How to install CrashPlan on Ubuntu Linux Desktop

CrashPlan Headless Automatic Online Backup
CrashPlan Headless Automatic Online Backup

Problem / Outcome Summary

  • This article will show you how to install CrashPlan on Ubuntu Linux Desktop
    • (To learn how to set up CrashPlan on Ubuntu Linux Headless (No GUI) click here)
  • Please see the ‘Summary Overview’ tab below for a high level view of the objectives this ‘howto’ will achieve.

Why might I want to do this?

  • To backup a single Ubuntu Linux Desktop System
  • To backup data connected to an Ubuntu Linux Desktop System
  • To create a backup ‘target’ for other computers on your network to backup to
  • To Backup to another CrashPlan backup Target
  • To help speed up a restore from a slow Windows or Mac CrashPlan client


To be clear, what does CrashPlan do?

Simply put, CrashPlan gives you good automatic options for backing up your data. These can be at a cost, or at no cost depending on which situation suits you best.

What are the current backup features of CrashPlan?

CrashPlan works on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. It also has unofficial ‘headless‘ ports for a number of NAS devices including QNAP, Synology and Netgear’s ReadyNAS.

Other noteable features of CrashPlan include a truly unlimited backup for a very low cost and that it retains any and all deleted versions of your files forever.

Something particularly noteable in this day and age is CrashPlan’s ability to support client side encryption. Client side encryption means that CrashPlan has an extra level of security than most online backup systems do today.

With client side encryption, Code42 (the CrashPlan company) do not hold your decryption key themselves, you do (if you lose this key, your backup is useless and you’d have to start again). This makes it nearly impossible for your data to end up being used for purposes other than it was intended. I say ‘nearly’, because there’s always a chance with technology, however with this feature the data is almost definitely safer from e.g. identity theft than it will be on your own hard drive at home.

For me, client side encryption is a mandatory requirement – I do not put personal data on the internet such as e.g. Inland Revenue Department numbers, banking numbers etc. Whether you realise it or not, these will likely be on your hard drive somewhere, which means you’re probably backing them up to the internet.

A full list of features for CrashPlan can be found here.


There are three tier’s of Plans available with CrashPlan. CrashPlan Home, CrashPlan Business and CrashPlan Enterprise.

CrashPlan Home Options:
  • Free: Backup to local assets such as hard drives and computers owned by you
  • Free: Backup to remote assets such as friends computers, or computers you own that are connected to the internet
  • Not Free: Individual / Family Plans listed here
CrashPlan Business / CrashPlan Enterprise

Some free options do exist in the Business / Enterprise plans too, specifically a peer to peer option in the enterprise product.

Remember, for a full comparison of all the options, see the CrashPlan comparison here.

Please note: Storing your personal information on the internet is highly risky. Globally, the new generation of internet users have become used to social sharing with little consequence and the impacts of this are still being worked out through legal and moral systems. If you store any data that could be considered sensitive to you, or misinterpreted by others, it is strongly recommended to use a client side encryption key.

Do you REALLY want to pay someone else to backup your data?

As you have seen above, there ARE free options available, within the CrashPlan application. It is rare to get such a full featured and reliable application as CrashPlan, available with free options and one that is indeed very simple to use.

Tip for OSX customers: Mac OSX customers in particular should note, that backup options included with the shipping version of OSX are limited to Apples Time Machine backup only. Strictly speaking, Time machine is designed only to do a full system backup. For this reason, CrashPlan offers a high quality and free alternative that allows you to select a smaller subset of backup files (such as your documents folder) and enables you to back it up elsewhere on your network according to the free options above.

The three most likely scenarios requiring recovery of your data are:

  1. Accidental deletion of a file or folder
  2. Loss of data due to theft or fire
  3. Hard Drive Crash

All of these scenarios are covered by CrashPlan free, provided that that scenario 2 is hosted in a remote location that would not be affected by fire or theft. It would therefore be relatively easy to make a mutually beneficial deal with a friend to use each others spare hard drive space (or buy each other a hard drive to use) so that you have off site backups. This would actually get you 99% safety. The other 1% is in the unusual but possible case that your friends computer hard drive dies and e.g. your computer is stolen at the same time. Not common, but not unheard of. To mitigate this scenario, you could of course add a third friend to backup to.

So if I can backup for free, why would I pay to backup to the CrashPlan cloud?

