External Drive Backup

You can use CrashPlan to back up storage connected to your computer, such as an external hard drive directly attached via USB, Thunderbolt, or Firewire. By adding the contents of an external drive to your backup file selection, CrashPlan backs it up just like other files on your computer.


Follow these instructions to back up files stored on an external drive to another destination, such as CrashPlan Central or another computer.

  1. Open the CrashPlan app.
  2. Select Backup > Change.
  3. To back up the entire drive, check the box to the left of your external hard drive. To select only specific files or folders for backup, click the triangle next to the drive to expand its contents, then browse the contents and select the items you want to back up.
  4. Click Save.
    CrashPlan begins backing up the files on your external drive.

Add external drive to file selection

What happens if I disconnect my drive?

Your backed up files are safe when the drive is disconnected as long as your version setting for deleted files is set to Never (the default setting). When you reconnect the drive, CrashPlan resumes backup from where it left off. If you reconnect the drive and CrashPlan doesn’t recognize it immediately, it is likely because the drive letter or name changed. See the troubleshooting tips below to correct the issue.

Disconnecting Drives
CrashPlan doesn’t distinguish between files that have been deleted from your computer and those that are temporarily unavailable because a drive is disconnected. If you disconnect your external drive, we recommend configuring CrashPlan to never remove deleted files from your backup archive.

Note: If your external drive isn’t connected to your computer when CrashPlan runs the file verification scan, it’s possible that your backup status will report 100%, even if there are additional files on the drive that need to be backed up. CrashPlan will detect the changes and adjust your backup status the next time the drive is connected.

Best Practices (Windows)

When you connect an external drive to a Windows computer, 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, CrashPlan won’t recognize the drive. Consequently, we recommend assigning a static drive letter to your external drive.

Troubleshooting Tips

CrashPlan App Reports Drive As “Missing” Or “Destination Unavailable”

This issue occurs when the letter or name assigned to the drive by your operating system changes. It typically occurs after a drive is disconnected, then reconnected. CrashPlan uses absolute paths when backing up folders. So if the name of a drive changes, CrashPlan doesn’t recognize it and lists the drive as “Missing” or “Destination Unavailable”. You can correct the issue by renaming the drive to match the original drive letter or name.

External Drive Stops Backing Up (Mac)

If an external drive that is backing up or serving as a backup destination stops working on a Mac, it is likely because the drive didn’t cleanly unmount (e.g., due to a power outage, disconnected without ejecting, etc.). When this happens, the drive can leave behind a “ghost” folder in /Volumes, even though the drive is no longer mounted. When the drive re-mounts, your Mac sees that the folder name for the drive is taken, so it appends a “1” to the drive name. However, CrashPlan is looking for the folder with the original name, which is no longer valid. Use our troubleshooting guide to diagnose and correct the issue.

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