Review: CloudBerry Backup

Everyone should have some kind of a backup solution for their computer. No excuses. I once was guilty of not having a regular backup plan, and ended up losing a considerable amount of data because of it. Don’t let this happen to you–backup, and keep backing up.

Until recently, I had a two-pronged approach for backing up my data: I backup all my important data to a Windows Home Server. That data is mirrored on two different drives (for redundancy) and then the server itself is backed up to an external hard drive (for dual redundancy). However, what if something catastrophic happened to my home? All those hard drives are in the same physical location, which still means I could lose everything, should all those drives become damaged.

I knew for a while that I wanted some type of off-site backup, but most of the options out there are complicated and expensive. With the advent of Cloud-based storage, this idea became much easier though. So I started looking around online for different options. With Amazon’s announcement of Amazon Glacier, I knew it was the service for me. At $0.01/GB, it’s by far the cheapest Cloud-backup service available. The only drawback is that retrieving files from the server can take several hours, since it’s put into a “cold” storage, assuming you won’t need frequent access to the files. Indeed, I don’t–I only want my data backed up offsite, in case of complete data loss locally. Unfortunately, Amazon’s S3 storage solutions (of which Glacier is part of) isn’t particularly user-friendly. That’s where CloudBerry comes in.

CloudBerry Backup integrates with countless Cloud-based storage solutions, including Amazon S3, Windows Azure, Google Storage, RackSpace, etc. They also provide a Home Server 2011 add-in, which was precisely what I was looking for.

CloudBerry Backup Add-In

CloudBerry Backup Console

CloudBerry Backup Console

I installed the CloudBerry Backup add-in for Home Server 2011, and activated the free 15-day trial, then signed up for an Amazon Glacier storage account, and got to work setting things up. Once installed, it was a simple matter of configuring my backup account. CloudBerry prompted me for all the necessary information, and even provides cost estimates, so you have an idea what your backups will cost. As you can see from the screenshot below, CloudBerry is compatible with a LOT of different services:

CloudBerry Backup Services

CloudBerry Backup Services

There are even convenient links to sign up for the desired storage account in their configuration tab!

Once your storage account is configured, it’s time to create a backup plan. You are taken through a wizard that asks you to name your plan, choose the folder/directories you want to backup (even network shares are supported.) It’s also possible to backup individual drives, rather than specific directories. Once the locations you want backed up are selected, more advanced options are presented, allowing you to exclude or include only specific types of files, or even only backup files that have been modified recently. Next you choose whether you want to compress and/or encrypt your backups, then given options on when (or if) to purge files from the backups, before finally getting to set the schedule for your backups. All of these screens provide detailed, advanced functionality while remaining very user-friendly.

In addition to the various options available, you’re also prompted to be emailed when backup jobs fail, and to even include events in the Windows logs, either every time, or after failure. It’s really a robust application. There are lots of other settings and tweaks to explore for those who want to get the most from their software, but it’s simple enough that anyone can use it–and SHOULD.

A Couple Notes

There are a couple things potential users should know: First, CloudBerry backs up in buckets of 1,000 files at a time. Once finished with the 1,000 files, it moves onto the next 1,000 files. At first, it may appear that it’s not backing up everything (if you told it to), but it will in fact continue this process until the backup is complete.

Currently, CloudBerry Backup is only available for Windows-based computers–though there’s a flavor for all versions of Windows. Though I’m using Windows Home Server 2011, there are versions for standard desktops, standard servers, and even SQL servers. Unfortunately, the Windows-only nature leaves Mac users looking for alternatives. In my particular scenario, I use an application called ChronoSync to backup files from my Mac to my Home Server, which then runs the backups via CloudBerry; it’s not perfect, but it does a perfectly reasonable job.

Conclusion

In the couple of weeks that I’ve been using it, CloudBerry has yet to fail a backup job, and has done an excellent job of getting my data into the cloud. I feel more comfortable that my data is safe, in the event that it needs to be restored. Had it not been for CloudBerry and its convenient, easy-to-use solution, I likely never would have bothered setting up this off-site storage–at least not any time soon.