Changes to CrashPlan for Small Business that may affect developer backups

This morning I received the following email from Code42 regarding their CrashPlan for Small Business service

Dear Valued Customer,

We are resending this notification to ensure that you are aware of recent changes we made to our application. Should you have any questions, or need assistance, please contact our Support team.

The CrashPlan ® for Small Business Code42 app is intended to back up your business files (pictures, music, documents, etc.), not your operating system or applications. For this reason, we have always recommended you not include applications or other large files in your selection as they may not backup or restore correctly. In the past, we have allowed these files to be backed up despite this recommendation, however, in May 2019 we made some changes to our file exclusions and are now disallowing the backup of application directories, VM image files, and some backup file types.

You will likely see your file selection and backup archive size go down and benefit from faster restores, syncs, and backups. The new excludes are listed below and a full list of excludes can be found here.

New excludes for Application directories and new file types we are excluding:
• Applications: /Users/<username>/Applications, /Applications/, /Program Files/, /Program Files (x86)/
• VM image files: .hdd, .hds, .pvm, .pvs, .vdi, .vfd, .vhd, .vmc, .vmdk, .vmem, .vmsd, .vmsn, .vmss, .vmtm, .vmwarevm, .vmx, .vmxf, .vsv, .nvram, .vud, .xva
• Backup files: .bck, .bkf
• Other files: .tmp, .part, .rbf, .tib, .sparseimage

Thank you,
The CrashPlan for Small Business Team

Despite the fact it starts off by stating this is a resend of a previous notification, it doesn't appear to be one I've received before myself, I certainly can't find any other emails from CrashPlan other than status reports, billing, and the odd support ticket.

For the most part, I'm not affected by this - I don't use CrashPlan for backing up operating systems or installed application as that clearly is nuts and not what the program is for. As well as for business documents, source code and related resources, I do however use it to back up the sources for developer tools (e.g. installation setups, previous versions, etc), and also half dozen or so Windows VM's that I use for testing with. When I checked the backup set I had defined for VM backups I could see that yes, the VirtualBox disk images were now excluded and couldn't be added back.

Perhaps that isn't really what CrashPlan is supposed to be for either, but removing them from existing backups isn't exactly a good move. CrashPlan is my final line of backups, for when something has gone so catastrophically wrong that the backups in-between are no longer viable. If I didn't see this notification and found out my VM's were missing or out of date when I really needed them, I'd probably be a little unhappy! (and why don't banks offer safety deposit boxes any more?)

Although it's mainly only the removal of the VirtualBox disk images that is affecting me, according to their page it also affects files such as .ini, of which I also make use of. Again, I'm a developer backing up developer resources. I did a spot check of a source code folders containing ini files and they were still present and not flagged as no longer being backed up, but this is still a cause for concern, especially if they decide to start expanding that to include all program files or archives.

I've been with CrashPlan for a few years now and they've already pulled the rug out from under my feet once when they discontinued their previous consumer product, again when they discontinued their Java product and replaced it with a nigh on unusable Electron monstrosity, and now they are doing it again. I feel this is a little worse though as now there are holes in my backups as they arbitrarily apply new restrictions to existing data. Of course, it's their service and they can do what they want with it, but that doesn't mean I have to continue using it.

I remember when I first moved to CrashPlan from Carbonite, one fantastic feature of Carbonite was that it had a shell extension that added status overlays to all files being backed up. You could instantly see at a glance files being backed up, files out of date, files not included to be backed up, etc. CrashPlan doesn't offer this and it isn't feasible to get this data (I can't stress enough how awful the UI is), so basically I don't have a clue if there are other holes in my backups or not.

If you use CrashPlan for Small Business, you should check over your backups to ensure the things you expect to be backed up are still being backed up. There's a full list of things that CrashPlan won't allow you to back up on their support page.

About The Author

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The founder of Cyotek, Richard enjoys creating new blog content for the site. Much more though, he likes to develop programs, and can often found writing reams of code. A long term gamer, he has aspirations in one day creating an epic video game. Until that time, he is mostly content with adding new bugs to WebCopy and the other Cyotek products.

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Joey

# Reply

Actually, if you change the extension on your Virtual box files and change the references inside the two editable configuration files (vbox and the plain .vmdk file) to point to the new extension, you can still use CrashPlan to back them up. At least in Linux you can.

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Richard Moss

# Reply

Joey,

Thanks for the comment! It did cross my mind that swapping the extensions would work, but then I'd probably be asking for trouble if CrashPlan noted that and terminated my account for breaching their terms. I've read quite enough horror stories about companies like Digital Ocean, GitHub and a host of others perma-banning accounts until a social media uproar gets things moving. I'd rather not have that!

My main issue with Code42 is firstly the lack of communication on the issue (their email alluded to a previous message, but they actually sent a 3rd message admitting the first was never sent to customers who opted out of marketing emails, and "oh by the way we missed off a few more extensions we're banning") and the second is the fact that they applied this to existing files rather than new files. I don't find any of that an example of good service.

I assume Linux is using the same XML based format that Virtual Box on Windows does so you solution should work equally well on that. I'm going to just rely on the offline backups I have of my VM's.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

Regards; Richard Moss