Getting started with the HFS CrashPlan backup app


The initial CrashPlan screen on starting the app for the first time is displayed below.

HFS CrashPlan initial home screenl


If this is displaying directly after installation, then the text in blue 'Run backup now' will be replaced by highlighted text saying 'add files' to signify that no data has yet been selected for inclusion in the backup.

Click the Add Files link or the Manage Files button to select what files and folders you want backed up. This will take you to an explorer-like window where you can make and amend your backup selection, as below.

HFS CrashPlan manage files screen


You will see your existing selection of files/folders, if you have previously made any. Note that while there is no default inclusion of files, there are some default exclusions, as indicated by the red circle to the right. Additionally, some files are hidden from the default listing (usually system files and names beginning with dot on Windows and macOS). These can be exposed by clicking the three dot button in the upper right of the screen and selecting 'Show hidden files'.

Consider your selection carefully; your initial backup may take a considerable amount of time over a home broadband connection so it may be advisable to select your most important data first and then to subsequently revisit the Manage Files section to add incrementally more data to your backup set. Select files and folders via the toggle box to the left of the icon and once done choose Save (choosing Cancel will do just that and cancel your current unsaved selection).

Choosing the Save option will do one of two things. If you have only added files to your selection, it will take you back to the front screen. If you have deselected any files or folders, you will be asked to confirm that deselecting items will cause all backups of those items to be deleted.

Having added data to your backup set, you will see the front screen listing your backup set and a background scan reporting on the number of files and total amount of data that is candidate for backup. You can manually start the backup immediately or you can close the screen and let the backup run on schedule in the background (by default within the next 15 minutes). If your initial selection is larger than expected, you can pause the backups and/or click the 'Manage Files' button to amend your selection accordingly. 

The home screen will now look like this

HFS CrashPlan home screen


Your local configuration items can be accessed by selecting the Settings wheel in either of the two locations. The Restore button will reveal a list of your machines from whose backups you may wish to restore. The main body typically displays information on your most recent and upcoming backup and may display either 'Run backup now' or 'add files', if no data has as yet been selected for backup inclusion. 



Note: It is good practice to have anti-virus software installed and up to date on your machine before restoring data to it. This is especially pertinent if you are restoring files as a result of possible corruption and/or ransomware-like compromise. The University provides Sophos Endpoint Agent for this purpose and users should contact their local IT Support if they do not have access to this software.  

The restore window is accessed via the 'Restore Files' button on the front screen and is effectively the same explorer-type interface used for backup selection, with some appropriate differences.

HFS CrashPlan restore screen


File selection is via the same toggle box to the left of the file/folder icon. Remember that not all files are displayed: if you cannot see something you think should be there, click the three dot button in the upper right of the screen and select 'Show hidden files'. 

Holding the cursor over a specific file or folder will display the blue arrow and clock icons (see above).  Selecting the blue arrow will cause the immediate download of the most recent version of the file to the default download target. Selecting the clock icon will cause a screen listing all the versions of that file to display in reverse chronological order and allow a selection.

Once you have selected all the necessary files, click the 'Restore Files' button to display some restore options around destination folder on this machine for the restored data, overwrite options and varying file/folder permissions, and then click the 'Go' button. Perhaps counter-intuitively, clicking the 'Done' button next to the 'Restore Files' button cancels your restore selection and takes you back to the front screen.

Options and configuration

Click the settings wheel to manage your local configuration options. Many by default will be suitable, but some you may wish to amend include:

  • Manage your bandwidth consumption (both backup and restore) by selecting the Network tab and changing the WAN option. Note 'None' means unlimited bandwidth and the scale runs down to 100kbps.
  • Manage when the background backups run via the 'Backup Sets' tab and changing the Backup Schedule option.
  • Via the same Backup Sets tab you can amend the number of versions you keep and the frequency of background backups (default is every 15 minutes). Tip: do not set the frequency too low, if you are editing large files - 15 minutes is a good default.
  • Via the Backup Sets tab, edit any files you wish to exclude from backups.

Further, more comprehensive online support on using the CrashPlan app is available from the CrashPlan support pages and from the HFS CrashPlan FAQ page.