Mac backup software - arq?

scarred

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Jul 24, 2011
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This week I decided to organize my life and get a backup strategy in place. I ordered an external enclosure for a 2TB hdd I had sitting around. I set it up with Time Machine and was happy. good enough, right?

Not so much. The very same day I decided I should start backing stuff up was the day I realized how important it was to do so properly. While cleaning up the wires of my new external HDD, I accidentally bumped it. It was spinning at the time.... :( It is no longer working. I lost everything on the drive in 1 second.

So that was lame... now I'm turning to the 'cloud'. I downloaded the Arq trial and setup the amazon account. Seems easy enough? It just works. Hopefully no one at amazon bumps the drive with my stuff on it. :>

Doing the $ math, for my purposes, I can use Arq for 4 years before it exceeds the cost of a time capsule.

Anyone have any comments, good or bad, about Arq? Is this the right choice for Mac cloud backup?
 
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Xe89

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Oct 23, 2009
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Anyone have any comments, good or bad, about Arq? Is this the right choice for Mac cloud backup?
Yes. I like it because the encryption is done on your computer and not on Amazon's servers. And Amazon doesn't care how much or how often you upload data because you pay a fixed price per GB. So the speed will always be the same (ignoring other factors like your internet provider ofc) and you can upload thousands of GBs. If a service promises "unlimited" storage for a limited price, then they are lying. Arq (and the storage provider Amazon) doesn't promise that. I like that.

I also like that it is Mac-only meaning the UI looks like the standard OSX UI and not some Windows port. Familiar features like Growl notifications and auto-update via Sparkle are present.

I do recommend you however to invest in a password manage first (like 1Password) because there's a lot to remember: the encryption password (forget it and your data is lost), the license key to Arq, the Amazon account login details and the so called Access key and Secret accesss key generated by your S3 account.

Here is a good blog post by the Arq developer:

http://www.haystacksoftware.com/blog/2012/01/7-facets-of-a-good-backup-strategy/

The most important is: use multiple backups. I use two local backups (backing up via Time Machine and Superduper) and Arq as online backup. Because when your computer fail (and yes, it will fail) your only backup is no longer a backup, it's your only copy. Using just the "cloud" for backups is not a good strategy.

Oh, and before someone is talking about Dropbox as a backup service:

No, Dropbox is not backup. Read this:

http://gigaom.com/apple/syncing-does-not-a-backup-make/

Arq works in one direction. Dropbox (and iCloud) works in both directions. They are being called sync services after all.
 
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robgendreau

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Jul 13, 2008
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I agree. I've used Amazon S3 with Forklift for quite a while. Some cloud backup is cheaper, but I've seen some come and go. It's like a health club: what's best for you is one you'll actually USE. Convenience is a big factor.

I also have used and like SpiderOak. It's a pretty versatile system, combining features like pure archival storage and syncing services. Scarred is right in saying they aren't the same. Ditto with versioning and cloning; all might get copies of your stuff somewhere but all have strengths and weaknesses. Versioning for works in progress right now is great, but once I've submitted a document I want an archival document that can't change. I want the versions as local as possible for speedy access; I want the archive far, far away in a safe place. Different needs. And face it: copies of Robot Chicken episodes aren't as your family photos (unless your family is IN Robot Chicken...).
 

scarred

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Jul 24, 2011
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I agree. I've used Amazon S3 with Forklift for quite a while. Some cloud backup is cheaper, but I've seen some come and go. It's like a health club: what's best for you is one you'll actually USE. Convenience is a big factor.
Wow, I had no idea forklift could connect to Amazon S3. That is pretty cool. I think I'll still purchase Arq (on a trial atm.), as it is nice to "set and forget". And as Xe89 points out, I should have multiple backups... that will be one of them.
 

