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CloudBerry Backup Desktop Review
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Date: Sep 21, 2011
Section:Storage
Author: Seth Colaner
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Introduction & Overview

An increasing number of businesses have discovered (or are at least exploring) the benefits of cloud storage. There are cloud options aplenty, from small-potatoes plans designed for a bit of extra storage for a SOHO shop, to massive operations that backup an entire enterprise’s kingdom. It’s an exciting, developing field, and it’s downright fun to see what new tools and services developers are coming up with.

CloudBerry Lab has created an intriguing spate of products designed to make managing cloud storage easier, including file explorers for several cloud storage services; a mobile explorer (for Windows Mobile only); and backup tools for Windows Server 2003 / 2008 (32 and 64-bit), Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Home Server.

In this review, however, we’re looking specifically at CloudBerry Backup Desktop.

Overview
CloudBerry Backup Desktop looks and feels more or less like any desktop-based cloud backup tool you may have used. It makes use of easy-to-follow wizards for creating backups and restoring files, and you can navigate your backed-up data via a familiar Windows-like file explorer.

However, CloudBerry Backup Desktop is not, in and of itself, a cloud storage service; rather, it acts as a front end client that you can use to manage backups from a variety of cloud storage services. It even lets you manage local backups, so you can use it with external hard drives as well.

CloudBerry Backup Desktop was initially designed to work with Amazon’s S3 service, but to date it’s expanded to include a number of additional services, including Azure, Google Storage, Scality, Dunkel, Tiscali, Host Europe, Seeweb, Connectria, Walrus, and Mezeo. You can also map a cloud storage service as a virtual disk, which is a nice touch.

Note that CloudBerry Backup Desktop supports Windows XP / Vista / 7 currently, so Mac users are out of luck, at least for the time being.

After you run an initial backup, the software will only back up files modified since your last backup, and it features file versioning, so you can roll back to an older version of a file if need be. You can control how many copies of a file CloudBerry Backup Desktop keeps in the Purge Options. Using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy technology, the software can also back up opened files.

CloudBerry offers both encryption and compression options, too, which we’ll get into below.

In terms of pricing, $29.99 (or $69.99 for the server version) gets you the software and a year of free updates and email support. After the first year, you have to pay 20% of the original fee annually to receive updates and support, although you’ll never be forced to upgrade if you’re happy with what you have.

Do bear in mind that you’re still on the hook for the costs of your cloud storage service, although CloudBerry Backup Desktop actually helps reduce those costs. (More on that in a bit.)

If you want to give the software a spin before you commit, you can download a free 15-day trial, which grants you full functionality. This isn’t one of those deals where they require your credit card information and bill you when (not “if”, am I right?) you forget to cancel at the end of the trial. You don’t have to submit any information up front--just download it, put it through the paces, and buy it if you want it.
 

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Unique Features, In Use, & Conclusion

Unique Features
CloudBerry Lab used some clever ideas in this product. Probably the most compelling of the bunch is that it compresses your data when performing backups. This feature was built with Amazon S3 in mind. Pricing for S3 storage is on a per gigabyte per month basis, and you also incur charges based on the amount of data transfered. Thus, CloudBerry Backup Desktop’s compression reduces the size of the files being transmitted and stored and actually saves users some money on that front.

You can use a master password for the software, which effectively protects all of your cloud storage in one fell swoop and is especially handy if you use multiple services. Another welcome feature is Smart Delete; if you accidentally delete a file on your local machine, it will automatically remain on your online storage for 30 days.

Here’s one for the books: If you’re involved in a non-profit organization or educational institution, you can qualify for a free copy of CloudBerry Backup Desktop. A qualified group can get up to three free licenses per “shop”. One caveat is that CloudBerry Backup Desktop licenses are per-computer, so each one covers a single machine only. (In the interest of full disclosure, those of us in the industry that review CloudBerry Backup Desktop also qualify for a freebie.)

In Use
You can download CloudBerry Backup Desktop from
CloudBerry's website, and the installed software occupies just 19.1MB of space. When you first launch the software, you click Setup Backup Plan to get going. Then, you choose a file system (whether it’s one of your services or local storage), name it, and decide whether to run Advanced Mode or Simple Mode. On this screen, you make some big decisions that affect the level of encryption, how easy or convenient it is to access your data with other means, file versioning, and more.


Next, you select the files and folders to back up. You can then specify certain file types to include or exclude, indicate certain folders to skip, and more.

On the Compression And Encryption Option screen, you again have to make some big decisions, including how or if you want to compress your files and what type of encryption to use. As you can see from the screenshot, the encryption options are plentiful.


On the subsequent screens, you can set your purging options and whether or not you want to delete from cloud storage the files that you delete locally; set a specific date and time for the backup, whether or not the backup job should be recurring, set a time cap on a backup job; and opt to receive email alerts if a backup fails or any time a backup completes. If you want diagnostic info sent straight to CloudBerryLab in case of a failure, just check the box on that last screen.

It took 1 hour and 16 minutes to upload a batch of files totaling 246MB with compression (CloudBerry uses the GZip algorithm), 256-bit AES encryption, and SSL enabled. (When compressed, the total file size was 232.6MB.) According to the CloudBerry Backup Desktop software, we wavered between about 15 KBps and 25 KBps throughout the backup job, although at times it dipped below 10 KBps or spiked to over 30 KBps. The upload performance will vary depending on the features you select when creating the backup job.


Conclusion
If you already have cloud storage accounts with one of the services CloudBerry Desktop Backup supports, setup is pretty simple. Most reasonably tech-savvy users can figure out what information they need to give the wizards. However, if you try and start with CloudBerry Backup Desktop before you actually have an account set up with a storage service, you’ll likely find yourself frustrated quickly. (“What’s a bucket name?! What’s a secret key?!”)

CloudBerry Backup Desktop is definitely designed for businesses. Most individual users just aren’t going to be using the cloud services the software supports. That said, this tool is simple enough to use that individuals at a business or the manager of a particular group can set up and manage it without needing the IT department to do much of anything, but give the OK.

Considering the low price tag as well as the option of a 14-day free trial, CloudBerry Backup Desktop is definitely worth a look. If you love it, you have a new tool to help manage your cloud storage, and you can pay for it merely by dipping into the office party slush fund. If it’s not for you, it won’t cost you anything other than a bit of your time to test out the trial.

  • Free Trial Available
  • Easy To Use
  • Works With Multiple Storage Solutions
  • On-The-Fly Compression Saves Money

 

  • Additional Cost For The Softwrae
  • May Be Confusing For Less Savvy Users

 



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