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Who is this article for?

CrashPlan Cloud
CrashPlan for Small Business
CrashPlan On-Premises

Find your product plan in the Code42 console on the Account menu.
Not a CrashPlan On-Premises customer? Search or browse Incydr and Instructor, CrashPlan Cloud, or CrashPlan for Small Business.

Instructor, no.

Incydr Professional, Enterprise, Gov F2, and Horizon, no.

Incydr Basic, Advanced, and Gov F1, no.

CrashPlan Cloud, no.

Retired product plans, no.

CrashPlan for Small Business, no.

Code42 Support

Backup FAQ

Who is this article for?

CrashPlan Cloud
CrashPlan for Small Business
CrashPlan On-Premises

Find your product plan in the Code42 console on the Account menu.
Not a CrashPlan On-Premises customer? Search or browse Incydr and Instructor, CrashPlan Cloud, or CrashPlan for Small Business.

Instructor, no.

Incydr Professional, Enterprise, Gov F2, and Horizon, no.

Incydr Basic, Advanced, and Gov F1, no.

CrashPlan Cloud, no.

Retired product plans, no.

CrashPlan for Small Business, no.


A collection of frequently asked questions about backup settings, capabilities, and how CrashPlan works in general.

Version 6 of this article
Version 4 is no longer supported. See the following FAQs for the latest version of this content:

Questions about settings

How long are deleted files retained?

If you delete files from your system, they remain backed up and in your backup archive forever, as long as:

  1. The files remain selected in your backup file selection.
    If you remove files from your backup selection, you're telling CrashPlan “I don't want these files backed up anymore” meaning that these files are no longer needed for restoring. As a result, any and all versions are flagged for removal from the backup archive.
  2. Your “Remove deleted files” setting is set to never.
How do I limit how much disk space a friend can use?

After your friend has started backing up, you can go to Friends > Friend's name and set the allotted space.

How can I increase backup speed?

You can make backup go faster by increasing the resources CrashPlan can use.

  • Settings > General: Increase the amount of CPU CrashPlan is allowed to use.
  • Settings > Backup > Network: Increase the outbound message buffer size. (Advanced users only)

More information about increasing back up speeds is listed in our Speeding Up Your Backup article.

Can I set up CrashPlan so that it does NOT back up automatically?

CrashPlan always backs up automatically. We designed our software for automatic backup to ensure your protection is not dependent on human intervention. You do not have the option to run CrashPlan manually. Between automatic backups, however, you can force CrashPlan to back up on demand. Just click the arrow at the end of the backup progress bar for a specific destination.

Typically, users find that they can leave CrashPlan always running without detecting any noticeable effect on their computer.

When do I get alerted if CrashPlan can't back up?

CrashPlan will email you when the alert and warning times have passed. This will only happen if none of your destinations have full backups. For example, if you have 2 destinations, and one has not been able to connect, but you have a complete backup with another destination, you will not get a warning.

Questions about capabilities

How much can I expect to back up to CrashPlan Central in a day? (CrashPlan for Home only)

On average, you can expect your CrashPlan Central backup to progress by at least 10 GB of information a day, as long as your computer is powered on and not in standby mode. That's the equivalent of:

  • 6,800+ photos from a camera phone (at 1.5 MB per photo)
  • 1024 photos from a DSLR camera (at 10 MB per photo)
  • 1500+ MP3s (at 6.5 MB per song)
  • 8 full-length standard definition movies (at 1.2 GB per movie)

How can I avoid restarting my backup when replacing a computer?

Install CrashPlan on the new computer under your existing account. Then choose to adopt a previous computer via the message window on the Backup screen.

Can CrashPlan back up when my computer is asleep?

No. CrashPlan can't back up when the source or destination computer is asleep or off. Backup will resume after the computer wakes up or is powered on.

Can my computer be a destination for multiple friends or computers?

Yes! Learn more about how you can be a destination.

