Online Backup Services Revisited

In my last post I compared several online backup services and decided that Crashplan was my personal winner when looking at the features and the price. In the following weeks a couple of people started to complain about the slow transfer rates to their backup servers. I also tested the upload speeds from several networks in germany on internet connections with up to 100 MBit in both directions and I could not get any transfer rate above 3 MBit/s.

I also contacted the support which confirmed that Crashplan is not limiting the bandwidth at all. Inside the Crashplan application settings there are a few options which potentially limit the transfer rate but changing those did not improve the situation for me. I’d be interested to know if US customers get better transfer rates.

Anyway, it is quite unusable like this and so I finally gave up on Crashplan for now. Instead I am now evaluating Arq. Since it uses Amazon S3 storage, you can choose the region in which the datacenter is in and that seems to make a huge difference. I was able to upload my backups with up to 4 MByte/s ( 32 Mbit/s ) on a 100 MBit network which is still not wire speed but much better than the transfer rates of Crashplan. The graphical user interface of Arq is also surprisingly simple and pleasant to use. But this is just a small update. More after I have used Arq for some time.


Arq 2 was just released:

12 thoughts on "Online Backup Services Revisited"

  1. dennis says:

    arq rulez, there is a beta out now, should be released soon:

  2. Martin says:

    What’s changing with Arq 2.0?

    I no longer use Arq because other services are more affordable if you want to backup multiple Macs. Another major problem with Arq were file selection and backup status. It was never clear which files were actually part of the backup and restoring versions was rather messy.

    Arq 2.0 might change that, although still being limited by the costs of S3.

    1. Hi Martin,
      With Arq 2 you can select/unselect individual files/folder within a folder that Arq is backing up. You can see a list of all the files it’s backing up; sort the list by file size to see what the bulk of the upload is. Also, Arq 2 does “binary diff” — it only backs up the changed parts of large files; it also compresses everything.

      – Stefan Reitshamer (author of Arq)

  3. c_stege says:

    I am using crashplan for a while now, and it works perfect for me. The (potential!?) lack of upload speed is not an issue for me, because my internet connection is quiet slow 🙁

    The initial upload of 105 GBs took about 15 days, my incrementals are not to big, i have scheduled just one backup during night-time in order not to limit my bandwith the day over.

    Compared to others, crashplan is attractive because of their pricing…

  4. Martin says:

    Thanks for the review.
    I decided to stick with crashplan. At first my connection is so slow – it really doesn’t matter how far away the servers are and the second point is that i’m archiving video material which is eating up all my disk space… .so… unlimited sounds good to me 😉


  5. Lee says:

    I would recommend against using Carbonite. I lost thousands of videos of my young kids. I had my video files inside of subfolders and even though I had selected the main directory to be backed up and chose the .mpg file format for backup some of the directories backed up and others did not. The only explanation Carbonite could come up with was to say that I chose each file individually which I did NOT individually select serveral thousands files for backup. So be warned.

  6. Larry Hynes says:

    Have you looked at <a href=""Tarsnap? It’s a beautiful system. A little tricky to automate, but there are some good scripts available to handle it and then it’s off and running.

  7. Martin says:

    Recently I stumbled upon the service called ‘Backblaze’ (
    As I’m still using Crashplan and I’m very unhappy still having a java application taking care of my backup – I’m wondering if there are any known issues (good or bad) with backblaze. So far it looks quite nice. It comes as a system preference and the footprint is much smaller than the bloated java stuff.

    Would be nice to hear some other recommendations.

    Greetings, Martin

    1. hukl says:

      Backblaze is definitely a valid option for Mac users. One benefit of Arq remains the same though. You can choose the S3 region where on Backblaze you are stuck with their datacenter. Personally, I like the concept of decoupling my encrypted backup from the storage provider.

      When I evaluated all those services Arq was also the best in terms of preserving meta data from the mac file system but maybe Backblaze improved on that in the meantime.

  8. Klaus Breyer says:

    Using it since you mentioned it in good old mobile macs. Thanks again for that. I allowed myself to reference this blog post when I wrote about my backup strategies.


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