Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Crashplan is untrustworthy - do not trust them with your back or data

I started using Crashplan for my backup needs back when Mozy switched away from doing an unlimited backup.  Initially I was very happy with their service.

However, since at least June of 2012 when I first noticed it, Crashplan has had horribly slow upload speeds. Many people are getting much less then 1mb uploads even though their internet connection supports speeds many times faster then that.

For anyone who frequently adds files to their backup set, this would make crashplan almost useless since you would never have a complete backup. You would always have files pending to be uploaded.

I myself could probably live with these speeds since I don't often add files to my backup. What I can not live with though is a company that lies. And crashplan lies. Their support has NOT ONCE responded to the thread I started here: https://crashplan.zendesk.com/entries/21660011 (they require you to register to view threads, probably to hide complaints from showing up in search engines - i'll post a complete copy at the end of this post).

That thread is almost 6 months old and has NEVER received a response from someone in support. It did however receive a response within a day when I finally got fed up and accused them of being incompetent or liars. Then a Mike Evangelist (listed as Chief Marketing officer according to his linkedin profile) suddenly stepped in and deleted my post accusing me of 'name calling'. I'm not sure what other conclusion you can come to when you have a problem that's ongoing for months and the only response you get from CP support, if they respond at all, is to tell you the internet is shared resource. Basically their excuse is that the internet is slow, not them. Apparently the internet has been slow, ONLY for crashplan customers, night or day, for months.

His idea of customer support was to offer me a refund. That's a pretty shoddy business model - no actual response to the problem itself, just someone who gets upset when you use harsh words about the lack of support and communication and then tells you to leave.

The only conclusion I can draw is that crashplan is either incompetent and doesn't know how to fix the problem or is otherwise incapable of doing so, or they are lying to me. I think it's both. I suspect they signed up too many users too fast and don't have the resources to support them all and are just hoping people wont notice.

As I said earlier, I could probably live with the slower upload speeds. But I will not do business with a company that treats their customers like this. They lie to their customers pretending there is no problem or pretending the problem is with you and not with them. They don't respond to complaints in their forum for MONTHS and then the only official response they finally give is to delete a post that calls them out for what they are - liars.

I don't know about you, but I would not do business with a company that is dishonest with you and treats their customers like idiots. Would you trust all your personal data with them? What's going to happen if their servers ever get hacked, do you think they'll actually let you know? Can you be sure you're data is really encrypted and safe on their server? And what happens if some day you need to download your data, how can you be sure you'll be able to get it? Or that it wont take months or years to download because of their poor service?

I apologize if this sounds like a rant, but I am angry. I think anyone would be angry if they are lied to for months on end. Because of this I've canceled my subscription to crashplan. Oh, and they are actually planning on raising their rates at the start of 2013. I'm going to use amazon glacier with cloudberry. Shockingly, the shared resource that is the internet seems to have no problem maxing out my upload speed when uploading to amazon. And it'll cost me less then what crashplan charges.

Edit: I've been using cloudberry in conjunction with amazon glacier for several weeks now without a single slow down. And it's only costing me $2/mo. To be fair, it looks as though the issue with crashplan has been resolved, at least the technical issue has. The customer service/honesty issue though has not. Crashplan only once admitted to there being any problem and it was a rather vague message along the lines of 'some' customers report problems and 'they are looking into it'. No explanation as to what the problem was. No explanation as to what they did to fix it. No sort of apology. I still don't trust them.

Edit 2: It loosk like CP might still be lying to their customers. Someone who just signed up with CP starts off getting 6mbps uploads but then quickly drops down to 250-300kbps. When they contacted CP support, this is what they were told:
I looked over your backup logs from the past few days and it looks like everything is going exceptionally well. 200-300 KBps sustained transfer rates are normal for most people and are common when the CrashPlan Client is backing up media files or other large chunks of data (applications come to mind). Those types of data don't compress well and therefore have to be sent in their entirety versus smaller chunks that have already been efficiently indexed by the CrashPlan Client.
That's the first time I've heard that not being able to compress file means it'll download MUCH slower then your maximum internet connection. The support rep went on to say turning off data de-duplication might speed up the upload. Which I assume is also either a lie or an indication their system is poorly made if data de-duplication means a 20x reduction in upload speeds.

