Offsite backup for critical files
This task has been lingering undone on my to-do list for months. I imagined that I’d figure out some way to use Dropbox, Google Drive, Sky Drive, or something to keep my data safe in case something catastrophic happened at the house. All those solutions seem so expensive, though. When Amazon Web Services announced Amazon Glacier not long ago, with storage rates at 1 cent per gigabyte per month, I figured I’d found my storage location, but it is just an API. Finding CloudBerry Backup completed the solution.
CloudBerry is a client for a plethora of online storage locations, including S3, Azure, Google Storage, and about a dozen providers I’d never heard of in addition to Glacier. You’re responsible for establishing an account and paying the bill for the storage, but the CloudBerry client takes care of getting your stuff there and back.
While Glacier support was enough to catch my interest, I was also happy to see that I could use it to back up to my NAS. I was dismayed when switching from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Home Premium that I’d lost the ability to use Windows Backup to backup to a network location, so I’ve just been using an external USB drive. It was pretty easy to set up the network backup using CloudBerry, with plenty of good options to control what got backed up.
Aside from the missing network support in Windows Backup (for the Home variety of Windows), there a couple of things that bug me about it:
- It’s not always clear what your’re backing up. You can pick certain paths, but does it include hidden and temporary files? Is there anything that I actually want that is being excluded? What if I don’t want to include some fat file in the backup?
- Compounding the first problem is that the backed-up data itself is somewhat opaque without the backup client.
CloudBerry gives you a lot of fine-grain control over what gets backed up (I think I’ll survive if my Linux VM isn’t backed up, thanks), and the backed-up data is perfectly navigable when I ssh into my NAS. You can compress and/or encrypt the data as well if you want.
I used the NAS backup to fine-tune my settings. The first run took all night for about 122 GB of data. Presumably backups will be incremental going forward, so much speedier. That will be especially important for Glacier. Having gotten some settings I liked for the NAS, I created a configuration for Glacier, and kicked that off. This takes a long time, as in many days, owing to the generally slow upload speeds from ISPs. CloudBerry provides some bandwidth throttling that can come in handy during the days-long upload.
For the Glacier configuration, I had to manually copy my settings from the NAS configuration. It would have been nice to copy a configuration, but I didn’t see a way to do that. Also, when you edit a configuration, you have to go through the entire wizard. All the values remain as they were, but you have to fully navigate through the dozen wizard screens before you can get to the end and commit the change.
I also ran into a bug when trying to enable the storage cost estimation tool. I got an index out of range exception displayed in a message box, without any further indication of what was wrong or how to fix it. I’ve also seen a couple of NullReferenceExceptions reported from the application, so there are a few rough edges.
Overall, though, I’m happy to call it good.
Offsite backup for critical files
P.S. I paid for my own copy.