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Another Free Data Backup Option Bites The Dust

August 22, 2017, 9:32 PM UTC
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Code42, the company that offers CrashPlan data backup, is shuttering its consumer-focused service to focus exclusively on business customers.

No more home backup customers will be taken on after Aug. 22, the company said on Tuesday. Current users of both the free and paid home versions of CrashPlan will continue to get storage through October 22, 2018, at which point their service will end.

Savvy computer users know they should backup their work files online, not to mention their baby pictures and pet videos. The point is to have an alternative place to store digital data so that it is accessible if, say, a PC hard drive crashes.

Code42, Backblaze, Carbonite, and other companies all offer such services. Most offer a free limited versions to attract customers plus paid-but-inexpensive unlimited versions.

For example, you may be able to store up to 10 megabytes of your Word files and music videos for free. But once you hit that ceiling, you have to move to a paid service that might cost $50 or $60 annually.

Related: Bye, Bye Bitcasa

Alas, many of these backup providers, including Code42, a 16-year-old company that raised more than $137 million in funding, have found that free or nearly free data backup and storage services do not make for a great business. Some companies find ways around it by claiming to handle an unlimited amount of data, but, in reality, limit the size of files users can upload. Or they don’t handle video.

Related: Red-Faced Microsoft tries to Make Amends for Free Storage Snafu

But back to CrashPlan: According to a Code 42 blog announcing the news, current home users can move their digital files to a small business version of the product that costs $10 monthly per device. Or they can move to Carbonite, which Code42 has dubbed its “exclusive referral partner.” Backblaze, which has made a name for itself with inexpensive unlimited data backup, is another option that some techies may favor.

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There is precedent here. Mozy, now part of Dell Technologies, ended its unlimited backup plan six years ago. Subsequently, several file storage and collaboration software startups including SugarSync ended their free consumer plans, pushing customers to paid versions.

Two years ago business software giant Microsoft (MSFT) eliminated a free version of its cloud storage. And in June Amazon (AMZN) got in on the action, cutting its $60 annual unlimited storage service as well as its unlimited photo storage for Amazon Drive.

Unsurprisingly, the outcome is always the same: Users don’t like the idea of footing the bill for something that they once used free.