The Best Backup Tools for Amazon Glacier in 2021: Deep Freeze

Amazon Glacier is a fundamental part of the AWS platform, responsible for archiving and cold storage. However, there is no proprietary Amazon Glacier client, so users have to resort to third-party tools. Join us as we go through a few backup tools for Amazon Glacier to help you find the best one for you or your business.

Joseph GildredAleksandar Kochovski
By Joseph Gildred & Aleksandar Kochovski (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-03-28T19:59:06+00:00

The benefits of Amazon Glacier for data backup may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to dollars and cents, but implementation tends to get a smidge puzzling if you don’t know what to do after feeding Amazon your credit card digits. The question is how to get data from your device into a Glacier Vault and, lucky you, we have three backup tools for Amazon Glacier that do the job. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Amazon Glacier is a low-cost backup solution that needs a third-party client to work.
  • CloudBerry Backup is the best Amazon Glacier client, and it’s one of the best cloud backup services overall.
  • Duplicati does a decent enough job of backing up to Glacier, and it’s totally free, though its browser-based interface might be a put-off for some.
  • Arq Backup seems like an excellent service on paper, but its buggy client is irritating to use at best.
  • If you only need to transfer files to Glacier, FastGlacier is a good option. You can’t schedule backups with it, but it’s great for one-time transfers.

Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t a matter of yelling at your computer screen. The problem is that Amazon Glacier is a data repository, but lacks the means to traffic data. It needs a transport system and, in this article, we’re going to cover the best of the best, led by what may be the best Amazon Glacier client, CloudBerry Backup.

  • You’ll have to use special backup software to backup to Amazon Glacier. There are dedicated apps made specifically for Glacier, though these are usually light on features. Instead, we recommend CloudBerry Backup, which lets you set backup schedules and keeps older versions of your backups in case of a mishap.

  • Since Glacier only charges you for what you use, Amazon doesn’t have to waste money on giving you empty, unused space. Plus, Glacier being a “cold storage” (read: archival) service means it doesn’t need fancy equipment or super fast storage hardware. This helps cut down on storage costs, which lets Amazon charge peanuts for Glacier.

  • If you don’t need continuous or recurring backups and only want to upload your files to Glacier for archival purposes, then a file transfer service will do the trick. FastGlacier is built for Glacier, so it offers some optimization in that regard. Cyberduck, FileZilla and CloudBerry Explorer can also transfer files to Amazon Glacier, if you’d rather go with one of those.

  • Amazon S3 is an object-based storage service, and Glacier is at the tail end of S3’s lifecycle management. In other words, Glacier stores files that remain unused for long periods of time, while the rest of S3 handles “hot” data that needs more frequent access. Being object-based means that data isn’t stored in the form of files and folders, but rather as “objects,” which can hold a ton of metadata for faster searches and better organization.

  1. 1
    • Continuous Backup
    • Incremental Backup
    • External Drive Backup
    • NAS Backup
    • Unlimited Backup: Only on Ultimate Plan
    • Versioning
    • Private Encryption
    5 TB - Unlimited GB
    $ 4999
  2. 2
    • Continuous Backup
    • Incremental Backup
    • External Drive Backup
    • NAS Backup
    • Unlimited Backup: No
    • Versioning
    • Private Encryption
  3. 3
    • Continuous Backup
    • Incremental Backup
    • External Drive Backup
    • NAS Backup
    • Unlimited Backup
    • Versioning
    • Private Encryption: No
    GB
    $ 139

What Is Amazon S3 Glacier?

Amazon’s cold storage solution is one of the cheapest cloud infrastructure services and we’ve detailed it in our Amazon Glacier review. Glacier is part of Amazon Web Services (AWS), and you can use it as stand-alone cold storage, or bundled with the Amazon S3 package. By itself, Glacier costs a fraction of a penny to upload, though retrieving your backup costs extra.

The issue with Amazon Glacier is that it serves a narrow purpose: archival. It’s perfect for file backup, but doesn’t work well for application design or processes that require regular access to stored files. Plus, data retrieval speeds are painfully slow unless you want to pay for expedited retrieval.

That’s not a huge problem for businesses or even home consumers looking for a more reliable backup solution than, say, Memopal or Degoo. These two buggy services frequently stall and have suspect approaches to customer support that leave you with more questions than answers.

Not only does Amazon have excellent support, but Glacier is also reliable for upload speeds and data integrity, thanks to a global data center network that spans 25 geographic regions around the world.

