The benefits of Amazon Glacier for data backup may be 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’ve got the answer.
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 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 most sophisticated data ferryman of them all, CloudBerry Backup.
What is Amazon Glacier?
Amazon’s cold storage solution is one of the cheapest cloud infrastructure services and we’ve detailed it in our Amazon Glacier review. With rates at a half-cent per gigabyte or less, Glacier is roughly 20 percent the cost of Amazon S3, Google Cloud and other big names in our best cloud IaaS guide
|U.S. East (Ohio):||$0.004|
|U.S. West (Oregon):||$0.004|
|U.S. West (N. California):||$0.005|
|Asia Pacific (Seoul):||$0.005|
|Asia Pacific (Sydney):||$0.005|
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. That’s because, despite its dirt cheap storage, usage fees are not only expensive, but data retrieval speeds are painfully slow unless you want to pay for expedited retrieval.
|Amazon Glacier Retrieval Rates||Cost per GB:||Retrieval Time:|
|Standard:||$0.01 per GB and $0.05 per 1,000 requests||3-5 hours|
|Bulk:||$0.0025 per GB and $0.025 per request||5-12 hours|
|Expedited:||$0.03 per GB and $0.01 per request||1-5 minutes|
That’s not a huge problem for businesses or even home consumers looking for a more reliable backup solution than, say, Memopal or Degoo, two buggy services that frequently stall and have suspect approaches to customer support that leave you with more questions than answers.
Not only does Amazon have excellent support, Glacier is reliable for upload speeds and data integrity, thanks to a global data center network that spans 18 geographic regions around the world.
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 the 15-day CloudBerry Backup trial, but we’re biased there for reasons that will soon become clear.
What Makes the Best Backup Tool for Amazon Glacier?
Most online backup tools have their own servers. That’s true of Acronis True Image, Backblaze, SpiderOak 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. That makes for more limited options and congested, poorly-financed server networks.
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.
After that, we looked for features.
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 nobody, not even Jeff Bezos, can decrypt your files.
We also looked for clients that let you set file versioning. Versioning means as files are edited, copies from before those edits were made 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 of escaping a ransomware attack 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 True Image review), but, of the entries in this list, only CloudBerry Backup does the same.
Block-level backup and multi-threaded backup are two more features we kept in mind, both serving to speed up backup processes. Compression is another, though its purpose isn’t speed. It reduces the amount of space your files take on the back end, which saves you money.
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.
Best Backup for Amazon Glacier: CloudBerry Backup
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.
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.
Features of note include private, end-to-end encryption using AES 256-bit, in-transit encryption using the TLS protocol and customizable retention policies.
Those 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.
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.
CloudBerry Backup has block-level backup capabilities, too. With that enabled, whenever a file is altered, the entire file isn’t recopied to the server. Only the changed parts of the file get replaced, saving time and conserving resources.
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.
Other Reasons We Like CloudBerry Backup
In addition to Amazon Glacier, CloudBerry Backup pairs with over 50 different cloud providers. That includes IaaS options such as Amazon S3, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Backblaze, Rackspace and Wasabi. It includes traditional cloud storage providers such as OneDrive, Google Drive and Amazon Drive, too.
There are several CloudBerry Backup licenses available, each of which are perpetual. Desktop versions are available for Windows ($49.99), macOS ($29.99) and Linux ($29.99). Each has a freeware version, but those do not come with image-based backup, compression or encryption, among other features.
The free version is limited to 200GB of backup, while the paid versions are good for 5TB. If you need more, you’ll have to purchase the much more expensive CloudBerry Backup Ultimate for $299.99. That version can backup Windows Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server, so it’s more viable for business backup, at least.
Treat yourself with a 15-day free trial to see if CloudBerry Backup is the Amazon Glacier companion you’ve been looking for. You also get 10GB of free Amazon Glacier storage space, so that should be enough to put it through the paces.