Can I move my backup to a server with faster speeds?

No. There is no way to move your backup to a server that's geographically closer to your location or with a lighter user load. To improve backup performance, modify your settings to speed up your backup, and be aware that your backup speed may not match your available bandwidth.

Questions about how CrashPlan works

I just started the free 30-day trial and CrashPlan says that my backup will take more than 30 days to complete. What should I do?
  • Create a smaller backup set for the files you send to CrashPlan Central as a destination. After your trial, you can always add more files to your CrashPlan Central destination backup set. Back up everything else to a local hard drive and to other computers.
  • You can seed the backup locally and then physically transport it to another computer. See Backing Up Very Large File Selections.

Note: You don't have wait until your entire backup completes before you restore files. As soon as a file is backed up, you can restore it.

How does CrashPlan prioritize backup to multiple destinations?

CrashPlan automatically selects which location to back up to based on which location will complete first. So if you are doing your initial backup to a local folder and a friend's computer across the Internet, CrashPlan will complete backup to the local folder and then complete backup to the friend's computer. This ensures you'll have a full backup at one location as soon as possible.

Assuming that your most important work is your most recent work, CrashPlan backs up the most recent changes first.

How is backup data stored?

CrashPlan breaks down the files into their component parts in order to transmit and store them efficiently, which means they are not stored in a readable format. The component parts are stored inside a folder named after the source computer's ID in chunks of 4 GB. By default, all files are compressed and encrypted before leaving the source computer.

Why is the play button to start backup sometimes disabled?

There are times when CrashPlan does not allow you to manually start backup by clicking the play button on the Backup tab:

  • When backup is complete and there are no items in the TO DO list
  • During synchronization
  • When CrashPlan is not scheduled to run (source or destination)
  • If the destination is not available
What is the difference between deleted files and deselected files?
  • When you delete a file (for example, you drag a file to the Trash), CrashPlan retains the deleted file according your “Remove deleted files” setting. If you specified that deleted files will be retained for 30 days, you will be able to restore that file for 30 days after it's been deleted.
  • When you deselect a file from the backup selection (by removing its check mark from the backup file selection list), all versions of that file are removed from the backup archive as part of the archive maintenance operation—or whenever you click the Compact button. After the file is removed from the backup archive, you will not be able to restore the file.
How can I permanently delete a particular file from my backup?

Deselect the file from your backup selection. The file will be removed the next time the regularly scheduled archive maintenance job runs—or as soon as you click the Compact button for that destination.

Why am I getting an alert email even though I am successfully backing up to a destination?

If a computer has not connected to our servers to report progress, you'll receive an alert, even if you are successfully backing up to local folders or destinations.

How much space does de-duplication and compression save?

The data savings can vary greatly based on the type of files being backed up. For example, text documents compress extremely well, but movies do not. However, we typically observe 10-30% savings in disk space as a result of compression and de-duplication.

Why does it look like my whole file is backed up repeatedly?

After initial backup of the file is complete, only new or changed information is sent when the file is backed up.

When CrashPlan scans a file, it knows that the file changed and the progress bar runs through the file as if the information is new. But as it goes, it discovers the information hasn't actually changed and only transmits the new information to the backup destination.

For the technically savvy: CrashPlan does incremental deltas by block within the file.

What does "pruning versions" mean?

As part of the backup process, CrashPlan regularly performs archive maintenance which removes, or “prunes,” file versions in accordance to your file retention settings.

Why does it look like backup has started over?

Occasionally, CrashPlan's advanced data de-duplication needs to rescan your files. When this happens, CrashPlan looks exactly like it is backing up your data again, but it is actually scanning each block to see if it has been backed up already. Progress goes much, much faster than if you were backing up all over again, and your files are still available for restore during this process.

How does file versioning work?

By default, CrashPlan keeps more of your recent versions and less of the older ones.

More information is available in the Specify Version Settings article.

If something happens to your file, you can go back to the version you need and restore it.

