Arq Backup Review

Arq provides a lot of great features and works well, but needs some lessons in user friendliness.

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By Joseph Gildred
— Last Updated: 17 Aug'18
2017-09-15T02:37:47+00:00
Table of Contents Rating
Features
78%
Good
Pricing
75%
Good
Ease of Use
65%
Decent
File Backup & Restoration
70%
Decent
Speed
75%
Good
Security & Privacy
75%
Good
Support
78%
Good

Good
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During this review, we’ll be taking a look at Arq Backup, a desktop solution available for both Windows and Mac.

Arq provides a measure of versatility that you won’t find with all-in-one options like Backblaze, letting you turn cloud storage services like Dropbox and OneDrive into a backup provider, much like Cloudwards.net favorite CloudBerry Backup does.

However, compared to the features and look described in our CloudBerry Backup review, Arq falls a little short. While certainly capable of getting the job done, Arq comes across as dated and won’t appeal to many users.

If that includes you, we’d recommend checking our best online backup roundup for some niftier ideas. Otherwise, keep reading to find out what Arq Backup is all about.   

Alternatives for Arq Backup

Starts from$ 434monthly for 2000 GB
  • Unlimited device backup
  • Inexpensive plans
  • Sync capabilities
  • File-sharing capabilities
  • Harder to use than Backblaze
  • No unlimited backup plan
  • No two-factor authentication
  • Not multithreaded backup
$ 200monthly for 100 GB
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Image-based backup
  • Multi-platform support
  • No included storage
  • Not for casual users
  • No mobile app
$ 396monthly for Unlimited GB
  • Unlimited backup
  • Low cost
  • Very easy to use
  • Backup by file type
  • Limited to one computer
  • No mobile backup
  • Versioning limited to 30 days

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Storage agnostic
  • Online & local backup
  • Good encryption
  • Runs deduplication
  • No file-size limits
  • File versioning
  • Incremental backups

Weaknesses:

  • Not many storage options
  • Application is poorly designed
  • No image-based backup

Features

78% - Good

Arq provides a backup client that can be used with several different storage options, including some of our best cloud storage providers, like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive. That lets you turn ordinary cloud storage into online backup, taking advantage of Arq’s automatic backup scheduling, encryption, de-duplication and restore capabilities.

The client handles backup reasonably well and doesn’t limit the size or type of files you can backup. However, it takes a bit more work to manage than a more consumer-friendly tool like Backblaze (check out our Backblaze review for more on that), and hasn’t nearly as many features as CloudBerry Backup or Duplicati, both of which take a similar, agnostic “choose-your-own storage” approach.

Missing features include disk-image backup and mobile capabilities.

Pricing

75% - Good

Arq software can be purchased for a one-time fee of $49.95. This will grant you a lifetime, transferable license that can be used for your computer or server. You can try the service out for free for 30 days, too.

It’s important to understand that Arq doesn’t come with any online backup space. This will be a separate purchase that will likely require a monthly or annual subscription. Far from being a con, however, this approach actually provides Arq with a good deal more flexibility than all-in-one online backup options like Carbonite and IDrive.

There are eight cloud options available at the moment: Amazon Drive, Amazon S3/Glacier, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud, Backblaze B2, OneDrive and Wasabi and any S3-compatible server. You can also backup to your NAS device or a file server if you want to keep a backup on site.

While the selection will probably suit most users just fine, it’s not nearly as impressive as the fifty-plus available with CloudBerry Backup. A CloudBerry Backup desktop license is also cheaper, costing just $29.99.  

Ease of Use

65% - Decent

Arq desktop clients are available for Windows and Mac. Installation only takes a minute. When you start it up, Arq will walk you through the basic steps of setting up your backup plan, though many settings will need to be tweaked later on.

The tool itself is pretty straightforward if you have some technical knowledge, but it does feel somewhat like a relict of the past (think 1995). It certainly won’t win any beauty awards. If you really don’t want to work to maintain your backup plan, you’d be better off going with a service like Backblaze or Carbonite, neither of which require that you configure your own storage.

Or, if you like the idea of picking and configuring your own storage, CloudBerry Backup gives you more options, is more user friendly and looks much prettier.

One issue we discovered with the tool is that the edit destination pane was too big for our computer screen, causing some of the options to scrunched. There’s no way to change the size so that it will appear in screen and there isn’t a vertical scroll option to move down, either, so we weren’t able to alter our “budget” settings (see image, below).

