CrashPlan by Code42 announces new file exclusions and deletes client historical backups
Last week Code42 announced that it was excluding a wide variety of file types from CrashPlan for Small Business, their online data backup solution. These file exclusions include application data, virtual machine images, backup files, system files, cookies, caches, and more – effective immediately. (A full list of file types included in this wave of file exclusions is available here.)
Essentially, these new file exclusions leave CrashPlan users with the ability to back up and restore specific file types “e.g. documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.” without the ability to restore any of the applications that run them, the backup files that protect them, or the VM images that they spin up to and test on.
What’s worse is that several users on Reddit reported that CrashPlan deleted those file types from their backups without warning – wiping out entire backup histories and leaving many of their clients, including managed service providers (MSPs) who are responsible for the secure management of customer data, without any backups of their business critical data.
For MSPs who serve small business owners that need a trustworthy way to restore their data – including the apps and systems that keep their companies running – CrashPlan betrayed the trust the service provider had with the small business owner in one fell swoop. CrashPlan’s file exclusions and failure of trust leave these MSPs and all the customers they support vulnerable to data loss and unable to confidently defend their business.
Why CrashPlan is implementing these file exclusions (and why it’s a problem)
In an email to users, Code42 explains that these newly announced file exclusions to CrashPlan for Small Business are a way to achieve “faster restores, syncs, and backups” – a move that made them similar to their competitor Backblaze, which also excludes VM images files and other large file types.
Yet some have been quick to note that while refusing to back up large files will obviously make backups faster, it also eliminates one of the most important functions of a business backup service.
Businesses rely on complete protection for their data, applications, and system in order to maintain business continuity and facilitate future growth. By removing these capabilities and limiting what their customers can back up, CrashPlan is putting the security of their business customers at risk and providing them with file storage that falls short.
What’s more, the way they went about implementing these file exclusions has many of their customers fuming, with some having lost years’ worth of backup history.
Now the affected MSPs and small business IT teams are scrambling to implement new processes, documentation, and seek alternative solutions, just to get back to the level of protection they had prior to the announcement.
(Mis)communicating with customers
CrashPlan customers were understandably frustrated when the company discontinued its personal backup product, CrashPlan Home, in 2017. But at least the company provided notice that the change was coming. Consumer customers were given 14 months to migrate their data or upgrade their plan to CrashPlan for Small Business. Consumers may have felt betrayed by the company’s shift in focus, but they were offered a way to move forward and keep their data protected.
In comparison, these new file exclusions went into effect this month with little to no communication between the company and its customers. As a result, CrashPlan’s new file exclusion policy doesn’t come with that kind of silver lining.
Instead, CrashPlan betrayed the trust of their MSP and small business users and abandoned the comprehensive protection they promised to these growing companies in order to pursue faster backup and restore statistics.
“Is CrashPlan trying to commit suicide?”
As part of the policy, the file types from applications, VM images, backups, etc. were not only left unprotected as of May 2019 – the company eliminated them from their servers.
The reaction from CrashPlan users has been swift and sharp:
- As one business customer said, "Everything I've backed up for my 15 clients for the last two years is gone. Not only did it just plain stop backing up current data, it also deleted my entire history: I can't restore anything either. No notifications, no alerts, never got an email, no warnings beforehand, no alerts that all by backups sets were now 0 bytes in size. And I can't change it. This is the company that has on its home page 'Automatic Data Loss Protection for Your Small Business' and 'Never worry about losing business-critical data again'. They deleted my business critical data. On purpose."
- Another user questioned the decision, saying, “Is CrashPlan trying to commit suicide? I've been using it for years, with [the] biggest dataset on a single computer being about 15 TB on 30 mbit upload connection, some time ago they forced reuploading everything which was bad enough, then they discontinued [the] ‘home’ offer and forced reuploading again, and now - which I learned only accidentally - they disallow TIB and VDI files? Am I misunderstanding something or are they really trying to go out of business? What are we supposed to do now if we need to backup drive images and virtual machines? Buy more local storage and have extra copies in ZIP files? So in a couple of months we'll learn that they stop supporting ZIPs and/or files above a certain size? Upload speeds are obviously throttled, which is very bad but not a deal breaker. Arbitrarily deciding to stop ‘supporting’ files with data related to backups and virtual machines IS a deal breaker.”
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