post about CrashPlan:

Code 42’s Matthew Dornquast generously helped me resolve the kinks in my CrashPlan installation. I misunderstood how the consumer edition handled NAS drives. Matthew also explained the firewall changes needed for CrashPlan Pro.

The consumer edition (CrashPlan) can backup to a NAS folder. The folder simply has to be mounted via the Finder, and then selected as a destination. I don’t know why this didn’t work when I first tried it yesterday — PEBKAC strikes again! At any rate, the correct information is: Yes, CrashPlan consumer edition can backup to a folder on a NAS.

So, I could use CrashPlan to backup my two Macs to the NAS. I’d give each one a dedicated destination folder, and run CrashPlan on each. But this has two drawbacks:

  1. I’d be administering backup applications on two separate Macs. Ick.
  2. CrashPlan’s scheduling is very simple, to the point of being too simple. It doesn’t do realtime backups. It only lets you schedule backups for one designated time window.

Meanwhile, CrashPlan Pro would let me monitor (but not fully administer) all backups from one machine. And it would let me perform realtime backups on both Macs. But it has two drawbacks:

  1. It would cost me $350. That’s way too much. The Snow Leopard update will cost only $49 to cover both Macs. Snow Leopard full installs would cost $229, and include iWork ’09 and iLife ’09. An application of this sort shouldn’t cost 1.5x – 7x the cost of the entire operating system plus base applications. (Matthew argued that the pricing is appropriate for businesses, which are CrashPlan Pro’s target audience. That may be. It costs too much for my two-system configuration; YMMV.)
  2. The network oddity mentioned in my previous post turned out to be real. Ports 4280 and 4282 (and 4285 if you want SSL) need to be opened up on the machine running PROServer. To do that in Leopard requires fiddling with the ipfw firewall. I’ve played with ipfw before, and could do so again. But I just don’t feel like messing with ipfw right now, since the pricing is a deal-breaker.

Summary

Except for the pricing (which is perhaps an issue only for small configurations like mine), CrashPlan Pro still beats Retrospect 8 hands-down. The required ipfw hacking is annoying, but outweighed by the fact that CrashPlan Pro runs rings around Retrospect 8.

I’d personally run CrashPlan Pro, if not for the pricing. And although it’s free, CrashPlan is too simple for my needs.

Since I still hate Retrospect 8, and don’t want to shell out $350, I’ll keep looking for a Retrospect 8 replacement.

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8 comments
  1. CrashPlan+ does realtime backup. It’s $60 / computer so two computers is $120.

    You can centrally manage both backups through your account at crashplan central.

    CrashPlan+ is basically CrashPlan PRO Client only we run the PRO Server for you.

    It’s a powerful hybrid cloud approach that yields many benefits, cost savings being the least IMHO. A risk is in theory, we could go away and your central management would be gone, but remember there is an extremely large economic incentive to continue the service. (I remember years ago when I bought the very first tivo off the line – I did the math on how long they had to stay in business for me to break even. So it can be stressful, I get that.)

    We launched unlimited storage this week to our servers as well. So now for $5/month, you can store all your data with us as well!

    So for me personally, as geeky as I am, I’d probably do + over PRO as it’s more managed for me. I also like the fact backup status is managed by a 3rd party who does this for a living and then e-mails/tweets me if it’s not working.

  2. winslow said:

    First, I agree that the pricing seems to be appropriate for a business. Second, why are you running a firewall between your server and your workstations? If this is the only way your NAS box works, then what you’ve done is shot yourself in the foot, probably by trying to cut too many corners. Nevertheless, being in a similar boat myself, I do appreciate your comments. Can you tell us more about centralized administration using the Pro version?

    • John said:

      @winslow: Each Mac has an application firewall, which is configured via System Preferences | Security | Firewall. Then there’s also the ipfw firewall, the manipulation of which would be necessary for CrashPlan Pro.

      The NAS works just fine with every other application. I’d never disable my Mac’s application firewall.

  3. Chris said:

    It should be pointed out that for $350 you are getting FIVE (5) licenses of the Pro client. So that’s $70/client vs. the + version which is $60. The Pro server is no cost…so it’s really not that bad, you just have to pony up for more clients up front.

    Code42’s running a holiday special where they’re throwing in the clients for free if you signup for their backup service…or in my case, I think of it as them throwing in the backup service for purchasing their clients since getting the client is more of a priority than the backup destination…but anyhow, pretty decent deal for unlimited backups especially if you consider the family option and have a bunch of machines you want to backup at home…now if only we could get some decent bandwidth in the US… *sigh*

  4. Scott said:

    keep in mind with their headless linux client, it is possible to install their software on most NAS’s, then just have your NAS backup to Crashplan. You install a copy of their software on your PC/mac to manage it and custom configure the settings to point to the NAS. Again like the other NAS solution not officially supported, but nothing too difficult.

  5. $120 does seem steep, but I’m still svinag money compared to what I would pay with Mozy. If the seed drive actually works, I think it will be worth it. Shipping my seed drive back tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes. So far, I like Mozy’s interface better than CrashPlan’s, but what can you do…

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