There are a few reasons for this:

CrashPlan only costs you $5 per month for what is essentially an almost guaranteed recovery. However there are some other items that are also worth noting.

  1. Restoration speed – Internet connections in countries like New Zealand and Australia, do not commonly have fast upload speeds. If you want to restore your data, it will be slower than using CrashPlan due to the upload speed of internet connection where your backup is stored (i.e. at your friends house).
  2. Enterprise data security – CrashPlan utilise data centers that maintain your data in monitored conditions to protect against various threats such as overheating and security hacks.
  3. Availability – Your friend may shut their computer off when you turn yours on. This may result in backups not being completed ever, especially considering how long it can take with the poor upload speed some customers have and the quantity/size of backup data many of us now have on our computers.
  4. Unlimited backups – Your friends hard drive space is eventually going to run out, (and so is yours if they are backing up to your computer too. CrashPlan really does offer a truly unlimited backup.

What is the performance like?

The performance will entirely depend on your scenario. Certain types of files can be compressed which means that they will upload faster. If you’re uploading to a friends house, they may have a slow connection, or you may have a slow upload capability. ADSL customers in NZ and Australia will only have a 1Mb/s upload speed which would take months to upload a fairly typical 1TB of disk space. VDSL or fibre customers on the other hand may take weeks or even days for the same data. One option in CrashPlan that does make a difference is the de-duplication option in the advanced settings. Set this to minimum for more speed (especially if you run client side encryption), although if you have a lot of similar files and a slow connection, keeping it at maximum may also be faster – just try it out and see what works best for you.


Software Dependencies

Hardware Dependencies

  • An internet modem / router capable of performing NAT

Tools Required

  • SSH Access
  • A recent web browser

Other Dependencies

  • A working internet connection

High Level Summary Steps

The below lists the high level summary of steps we’re about to take during this howto.

  • Download and extract the CrashPlan Application
  • Install and configure the CrashPlan Application


Download and extract the CrashPlan Application

Using your Ubuntu Linux web browser, download the latest linux CrashPlan from:

Open a console window and navigate to the directory you downloaded the ‘crashplan_4.x_Linux.tgz’ file to, using the cd command

It’s always a good idea to be up to date with Ubuntu binaries.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Extract and install CrashPlan

tar -zxvf crashplan_4.x.tgz where x is your downloaded version

Install and configure the CrashPlan application

cd crashplan-install


Welcome to the Code42 CrashPlan installer.

Press enter to continue with installation

At this point if you haven’t installed as a root user, the crashplan installer will ask you if you would like to. It is recommended to do so, so enter y and press Enter

Enter your sudo password <ENTER>

Press Enter again to read the EULA

Press Space Bar to scroll through the EULA until you reach 100%

Type ‘yes’ to accept the EULA

Accept the default parent directory of /usr/local

When prompted that this does not exist, /usr/local/crashplan, press Enter on the existing ‘y’ to proceed

Do the same, but be careful about the third option, incoming backup data. This is where CrashPlan will store any backups you set from another crashplan app. You may like to make this directory on a network drive, an external drive or something else.

Press enter through all the prompts until you get a summary of your selections. You will be asked if these are correct. Press Enter if they are.

CrashPlan now downloads the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) from the internet.

If you get an error at the end about /usr/local/crashplan/electron not being able to install, this is normal. It’s just an unpublished product from Code42 that hasn’t completed rollout to the home product yet. Everything will work out OK even with this error.

Press Enter to complete the installation

Note the Important directories (you may need them later down the track). The defaults are:

Installation – /usr/local/crashplan

Logs – /usr/local/crashplan/log

Default Archive Location – /usr/local/var/crashplan

Readme – /usr/local/crashplan/doc

Start Scripts

/usr/local/crashplan/bin/CrashPlanEngine start|stop


You will then be prompted if you would like to start the CrashPlanDesktop app. Press enter on the y and you should see the standard CrashPlan window asking you to create a new account or to use an existing account.

The CrashPlan desktop app can be started via the desktop shortcut, or from within the Ubuntu Applications List.

That’s it!

Final Word

So there you have it, a fully functioning CrashPlan Desktop application for Ubuntu Linux.  It’s great for performing restores, because for some reason (likely to do with Java) the client is faster than the Mac client.  I believe it’s also faster than the Windows client but I have yet to confirm.

**Looking for creating a manual backup process? Why not read our article on how to create a manual backup process and why you need one, here.