It’s not easy to choose the best online backup service: I’ve tested countless offerings from different companies over the years, and while each one has unique strengths and weaknesses, at the core they all seem to work the same way.
You subscribe to a service, install the software, tweak a few settings and then the program whisks your files away to a (hopefully) reliable and secure cloud.
CloudBerry Backup, however, is a completely different animal, unique from most of the other services in our online backup reviews library. Unlike traditional cloud backup services, CloudBerry does not include bundled storage space and will not store files. Since you’re probably scratching your head right now, let me explain.
The CloudBerry Backup software functions as a dashboard that allows you to create and manage backup plans for storage on other cloud platforms like:
- Amazon S3
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud Storage
- Backblaze B2
It allows you to choose a preferred storage provider and turns their raw storage space into a powerful, functional backup utility.
Though CloudBerry authenticates your accounts, all file transfers happen directly between your computer and the storage provider — CloudBerry never actually stores your data.
Who is CloudBerry Backup for?
Now, I imagine there are two types of people reading this review. Those with an IT background or cloud experience should be intrigued by the prospect of linking a variety of their cloud storage accounts and converting them into one powerful, flexible backup tool.
Anyone without experience in this specific area has probably never heard of most of the cloud storage platforms that CloudBerry supports.
If you’re in the second group, don’t worry. CloudBerry Backup definitely targets industry professionals and may not meet the needs of someone looking for a simple, no-fuss solution.
If you just want to make sure the kids’ soccer videos, that novel you never finished, or the thousands of pictures of your cat are safely backed up, look into solutions like CrashPlan or Backblaze who get the job done in a much simpler manner. Use our best cloud storage providers comparison tool to narrow down the field.
However, if you’re an IT pro with many cloud storage accounts, multiple computers and servers under management; or you need professional features that basic tools don’t offer, CloudBerry may just be the right solution.
CloudBerry Lab was founded in 2011 with the release of CloudBerry Explorer, a free tool for file browsing and management in Amazon S3. CloudBerry Backup launched one year later.
Since then, CloudBerry has continued to add additional features and functions while expanding to more cloud platforms, operating systems and databases.
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Image-based backup
- Support for many different platforms
- Local backup, cloud backup and direct cloud-to-cloud backup
- Restore images as VMs in the cloud (Amazon EC2 or Azure VM)
- Bare metal restore
- Restore backups to new and different hardware
- Data deduplication
- One-time payment
- No included storage
- Requires third-party storage
- Not for casual users
- No image-based backup
- No block-level backup with Linux or Mac
- No mobile apps
- No native sharing/syncing
- No telephone support
While most cloud backup providers charge a subscription for a certain number of computers and gigabytes, CloudBerry works and charges differently. Since there is no included storage, CloudBerry charges a one-time license purchase, instead of a subscription.
$ 2 00monthly
Sample storage pricing for Amazon S3. Actual prices may vary depending on your needs.
Since this includes no storage, it doesn’t represent your total backup costs. If you prefer using a separate cloud provider, the one-time license fee may be appreciated to avoid another subscription.
However, for those of us that hang on to a huge amount of data (I’m almost at 3TB and I know many of you have that beat), the lack of unlimited storage could mean higher prices even with low-cost options, like Amazon Glacier.
Since CloudBerry works differently, it has a number of features that stand out.
With zero storage space you must connect to one or more of the 65 (yes, 65!) supported storage destinations. The software also includes local and the rare cloud-to-cloud backup options. Backing up cloud storage often gets overlooked, but studies show up to 32 percent of companies report cloud data loss mostly due to human error.
With any paid version and a compatible storage provider, you can enable file encryption with the caveat that you cannot access encrypted files outside of CloudBerry’s software.
The server and database versions add many professional features, including direct-from-cloud restoration using a USB flash drive. Restoration also works on new or different hardware which helps greatly for migrations . To save space and bandwidth, CloudBerry utilizes block-level backups, synthetic full backups and supports compression (with certain providers).
One of the most impressive features of CloudBerry is its ability to restore server images to Hyper-V, VMware and even cloud-based virtual machines in Amazon EC2 or Azure VM. This means that in the event of a server crash, you could have a fully functional virtual server, running in the cloud within minutes.
It should be noted that while CloudBerry does support Mac and Linux, there are some limitations compared to the Windows version. CloudBerry does not presently support full image backups or block-level backup with Mac or Linux. Hopefully these features will find their way into a future release.
The huge array of features and options makes CloudBerry Backup a truly niche product. Those who know what they’re doing will absolutely love the power and flexibility, while those just looking for a basic backup tool will undoubtedly feel a bit overwhelmed.
Any time I test a new backup service, I always want to know how fast it is.
CloudBerry Backup again makes it hard to compare against traditional solutions in this category. Since all file transfers happen directly to the third-party, I immediately realized that my tests would not judge CloudBerry itself, but the other storage providers.
Regardless, I decided to test two services:
First, a quick check of my internet speeds shows fairly quick speeds with a download of almost 122 Mbps and upload around 34 Mbps.
Then I ran a backup and restoration with each service using a 5GB demo folder, filled with a mix of small and large files. The results were very good, but do show a best-case scenario. Since CloudBerry doesn’t support encryption or compression using either of my chosen services, I could not select those options, which would have slowed have slowed the process.
