CrashPlan Computer Backup

What is CrashPlan?

CrashPlan is software that continuously backs up data files on your workstation as they are created or edited.  The data is saved both on the workstation and on a server. Individual files and folders can be restored or reverted to previous versions by the workstation software (CrashPlan) and/or via the web.  In addition, the entire backup can be recovered in the case of larger data loss.

NOTE: Data recoveries are dependent on the network speeds and the amount of data you'd like to restore.  An estimated amount of time is approximately one hour per ten gigabytes of data.  Many full backup recoveries could take an entire day or more.

How do I install CrashPlan?

You can instructions and installer files are available on the CrashPlan installation page.

What do I need to do?

Once the software is installed on your system, backups run automatically in the background and are not affected by your work patterns. Your computer must be on and connected to the Internet in order to back up. The CrashPlan icon in the taskbar indicates the status of your backup. We recommend periodically testing your backup by recovering a recently saved file.

macOS: The CrashPlan icon is at the top right of the screen.

Windows: The CrashPlan icon is at the lower right of the screen.

More information on file recovery and backup status for Mac and Windows users is available below:

What is backed up?

CrashPlan is configured to back up files in your Users folders only.

Files not in this location will not be backed up. The software backs up your Desktop and Documents folders as well as browser bookmark files and local mail folders from standard web browsers and email clients.  If you need additional directories backed up please contact us at or email us at

What is not backed up?

Some file types are not backed up by default: Applications, software installers, disk images, and virtual machines.

If you have a work-related reason for any of these file types to be included in your backup, contact us at or email us at and an exception may be made.

Faculty accounts are in a group that backs up audio and video files, but not software installers, disk images, and virtual machines.

How does CrashPlan work?

Once the software is installed and your computer is activated on our backup server, CrashPlan will backup all of your files to a central server once.  After that, the software will only copy new and changed data. 

NOTE: The initial backup may take hours or even days to complete.  Just like backup recoveries the transfer speed of data to the server is dependent on the network speeds and the amount of data you are backing up.  An estimated amount of time is approximately one hour per ten gigabytes of data.

Real-time data protection

Your data is backed up as it is saved and modified, not just daily or weekly.  If your computer is busy, CrashPlan will adjust its operations so that it isn't competing with your other applications or bandwidth.

The CrashPlan software runs approximately every 15 minutes after the initial backup is complete to make the adjustments listed above.

Self-service file recovery

If you accidentally delete a file, you can restore it yourself here: See our help page for recovering a file.

If your computer fails, CrashPlan will allow ITS to restore all your backed-up files to a new computer.  Please contact us at or email us at for more information.

Document versions

CrashPlan saves several versions of a file so you can recover an earlier version of a document if needed.

"Roaming" backups for laptops

CrashPlan can communicate with the central backup server from any Internet connection, which means the data on your laptop can be backed up even when you are away from campus.

What about my privacy? I'm not sure I want my files on a central server.

CrashPlan has a security policy and does not look at our files:  If files on your workstation aren’t backed up, you will not have the ability to revert to older versions or to recover deleted files. In addition, if the workstation’s hard drive fails, all the data on the drive can be lost.

What about large data sets, and laboratory and research computers?

CrashPlan can be used on up to 10 college-owned computers per employee, including lab and research computers. 

For large or specialized research data, visit our Research Data Storage and Backup page to learn more about the additional backup options available. 

You can also contact an Academic Technologist who will work with you to assess your needs and help determine an appropriate solution.

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