The thoughts, opinions, happenings, and just plain ramblings of a seemingly boring person.

Online Backups, Part 2: Duplicati + B2 = Win

Continuing on in my now-decade-old series of posts in how I manage my backups, things have changed once again. My last post in 2014 described how I started backing up to an online cloud service with Crashplan.

Unfortunately, about this time last year, Crashplan announced that it was exiting the home backup market. They offered to honour existing users' subscriptions and provide a steep discount on their 'Small Business' plans for a period of time, and that is what I have been using for the past year.

With the price increase imminent, there is also some long-term buginess in the latest versions of the app that didn't have me too enthused about sticking with their 'Small Business' plan.

In looking around at similar services, most of the affordable alternatives didn't make me too happy. Although Carbonite and Backblaze look decent enough, things like missing cross-platform support, as well as limited deleted file retention were deal breakers for me. For example, both Carbonite and Backblaze's services delete files from your backup a mere 30 days after they are deleted from your computer.

To translate that into a real-world scenario: if you (or someone else) accidentally deletes an important file, you would have only 30 days to figure out it is gone and then restore the file before it is also deleted from the cloud backup.

I started looking at some other alternatives that included using a program that would backup to a separate cloud storage service like Google Drive, OneDrive, Azure, or AWS. For the cloud storage service, I eventually settled on Backblaze B2 because of their great pricing and decent performance. For my backup set of ~250GB, it costs roughly USD$1.25/month.

I originally intended on using Arq Backup as the program to do the backups, but I was very disappointed in the quality of their Windows version. They didn't have nearly enough configuration options, but more surprisingly, I couldn't even see or change some of the settings because the window wasn't scaling properly to higher DPI screens.

After considering some of the others, I really liked Duplicati. It ticked all the boxes for me: strong zero-knowledge encryption, cross-platform, block-level incremental backups, customisable retention, and a friendly-enough interface. It even had a few bonus points: free and open source.

I've been running Duplicati + B2 for over a month, and I'm pretty happy with it. I'm not sure whether I would recommend it to non-tech people, as the separate management of software and storage could be a bit confusing, but it is perfect for my needs.

Having to re-upload our entire backup set for the first backup was, of course, a pain, but it was a bit quicker this time round thanks to Telstra's recent upgrade of their cable upload speeds to 5Mb, which although still frustratingly small, is still more than double what we had before.

Because of the significant cost savings of using free software, I have started contributing to Duplicati community costs on OpenCollective, and I've even made a pull request that was merged into the code which fixes a minor UI issue.

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