Edit 3: For anyone still using crashplan and having problems, you might want to take a look at this blog post. He greatly sped up his upload speeds by disabling the deduplication function in crashplan's client.

26 comments:

Volunteer Forum said...

Good, post, i have had around 650Kbps around the clock, i testing the trial(On day 4). (3.3 Years ramaining for 8.3TB of data)

Ian Lipsky said...

If you have 8.3 terabytes of data, I'm not sure any sort of online backup is going to be a viable solution for you, unless you have fiber internet. Assuming your data doesn't change, you might be better off just buying some extra hard drives, backing everything up to them and then storing the extra drives at a friends house.

tlr said...

Or, you have CP send you a Seed Drive, and put your 8.3 TB on that... then you'd just be sending them changes.

Ian Lipsky said...

You'd have to get several seed drives from then to fit 8.3tb of data. For me, i think backing up that much data online doesn't really seem practical today. You'd have to get them to send you a HD back if you ever need to restore it all. I think it's more practical to backup your data to your own external drive and then save that drive somewhere - friends house, in a safe, bank safe deposit box etc

Marcus Bennett said...

I read your account carefully and think that you are being too hard on Crashplan. I surveyed many cloud backup providers and in my practical test including Google, Crasplan, Amazon to name but three they have been the best so far. Backup over long distances of large datasets has multiple issues . I'm getting a /mere/ 3 Mbits/second sustained which of course is much slower than I'd like, but it's tolerable. At the time of writing for datsets exceeding 2TB, and millions of files even with say a 10Megabit upload connection I would make my Cloud Storage my 3rd [ or in my case 4th] backup copy destination.

Ian Lipsky said...

I don't think i am being harsh. I think it's horrible customer service for them to have a problem ongoing for MONTHS and to refuse to even acknowledge that there is even a problem. And when they do finally admit to it, they offer nothing in the way of an explanation as to what the problem was or why it took them so long to fix, nor did they offer an apology. If you want to trust your personal data with a company that treats their customers that way, that's your choice. But I think it's a foolish choice to trust a company that treats their customers that way.

Marcus Bennett said...

So our experiences clearly differ. I have had good and instant customer service from them, and also some of my colleagues too. To be more positive then, whose Cloud backup service did you now use. Why not post a blog article about the service you did choose and how it has worked out.

Ian Lipsky said...

i've been using amazon glacier with zero problems. Maybe i'll post an article about that.

as for your experience - you haven't had any problems using cp so your experience has been good. But there were many other people who had the problems I was having - there was a months long thread on the cp support site regarding this problem. The ONLY time someone from cp bothered to respond was to complain about how I described cp. Not once did anyone from support bother to come into the thread and offer any sort of explanation. Just someone from their marketing/advertising to complain about our complaints.

If you had been hit by whatever problem it was that others were having, you too would have had no help, communication or apology from cp about the issue.

Our guess is that the issue might have had something to do with specific data centers or servers, but those are just guesses since cp never offered an explanation.

Up until that one single issue, i was very happy with cp. They were great. But i refuse to do business with a company that would treat their customer so horribly. It's one thing to have a problem, even if it's a problem that's months long, but it's entirely different to keep your customers entirely in the dark, to refuse to acknowledge there is a problem and to not offer any sort of apology.

Not only is that the worst sort of customer service. But it's also untrustworthy. If they can't even admit to having some sort of technical glitch, that do you think they are going to do if at some point they have a security breach?

For those reasons I wont ever use them again. They might be working perfectly now, but I'd never trust a company like that with any of my data.

Unknown said...

I've tested Chrashplan for 2 hours, what a bunch of hyped BS. Their software UI looks like it is 10 years old, and their speed the same.

After 30 min of patience it started to upload/ backup my 2 selected test files with about 600 kbit/sec... I waited even more in my positive thinking that it would go faster when their hardware and cache was up to speed.

1.5 hours later I decided to stop the circus and remove their software from my PC.

Instead I chose Hidrive and ohh... what a nice surprise. Full speed upload over my wire, and fully supported by Synology.
No more chit chat with the hyped Chrashplan or Amazon S3 :)

The best thing is the Hidrive is german (Im danish btw), and I don't think NSA and all their snooping and requirements for encryption keys will be a problem there *lol*

Anonymous said...