CrashPlan uses advanced data de-duplication and block level incremental backup. At a very basic level, this means that once a file is backed up, only subsequent changes are sent to your backup destination. For example, CrashPlan is smart enough to know that only paragraph two in your letter to Grandma has changed and will only send the data from paragraph two to your backup destination, not the whole file. You're able to recover either version of the file.

Why are there extra versions stored on the destination?

Versions in excess of your specified number to retain are pruned during the regular archive maintenance routine, which runs weekly by default (Settings > Backup > Inbound backup from other computers) or when you push the Compact button from the source.

What is the file verification scan for?

CrashPlan has two ways of verifying your files are backed up: the real-time file watcher and the file verification scan (Verify backup file selection every X days). So if, for some reason, the real-time watcher didn't flag a file for backup, the file system scan would still catch and back up that file.

The scheduled file verification scan also checks your system for deleted files. A file will show up as deleted only after the automatic scan has run.

Why does my transfer speed vary?

The raw speed depends almost entirely on the machine doing the backing up and the type of data being being backed up. The source machine is handling all of the data de-duplication, compression and encryption, and it's doing that all at a very low priority setting so the computer is still usable while it's backing up.

During backup, CrashPlan provides a best estimate of how much time remains before the backup is complete. This estimate is constantly revised based on what CrashPlan encounters and what part of the process is taking place, so it is normal for the “time remaining” to fluctuate.

Why is backup not as fast as copying files?

CrashPlan has to do some work to de-duplicate, compress and encrypt your files before it can send your information to it's destination. CrashPlan is designed to work in the background and not slow down your system while you're working, so by default, the resources allowed for performing this work are limited.

How does CrashPlan handle symbolic links?

CrashPlan backs up the symbolic link file itself, but does not back up any of the folders or files the symbolic links points to.

Will CrashPlan completely fill a destination drive?

CrashPlan will not completely fill up a drive. CrashPlan stops backup to a drive if the minimum free space is 1% of the total drive size or 1 GB (whichever is smaller). After backup has stopped, CrashPlan runs archive maintenance in an attempt to free up space by removing deleted files, extra versions, or files no longer selected for backup (based on your settings). Backup resumes once there is adequate space on the drive.

Can my backup archive on the destination be split across multiple drives?

No. The backup archive must reside on a single drive at the destination.

I'm backing up data on an external drive. What happens to my backup data when it's not connected?

If your drive is unmounted, CrashPlan is smart enough to know the drive is unavailable. CrashPlan does not treat the files as deselected.

What does the Compact button do?

The Compact button:

  • Runs a verification process that ensures the files stored at the destination are the same as the files sent from the source. If any files at the destination are damaged, CrashPlan self-heals your backup by requesting that the source re-send that portion of the file.
  • Removes files you've said are okay to remove (deleted files, excess versions, and files no longer selected for backup) from the backup archive.

This process is also known as Archive Maintenance.

What is the difference between backup software and archive software?

CrashPlan is designed for live backup of files, and not for archiving files.

  • Think of backup as providing the ability to restore information you have lost. “I'll back up to there in case something happens here.”
  • Think of archiving simply as an extension of the storage options on your computer. “I'll store some things there, because I am running out of space here.” Or “These things belong together here; and these other things belong together there.”

This means that backup software like CrashPlan cannot be used like iDisk to add, update or remove files from any computer.

Is there a manual?

Comprehensive product documentation is available on our support site. You can also easily save PDFs of single articles or groups of articles to create your own customized collection of product documentation.

Questions about what can be backed up

What's not being backed up?

There are some types of files that CrashPlan excludes from backing up (called admin excludes) or hides from the file selection list (hidden files). You cannot change these settings. See What Is Not Being Backed Up for complete details.

Can I back up open files?

Yes. On Mac and Linux, you can back up any open file. On Windows, CrashPlan uses Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). However if you are backing up larger database files, you will want to read the following "Can CrashPlan back up my database?" question and answer below.

