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)