I would like to add to your thread. As of 2nd July, 2014 I was forced to unsubscribe from Crash Plan as they demonstrated themselves to be dishonest, disreputable and untrustworthy all around.

Let me preface this by stating that I have lost nearly 3 years of vital data as a result of Crash Plan's unreliable service.

After an infuriating phone call to their "customer service champions" my call was routed to a very rude and obnoxious technician who talked over me when I tried to explain the issues I was having.

I was told that contrary to the emails I received regularly from Crash Plan stating that my data was safe and sound, my data was never backed up in the first place as it had something to do with their servers.

I was told that my data was unrecoverable and no refund or apologies were offered by this idiotic technician who could NOT give me a plausible explanation as to why.

Currently I am using RECUVA from Piriform to try to salvage and recover some of my files.

Crash Plan charged me over $100.00 over the course of several months to back up my data and then stated my data was never backed up go figure.

I am posting this to dissuade others from making the same mistake I did and trusting them to meet my online back up needs.

Bottom line is Crash Plan is a waste of time and money. They have caused me indescribable stress and aggravation.

Marcus Bennett said...

I see another very negative comment about Crashplan.

This time I will preface my comments by saying that I'm an IT professional, so it would be doubly shameful if I lost any data.

I still use Crashplan and I have a few TB stored up there.

OF COURSE, I made an initial back AND A RESTORE just to test things out.

Further, after more than 6 months I ALSO DO OTHER RESTORES.

NO Cloud backup service currently has the umph (bandwidth) globally to support ultra fast uploads (Unless you know better).

I'm sitting next to 30TB of RAID storage, and that's a second copy. No muppet is seriously suggesting I cloud that right?

In todays 2014 marketplace, Google Drive 1TB option is now ridiculously cheap.

Crashplan is also very cheap, the previous poster referred to 100 USD spent. Bear in mind that's the cost of dinner for 2, so for these prices I consider the burden of testing to be laid on me.

For me Crashplan is working fine, though the slow upload speed (currently looking at the GUI 5Mbps i.e. 625KB/sec) is too pedestrian for really large data volumes.

Again my overall broad brush recommendations to anybody with backup plans are always
a) Have a Plan/ strategy
b) Ideally one that will last you a lifetime i.e. scalable
c) Use local backups for primary
d) Cloud backups in 2014 should be the additional backup
d2) Under 1TB Google Drive is Competitive, but I'd recommend use of 3rd party not native Google client
e) I'd recommend 3 data copies and 1 should be offsite with encryption
f) choose providers who are likely to be still around
g) think about the costs relative to the value of your data.
h) TEST, TEST and TEST

regards marcus bennett

Ian Lipsky said...

Marcus - you really seem to want to defend crashplan. I don't know why since their behavior as I described was horrible. And the behavior as described by the 'anonymous' post is equally horrible.

You may not have run into any problems with them - but then again most people don't run into a need to use their backups. But we still have backup's just in case.

Your responses essentially seem to be since you haven't had any problems with them, they are ok.

My response is do you want to gamble your backup on if you might have a problem or not?

I've had zero issues with amazon, and their support as far as i can tell is always honest. They'll actually make a post announcing any issues and keep you updated as to what's going on, which is the opposite of what CP did.

Marcus Bennett said...

Ian,

Yes I looked at Amazon,and I am pretty sure it was Glaciar that I was testing which
a) was not immediate restore
b) did not come with a client! (you had to get your own)
c) The one I tested (best one) had trouble with mixed case identical filenames (the old UNIX issue)
d) And for a couple of TB was going to be more expensive than Crashplan
So considering it /didnt actually work/ I abandoned the idea.
e) Plus my amazon client did not handle dedup or (I think?) encryption.

I tested again (well life is always testing right?) my upload speeds today to my IBM Softlayer farm using iperf, and as expected it is 32Mbps. So that is ideally what I want of a cloud Provider, not a /mediocre/ 6Mbps (right now) Crashplan link.

I do have a plan to test out Amazon again so I will bear your comments in mind,, what client do you use BTW?

regards marcus b

Ian Lipsky said...

Glacier is the cheapest storage for amazon. Although they recently lowered the pricing on their S3 storage by quite a bit, and that is immediate restore, no delay like glacier.

Price will depend on how much you ar going to backup. For me since I'm well under a TB it's actually cheaper to use amazon.

