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Catching Up on Backups

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Well, this is embarrassing.

The last time I wrote my so-called weekly column was more than a month ago. And, believe me, it’s not because nothing has been happening in the world of backups. Life got just a bit out of hand and blogging slipped down the priority list. But now the Ur-Guru has gone home, the cats have settled in, the housemate situation is more or less sorted out, and I really have no excuses left. It’s time to wade in and deal with all those outstanding backup issues from the last 6 weeks so we can get back to our regularly scheduled program of product reviews and tales from the backup trenches.

  • To start with, our winner (and only entrant) in the Gladinet contest is Todd Vierling. Todd told an entertaining if manifestly apocryphal story about how Microsoft’s Azure Blob got its name.
  • I missed a pre-briefing on the new KineticD service from Data Deposit Box, so I’m following up on that.
  • Mozy launched Mozy 2.0 for Windows. According to the press release, “New enhancements include faster upload speeds and decreased bandwidth usage, new convenience and access features, and Mozy 2xProtect™ – a new feature which allows Mozy users to back up to a local external drive in addition to Mozy’s online data centers at no additional cost.” Could this be in response to Dmailer’s move into the online space? I haven’t had a chance to ask Mozy. Meanwhile, I guess Mac users are still stuck with the 1.0 version until the developers catch up.
  • I got a link request from BackupTechnology in  England. As it happened, I’d just installed their Online Backup for WordPress plugin on a client’s site and was about to try it. I’ve since set it up, and it backs up on schedule; I haven’t tested the restore function. Look for a more detailed review soon. (Though I might not do the restore test on a client site.)
  • There’s a new beta version of the Automatic WordPress Backup plugin. It now runs a nice little diagnostic of your server when you activate it. It still doesn’t seem very fond of my test blog on Dreamhost, though, so I may have to test it on a different host. (I admit to not being very fond of Dreamhost myself.)
  • Amazon S3 introduced something called Reduced Redundancy Storage. It lets you prioritize your data so you save fewer copies of less important stuff, thus taking up less space. Prices start at $.10 per gigabyte and go down (per gigabyte) from there.
  • Gladinet came out with a new product called CloudAFS (attached file storage). On the face of it, it sounds like the kind of enterprise product that most readers of this blog wouldn’t be interested in: “CloudAFS allows local storage to be used as tier one for fast access and delivers unprecedented storage space by using the cloud as tier two. If you have storage expansion needs, want to replace a tape backup solution or just want to leverage the efficiencies of cloud computing, you can now attach cloud storage to your existing IT infrastructure to create a cost-effective, multi-tiered storage solution with low impact and faster backup or recovery times.” But if you use a server at all for your business, you might check it out, since it’s only $4.99/month for a single license, and there are bulk discounts.
  • I got another link request from ProFusion Backups. I’d feel a bit better about them if they hadn’t left their fill-in-the-blank template below the part they filled out for the FileSlinger™ Backup Blog. I’m willing to take a look at it, but it won’t be first on my list.
  • Our friends at the Windows Azure Blob are now charging for their formerly free service. (Well, the introductory offer is still listed despite the fact that July 1 has passed, but that’s probably an oversight.) We knew they would someday. My only use for them was to test Gladinet; Windows Azure is trickier to use than Amazon S3. The prices are very similar, however:
    • $0.15 per GB for data transfers from European and North American locations
    • $0.20 per GB for data transfers from other locations
    • $0.01 per 10,000 transactions
  • Andy from CloudBerry Lab wrote to tell me that CloudBerry had upgraded its online backup product to include support for Amazon’s Reduced Redundancy Storage (see above). They also have a beta version of CloudBerry for Azure Blob Storage. That product is free while in beta, even though Azure Blob no longer is.
  • iConfidential asked for a review of their cloud storage/file sharing/backup product by posting a comment to the announcement about Dmailer’s contest. I deleted the comment, but I’ll probably review the product eventually. (Look, folks, if you want me to review something, read the Review Policy page and then e-mail me.)
  • BackupBuddy also got an upgrade and can now store your backups on Amazon S3. I did that with my backup of this blog before upgrading it to WordPress 3.0. I haven’t had any problems with the other dozen upgrades I’ve done to WP 3.0, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to back up the site, which uses a lot of plugins and an older (relatively speaking) theme. It worked like a charm, including the upload, which I checked on with S3Fox. (Sorry, Andy, but that was handiest.) Even though GoDaddy, the host I still have the Backup Blog on, doesn’t have its servers set up properly to use the magic restore function that makes BackupBuddy the Holy Grail of WordPress backup plugins, the backup still contains absolutely everything in a nice handy zip file, and I could if necessary unzip it and restore it manually.
  • Amazon Web Services finally got around to adding Amazon S3 to its AWS Management Console, so you can see what’s in your buckets without a third-party tool. Good of them.
  • I’ve been getting lots of e-mail from Zetta about their enterprise storage-as-a-service. They charge $0.25/GB/month and there’s a 15-day free trial—th
    e kind you have to provide a credit card for. Another thing to follow up on. Maybe I could get them and Data Deposit Box in the same room to duke it out.
  • My former client Spare Backup seems to have landed a $10 million equity line, because they’re publishing press releases about it.
  • I have a new computer. Expect to start hearing about Windows 7 soon.

