There’s nothing quite like a NAS device to cue our nerd feelsies. Whether you’re using one to run your own personal cloud storage system to host your movie collection or to backup your business data, network-attached storage devices are both trendy and utilitarian — just like a pair of camouflage cargo shorts.
There’s no question that transferring data to and from a NAS device is faster than working with the cloud. However, as we’ve detailed elsewhere, the best approach to file hosting — whether for cloud storage or online backup — is to employ both approaches.
The reasoning is simple: while pushing files locally may be faster, NAS devices are more prone to damage than cloud servers. On top of that, for those that need to work on the move, cloud servers tend to be more readily accessible remotely thanks to backup power sources and onsite engineers.
However, while the merits of keeping data both locally and remote may be quite clear in theory, those merits tend to blur fast in the face of adversity (i.e., too much work). The key is finding an online backup service that supports hybrid backup by managing both local and remote backup processes for you. The good news is that the options include two of the best online backup options available today: read about them in our IDrive review and CloudBerry Backup review.
During this guide, we’ll give you glimpse into the NAS backup process with both services, helping on your way to getting your NAS data in the cloud where it’ll be safe from the ravages of both time and spilled beverages.
IDrive NAS Backup
Whether you’re considering IDrive Personal or IDrive Business as your online backup provider, both offer backup for NAS devices. In fact, IDrive is one of the most platform-friendly services available, able to backup unlimited computers and smartphones, too. It’s for that reason that we feature IDrive prominently in our best online backup for business guide (you can read our IDrive for Business review for more info, as well).
The first thing you need to do to start backing up your NAS with IDrive is to sign-up for an account and download the client software. IDrive doesn’t offer a free trial, but it does have a forever-free 5GB plan. That’s not going to be enough to protect your NAS, but it will be enough to make sure you like the service before paying more.
1-year plan $ 4.34 / month
$52.12 billed every year
2-year plan $ 4.34 / month
$104.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$74.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$149.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$74.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 6.22 / month
$149.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 12.47 / month
$149.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 12.47 / month
$299.25 billed every 2 years
1-year plan $ 31.22 / month
$374.62 billed every year
2-year plan $ 31.22 / month
$749.25 billed every 2 years
One of the conveniences offered by IDrive is that there are two different ways you can backup NAS data: as a mapped drive or using a dedicated NAS app.
IDrive Mapped Drive Backup
Backing up your NAS as a mapped drive requires use of the standard IDrive desktop client. The process is pretty simple: it’s just like backing up your hard drive.
With your NAS setup, it should show up as a drive in your file system if you’ve taken steps to map it (see the section on how to map NAS devices, below). To add this drive to your IDrive backup, start by clicking on the client’s “backup” tab. The center pane shows the drives and folders already added to your backup plan.
To add your NAS device, click the “change” button near the bottom. This will let you alter your backup plan, including adding new file locations like your mapped drive.
Once added, your NAS drive will start backing up to the cloud.
IDrive NAS Apps
IDrive actually makes dedicated, browser-based apps designed to backup specific NAS devices. You’ll find apps for four of the top brands: Synology, QNAP, Netgear and Asustor.
Using a dedicated app maintains IDrive’s high security standards, including 256-bit AES in-transit and at-rest encryption, plus the option for private encryption. Browser-based apps also let you create multiple backup sets, schedule backup and track activity with logs.
Setup generally requires performing some configurations. For example, with Synology, you’ll need to log into your device as an admin and download and install a specific .spk file for your device.
IDrive does a nice job of walking you through the required steps for each supported NAS device on its website:
- Synology Backup Instructions
- QNAP Backup Instructions
- Netgear Backup Instructions
- Asustor Backup Instructions
If you’d like to keep things simple, though, just go with mapped backup.
IDrive Express & NAS Backup
Before we get to CloudBerry Backup, it’s worth mentioning one more critical benefit to using IDrive to backup your NAS: IDrive Express.
IDrive Express is a courier service that can be used for both loading data into the cloud and getting it back. For backup, IDrive will send you a 3TB external drive that you can load your NAS data onto. Mail it back, and IDrive technicians will load it directly onto the server for you.
The advantage is that initial backups over the Internet, particularly for large amounts of data, can take weeks to complete. Loading your data onto a drive, mailing it to IDrive and letting someone plug into the server and load it directly takes just a few days.