The client I use is cloudberry. I don't believe it does file deduplication. It does however do encryption and block-level backups. And they support multiple backup platforms besides amazon and you can use the same client to manage multiple backup sets. For example, I have my media files which are large, backed up to glacier since that's cheapest and I don't care if it takes a few hours for me to restore my pictures and video files. But I have my important financial documents backed up to S3 since they are pretty small and I'd like to be able to download those quickly if i need to.

If you need to backup TB worth of data, then anything that's metered will probably never be cheaper then an unlimited plan like crashplan. Pricewise they are great.

But that one incident which started this post makes any price they charge not worth it in my opinion. If they won't even admit to a months long problem, do you think they'll tell you if they ever have a security breach and your data is stolen?

If it's something non-sensitive, I suppose it doesn't hurt. But there's no way I'd trust them now with anything important.

Anonymous said...

How's the speed using CloudBerry + Amazon Glacier?

Ian Lipsky said...

Speed using amazon glacier is great. It uploads at around the max that my internet connection can support. In this case around 2.2 megs a second.

One thing to be aware of using amazon glacier as your backup is there will be a several hour delay in downloading your files. However, their storage fees are the cheapest I've found for the average user and that's not an 'unlimited' plan.

If you need to be able to download files right away, use amazon S3 instead. Glacier will cost you around 1 penny per GB, and S3 around 2.4 pennies per GB.

Anonymous said...

CrashPlan:
I was getting about half my upload capacity half the time. This computer is on a wired connection behind a router, so I didn't think I needed the discover button in the network settings. After going to settings > network > discover, I'm now getting my full 5Mbps UL speed consistently (hasn't dropped since)!
Just started using CrashPlan, dunno about the rest yet as far as service, features, and customer service go.

Anonymous said...

You are ranting about bad customer service becuase they didnt respond to a forum post? Did you even try the multitude of direct contact mechanisms they provide (online ticketing system, phone, email, live chat, or twitter support)? Every time I use one of those, I get a response usually same day, and then follow ups to ask how the solution worked...surveys to talk about how their people were etc..

I run a helpdesk and my rule for my people is that if there is no ticket, it didnt happen. Perhaps try calling them next time rather than waiting for a response in a forum post. Seems like bad form. I would have deleted your name calling messages as well unless you could provide ticket numbers.

And it is not a case of never having a problem and never having to use their support. Ive had a few glitches, all of which have been resolved quickly by reaching out to them.

Also, I have 226GB of data to upload, and it has averaged about 7Mbps at work on their connection, and 100mbps at home on my limited connection. I cant exactly fault crash plan for the limits of my own connection. What I can tell you without a doubt is that it goes much faster than what you are claiming when my network supports it.

Ian Lipsky said...

To Jan 20th anonymous,

A few points to clarify a few things since i think you missed a couple of points in my post.

1. firstly, this was in 2012-2013. I haven't used them since so if things are running fast now, i'm glad. But I can tell you back when i posted this, they were not running well and it was not just me having the problem, as I mentioned in my post.

2. I, and others, opened tickets with their support and essentially got a canned response telling people to check/change settings that had no effect or just a brush off message saying the problem could be with the internet and not with them.

3. I did not call them names - i accused them of either lying or being incompetent. What else would you call someone who has a problem spanning months and can't fix or cant even tell you what the problem is. Heck, they didn't even really admit there was a problem until months later. And i think it's poor customer service that a thread that had multiple posts from multiple people spanning multiple months gets a SINGLE response from someone in CP and the only response was to get annoyed that i accused them of being incompetent or liars.

The bottom line is this:
There WAS a problem with CP and their upload speeds. Multiple people in multiple locations had the problem and it lasted for over half a year. And NO ONE from CP offered an explanation or apology. They effectively refused to admit there was any problem on their end.

If it's working now, thats great. But even if they have super fast speeds now and only charged me $1 a year for unlimited backups, i wouldn't use them. I would not trust a company that treated their customers like that. It's fine if they had some sort of problem that was causing slow downs. What's not fine is being dishonest with your customers (or being incompetent). Either way, that's not someone I would trust me data with. If they had some sort of security breach, I doubt they would tell anyone. So for those reasons, I consider them untrustworthy.

Anonymous said...