Whew! That took me more than an hour just to list. (I did have to check a few links.) Actually testing the new products is going to take longer. But I promise to be back next week to tell you about my initial experiences backing up on my new computer.

Winners of the CloudBerry Online Backup Giveaway Contest

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Our three winners in the CloudBerry Online Backup giveaway contest are:

  • Larry H., who will be using it to back up his business data.
  • Ty Taylor, who has some higher education and training presentations and video files to back up and synchronize.
  • Tim Larson, who needs to back up all the photos and videos of his kids on his Windows Home Server.

Thanks for participating, guys, and good luck with your backups. Keep an eye out for future contests here on the Backup Blog.

CloudBerry: Amazon S3 Backup the Easy Way

Friday, February 26th, 2010

image Back in January when I wrote about Automatic WordPress Backup, Andy K. from CloudBerry Lab popped up in the comments on the cross-post to the WordPress Asylum site asking why I had recommended S3Fox over his company’s product, CloudBerry S3 Explorer. (For the simple enough reason that S3Fox was the first product I’d come across, and worked as a Firefox plugin.)

It seemed to me that I’d heard the name “CloudBerry” before, so I went and checked my collection of backup bookmarks. There, indeed, was CloudBerry Online Backup, so I arranged to download a copy and then talk to Andy about it.

Incidentally, a CloudBerry is not a relation of the BlackBerry. Cloudberries are real fruits that grow in northern climates—like Russia, where CloudBerry Lab is located. Andy explained that he wanted a business name with the word “cloud” in it, but hates made-up names.

CloudBerry Online Backup is not an online backup service like Mozy, Carbonite, or my sometime clients Spare Backup. Instead, CloudBerry provides a simple software front-end to automate and manage backing up to and restoring from your Amazon S3 account.

Unlike S3 itself, CloudBerry Online Backup is simple and user-friendly. The welcome screen gives you two simple options: set up backup plan and restore backup plan:

CloudBerry Welcome

There are some suggested backup plans built in: My Internet Bookmarks (for people who haven’t started using a service like Delicious), My Pictures, and My Documents. But you can choose to back up any folders you want, on any drive—including your network drives. As I’ve mentioned before, not all online backup tools can even see your network drives, or anything at all besides your C:\ drive. This has as much to do with business models as technology, as Andy pointed out during our phone conversation. Since CloudBerry is selling software, not storage space, they have no motivation to restrict the source of your backup data. It’s Amazon you’ll be paying for storage, not CloudBerry, and Amazon bases prices for its S3 service on a combination of the space you use and the frequency with which you upload and download files, not how many different computers or users are putting their data into your account.

When you set up your backup job, CloudBerry prompts you to choose an Amazon S3 account:

CloudBerry S3 Accounts

Just in case you don’t have one yet, there’s a link so you can set one up. They also walk you through the signup process in detail on their blog. (The blog is on Blogger, but you can’t have everything. This blog was on Blogger for years.)

CloudBerry Storage Overview CloudBerry also has a handy monitor to show you how much Amazon storage you’re using. And as of the latest build, you can delete files you no longer want from your S3 backup by right-clicking on the file name in the “Backup Storage” tab and selecting “delete.”

As you can see from this snapshot, I chose a fairly small directory for my test backup. The real issue with any kind of online backup, no matter where you are storing it, is upload speeds. You can both encrypt and compress backups with CloudBerry, but nevertheless, it pays to exercise some judgment and be selective about which files you back up.

Subsequent backups (which you can schedule or run manually) will only back up files that have been changed. You can choose a number of versions to save or a length of time to keep old backups.

That said, the upload went quite speedily, and I was able to see my files in CloudBerry’s browser window. You can restore and delete files from there through the contextual (right-click) menu, or use the “restore” button from the welcome screen. Either method gets you to the same restore wizard:

CloudBerry Restore Wizard

For my test file, I chose “latest version,” though as it was a file I hadn’t changed between backups, it didn’t really matter. I restored it to a different directory just so I could make sure it really was being restored. Yep: it worked just fine.

These are the strengths of CloudBerry Online Backup: it’s easy, and it works. It’s also got a decent feature set, one Andy’s team is slowly expanding in response to user requests. The software retails for $29.99, both for the regular version and the Windows Home Server version. You’ll also be paying Amazon for your storage space. On the other hand, Amazon is charging 16.5 cents per GB here in Northern California; since signing up in January I’ve incurred $0.25 in charges.

If you’re a blogger who will write about the software, you can get a free license for CloudBerry Online Backup. I still have to go collect mine.

Andy also offered me 3 free licenses to give away. The first three people who post a comment to the blog explaining what they would back up on S3 using CloudBerry will get them.

FileSlinger Backup Blog at Blogged


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