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What is CrashPlan?

CrashPlan is a desktop backup application in use at Carleton. It is installed by ITS, usually at the time a new computer is deployed to a faculty or staff member but to complete the setup, each user must login and initiate the first backup. Crashplan will not begin backing up a machine until this initial login/setup step is complete.

As of this writing, it is for use only on college-owned equipment; we do not provide desktop backup service to students.


Licensing Information

CrashPlan licenses are consumed per user. Carleton owns 800 licenses, sufficient to cover all faculty and staff with an individual College-owned computer plus a few extras for shared-use workstations and edge cases. There is a mobile app for Crashplan that can be installed at will; each user license permits as many as four devices to be associated within the system.

Home Use

Crashplan was originally developed and marketed as a consumer backup solution. Unfortunately, Code42 has since discontinued all consumer versions of this product, so it is no longer possible to purchase Crashplan for personal use. If you are interested in finding a suitable desktop backup solution for your home computer(s), ITS would be happy to consult with you about options but we cannot offer a College-supported solution at this time.

Data Security and Privacy

The CrashPlan server is not currently protected by a firewall or two-factor authentication (but we're working on it). By default, all files backed up to CrashPlan are available over the Internet, without monitoring, to:

    • Anyone who obtains your password
    • Anyone who obtains the password of certain ITS staff
    • A hacker who breaks in to the CrashPlan server

The security of the CrashPlan server is considered adequate for general use. However, files containing protected data (Social Security numbers, etc.) must not be backed up with the default CrashPlan settings. There are two ways to address this issue:

    • Exclude all sensitive files from backup. The ITS helpdesk can assist with this. This is appropriate for small amounts of data in well-known locations; but of course, they will not be backed up.
    • Protect all files backed up from your PC with an additional archive passphrase, in addition to your Carleton password. This is the more secure option, but it means that no one can recover your files without your passphrase. To enable this additional level of security, open the CrashPlan application and visit the Settings -> Security tab. 

If you opt to secure your CrashPlan backups, do not lose your passphrase. Write it down and store copies in multiple locations. Consider sharing it with your neighbor (on paper, not via email). By default, CrashPlan backups are not encrypted. For more details, see CrashPlan's discussion of security options. If you are concerned about the security of Crashplan or its infrastructure, we encourage you to come talk to us about your options. We can help you exclude data that you consider sensitive from the backup (although you should plan for another way of protecting your files in this case).

Installation Instructions

Labs and Classrooms

CrashPlan is not installed on any lab or classroom computer.

College Owned Equipment

CrashPlan should only be installed by ITS staff. If you work with ITS and are looking for instructions on installing or configuring CrashPlan for a college owned machine, please have a look at this link.

Who To Call

The ITS helpdesk can assist you with any issues relating to the operation or configuration of CrashPlan on your computer. If you are concerned about the status of your backups, if you need help performing a restore, or if there is any other assistance we can provide, please contact us at x5999.

CrashPlan Getting Started

Once CrashPlan is installed on your computer, they will ask you to log into the software agent once to activate the initial backup. Once you have done so, CrashPlan will proceed to back up your machine on a regular schedule without further intervention. If you are interested in further customizing the behavior of the software, this section contains some instructions on what you can do. (You can find CrashPlan with the rest of your applications.)

The first screen you will see after launching the CrashPlan application and logging in looks something like this:

Here you can see some basic information about the state of your computer's backup and the data currently being protected. The options in the left-hand column will take you to more detailed screens where you can perform a restore, change various settings, etc.  It is a good idea to login and be sure that your installation of CrashPlan is working properly.