Without saying who is better than who, or trying to argue what is better, I think the whole point is to have a local or even an external backup if you can. I will admit that I'm one of the fortunately ones and I have been using Crashplan without any issues. I was an S3 user for about a year, and I have tried glacier as well (didn't like it). During my quest for what is ultimately better, I have also read horror stores about the Amazon glacier service (lost data).

Personally I think the whole cloud storage business is mostly hit or miss....

Ian Lipsky said...

Anonymous - i've been using a combination of S3 and Glacier when i stopped using crashplan. So that's been almost 2 years. I've had ZERO issues with it. Not one single problem. Never had any issues with slow uploads. And when i tested the downloads a couple of times I never had issue with those either.

Having a local backup is good - but it doesn't protect against some catastrophe, like a fire in your home, or someone robbing you.

The best backup plan is one that uses both a local backup and a remote backup.

Cloud storage is only hit or miss if you use a less reputable company. I don't know crashplan is like since i left. But their behavior that i described makes me consider them not reputable.

Julez said...

Let me preface this, I think any company can have bad service and there are different expectations by different people, along with different experiences.

My personal experience I've had with CrashPlan has been pretty solid overall. I think I've been a customer for about a year and a half or 2 years? I'm only pushing around 1TB of data though and my local fiber service is 100/10, so getting much more than 900KBps isn't very likely in my case.

But I am always looking for better options out there and I know there's native support for Glacier in my Synology system.

Do you feel price wise it's comparable to CrashPlan?

Ian Lipsky said...

Julez,

My main reason for saying crashplan was not trustworthy didn't have anything to do with the speeds, but how they handled the situation. They lied about it, for a very long time. If they are going to lie about something relatively simple like slow speeds, what are they going to do if they have a data breach and your data gets stolen?

As to your speeds - you're right. If you only have a 10 megaBIT upload connection then getting around 1 megaBYTE upload is about the best you should expect.

As for price - their pricing is still pretty good - although it depends on how much you are backing up. Since i ditched crashplan I've been using a combination of amazon glacier and S3 and i think I pay about $2 a month. This will obviously vary for each person since with amazon you pay based on how much you upload - and also how often you make a request.

I only have about 300gb of data backed up and it doesn't change that often so for me the costs are pretty cheap - much cheaper then crashplan would be. In your case you said you have about 1tb of data. I just guessed that maybe you make a request 2000 times a month and that you upload an additional 5gb a month. So for you it would cost around $7 a month. And that price would gradually go up as you add more data - about 0.7 cents per gb - so less then a penny per gb.

So if you switched over to using amazon glacier you would almost definitely wind up paying more per year then crashplan (assuming you're paying $60/yr with crashplan). But from my point of view, it's not that much more, and it's a company i feel i can trust since the few times amazon has had an issues, they keep everyone updated immediately as to what the problem is and when it will be fixed.

Anonymous said...

I have been using CrashPlan, for over a year now, and about to cancel my 1 TB plan.
The reason? I keep getting "unable to connect to backup engine" popups.

They give me advice to check this file or that file, and delete it.
I recently got a notice I hadn't backup for 5 days, I haven't backup because of their software, not doing it's job.

I spent over a month uploading my files, and now I have to go through this again, with someone else, but who, who can be trusted with my stuff?

I also have a subscription with Live Drive, and their software has been stuck on 93% forever, never seeming to finish.

I think I am also going to get more USB drives and forget this cloud crap completely.

dennis said...

You should know that crashplan has solutions in place for this exact problem. Crashplan backs up customers w9th petabytes of data, 8 terabytes is no problem. Crashplan will send you a hard drive, you use the client to put your files on the drive. Content script encrypted, you send the drive back to crashplan hq and from that moment of you're only doing incrementals.

FYI I've got 5tb in crashplan central and experience none of the issues you describe.

Ian Lipsky said...

Dennis - you are commenting on a 4 year old post, so it's certainly possibly crashplan has resolved whatever issues they were having 4 years ago. However, if you read my article, my complaint was less about the slow backup speeds and more about how they handled it. They basically tried to deny there were any problems and exhibited really poor customer service. That's why the title of the post is saying crashplan is 'untrustworthy'. Even if their backup speeds are top notch, I wouldn't use them. If that's how they handle a relatively benign problem as a slow down, how do you think they will handle something much more serious like a data breach? I wouldn't trust them to inform their users, I'd expect them to try and cover it up.