Arq Cloud Backup service

(gastropod) #1

I was checking the cloud options at the Arq site, and discovered that they now have an all-in-one service that includes cloud storage:

Mac only for now, $60 per year for 1TB, additional space TBs is $72/year/TB, which is comparable with Backblaze B2 for the first TB, and somewhat more for additional if you need it. Unlike Backblaze backup, it will backup networked drives, which is essential for me.

Has anyone tried it yet?

(Curtis Wilcox) #2

I haven’t tried it but their bring-your-own-storage backup software, Arq Backup, is well thought of. Arq Cloud could be a good alternative to Backblaze and successor to the discontinued consumer CrashPlan service. Over time, it’s probably cheaper, but more complex, to buy Arq Backup for $50 and use it with Wasabi or Backblaze B2, especially if you need more than 1TB (including versioning).

They tout their speed, saying “restore is so fast you’ll get your files back before other backup services can populate a hard drive and mail it to you.” That’s nice but when recovering from the total loss of a local drive, a lot of people would still be better off with a shipped hard drive due to their ISP’s performance.

(gastropod) #3

Curtis Wilcox wrote: “They tout their speed, saying “restore is so fast you’ll get your files back before other backup services can populate a hard drive and mail it to you.” That’s nice but when recovering from the total loss of a local drive, a lot of people would still be better off with a shipped hard drive due to their ISP’s performance.”

This would certainly be a problem when it’s a primary or even secondary backup. For me (even with slow DSL) it’s less of an issue, since the online backup is the last-resort regional disaster backup. It will take the pacific northwet at least a few months to even partially recover from a big earthquake. In that scenario, having a backup mailed wouldn’t help anyway. I have hard drives off site for lesser disasters though they don’t get rotated as often as they should, and I’m starting to collect the most critical stuff such as house papers onto SD cards so I can keep them in the go bags, and maybe a frequently updated one in my pocket.

I’ve installed Arq Cloud Backup in trial mode and it’s chugging away. It couldn’t see my shared drives, even if I turned on SMB. (I use AFP since it’s about 20% faster than SMB.) Arq insists on a UNC path, which seems to be a windows thing. This is odd in a program that’s aimed at end users and is only available for Macs so far. I was able to work around it by running it on my server (2011 mini) as well as on my primary mac since it doesn’t limit the number of computers you connect from. But it would be nice to have it in one place to make it easier to keep an eye on it. It installs a menubar widget so you can see how it’s doing even with the app closed, which is nice.

It’s using Wasabi for the cloud storage. If you open the advance options when you set up an account, you can choose between Eastern US servers or Western US servers which is great, since I want the backup to be completely out of region. This was one reason why I dithered into inactivity about whether to use B2. They’re in northeast CA, which while better than most of the left coast, is still not far enough from plate tectonics effects to make me happy.

Also in the Advanced settings, you can set a separate encryption password. Once set, it’s set for all computers that use the account. Presumably they’re using a hash for that. By default, they use the account password as the encryption password so they can reset it for you (or let a nation state bludgeon them into resetting it so they can get access.) There’s no option for two factor auth, so you really should use the separate encrypt password, which would limit any malicious damage to denial of service by wiping out the files.

File selection is awkward compared to Crashplan or most Mac backup software. You have to explicitly exclude files/folders by path (which fortunately can be done in bulk in an Open dialog with command-click selection) or add filters (only simple ones based on path/file names). Then if you go into Exclude again, it only shows the folders that are being backed up. If you want to re-include something, you have to scroll through a list of explicit path names and filters (many of which are defaults in the app) and subtract them, then possibly go back into exclude to re-exclude some of the subfolders. It took me a few tries to be sure of what it was doing, and many of my users would be confused and need a lot of hand holding, unless they just use the defaults (which could be ok for most people).

My main computer has finished it’s backup, which is unsurprising since I only needed it to do the desktop. Everything else gets saved to a shared disk. The server backup is currently set to backup about 45 GB (I’m trying to start with the most important things), and I estimate it will take at best 6 days. I think if I used the full Arq, there’d be a way to upload most of it over a faster connection then adopt that to the real situation, but I never got around to testing it.

Once I have more files up there, I’ll try out the built in restore. Superficially it looks OK. From any computer running Arq, you can see all of the files in the account, no matter which computer is doing the uploads. I doubt it has as many nice options as Crashplan about where to save them though. There’s nothing in the help files about restore at all. You can also get at the files via the web if you need a few while out and about, which could be handy.

Barring any serious problems during the trial, I’ll probably keep on with this. It’s somewhat more expensive and has fewer features than the full arq + choose your own cloud, but the convenience and bypassing of my procrastinational tendencies would actually get things backed up (instead of just thought about).

(Doug Miller) #4

So I’ve been using Arq with both offsite B2 and with onsite to my own storage (e.g,I use SFTP to a local server to do the equivalent of networked Time Machine, except I’d say far more reliable.) I expect that the new storage plan is the same when it comes to restores - when you restore files, it asks if you want to overwrite or not. If you chose not to overwrite, it creates a folder called “Restored by Arq” in the original location with the folder structure retained within that folder. It works for me. (I’m storing about 800 GB across three computers to B2, so I’m paying a bit less the $60/year, although I also paid to license the app.)

(gastropod) #5

Restore is indeed somewhat flexible. I restored two files to a new folder, and it did it as expected; it included the entire folder path to them, which is ok, though it a few circumstances it could be annoying.

I had to remove ACB from my file server. It didn’t seem able to cope with complex file selections and/or many large drives even if it wasn’t supposed to look at them. Twice it lost track of what it was supposed to do and thought it had finished; the only way to restart a batch was to unselect the whole batch then set it up again, which caused it to delete what was already backed up from the cloud. It also was tying up resources even when not actively backing up (maybe trying to analyze all the disks for deduplication?), and since I had to do some other high intensity things over the weekend, it all bogged down and I uninstalled it completely.

I left the copy on my primary mac where things are much simpler (just most of the User folder), and that’s going better, though at this point I don’t really trust it. There is one reproducible bug–if I dismount a drive, even one that isn’t included in the backup set, it causes the backup to stop. That seems to be what triggered the trouble on the server. The iMac is restarting it without problems so far.

I sent a long report in to Arq, so maybe there are fixes for some of it. It’s only been out for a few months, so I expect it’s just teething problems and maybe not enough testing on slow connections with huge amounts of files that over-stress the exclusion-based file section.

I like the real Arq much better in any case. File selection is sane instead of a train wreck, and the extra features will almost certainly be useful (multiple destinations and backup sets, adoption.) So it’s back to procrastinating the decision of which cloud to use…