This comparison post was originally published on September 6, 2012. Since then there has been a number of changes to both Carbonite and CrashPlan so I have updated this post and republished it.
Comparing Carbonite to CrashPlan seems to cry out for a cheesy Star Wars quote about the learner surpassing the master but I will try to refrain. There is no doubt that Carbonite and CrashPlan have a lot in common but there are significant differences between the two services and depending on your needs those differences will determine whether you want to use either Carbonite or CrashPlan .
Previously this post did a very cursory look at both services. This time I want to look closer at some features both services offer and see who actually comes out ahead.
Carbonite used to throttle users backup depending on how much space they were using. This was one of the biggest problems with Carbonite, thankfully they have seen the errors of their ways and removed the bandwidth throttle.
CrashPlan has never stated that they throttle bandwidth but the service is not always quick either. In fact in my year using the service I was never able to complete my initial backup to CrashPlan Central and it seemed to get worse the longer the service ran on my machine.
Carbonite plans are all only for one computer. The difference between plans is a different level of features. This does make it a little harder to compare the basic Carbonite plan to CrashPlan plans. In order to get all of the features of CrashPlan with Carbonite you really need to get the Home Premier plan, and even then you will not have multiple computer backup, but you would have external hard drive backup, mirror image backup, automatic video backup and the ability to order a restore by mail.
CrashPlan is very competitive in their pricing and are one of the few services that offers a family plan to backup up to ten computers on one account. That is great, if you actually have ten computers to backup to one account it would then be a great deal. The reality is though most people don’t have 10 computers and the CrashPlan family plan is not as economical as multiple accounts sometimes.
|CrashPlan Unlimited||CrashPlan Family Unlimited||Carbonite Home||Carbonite Home Plus||Carbonite Home Premier|
If price is your only concern CrashPlan is clearly ahead, especially if you want a family plan to backup multiple computers.
Operating System Support
Carbonite has desktop clients for Windows and Mac. This covers the majority of desktop computer users out there. I know Linux users probably don’t think that way, but that is the reality. It is worth noting that some features such as using a private encryption key and the features listed in the Home Plus and Home Premier plans are only available to Windows users. The Mac version of Carbonite it only available in the basic Home plan. That puts Carbonite at a disadvantage on the Mac.
CrashPlan, as I have stated previously, uses Java. I personally hate Java, that aside it does give CrashPlan the ability to run on Windows, Mac, Linux and even Unix with the same features. If you can stand Java CrashPlan is clearly a winner here.
Local Backup Support
Carbonite added a local backup option with their Home Plus plan. With the Home Plus plan you also get support to backup external hard drives on Windows machines.
CrashPlan offers a local backup option with all of their plans. In fact, you can actually download and install CrashPlan for free and use it just for your own local backup.
Mobile Apps and Backup
Carbonite offers a very robust mobile app on iOS, Android and Blackberry. The Carbonite app on Android in fact is one of the best cloud backup mobile apps I have seen. Not only can you access your backed up files from your computer you can also backup the photos and videos from your Android device, locate it in the event it goes missing, wipe it remotely, perform a remote capture and make it ring. The iOS app is not as full featured and really only offers access.
CrashPlan mobile apps offer a access only. They do not allow you to backup your photos or videos.
Winner: Carbonite – On the strength of their Android app alone. iOS apps are very similar.
Carbonite, while it does not offer multiple computer backup, the do offer a sync client. It is still in beta and is called Currents. It is a separate download and install on the computers and mobile devices you wish to sync files between. Could be very useful for people that want to work on files on the go and keep them all synced and backed up at the same time.
CrashPlan is backup, no fancy sync available for home users. While Code42 has recently introduced a sync service called SharePlan it is only for enterprise users.
Backup to Friend
This a unique selling point of CrashPlan and there is no equivalent with Carbonite. While it sounds great in theory how many CrashPlan users actually use it is another question. Do you want to actually give backup space to your friend? I could see students making more use of it than most other groups.
Ease of Use
Carbonite is easy, almost as easy as Backblaze to use. It is one of the selling points of the service. It has always been one of their selling points. In fact if you just need an easy service that protects your computers files and stays out of the way Carbonite does it.
CrashPlan is not so easy. It has gotten better, but it has a large number of options and if you just want a backup it has gotten easier but the options still tend to get in the way. On Windows the client is better but on Mac and other systems it gets even more complicated needing to install Java. It is still to much geek software written for other geeks, not software written to jsut get the job done.
And the Winner Is?
Out of the eight categories above CrashPlan takes the lead, particularly where price is a concern and if you have multiple computers with multiple operating systems.
Whether you choose Carbonite or CrashPlan is really going to depend on the type of computer user you are. Carbonite, while not as user friendly as Backblaze, is easy to use and runs well. If you only have one computer and want to make sure your files are safe Carbonite is a great choice. If you are installing it for someone else Carbonite makes a great choice as well.
If you are an IT pro, have multiple computers to backup or just want to tweak everything about your computer backup then look at CrashPlan. It is cross platform, allows you to backup between computers and is less expensive than Carbonite.
Here is a handy table for you to compare more of the features of each service side by side.
|Free||No||Yes – but only local/friend backup.|
|Trial||Yes – 15 Days||Yes – 30 Days|
|Unix||No||Yes – OpenSolaris|
|Restore Options||Client, Web, USB HD (HomePremier Account Only)||Client, Web, DVD, USB HD|
|External Drives||Yes – HomePlus And HomePremier Plans Support External Hard Drives.||Yes|
|Local Backup||Yes – HomePlus And HomePremier Plans Support Local Backup.||Yes|
|Multiple Computers||No||Yes – Family Plan Only.|
|Encryption Keys||Yes – Windows Only||Yes|
|Support Options||Email, Chat, Phone||Email, Phone, Live Chat|
|File Size Limit||4GB – Larger Files Can Be Manually Selected.||No|
|File Sync||Yes – With Sync and Share||No|
|File Versioning||12 Versions||Yes – User Defined Setting|
|File Archiving||30 Days||Unlimited|
|Windows Mobile App||No||Yes|
|Price Two Year||$109.99||$114.99|
|Price Three Year||$149.99||$164.99|
|Price Four Year||NA||$189.99|
|Promo Code||Yes – Click To Save 10%||No – See latest posts below for possible coupons.|
|Review||Read Our Carbonite Review||Read Our CrashPlan Review|