What Makes the Best Backup Tools for Amazon Glacier

Most online backup tools have their own servers. That’s the case with Acronis True Image, Backblaze, Carbonite and most other entries that rank in our best online backup guide. While that makes those services easy to use, it also makes them incompatible with IaaS services such as Amazon Glacier.

To backup to a cloud IaaS provider such as Glacier, you’ll need a “choose-your-own-cloud” provider with backup capabilities. There aren’t too many of those, though, making them the first thing we looked for in making our selections. Let’s do a quick rundown of the services we chose.

  1. CloudBerry Backup — Fully featured and affordable backup service for AWS Glacier
  2. Duplicati — Amazon Glacier backup for free
  3. Arq Backup — Has great potential, but is let down by a buggy client

One critical inclusion is private, end-to-end encryption. For the record, Glacier encrypts files stored at rest on its servers using AES 256-bit encryption by default. The difference is that it manages your encryption keys. A backup client with private encryption means that nobody, not even Jeff Bezos, can decrypt your files.

We also looked for clients that let you set file versioning. Versioning means that as files are edited, previous copies — or versions — are retained. That lets you roll back files in case of accidental edits. It’s also useful if files are corrupted, since you can go back to clean copies.

Plus, versioning is a way to escape ransomware attacks without having to pay for unencrypted copies of your files. A few backup providers have more advanced ransomware detection algorithms for prevention, such as Acronis True Image (read our Acronis True Image review), but of the entries in this list, only CloudBerry Backup does the same.

There are other features that vary from one backup provider to another. We’ll cover those as they come up below, in addition to talking costs.

The Top 3 Amazon Glacier Backup Tools

Coming up, we’ll outline our picks for the best backup tools for Amazon Glacier. Sadly, the pickings are slim. Aside from CloudBerry, the only notable names are Duplicati and Arq. We suggest starting with CloudBerry for reasons that will soon become clear.

1. CloudBerry Backup: The Best AWS Glacier Backup Tool

cloudberry backup AWS client
CloudBerry’s client may look like it’s about to tell you you’re the 1,000,000th customer, but trust us, it’s an excellent service.

More details about CloudBerry Backup:

Pros:

  • Excellent security
  • Extensive backup features
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Limited free version

We’ll hear from the Arq and Duplicati fans out there, but by any reasonable measure, CloudBerry Backup is by far the best backup service for Amazon Glacier. That is excluding that Duplicati is free, though. Get all the details in our full CloudBerry Backup review.

What makes CloudBerry Backup better than Arq and Duplicati is that it supports more cloud services, has a more attractive user interface, a more fluid user experience and, most important, many more features to keep your files safe and your backup running smoothly. Apart from Amazon Glacier, it also supports both Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3 storage.

Keep Your Backups Private With CloudBerry Backup

Features of note include private, end-to-end encryption with AES 256-bit, in-transit encryption using the SSL/TLS protocol and customizable retention policies. These features help keep your files safe in case of data breaches, man-in-the-middle attacks, ransomware attacks and other cybercrime.

CloudBerry Backup even has built-in ransomware protection that scans for possible malware infections and makes clean backup copies should anything suspicious be found. Read our article on the best online backup for ransomware protection for more information.

How Backups Work in Cloudberry Backup

Other features of note include continuous backup and scheduled backups. While continuous backup is recommended, for larger backups, you might be better running processes overnight. The backup wizard is a very good quality-of-life addition that allows you to tinker with the settings before starting your first backup.

CloudBerry Backup has block-level backup capabilities, too. With that enabled, whenever a file is altered, only the changed parts of the file get replaced, saving time and conserving resources.

CloudBerry-Backup-Local-Or-Cloud
CloudBerry’s backup wizard takes you through the backup process step by step, so you’ll never miss any important settings.

CloudBerry Backup can perform image-based backup. Rather than backing up specific folders and files, image-based backup takes a snapshot of everything, making restores more comprehensive. Read our best image-based backup review to find out where CloudBerry ranks against the competition.

CloudBerry Backup Free vs Paid Versions

CloudBerry Backup is free for personal use, though the freeware version only lets you backup 200GB of data (however, the limit is 5TB for AWS products, like Glacier). Additionally, it’s missing a few pretty important features, such as full disk image backups and customer support (you heard that right). Fortunately, Cloudberry’s pricing is pretty affordable, considering it only charges a one-time fee for licensing its software.