Arq doesn’t have any mobile apps for accessing your data.

File Backup & Restoration

70% - Decent

After you install Arq, the first thing it will ask you to do is select a backup destination.

As mentioned, there are eight different cloud storage options available that you can select from. SFTP backup to your own server is another option, as is backup to an external drive or NAS device.

For our tests, we set up a backup plan using Amazon S3. To do that, we had to generate security credentials for our S3 account. If you’d like to learn how to do that, we have a getting started with Amazon S3 guide you can check out.

The wizard then prompts us to create a storage bucket on one of the many Amazon S3 servers.

Afterwards, you’ll need to set up an encryption password. This is a private password that only you know. As such, if you forget it, you’ll lose access to your backup.

Arq automatically selects the C drive to backup. However, you can choose additional folders and change your backup schedule if you want to. You can add exclusions to your backup by file or folder name, including file extension. 

Backups are run every hour by default and are run incrementally, so only changes since the last backup are processed. You can alter the schedule from the destinations preferences pane by double-clicking on your destination.

You choose to back based on a set duration, back once a day a specific time or only run manual backups. From the advanced preferences pane, you can also select an option called “thin backups from hourly to daily to weekly.” By doing so, Arq will save all of your hourly backups for the last 24 hours, all of your daily backups from the past month and weekly backups.

Arq automatically performs de-duplication when backing up so that the same file content isn’t stored multiple times. You can restore files by using the restore hierarchy on the left side. Your files will appear in the center pane. Select what you want and click the “restore” button near the bottom.

Arc also lets you restore previous versions of files. All previous versions of files are stored, which is great. There’s no way to create a versioning policy, but storing that many versions shouldn’t be an issue because Arq processes backups incrementally, only copying the parts of files that changed rather than the entire file.  

Speed

75% - Good

The speed at which Arq backups files up will depend on what cloud service you choose to backup to. In our case, we choose to backup to an Amazon S3 server in Virginia, which was relatively close to the destination the tests were run in (just outside of Boston, MA).

Our WiFi connection speed at the time the tests were run was around 12 Mbps up and 220 Mbps down. For testing, we used a 1GB test folder comprised of various different file types.



 Test 1:Test 2:Average:
Upload:15:3013:1514:22
Download:8:328:328:34


These times were within the range of what we would have expected. Again, though, that’s as much a factor of Amazon S3 as it is Arq, so take them with a grain of salt.

Security & Privacy

75% - Good

Arq lets you set up private encryption so that your files are scrambled prior to leaving your computer and are decrypted until your restore them. That way, no matter what storage provider you decide to use, that provider will never be able to read or scan your files.

The level of encryption used is 256-bit AES.  

Beyond that, the level of security and privacy you get will depend on the storage provider you choose. All of the options available store data on RAID servers in secure data centers designed to withstand natural disasters and physical and virtual attacks. So, you data should be pretty safe regardless of whichever you choose.

Support

78% - Good

Support for Arq can be obtained by email [email protected] Arq states that it tries to answer all requests within one business day. We put that to the test by emailing a few test questions to Arq support. Responses were received within the allotted timeframe, even on a Saturday.

There are no live support options for Arq, even for business customers. However, the quick response times should get most issues resolved quickly. Support for storage issues will go through your preferred cloud service, anyway.

Arq does have a documentation center if you prefer to figure things out on yourself. However, there are only a handful of articles and no search option. Those articles that are available are well done, though, with straightforward instructions and screenshots.

The Verdict

It’s hard to shake the impression that Arq was designed entirely by an engineer. It has that certain utilitarian look. Arq Backup isn’t a particularly bad backup tool, but there are far better options out there: we recommend any novice user check out our online backup reviews for an overview.

For a tool with similar capabilities, that’s CloudBerry Backup. If you’re a Mac user, check out our article on Time Machine vs. Arq vs. Duplicati vs. CloudBerry Backup.

If you really want to take full advantage of the cloud, Backblaze and IDrive are both much better options that will likely cost you less money, once the price of storage is factored in.

We’d love to hear from our readers on their own Arq experiences, good or bad, so please feel free to hit us up in the comments below. And, as always, thanks for reading.

