Cloud backup solutions (for users)

Date: 01 Oct, 2012
Posted by: admin
In: hints & tips|internet, web design & development|linux, open source & software|pictures, music, video: multimedia

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So erm, just managed to delete 50GB of data by not noticing an off-screen folder was selected. You know what that means? Well it’s time to check out online backup solutions and get down-and-dirty with some file recovery tools (that post coming soon).

Backup solutions for the 21st Century

Why not Zoidberg Dropbox?

You all know that dropbox is a file sync system, like syncing data between your own devices; and that on-site backups aren’t worth much if your house is flooded or – heaven forfend – burns down!? Dropbox can be used for backup but that’s not what it’s designed for, YMMV.

So what’s a regular computer user to do about backup in the year-of-our-Lord 2012? Well clearly the answer lies in the cloud. That for most purposes means using on of Amazons backup services – like S3 or Glacier – usually via a proxy service.

Cloud backup services

Now cloud backup is currently a big thing getting a lot of attention from entrepreneurial hackers who seem to be great at coming up with mad names. Here’s our list of candidate backup services, roughly in order of [guessed] expected cost:

  • duplicity (‘stable’ beta, GPL): storage costs only
    “Duplicity backs directories by producing encrypted tar-format volumes and uploading them to a remote or local file server. Because duplicity uses librsync, the incremental archives are space efficient and only record the parts of files that have changed since the last backup.”
    ssh/scp, local file access, rsync, ftp, HSI, WebDAV, Tahoe-LAFS, and Amazon S3
    Note that Ubuntu has a file backup called Déjà Dup (package name is “deja-dup”) which acts as a front-end to duplicity.
  • duplicati (LGPL): storage costs only
    “Duplicati is a free backup client that securely stores encrypted, incremental, compressed backups on cloud storage services and remote file servers. It works with Amazon S3, Windows Live SkyDrive, Google Drive (Google Docs), Rackspace Cloud Files or WebDAV, SSH, FTP (and many more). Duplicati has built-in AES-256 encryption and backups can be signed using GNU Privacy Guard. A built-in scheduler makes sure that backups are always up-to-date. Last but not least, Duplicati provides various options and tweaks like filters, deletion rules, transfer and bandwidth options to run backups for specific purposes.”
    Duplicati was inspired by duplicity and is available on Google Code.

  • tarsnap: usage only – $0.3 / GB-month for storage $0.3/GB-month for bandwidth
    “Tarsnap is a secure online backup service for BSD, Linux, OS X, Minix, Solaris, Cygwin, and probably many other UNIX-like operating systems. The Tarsnap client code provides a flexible and powerful command-line interface which can be used directly or via shell scripts. At the present time, Tarsnap does not support Windows (except via Cygwin) and does not have a graphical user interface.”
    Tarsnap uses EC2 for the actual storage.
  • SuperSimpleStorageSolution: $1 per month
    Use at your own risk – this one looks dodgy to me. Anyone used it?
  • crashplan: $1.50/$3/$6 per month + additional storage costs
    Crashplan offer clients for Apple OSX, Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris based systems. Crashplan combines online, offline and storage with friends/family whereby you can backup to other locations without additional charge (like dropbox it seems). You can seed your backup by getting a hard-drive from Crashplan that you backup to and post back (US only). As with other commercial offerings you can also order a hard-drive with your data saved on it to avoid the need to download for recovery.
  • jungledisk: $2/3 per month + storage costs
    “Desktop Edition brings the power of the cloud to your desktop. Securely backup, sync, and access your valuable files across all your computers. Stay in control of your data with our easy-to-use tools, automatic backup and unlimited storage. You can even choose from two industry-leading cloud providers – Rackspace Cloud Files and Amazon S3.”
  • backblaze: $3.69 per month + use based storage costs
    Windows and Mac versions available that backup non-system files using client-side encryption. De-duplication, incremental backup, client-side throttling. Backblaze also provide the option to receive your backup data on a flash drive or hard drive.
    Backblaze manage their own servers, they’re a relatively small company and so lack the infrastructure that Amazon backed systems have; this may or may not affect your decision either way. They do go out of their way to ensure continuity of service.

Mac only but worthy of note:

  • Arq: $29 one off + storage costs
    Drag and drop folders on to Arq to add them to the online backup. Arq uses Amazon S3/AWS and encrypts data at the local end before upload. Arq also have a CLI based recovery console as well as an iPhone/iPad app that can be used to view files from the online store.
    Arq was born out of the programmers finding of limitations with Mozy, Carbonite and Backblaze (see above) and concern for the durability of backups stored with small companies.
  • Other Mac software? A good place to start might be with’s testing of Mac backup solutions with their backup bouncer tool.


What’s it going to cost?

Amazon EC2, S3, etc.

Amazon provide a handy-dandy calculator for most of their cloud services but it doesn’t currently have the Glacier pricing; someone has created a Glacier calculator on Github though. According to that Brandt Glacier calculator storage of 100GB for a year could come in at < $15 (including 5GB per month retrieval).

My choice?

Well, I’ve not really had chance to assess it all yet. I’ll most likely be forced to take a free solution and duplicati looks like it could well serve the purpose on that one so that’s going to be my first port of call.

Over to you

Please let me know in the comments if there are options I’ve missed that you’ve tried and liked, what the main benefits are and why I should switch! Particularly if they’re cheap, with the option to have backup backed by a big storage provider, encrypted client-side, versioned and such … yes I want it all!

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