For the 5TB Desktop Pro version, this cost is a mere $49.99, and it unlocks CloudBerry Backup’s full suite of features. If 5TB of cloud storage isn’t enough for you, there are unlimited storage licenses available as well, though these are pricier. However, if you need to backup more than five devices, you’ll need to switch to a different MSP360 product, called MSP360 Managed Backup.

If you want to try out the fully featured service, you can treat yourself to its 15-day free trial to see if CloudBerry Backup is the Amazon Glacier companion you’ve been looking for. Amazon Glacier offers 10GB of free storage space, so that should be enough to put any backup client through the paces.

cloudberry backup download
CloudBerry Backup is a one-time purchase, which will save you money in the long run.

Overall, CloudBerry Backup is a fine backup service, worthy of the top spot. While its approach to backup might be considered bold or “geeky” compared to other cloud backup services, when it comes to backing up to Amazon Glacier, it ticks all the right boxes. No wonder it’s earned a spot on our best online backup list, as well. 

2. Duplicati

duplicati backup client
Duplicati is a free backup client that lives in a browser tab.

More details about Duplicati:

Pros:

  • Completely free
  • Private encryption

Cons:

  • Browser-based interface

Duplicati takes a different approach from CloudBerry Backup in that the interface is entirely browser-based. That doesn’t mean your backup will stop once you shut down Chrome or Firefox, though, since there’s also a desktop client running in the background to keep your backups going. 

The latest version of Duplicati doesn’t support Amazon Glacier directly. Instead, it supports Amazon S3, which Glacier is a part of. Luckily, Duplicati has nice support resources to help you along, and there are specific instructions on how to backup to Glacier if you need a helping hand.

Setting up Duplicati

When setting up your backup, you can opt for no encryption, AES 256-bit encryption or GNU Privacy Guard. You’ll need to create a passphrase, as well, which only you will know. Because Duplicati is browser-based, you can save your password to a cloud password manager such as Bitwarden or LastPass, just in case you forget it.

There’s an option to turn on SSL (Duplicati means TLS here, since SSL is defunct), which you should always use, lest your files fall prey to basement-dwelling “hackers” with too much free time on their hands.

duplicati backup setup
Like CloudBerry, Duplicati offers a wizard that lets you edit your backup step by step.

There are options to exclude hidden, system and temporary files, as well as files larger than a certain size. All files are compressed prior to upload to reduce required storage space, and block-level backup is supported, too.

Backup can be set to run continuously or you can create a schedule. For file versioning, you can choose to keep no previous files, all files or create a custom retention policy.

A Browser-Based AWS Glacier Client

As we mentioned before, Duplicati’s UX runs solely in your browser, which can be annoying if you’re the kind of person that has 47 tabs open at any given time. You do have to install a desktop app to run Duplicati, though the app’s only interface is the browser interface.

Thankfully, the browser GUI is simple and clean (if a little dry), and looks years fresher than CloudBerry’s (though that’s not saying much).

Duplicati has clients for Windows, macOS and several flavors of Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and RedHat). There’s even a version for Synology, but we’re burying the lede. Since it’s open-source software, unlike CloudBerry Backup and Arq, Duplicati won’t cost you a dime. All you’ll need to pay for is Amazon Glacier or whatever cloud provider you elect to pair it with.

Duplicati backup download
Duplicati comes completely free of charge, though you can always donate to the developers who keep it running.

Look, we’ve got a soft spot for open-source software here at Cloudwards, so we’d recommend Duplicati any day of the week. However, it’s not without its quirks, and as the product of a two-person team, it doesn’t quite have all the polish and panache that CloudBerry Backup offers. Despite all that, it still sits deservedly at number two on this list.

3. Arq Backup

arq backup client
Arq Backup looks good on paper, but its Amazon Glacier client is full of bugs.

More details about Arq Backup:

Pros:

  • Private encryption
  • Block-level backup

Cons:

  • Infuriatingly buggy desktop app
  • No free version

Last on our list is Arq Backup — an online backup service with a bit of an identity crisis. The desktop app is simply called Arq 7, though the service’s actual name is Arq Backup. Within the app itself, you’ll see it called Arq Cloud Storage (even though it’s not a cloud storage service). This lack of attention to detail shows through in most aspects of the service, which is rife with bugs that plague its desktop client.