Backup

Backup Scheduler
Continuous Backup
Incremental Backup
Image-Based Backup
External Drive Backup
NAS Backup
Server Backup
Hybrid Backup
Mobile Device Backup
Unlimited Backup
Unlimited Devices
Speed Throttling
Block-Level File Copying
Multithreaded Backup

Restore

Courier Recovery Service
Browser Access
Mobile App Access
Versioning
Deleted File Retention

Security

Private Encryption
At-Rest Encryption
In-Transit Encryption
Encryption Protocol
AES 256
Two-Factor Authentication
n/a
Hardened Data Centers
n/a
Proxy Server Settings
HIPPA Compliant
n/a

Support

24/7 Support
Live Chat Support
Telephone Support
Email Support
User Forum
Knowledgebase

Misc

File Sharing
Device Sync
Free Trial
30
Arq

Arq Review

An old-school backup service that isn't aimed at novices

Arq provides a lot of great features and works well, but needs some lessons in user friendliness.

4 thoughts on “Arq Backup”

  1. I’ve been trying Arq as a possible replacement for CrashPlan. I’m probably going to abandon it, hoping that Cloudberry will serve my needs better.

    Arq makes a big deal about using a standard backup format. I don’t know whether this means that other cloud backup programs can read its archives. I’d be interested in comments on this.

    Your feature list for Arq says “Keeps deleted files: 30”. I suggest that you list this in the Cons section at the top.

    You noted problems with a window too large for a small screen. I had a different problem with fixed size windows. I usually run my Windows display magnification at 125%. This caused clipping, and forced me to adjust some settings blindly using tab and enter. Support response was “Arq does not support display scaling on Windows”. Duh! This fits your “looks like 1995” judgement: no scrolling or resizing.

    Scheduling of local and cloud backups play poorly together. If the cloud backup takes weeks (and mine was going to), no other backup runs in the mean time. I set the pause option on the cloud backup to give my local backup a chance to run, but it turns out that the pause option, despite being in the destination options, is actually an application option and does not permit a different backup to start. Support could only suggest “periodically stop Arq” to allow the local backup. This of course is unacceptable, since it can result in files not being backed up for weeks. Manual action for backups is completely unacceptable. (My rule: Backup Is Boring, and won’t happen if you have to think about it.)

    Arq cannot sent email notifications using the usual port 465, even though a mail client on the same computer was using this port. Instead, Arq requires port 587. Support did provide this information. However, not all providers accept this port for SMTP: fastmail.com does, but yahoo.com does not.

    After a sequence of reconfiguring the backup schedule, ArqAgent started using 100% of one CPU. Support response was “set the log level to Debug, then” email the log file. Of course I could not do the latter, since the problem, though serious, was not reproducible. Applications should by default maintain information to diagnose major problems (though failure to do so is common).

  2. I use Arq because there are no alternatives, but I am not happy with it.

    I have a problem with Arq using 100% of a core. They claim to be windows native, but that is not true. Its a .Net application.

    The open source code was created by Arq, so its really just public documentation of their proprietary format.

    The other negative is that it scans for file changes which can take 15 minutes and peg a CPU core, and has no real-time support. So scheduling once per hour is just a resource hog. I have to schedule at 4 hour intervals.

  3. I’ve been using Arq on our Macs for about 10 years. Arq has grown their service markedly since the early days and the customer support is beyond excellent.

    I’m currently backing up three Macs to a Dropbox account.

    I’ve tried multiple other services including BackBlaze, Spider Oak, Carbonite, etc. Some offer a few features that I’d like to see in Arq, but I’ve always returned to Arq (actually, never left it, just trialed the others).

    Pricing is more than reasonable, and although I’ve only had a few questions or concerns over the years, they were addressed by Arq support immediately. That means a lot in my book.

    If you’re looking for a lot of “eye candy” in an application you may be disappointed. I’m more impressed with what works and works well and is professionally supported.

    I can highly recommend Arq.

    1. Thanks for the input, RSA. I probably gave ARQ too cursory a look because the design looks about 30 years old. I’ll consider taking another look at it. Certainly, some of the providers you’ve mentioned – SpiderOak, Carbonite and even Backblaze – have some speed issues. Have you tried CloudBerry Backup? It’s a bit like Arq in that it’s a “choose-your-own-cloud” backup provider, with support for Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Azure and about fifty other services. It has quite a few more features than Arq, too. Check out our review (there’s a free trial): https://www.cloudwards.net/review/cloudberry-backup/
      I’ll look at giving Arq another look, myself. Best of luck.

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Arq

Arq Review

An old-school backup service that isn't aimed at novices

Arq provides a lot of great features and works well, but needs some lessons in user friendliness.
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