Back up to an external drive

This article applies to all products.png


Backing up to a local destination, such as an external drive connected to your computer, is recommended when you are frequently using a device in areas that do not have Internet access, or when you frequently need to back up large quantities of data. This tutorial provides step-by-step instructions for backing up files to an external drive.


  • This article assumes you have permission to manage your backup destinations and add local destinations. Your administrator may prevent destination management or the ability to add local destinations.
  • Local destinations are subject to the same deleted file retention policies as cloud destinations. Deleted file retention policy varies per product plan.
  • In CrashPlan cloud environments, your administrator may need to contact our technical support team to enable local destinations.


Follow these instructions if you would like to back up the files to a folder on your device or external drive:

  1. Open the CrashPlan app.
  2. Navigate to Backup Set Settings
    • Select Settings-gear-export.png.
    • Select Backup Sets.
  3. At Destinations, click Change.
  4. Select Add Local Destination.
    The file browser for your device opens.
  5. Select the drive or folder you want to back up to.
    The new drive appears in the list of available destinations.
  6. Select the local destination that you added. Destinations-export.png
  7. Click Save.

The CrashPlan app begins backing up your file selection to the external drive.


What happens if I disconnect my drive?

You can disconnect external drives at any time, and for any length of time—the CrashPlan app won't delete files from your backup if the drive is disconnected. When you reconnect the drive, the backup resumes where it left off. If you reconnect the drive and the CrashPlan app doesn't recognize it immediately, it is likely because the drive letter or name changed. See the troubleshooting tips below to correct the issue.

What happens if my drive becomes full?

If a drive becomes too full for the CrashPlan app to continue backing up to it, the CrashPlan app reports Out of space at destination. To continue backing up, you can either move the backup archive to a larger drive, or reduce the size of the archive.

How is my local backup stored?

Local backups are stored in the location you selected when adding the destination. They are stored in an encrypted archive format within a folder labeled with the 18-digit device ID that corresponds to your device.

Best practices (Windows)

When you connect an external drive to a Windows device, the operating system automatically assigns the next available letter in the alphabet. If the letter changes when you reconnect a drive you've been using for backup, the CrashPlan app won't recognize the drive. To prevent this recognition error, assign a static drive letter to your external drive.

Troubleshooting tips

CrashPlan app reports drive as "missing"

This issue occurs when the external drive is disconnected from the device or the letter or name assigned to the drive by your operating system changes. The CrashPlan app uses absolute paths when backing up. If the CrashPlan app cannot detect a drive at the specified location, such as when it is disconnected or when the name of a drive changes, it lists the drive as "Missing". You can correct the issue by reconnecting the drive or renaming the drive to match the original drive letter or name.

External drive stops backing up (Mac)

If an external drive stops backing up on a Mac, it is likely because the drive didn't unmount cleanly (for example, after a power outage, or disconnection without ejection). When this happens, the drive can leave behind a "ghost" folder in /Volumes, even though the drive is no longer mounted. When the external drive re-mounts to your device, the "ghost" folder name is already taken, so your device adds a “1” to the external drive's name. However, the CrashPlan app looks for a folder with the original name, and that folder belongs to a drive that appears to be no longer connected. Use our troubleshooting guide to diagnose and correct this issue.

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