Arq Cloud Backup, Arq and Wasabi

Unfortunately I had to give up completely on Arq Cloud Backup. It’s not ready for primetime, at least for me. I gave up on it on my fileserver pretty quickly because ACB gets a D- at selecting what you want to backup or not backup. I hoped that if I limited it to my main system boot drive, it could at least manage that cleanly. And it did, until I added my Aperture library which is the primary thing that needs to be backed up. In about 9 days, it managed to transfer 2.5 GB out of 100 GB of it. At some point it just stalled, and was only sending out a few bites every couple of minutes. The developer never replied to the report I sent about the problems I was having (I didn’t really expect a reply, it’s a small shop). I expect that it will eventually be a good choice for many people, but for now I’d call it a beta release. It’s certainly worth trying out, but keep a close eye on it throughout the demo period (and after) to make sure it’s doing what it should.

I played more with a full Arq demo at work, and it’s so much nicer. Sane file selection so it’s easy to prioritize what gets backed up on a slow connection and gradually add to it. Multiple backup sets and other useful features. I wish it could select files based on modification dates and other metadata, but I can live with file paths as long as I can see the hierarchy as I select things.

Now I’m back to the ‘which cloud?’ choice. B2 simply isn’t far enough away from my primary disaster scenario - major PNW earthquake or volcano. Wasabi has a choice of server locations - west coast, east coast, europe. They clone the Amazon S3 model, so many clients work easily with it, and the wasabi help is fairly good so far. I’ve been playing with the 30 day demo, and on the whole I think I’ll stick with it though there have been a couple of minor issues.

Upload though the web interface was unreliable at best. As my first test, I told it to to copy a folder with eight linux installer isos, 17GB total. The transfer hung after 5 minutes, and I couldn’t find a way to cleanly cancel the operation.

I downloaded their own Mac client. Did Show Package Contents, peeked at the Frameworks, discovered that it uses osxfuse, and tossed it. I’ve never had Fuse not cause weird problems on a working system.

I downloaded a demo of ExpanDrive (no fuse!), used a Wasabi help file to get it connected, and that worked great. The linux folder got there in about 8 minutes over a GB connection, and I threw a bunch of other things at it with no trouble.

One of the things I’ve discovered I like a lot about the Arq / other cloud client model is that I’ve figured out how to quick start my backup so it doesn’t take a year to get it all up there. If I segregate older unchanging files, I can back those up with Arq to a hard drive, which gives me the encryption, compression and deduplication, then take the drive to a fast connection and upload the backup to the cloud with any third party client. I could probably do the entire backup that way, then have Arq adopt it, but I’d have to test that a lot first; the separation/archive seems less fraught.

Having a nice generic cloud available also opens up having my own fully encrypted cloud service, at least for the desktops. Something like Panic’s Transmit, or CyberDuck + Cryptomator. iOS options for connecting to S3 seem to be nil just now, but I luckily bought iOS Transmit when it was still available, so in principle that ought to all work until the app breaks. The web interface also might work better with smaller files, but it wouldn’t be encrypted. If anyone knows of good iOS apps for generically accessing files on S3, especially with open source or audited encryption, I’m all eyes. It should be possible for someone to port Cyberduck and Cryptomator since they’re open source, but that’s not going on my list in foreseeable future.

I still need to learn a lot about using Wasabi/S3. You can create users and groups, tailor access permissions, and a bunch more I haven’t looked at yet. That’s useful even for one person, since you can give each client unique credentials; if someone steals your laptop you can clobber that access key without having to change all the others. It would also be good for file sharing with someone else, since you could restrict them to a particular file heirarchy (‘bucket’). I don’t think I’d recommend Wasabi to my users because of the plethora of choices, though when I know more I could probably set up an easy enough ‘do this exactly and don’t touch anything else’ sort of how-to for using it with Arq (for the subset who would obey the ‘don’t touch’ part).

Has anyone else been using Wasabi? Are there any gotchas I haven’t run into yet? I realize that they themselves aren’t backed up to other regions, which is presumably why they’re cheaper than S3. I’d rather get hit with any bad news before I plunk down money and file transfer time.

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