Ask LH: Are There Any Cheap Alternatives To CrashPlan?

Dear Lifehacker, I have been using CrashPlan ever since my house was burgled last year and a few laptops loaded with family photos were stolen. However, CrashPlan had a sharp price jump after its Australian data centre was opened. Is there any more affordable alternative that offer unlimited space and real time backup for three computers? Thanks, Crash Priced

Chicken picture from Shutterstock

Dear CP,

A good starting point is our Top Five Best Online Backup Tools — admittedly, this article is getting a bit long in the tooth but all of the services mentioned are still available.

Apart from the ubiquitous DropBox, the cheapest option of the five is probably JungleDisk; especially if you're storing small amounts of data. Pricing starts at $2 a month with 5GB free storage (additional storage costs 15 cents per gigabyte, per month). However, if you have tonnes of data, it might be more affordable to go with an 'unlimited' storage option: Carbonite pricing starts at $59 per computer, per year.

Another decent option is Backblaze, which offers unlimited storage and continuously backs up your important data in the background without bogging down your system. Prices start at $3.96 per month.

One potentially cheaper option is to back up machines at home onto a network server, and then back up that to CrashPlan or similar — this involves more hardware costs upfront but translates to less ongoing licensing.

If you really don’t want to spend any money, you could try spreading out your backup amongst multiple online services (Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, iCloud and others). But going with one service that works continuously is a much more reliable alternative. Ultimately, backup is a worthwhile expenditure and we'd pay the money for a solution that works.

Also be sure to check out our guide to setting up an automated, bulletproof file backup solution.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Roll your own for free with OwnCloud:

    It's really simple to set up, but you need somewhere to host it.

      I started using ownCloud for the contact / calendaring, but am increasingly using its file storage as well. Works well enough, but the clients (I've tried both Linux and Windows) seem a little unstable, frequently crashing out on me.

        yep, owncloud is not stable yet, seems to be quite beta.

      owncloud is great until you have a natural disaster and your house gets destroyed along with your owncloud server. If you have data that is important to you, you need to do 2 things; the data should be on a raid or backed up to a nas locally for easy recovery, the data should be mirrored to an off-site location in the event of a disaster at your home.


    Last edited 17/09/13 9:31 am

      Thanks for pointing out the peer-to-peer backup feature of CrashPlan. This ability to back up to friends or family for FREE is unique to CrashPlan.

      I did want to mention that since the data is completely (and very securely) encrypted before being sent over the network, there is no way for the other parties to see any of your stuff.

      Mike Evangelist
      Code 42 Software (home of CrashPlan)

      Last edited 25/04/13 12:38 am

    Use the US site to pay in US$ - much cheaper.

      That's what I do, but for some reason I'm now actually backing up to Australia despite having a US contract. I'm happy either way, as long as it's being backed up.

        Yep, new GUID would be backed up locally even if your previous backups are held in the US. I'm still backing up to the US - happy that my backup is completely offshore.

    AltDrive in Seattle is secure, unlimited and has everything you need for $4.45/month for one computer or $9.95/mo for three computers.

    You get what you pay for my friend. Just remember that when you've already decided this data is important enough for you to want to protect it...

      Ah that old chestnut. So if I start an online backup service and charge $100 per month then it will instantly become the best backup solution?

    Google Drive has cheap and fast online storage and you can use Syncdocs to turn it into an automated backup destination.

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