Bugs notwithstanding, Arq packs a few useful features, with plenty of customization for your backups. It uses zero-knowledge encryption, so the folks at Amazon will have no way of decrypting your data. The catch is that if you lose your password, you lose access to your backup, too, but that’s the price you pay for secret agents not sifting through your selfies.

While the UI is what most people will use to backup data, Arq has an open-source command line utility, too. For those with the technical acumen, it will help prevent funny business, such as unencrypted metadata or file hijacking to an underground cyber warfare bunker in Siberia.

Arq Backup and Versioning Features

Other features of note include block-level uploads, to ensure only the changed parts of files get uploaded after the initial upload, client-side deduplication, so the same files aren’t uploaded multiple times and compression to reduce upload sizes.

Arq keeps incremental versions of backups, and each backup has its own custom versioning policy. You can even set hourly backups if you need them. This’ll eat into your Glacier storage, but it shouldn’t be a big problem since Arq compresses files to save space. You can choose to backup your entire computer, though this isn’t a true image backup, as there is no option for image-based restoration.

arq backup download
Arq is an inexpensive Amazon Glacier backup solution.

The cost of Arq 7, the most recent version of the software, is $49.99 for a perpetual license for a single device. There are versions for both Windows and macOS, and there’s a 30-day free trial that we recommend you take advantage of — especially since it’s the same price as CloudBerry Backup (a far superior product, and you’ll see why in the segment below).

A Woeful User Experience

If the sound of nails on a chalkboard had a user interface, we imagine it would look a lot like Arq’s desktop app. Its backup tool is completely bereft of things to click until you enter your backup, and the few buttons and menu items that are there sometimes fail to work entirely. Not to mention that the app crashes repeatedly on system startup, giving you an annoying notification every few seconds.

A piece of friendly advice: don’t click the “Arq Cloud Storage free trial” button in the navigator. If you do, you’ll never be able to leave that screen, and you’ll have to restart the app. Another oddity is that the “restore” tab in the navigator doesn’t actually let you restore things (you do that in the backup tab); rather, it just lists your backup locations.

Other than the handy-dandy app-breaking button, a lot of other buttons just don’t seem to function. For example, the “restore” button worked for a minute or two, until Arq decided we’d had enough of restoring our backup and would be better off just backing up again…and again…and…well, you get the picture. It’s nice and helpful like that.

arq backup terrible user experience
This would have been a picture of the “restore” menu, if Arq would let us get to it.

To put it in nicer words, user experience isn’t at the forefront of the Arq team’s thinking, though its backup functions well and is customizable enough to be useful (if you can get the client to work). Thankfully, Arq supports AWS (Glacier’s big-tent parent IaaS service). This alone earns it a spot on this list (albeit the last one), as the buggy desktop app is truly irredeemable otherwise.

Honorable Mention: FastGlacier

Fastglacier backup client
FastGlacier is a decent file transfer client for Amazon Glacier, but it lacks the features of our top three backup solutions.

FastGlacier is an Amazon Glacier client that lets you backup to Glacier without too much hassle. As you’ll see in this brief FastGlacier review, it has a number of things going for it, but it’s also missing a few key features.

We have no qualms with it in terms of pricing, as FastGlacier is completely free, yet still manages to provide client-side encryption and compression. Furthermore, it comes with a sync tool and custom backup filters. But there is a catch with this otherwise great Amazon Glacier Client: Windows is the only operating system it supports.

However, even if you only ever use Windows, FastGlacier is still missing important features, such as scheduled backups, which means you have to backup your files manually. On top of that, its functions are absolutely rudimentary. On the other hand, if you’re short on cash and don’t mind an AWS Glacier GUI that looks straight out of 2003, you should give FastGlacier a try. 

Final Thoughts

CloudBerry Backup and Duplicati are the only backup services we’d recommend for use with Amazon Glacier, and of those two, we’d gladly place CloudBerry at the top of the dais. That said, backup software isn’t the only way to get files into your Glacier Vault.

There are file-transfer clients, also known as cloud explorers, such as Cyberduck, CloudBerry Explorer and FileZilla that will do the trick, too — just not as well. They are manual upload tools that are not designed to create persistent backup relationships, like FastGlacier. Read our best file-transfer client article for more details.

Share your thoughts on Amazon Glacier and how you use it to archive files in the comment section below. We’d love to hear about software we missed, especially if it’s designed for hard drive backup. As always, thanks for reading.