off-site backup with Amazon Glacier

An off site backup of your com­puter data is VERY impor­tant.  In the case of a fire or theft there is a good pos­si­bil­ity you will lose your com­puter and any backup hard drive you keep with your com­puter.  Off site means a backup your store in a dif­fer­ent loca­tion from your computer…or ide­ally a dif­fer­ent region — hint hint Van­cou­ver clients, we are over­due for a major earth­quake.

To main­tain this backup your­self you must either cre­ate one on an exter­nal hard drive and take it some­where, or use a sys­tem to main­tain a backup stored off-site updated through the inter­net.  The inter­net solu­tion is the eas­i­est once it is set up, but until recently has been pro­hib­i­tively expen­sive for a large amount of data.

Ama­zon recently intro­duced a cloud stor­age sys­tem they have branded Glac­ier.  The price is very rea­son­able, a monthly fee of 1 cent per giga­byte, about $10/terabyte. You pay based on how much you store, trans­ac­tions, and for retrieval.  An aver­age per­son could store all their data for under $10/month, a heavy user such as a pho­tog­ra­pher maybe $20 or $30.  After 2 weeks I have 10G stored at a cost of 79 cents — 9 cents for stor­age and 70 cents to put it there.

One quirk — like the name implies Glac­ier is SLOW.  To cre­ate and retrieve items from your back will take hours or days. When retriev­ing data your fees are based on your selected retrieval speed.  This ser­vice is suit­able for emer­gency backup only, not for rou­tine stor­age.

To use Glac­ier you will need a client or ser­vice to upload your data.  Ama­zon does not provide this.

For Mac I have been test­ing Arq 3 by Haystack Soft­ware, $29.  There is a free 30 day trial so you can test it out.  Instal­la­tion and setup was pretty straight­for­ward, but tech­ni­cal.  The soft­ware helped set up a Glac­ier account. Once run­ning all I had to do was tell it which fold­ers to keep backed up.  It should mon­i­tor those and update as needed even main­tain mul­ti­ple ver­sions of files.

Some details and thoughts:

  • you pay for stor­age, access, and retrieval cal­cu­lated based on the size and num­ber of files.  Prices are rea­son­able, and you will be happy to pay the retrieval fee if ever you have to use it
  • you may have to pay your inter­net provider for more band­width depend­ing on how much is included in your inter­net pack­age — that first upload could be big
  • you will want to check and test your backup to make sure you have pro­tected what is needed and can retrieve it

More info on Ama­zon Glac­ier

Down­load Arq 3

UPDATE: to read how my expe­ri­ence with Ama­zon Glac­ier ans Arq 3 have been going con­tinue on to my post 50 days with Ama­zon Glac­ier backup.

(image via Flickr by kaet44)

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