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Crashplan and iDrive are two well-respected leaders in the online backup and storage industry, but which one is better?
It may be that one suits your unique needs better than the other. But how on Earth are you supposed to know that without trying out each service? The last anyone wants to do is to commit to a long-term online subscription. You don’t want to discover that they’re missing a crucial feature.
Bottom Line Up Front: In my opinion, iDrive offers more value here. This because they provide more storage space at a cheaper cost, allow unlimited device backups, support business scenarios. In addition, they have slightly stronger security and have more backup features.
So, let’s get started by looking at each provider’s pricing model.
Free Trial: The first thing I’d like to point out is that both providers offer a free trial of their service.
However, there are some limitations, stipulations, and caveats concerning the terms of the free trial.
iDrive offers 5GB of online sync space free, and you can use it indefinitely. That’s atypical in the cloud storage industry because most providers impose time limits, bandwidth throttling, and data caps (no unmilited backup syncs, etc…). iDrive doesn’t impose these limitations, though.
On the other hand, Crashplan does impose a time limit on their free trial. The actual online backup portion of their free trial only lasts for 30 days, though that should be enough time to decide whether or not you like their service. But the free trial also includes free access to their software, which will let you make your own personal backups and store them on other computers, local devices, and an external hard drive indefinitely.
You’ll lose the ability to sync and propagate files and folders to all of your devices unless they reside on the same LAN, but hey – free is free!
And as far as paid plans go, iDrive is fairly cheap. They offer 1TB of storage and sync space for only $52.12, which is about $.34 per month. They also have a business-class service. It offers 250GB of storage and sync space for only $74.62 per year, which is only $6.21 per month.
Crashplan costs a little more than iDrive, but are by no means expensive. Their individual plan is only good for 1 computer, but it only costs $5.00 per month with an annual subscription. In addition, they have a family plan that is good for 2-10 computers. It only costs $12.50 a month for a 1-year subscription. They do offer monthly rates, but they are higher priced and not as economical.
UPDATE: Crashplan (Code42) now offers customized businesses packages available here.
Even though both services do have some features that help users distribute, share, and sync their data, it should be noted that neither service is a pure cloud storage product.
Instead, each one is really more of a backup service that has some handy tools to help store backed up data in the cloud. Unfortunately, Crashplan isn’t available on nearly as many platforms as iDrive, and only supports Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. They do have a mobile app for mobile devices, but it only allows users to access previously stored folder or files.
iDrive, on the other hand, supports PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Android with custom apps. Also note that in order to backup multiple computers with CrashPlan, you’ll need to purchase the more expensive family plan. iDrive, however, will allow a single account to backup an unlimited number of devices. Furthermore, iDrive has another advantage over Crashplan: iDrive will actually send you hard copies of your backups in the mail, as long as they are smaller than 3TB. CrashPlan, unfortunately, doesn’t have that feature.
And as you might expect, both providers have the capability to create a backup and save it on a local medium, such as Network Attached Storage or an external drive. But one of the backup features I liked the most was automatic backups. Both iDrive and CrashPlan will notice when a file has been updated, and then perform a backup automatically, only updating the changed parts of the files to save bandwidth.
Both providers have similar backup features including incremental, differential, continuous, and daily backups. And naturally, you can even schedule your own backups to remove the burden of doing things manually.
It seems that iDrive is more feature-rich than Crashplan, and includes functionality for sharing and social media that Crashplan just doesn’t have. In addition to syncing features, iDrive has a handy mechanism that will generate dynamic links to help you share files with friends, family, and coworkers on Facebook, Twitter, email, or even instant messaging.
IDrive also has special features to help you backup your Facebook and Instagram accounts. People have so many pictures online that it would be a real hassle trying to backup their accounts manually, but iDrive simplifies the process. CrashPlan, though well adept at backing up your data, simply doesn’t have these sharing and social media features.
It seems that both providers are excellent when it comes to security. Although I think the scales tip slightly in iDrive’s favor. First off, note that both providers have the option to either use a user-defined private key for encryption or use transport encryption. With iDrive, users can create their own custom key that that will encrypt data using the extremely strong AES-256 protocol.
This is known as a zero-knowledge security because there’s nothing an iDrive employee or hacker can do to read your data without the key (just make sure you keep it secret and safe!). Likewise, users can opt for a user-defined private key with CrashPlan that encrypts data before it ever leaves their computer. But instead of AES-256, Crashplan uses a combination of 448-bit Blowfish and AES-128 encryption.
Naturally, AES-256 is stronger than AES-128, and no one can crack it. In fact, both are more than adequate at protecting your data. Since iDrive uses a stronger encryption algorithm, I have to say the iDrive wins the security competition.
CrashPlan doesn’t have a business plan, and it seems that they are trying to market their services to individuals and users in a home environment. Crashplan could be appropriate for small businesses because the family plan allows backups on 2-10 computers. UPDATE: Crashplan (now called Code42) DOES offer some new robust small business plans here. Definitely a BIG step up.
However, I’d have to recommend that business users look into iDrive as they have long been more tailored to business users. They accommodate businesses in several ways. Including a DataCenter edition of their service that will help eliminate the need for Linux commands via the shell, as the DataCenter edition has a GUI that simplifies the backup process.
Furthermore, iDrive has server backup features for databases, MS SQL, MS Exchange servers, Hyper-V, MS SharePoint, Oracle servers, Linux, and VMWare implementations. There really isn’t anything even close or comparable with Crashplan’s service. In addition, they created some practical features such as sub-accounts and a permissions-based system as well as regulatory compliance for HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, and SEC/NASD.
Bottom Line: In my opinion, iDrive offers more value here. This because they provide more storage space at a cheaper cost, allow unlimited device backups, support business scenarios. In addition, they have slightly stronger security and have more backup features.
That’s not to say that CrashPlan (now called Code42) is a poor service; in fact, Crashplan is superior to a lot of other backup solutions that I have used in the past.
Remember, they offer a 5GB syncing and cloud storage service that you can use indefinitely. Likewise, Crashplan has a short-term free trial, too. Nevertheless, in the end, I was more impressed with iDrive because they have so many ancillary features that Crashplan lacks. But if I had to commit to an entire 12-month subscription, I’d have to go with iDrive.