The same is true of data recovery. By letting IDrive load your data onto an external drive and mail it to you, you can greatly reduce your disaster recovery timeframe. For someone trying to run a business, that’s a big deal.
Even better, unlike the handful of other online backups that provide courier service, IDrive does all of this for free once a year for personal users and three times a year for business users.
CloudBerry NAS Backup
CloudBerry Backup is a bit of a different animal than IDrive and similar services in that it the company doesn’t actually provide any server space to backup your data. Instead, you get software that can be configured to work with a variety of different cloud services.
Options include IaaS picks popular with business like Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Backblaze B2. Altogether, CloudBerry Backup works with over fifty different services right now, far outpacing similar roll-your-own backup tools, like we discuss in our Arq Backup review and Duplicati review.
Before you backup your NAS device using CloudBerry Backup, then, you’ll need to find a suitable storage service.
If you’re looking to save money and plan on mostly using your NAS device for file access, go with a service like Amazon Glacier which is designed for archiving. It’s slower, but also cheaper. If you need faster access but still want to save, Backblaze B2 is great budget choice, too. It costs just $0.005 cents per gigabyte per month, which is only marginally more than Glacier.
You’ll also need to purchase a software license from CloudBerry Labs. Each license applies to only one computer, but that includes as many NAS storage devices as you want. A Windows desktop client costs just $29.99. Business users may also want to consider a server edition.
You can try out any CloudBerry Backup client with a 15-day free trial to make sure it fits with your backup strategy. CloudBerry Backup also has standalone clients for Synology and QNAP, but neither are supported any longer.
Once you’ve downloaded the software and settled on a cloud provider to serve as your backup repository, everything else is pretty simple if you have your NAS mapped.
Start the CloudBerry Backup client and click the “files” button on the top left. A window will pop-up with two options: “local or cloud backup” and “hybrid backup.”
Choose hybrid. Added to CloudBerry’s feature set in May, 2017, hybrid backup reduces process time by first uploading your NAS device, then copying files from your NAS to the cloud. By combining everything into one backup process, you don’t have to create and manage two separate backup plans. This saves time and puts much less strain on your computer resources, too.
You’ll need to input the path to your NAS device clicking “add new account” on the next screen and choosing the location you’ve mapped your device to.
Then, you’ll need to select your cloud storage service and likely input some access keys that will have to be obtained from that service. Our getting-started guides for Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure will help you with that side of the equation.
After that, you can set a backup schedule and enable useful features like file compression, block-level backup and local encryption. For a closer look at the process involved, check out our article on setting up hybrid backup for SMBs, featuring CloudBerry Backup.
How to Map NAS Devices in Windows
Both IDrive (if you don’t use the NAS app) and CloudBerry Backup work best if your NAS devices be mapped prior to backup. With that in mind, here are a few pointers on doing that. For Windows 10, the process is pretty straightforward. Open your file explorer and select “this PC.” Then, at the top of the window, click the “map network drive” button.
Select the drive letter you want to use and click browse. Then, pick the NAS shared folder location you want to map. This requires that you’ve mounted your NAS already, so that it shows up in your file system. Your NAS provider will provide instructions on doing that.
Click “finish” and your NAS device should be mapped. From then on, you can select it just like another drive for backup.
Alternatively, many NAS manufacturers include mapping capabilities in their software. For example, using Synology Assistant, you can map a shared folder to a drive letter by using a simple wizard process.
Either way, mapping your NAS folders to a drive letter shouldn’t cause many problems for Windows users.
IDrive and CloudBerry Backup are two excellent and relatively inexpensive choices for NAS backup, but there are other options. CrashPlan provides unlimited NAS backup for Mac and Linux systems, making it one such choice. Our guide to the best online backup for NAS providers will provide a few more ideas.
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By backing up your NAS to the cloud, you’ll be following the golden rule of data backup, known as the 3-2-1 rule:
- Keep at least three copies of your data
- Maintain copies on at least two different mediums (i.e., devices)
- Keep at least one copy offsite
For home users, this provides a measure of assurance that the family photos stored in your NAS won’t be lost in a flood, fire or toddler tantrum. For SMB users, it means your business won’t implode unexpectedly. NAS storage devices are a tremendous convenience, but that convenience comes at a cost. Insuring your NAS data with backup to the cloud is the smart thing to do.
Got questions or comments? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for reading!