Can CrashPlan back up my database?

Yes. There are two ways you could do this:

  1. Dump your database regularly and back up the location where the dump files are stored (recommended, especially for production systems). You can give the dump files different names and we'll only transmit and store the blocks that are different in the new file. Of course, you can also overwrite the old dump file with the new dump and it'll just create a new version in our archive using the same block-level de-duplication.
  2. Back up the database's data store location in place.

Important Note: When backing up open files in place, there is always a risk of getting a corrupted backup on Mac, Linux and Solaris platforms, especially with large, random-access databases that change a lot, such as Entourage.

On Windows with VSS, this is not a risk as long as the application writing the files supports the VSS contract. Your database application must support VSS in order to back up open database files.

When backing up large, active database files, make sure you increase the backup interval to a few hours or more.

See also Backing Up Open Files In Windows With VSS and Backing Up Open Files And Databases.

Can I back up using FTP?

No. The CrashPlan app must be installed and running on both the source and the destination computers in order to back up with CrashPlan.

CrashPlan does more than simply send data. CrashPlan also encrypts, de-duplicates, compresses, and verifies the data during backup and restore to ensure the health of your files. For more information about the unique benefits of CrashPlan, see our Enthusiast’s Guide.

Where can I view details about backup status?

On the Backup tab, click the i icon information icon below the progress bar to view number of files completed, number of files TO DO and disk used for any incoming or outgoing backup.

Can I back up my CrashPlan archives with CrashPlan?

No. CrashPlan excludes its own backup archives from the file selection. This is hard-coded and cannot be changed.

If you'd like your backup data stored at multiple locations, simply back up your files to multiple destinations.

Can CrashPlan back up to a server using the WebDAV protocol?

CrashPlan won't be able to back up to the server using the WebDAV protocol if that's solely how you use the server. If you fully control the server and can install a CrashPlan client onto it in user space, then you could back up to the server.

I use BootCamp. Can I back up both my Mac and Windows partitions?

We recommend installing CrashPlan on both the “Mac side” and the “Windows side.” This gives your files the best protection. You'll be able to back up the Windows side only when Windows is running and the Mac side only when Mac is running.

Mac files

Can I back up Outlook for Mac or Entourage files?

Yes, you can back up both Outlook for Mac and Entourage files.

Do you support package files?

Yes. Package files are folders “disguised” to look like single files, even though they contain multiple files. Like any other folder, CrashPlan supports backing up and restoring packages. However, only the following types display as a single file in the Code42 app:

.oo3, .rtfd, .app, .pages, .key, .service, .pkg, .mpkg, .bundle, .component, .kext, .clr, .slideSaver, .bnz, .svxSite, .graffle

You can still back up and restore packages not included in this list. They'll just appear as folders in the Code42 app. For example, to restore an Apple Numbers spreadsheet, select the entire folder from the Code42 app. Navigate to the location where you restored the folder and you will find that it displays as a single file.

Windows files

Can I back up a Windows mapped drive?

Currently, we do not support backing up mapped drives. A full technical explanation and (unsupported) workaround can be found in our Back Up A Windows Network Drive article.

Can I back up NTFS encrypted folders?

Yes. Please follow the instructions in the Enabling Windows EFS Support tutorial.

Why aren't open files being backed up?

On Windows, CrashPlan uses the Volume Shadow Service (VSS) to negotiate with other applications over backing up files that are locked open. A primary example of this would be the Outlook pst file.

Make sure the Volume Shadow Service is enabled Automatically. If you've turned it on, reboot your computer to ensure all programs are using VSS properly. After VSS is enabled, the backup files log should reveal that files that were previously locked open and unavailable are now being backed up.

If your data is in files or volumes where VSS does not work, consider using an application-specific dump/export tool and let CrashPlan keep versions of the export. For example, Outlook has tools for automatically dumping its data on a regular basis.