MCAsan

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Jul 9, 2012
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I can use Arq for 4 years before it exceeds the cost of a time capsule.
And how does Arq provide a local ethernet hub, USB 2 port, and wifi transceiver as Time Capsule does? Comparing Time Capsule to an online backup service is apples vs. oranges.
 

scarred

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Jul 24, 2011
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And how does Arq provide a local ethernet hub, USB 2 port, and wifi transceiver as Time Capsule does? Comparing Time Capsule to an online backup service is apples vs. oranges.
I have those extra features already. The only reason that I would buy the Time Capsule is for the Time machine capabilities. While I'd probably consolidate my router with it, that doesn't really get me ahead from where I am today.

For me, spending $300 on a time capsule would be for the back capabilities. Not comparing two different things at all.

With all that said, as the above poster noted (and I guess I agree), you probably still want some sort of local backup (i.e. cloud + time capsule). With my cloud backup in play though, I feel I have a bit more breathing room, and I can wait for the next gen Time capsule (maybe an AC version), in which case, yup, the $300 would be for more than just a local backup service.
 

maflynn

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My concern with online backups is that you're trusting another organization that will protect your data and keep it backed up. I'd rather of that responsibility myself. I use a NAS and a couple of external backups (one for offsite).

This imo, is cheaper, more secure and faster then online.
 

MCAsan

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I want to know what happens when one of those backup companies goes chapter 11. This is a new business area and not all of the vendors will be around in 10 years. I can see using them maybe to backup my local backup.
 

maflynn

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Kind of related but look what happened to customers of megaupload. Looks like people who used megaupload (for valid reasons) have lost access to their data and may lose their data completely.

Similar problems could occur, though not as extreme as the US gov't shutting them down with the help of New Zealand.
 

scarred

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Jul 24, 2011
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Kind of related but look what happened to customers of megaupload. Looks like people who used megaupload (for valid reasons) have lost access to their data and may lose their data completely.

Similar problems could occur, though not as extreme as the US gov't shutting them down with the help of New Zealand.
Amazon going bankrupt certainly could occur. We've seen some spectacular failures like Enron, worldcom, etc. But I don't think it is very likely. The US gov can't raid Amazon either at this point, unless they feel like destroying their IT sector of course.

Either way, as the one guy above noted, the cloud storage really shouldn't replace a proper local backup. That makes sense to me. I'll have three copies, one working copy, one local backup, and one cloud backup. My local backup will be a bit more low tech, though... until the next gen time capsule shows up.
 

maflynn

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Amazon going bankrupt certainly could occur.
Amazon no, but other online back up companies yeah, a very distinct possibility.

You're stilling trusting an entity to protect and back up your data. I personally would not give up that responsibility.
 

scarred

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Amazon no, but other online back up companies yeah, a very distinct possibility.

You're stilling trusting an entity to protect and back up your data. I personally would not give up that responsibility.
Now I'm curious... =)

I'm sort of in the industry, company is thinking of supporting 'the cloud' with our software, and so I'm curious why you still wouldn't trust the cloud if: everything was locally encrypted first (which Arq does), and you also had your own local copies (with time machine in this case)?
 

flynz4

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Aug 9, 2009
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My concern with online backups is that you're trusting another organization that will protect your data and keep it backed up. I'd rather of that responsibility myself. I use a NAS and a couple of external backups (one for offsite).

This imo, is cheaper, more secure and faster then online.
I respectfully disagree. WIth cloud backup... there is nothing stopping you backing up to multiple destinations... including machines that you control... as well as to the cloud provider's server farms.

The data is 100% encrypted on your own machine... with a 448b key that you control.

/Jim
 

Weaselboy

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Amazon no, but other online back up companies yeah, a very distinct possibility.

You're stilling trusting an entity to protect and back up your data. I personally would not give up that responsibility.
I can understand this concern is this was the ONLY place your data exists, but if you keep say a local Time Machine backup and use an online backup service (in case the house burns down), I don't really see the issue.

I use Crashplan. If they go bankrupt I still have my data and my Time Machine backup and I just sign up for another online backup service the next day.
 

maflynn

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^^ That's a good approach and one that mitigates the risks of trusting an online service for your data.