When I published my original CloudBerry Backup review, I had been using it for about three weeks. That was enough time to determine that this product was an incredibly complete backup/restore and disaster recovery solution for both individuals and businesses of all sizes.
But as I noted at the time, CloudBerry Backup is dense with useful features, and properly testing some of its more advanced functionality would require more time and experience. Also, I had an ulterior motive: I had been looking for a way to get my NAS-based data backed up to the cloud, and it seemed like CloudBerry Backup, combined with the right low-cost cloud storage service, would nicely fit that bill.
Since that first review, Tom Kunath checked in with a CloudBerry Backup real field review of his own. And Kenny Grayson joined Brad and me on First Ring Daily to talk about his experiences using the product. Both confirmed my less experienced opinion about CloudBerry Backup, which was nice. But these folks have also inspired me to keep looking at CloudBerry myself.
So I’ve had CloudBerry Backup running on my workstation ever since, providing me with a better understanding of how things work over time. More crucially, I’ve also had time to experiment more with different restore scenarios. And I’ve started the process of getting that NAS backup going. In this follow-up review, I’ll describe each of these efforts.
First up, restore.
In speaking with CloudBerry a few months back and then more recently with Mr. Grayson, I’ve come to the understanding that while the product’s files backup and system restore features serve different needs, they can also be used interchangeably in some cases.
For example, I’ve been performing a system backup of my daily-use workstation to my NAS for several weeks. This type of backup is done for disaster recovery purposes, typically: Perhaps the hard drive fails and you need to replace it and then restore the entire system using the latest backup. This is simple enough, and CloudBerry provides a straightforward wizard for creating a bootable USB flash drive so that you can get up and running again quickly. (You could also perform a cloud-based system restore, though that would be much more time-consuming.)
But you don’t have to restore the entire system. In some cases, you may wish to simply start fresh with a new hard drive, as in the previous scenario. Or perhaps start over with a new PC entirely and just recover some of the data in the system backup. In corporate scenarios, you may need to move a server-based workload to the cloud and want to virtualize the hardware so that it can be hosted more efficiently.
I’ve experimented with each of these approaches, though I’ve kept things local to my home network for efficiency reasons.
Using CloudBerry Backup’s Restore Wizard, you can restore items from within a system image backup, including files and folders, a SQL Server database or backup files, or a specific system state. I’ve only looked at the files and folders option, and as you might expect, that’s straightforward enough.
But you can also restore the backup to a virtual machine or virtual disk. This includes some cloud-hosted options, in Amazon EC2/EBS/AMI, Azure VM or data disk, or Google Cloud Instance (image or disk). For this exercise, I choose the virtual disk option, and the wizard asked me to select from a variety of popular virtual disk types, including those for Hyper-V (several version), VirtualBox, and VMWare.
I chose a VMWare dynamically-sized virtual disk for no particular reason—I have access to all of the major virtualization solutions—and then proceeded to step through the wizard. This, too, was straightforward: Just chose the partition or partitions you wish to restore, select a local destination folder and name for the file, and then kick off the restore.
Once the restore was complete, I fired up VMWare Workstation, attached the new virtual disk to one of my existing VMs, and booted into the virtual system. Then, I could access the disk normally and copy files from it as needed. (To emulate how this might work in the real world, I mounted a folder as a share so I could just access the restored data from my workstation.)
As for my NAS backup, I’ve long wanted to archive some of the content from this device—a prosumer-class WD MyCloud EX2—to the cloud and to keep that backup up-to-date going forward. (I’ve manually copied some of this content to the cloud, but in a haphazard fashion, and much of it is out-of-date.) The trick was finding an inexpensive service that could be automated to back-up from the NAS.
Backblaze meets the cost requirements: It’s just $50 per year per computer, for individuals. And business plans that specifically cover direct server and NAS backups are $0.005/GB per month for data storage, so 1 TB of data would cost about $50 per year. Backblaze requires you to work with a partner to perform this type of backup—my NAS is not supported—and, of course, Cloudberry is one of those partners.
I knew from my experience with CloudBerry that I almost certainly would be able to back up certain folders on the NAS to Backblaze from my workstation. So I set out first to experiment with that. And then to consider whether I could slide in under Backblaze’s individual plan, given how (comparatively) expensive the server/NAS plan is. Because the data I wish to backup is, in fact, personal, I believe I’m legally and morally in the clear.
Sure enough, it’s very easy. And I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that backing up my NAS to a cloud service like Backblaze is just as simple as any other kind of backup. The steps are the same, and the wizard walks you through the process with no drama.
There were only a few notable configuration changes to consider compared to my previous backups.
First, I had to select the correct folder share path(s) on the NAS. By default, CloudBerry Backup looks at the PC on which it is running, but you can select any number of network shares in the Backup Source step of the wizard. So for the first test, I just selected a single user’s Documents folder on the NAS and continued.
For this backup, I did enable CloudBerry’s compression and encryption capabilities. And I set a recurring schedule even though this particular folder wouldn’t benefit; for future additions to the backup, keeping new content backed up will be key. And that was about it: The backup began running immediately.
I’m going to add more NAS folders to the backup over time and monitor my data usage. I’m also going to save the backup plan so that I can access it from other PCs when I inevitably pave over my current workstation. But it’s amusing to me that I’ve stressed over the NAS backup for so long, as I can see now that CloudBerry Backup is going to handle this task with ease.
Which, again, should never have surprised me. CloudBerry Backup remains highly recommended: I believe this solution can meet any and all backup and recovery needs that you may have. And given the reasonable pricing, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
Disclosure: As I noted in the original review, CloudBerry Labs is sponsoring the First Ring Daily podcast for a three-month period that ends this week. The company had asked me to write an honest review of its flagship product, which I did. But my opinions about CloudBerry Backup are my own and the company’s sponsorship played no role in this or the original review. I have no qualms—moral or otherwise—recommending this product to readers of this site. —Paul