Speed test with 5GB test folder:
|Average upload||26.5 Mbit/s||19.5 Mbit/s|
|Average download||96 Mbit/s||81.2 Mbit/s|
|Total time upload||25:08||34:11|
|Total time download||6:56||8:12|
Google took the lead but both performed well. Further testing will be necessary to determine speeds on other platforms or with encryption and compression enabled.
Backing up in CloudBerry requires a lot of setup. You must individually add all cloud storage accounts, and then create custom backup plans. Although CloudBerry includes a few predefined plans, unless you only want to back up your “My Documents” folder these likely won’t meet your needs.
Creating a backup plan requires you to choose:
- Local to Cloud, Cloud to Cloud, or Cloud to Local
- Source storage provider
- Plan name
- Backup mode (Advanced, Simple, or Custom)
- Source folders
- Highly detailed advanced filter options (see image)
- Compression and encryption
- Custom retention policy
- Detailed scheduling
- Notification options
This list doesn’t even begin to drill down to the individual options available within each section. With such a high degree of control, CloudBerry Backup has only one major problem that happens to also be its greatest strength: choice.
While I usually think of choice as a wonderful thing, this much choice creates a bit of a dilemma.
I personally love having the extreme detail and granularity, but I can’t imagine recommending the product to anyone without an IT background. It’s just too complicated compared to many of the alternatives.
You can make CloudBerry a top-tier product when it comes to security, but the level of security depends on your choice of storage partner.
CloudBerry uses SSL encryption in transit, but the ability to encrypt on the source side and at-rest changes between providers. In my testing with Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive, CloudBerry indicated that client-side encryption was “not supported yet.”
With a compatible partner, CloudBerry supports up to 256-bit AES encryption on the client-side. As CloudBerry explains, many backup companies support only server-side encryption which presents some problems. You can’t control the encryption key or verify implementation, and anyone with your credentials (including sneaky, possible NSA double-agent employees of the backup company) could access your data.
In this way, CloudBerry’s client-side encryption can greatly enhance security at your storage provider. Without your personal encryption password, no one can see your files even if they gain access to your storage account. Make sure you don’t lose your password, or no one can help you.
Restoring files in CloudBerry Backup proved similar to backing up. Once the detailed configuration was complete, transfer rates were quick and approached my maximum bandwidth.
In order to configure a backup plan you have to choose:
- Storage account
- One time vs. scheduled
- Restore type
- Source files and folders
- Destination options
While some of these sound standard, take a look at some of the options. Once again, IT folks will love this level of control, but everyday users may wish for a simpler product.
Syncing, sharing and collaboration options do not exist within CloudBerry Backup itself. Once files get moved to your storage destination of choice, you can switch to that application directly for sharing and sync (if supported) only if you didn’t select encryption within CloudBerry.
Though I can imagine big development challenges, a CloudBerry cross-platform syncing and sharing tool with encryption support sounds great. Since I’m discussing a completely hypothetical product, maybe it can also do my taxes and order the perfect gift for my wife’s birthday.
A guy can dream.
CloudBerry has no mobile app. Just like the issues facing cross-platform syncing and collaboration, I can certainly imagine significant problems developing one app that could handle
mobile access to such a vast array of cloud storage providers.
Accessing third-party providers would require a degree of support and collaboration from the other companies which may not want clients straying from their own branded apps.
Also, a huge potential for problems exists as any one of these partners making changes could break access for CloudBerry. Most developers have enough to worry about with their own software, but CloudBerry would have to monitor their own plus keep tabs on all of their partners.
As much as a mobile app would bring added convenience, it’s easy to imagine why it hasn’t been developed yet.
CloudBerry Web Access only supports Amazon S3 and requires your PC or server to function as the host with CloudBerry Backup actively running. It’s not the most fully-features web portal we’ve seen, but it gets the job done.
CloudBerry uses a ticket-based support system initiated either from the website, within the software or via email.
I’m used to support tickets going unanswered for days with other providers, so my expectations were fairly low. I submitted a test ticket with a simple feature question on Friday at 1:31 p.m. and received an actual human response by 2:02 p.m.
Not too bad.
For the second test, I had received a backup failure due to insufficient space, but decided to play dumb and test CloudBerry’s after-hours support. Ticket number two went out at 9:20 p.m. on Saturday evening and I planned to wait until Monday morning for a response.
Surprisingly, I received one at 5:30 a.m. the next morning from a tech who actually reviewed my attached error logs and answered correctly.
While this second response took a bit longer, it still impressed me considering it was after-hours on a weekend.
Overall, I was fairly impressed with CloudBerry’s support system, though I did not have the opportunity to make use of the service’s phone support line.
CloudBerry Backup proved difficult to review and compare to traditional cloud backup tools. It’s a fundamentally different type of product and ultimately I’m still a bit divided. The IT guy in me loves the chance to roll up my sleeves up and tweak an endless array of options and settings.
The “provides-free-IT-support-to-friends-and-family” part of me realizes I can’t recommend CloudBerry to a non-technical user, without configuring and supporting it all by myself. Basically, when my mother-in-law needs to backup, I’m going to recommend something simple, like Backblaze.
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with being different. CloudBerry Backup knows their target audience well and has crafted a unique tool to meet their particular needs. While it may not be the right solution for everyone, it absolutely succeeds in doing what it was designed to do.
Thanks for reading and if you have thoughts and opinions on CloudBerry Backup be sure to jump into the conversation in the comment section below.