Who is this article for?
CrashPlan for Small Business, no.
Code42 for Enterprise, yes.
Link: Product plans and features.
This article applies to version 4.
A collection of frequently asked questions about backup settings, capabilities, and how CrashPlan works in general.
Questions about settings
If you delete files from your system, they remain backed up and in your backup archive forever, as long as:
- 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.
- Your “Remove deleted files” setting is set to never.
After your friend has started backing up, you can go to Friends > Friend's name and set the allotted space.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As part of the backup process, CrashPlan regularly performs archive maintenance which removes, or “prunes,” file versions in accordance to your file retention settings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CrashPlan backs up the symbolic link file itself, but does not back up any of the folders or files the symbolic links points to.
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.
No. The backup archive must reside on a single drive at the destination.
If your drive is unmounted, CrashPlan is smart enough to know the drive is unavailable. CrashPlan does not treat the files as deselected.
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.
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.
Questions about what can be 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.
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.
Yes. There are two ways you could do this:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
On the Backup tab, click the i 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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, you can back up both Outlook for Mac and Entourage 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 CrashPlan 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 CrashPlan app. For example, to restore an Apple Numbers spreadsheet, select the entire folder from the CrashPlan app. Navigate to the location where you restored the folder and you will find that it displays as a single file.
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.
Yes. Please follow the instructions in the Enabling Windows EFS Support tutorial.
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.