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CrashPlan isn't designed to back up installed application files and we don't recommend adding these files to your backup selection. However, you can use CrashPlan to back up and restore your applications installers. This article explains best practices for backing up your application installers so you can restore your applications to a new or reformatted computer.
Backing up and restoring installed application files with CrashPlan is not recommended or supported. Our Customer Champions cannot assist you with recovering installed applications, so you assume all risk of unintended behavior. However, we do support backing up and restoring application installer files, which can be used to recover your applications.
Key concept: Applications files versus installers
It can be tempting to include your entire hard drive as your backup set, including application files and system files. However, this can actually lengthen the amount of time required to back up your important data, and could prevent your personal files from backing up efficiently.
As part of its normal operation, your computer creates and modifies application files, which are small. CrashPlan is backing up these files in real-time and prioritizes its to-do list based on file size and creation date. This means when your applications are open, the application files may be updated frequently and these new files are backed up before other important files in your backup selection. Due to the changes in those files, if you needed to restore the application at a later time, we could not ensure that the application would function properly.
Some symptoms you might see if CrashPlan backs up system or application files:
- Time to complete backup selection increases, sometimes by many days
- Backup never reaches 100%
- Backup status may be incorrectly reported due to frequent file changes
- No files are displayed on the Restore screen
When you purchase or download an application, the installer file is what you use to install the application on your computer. Many users delete these files after installing the application. However, these files are valuable when you need to replace a computer, reformat a drive, or recover from a crash. If you don't have the installer file, you will need to spend time finding it, determining the correct version to download, then downloading and installing it.
Unlike application files, installer files do not change. Therefore, CrashPlan only needs to back up the file once. Once it is backed up, the installer file will be available when you need it to reinstall the application, even if your computer is lost, damaged, or the file is accidentally deleted.
What to exclude from your backup file selection
Since CrashPlan isn't designed to restore your operating system or applications, there is no advantage to backing up these types of files. You can remove them from your backup file selection by clicking the Change button on the Backup tab. CrashPlan backs up the contents of every folder selected with a checkmark. To change your backup selection, simply select the folders you want to back up, and deselect the ones you don't.
You should avoid including folders that contain:
- Application and program files: These are files that your applications need in order to run. These files change frequently, so CrashPlan puts a lot of effort into backing them up when they're included.
- System files: These are files that your computer needs to run properly. These also change frequently and are best recovered using the operating system installation media.
- Your backup archives: It is not possible to back up a CrashPlan backup archive (i.e., the file that contains your compressed and encrypted backup information).
Just be careful – if you deselect a folder after it has backed up, it will be permanently removed from your backup archive.
What to include in your backup file selection
The best way to avoid backing up system and application files is to back up folders you're familiar with—like Documents, Music, Downloads, Desktop, and any other folders where you store personal files.
Backing up your user folder works great for many users because it typically includes the majority of your personal files (for example, the default folders for your pictures, music, documents, and downloads). We suggest creating a folder within your User directory called "Installers" and storing the installer files for any software that you download or install in that folder. Having CrashPlan backup that folder ensures that you can always find and restore the applications that you need.
In addition, if you have purchased a license for any of your software or have serial numbers for an application, it is your responsibility to keep a copy of those keys. We suggest creating a .txt file within the Installers folder and adding any license keys or serial numbers to that file.