- Supports over 50 cloud providers
- Excellent security
- Fast backup features
- 5TB minimum for desktop license
- More setup time required
To suggest that Arq Backup lacks the artistry of CloudBerry Backup is an understatement. It’s downright unattractive. The color scheme is gray and white, lines of text are cut off and many windows cannot be resized to improve visibility. Plus, the text is so small you might need a magnifying glass to make it out.
In other words, user experience isn’t at the forefront of the Arq team’s thinking. That said, the functionality is better. While it can only connect to a fraction of the cloud providers that CloudBerry supports, the options include Amazon Glacier.
The software packs a handful of useful features. Arq encrypts files before they leave your computer, so the folks at Amazon will have no idea what your encryption keys are and no way of decrypting them. 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 ensure that no funny business is going on, such as not encrypting metadata or sending your files to an underground cyber warfare bunker in Siberia.
Other features of note include block-level uploads to ensure only 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.
From what the folks at Arq tell us, the software scans files with a single thread, queues uploads, then uses multiple threads to speed the upload process up. If the scanning outpaces the upload process, scans halt until the queue shrinks to a manageable level.
Incremental versioned backups of files are kept, so you can reverse time in case of an unwanted change or file corruption. There’s no way to customize your versioning policy like you can with CloudBerry, though. Instead, everything is kept. That means more Glacier storage will be used, but it shouldn’t be a big problem since files are processed at block-level and compressed.
Other Reasons We Like Arq Backup
Aside from Glacier, Arq can backup data to Amazon S3, Google Cloud, Backblaze B2, Wasabi, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Amazon Drive. It is noticeably missing Microsoft Azure, though, which may be the most appealing of all cloud IaaS solutions, thanks to 52 data centers around the world (read our Microsoft Azure review).
The cost of Arq 5, the most recent version of the software, is $49.99 for a perpetual license. The license is good for one computer or one server. Both Windows and macOS versions are offered and there’s a 30-day trial that we recommend you take advantage of, especially since it’s the same price as you’ll be paying for a superior product in CloudBerry Backup.
- Supports eight cloud providers
- Private encryption
- Block-level backup
- Poorly designed UX
- Not user-friendly
- No Azure support
Duplicati takes a different approach from CloudBerry Backup and Arq in that the interface is 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.
Duplicati’s UX, like Arq’s, could use a makeover. In Duplicati’s case, it’s more understandable since it’s a free product, but the clunky design can take getting used to. Luckily, Duplicati has nice support resources to help you along.
The latest version of Duplicati doesn’t support Amazon Glacier directly. It supports Amazon S3, though, which you can use to connect to a Glacier Vault. Duplicati has instructions on how to do so if you need a helping hand.
When setting up 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 LastPass or Dashlane, just in case you forget it.
There’s an option to turn on SSL — Duplicati means TLS since SSL is defunct — which you should use unless you want a Mountain Dew-guzzling nerd living in a basement apartment posting your files to Reddit.
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.
Like Arq, Duplicati hasn’t included multi-threading as a feature. That means uploads will run slower than they will with CloudBerry Backup. Supposedly, the Duplicati development team is working on it, but without a published roadmap, we wouldn’t count on it in the near future.
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.
Other Reasons We Like Duplicati
Duplicati supports Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Backblaze B2, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Jottacloud, Mega and OneDrive as cloud destinations for backup. Hubic is supported, too, but in case you missed the news, it’s gone the way of smartphone holsters and fanny packs.
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 lead. As 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.
- Supports 12 cloud providers
- Private encryption
- No multi-threading
- Uninspired interface
CloudBerry Backup, Arq and Duplicati are the only backup services we’d recommend for use with Amazon Glacier, and only one of them is highly recommended. 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 for creating persistent backup relationships. Read our best file-transfer client article for more details.
The other option is to build a network drive connected to Amazon Glacier. A network drive resembles a lettered drive on your computer, except it stores files in the cloud instead of your hard drive.
We have an article about how to build a network drive, too, which works as well with Dropbox, Google Drive and other providers as it does with Glacier. As with cloud explorers, though, network drives take too much manual work to make them viable backup software.
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.