Duplicati isn’t a standard backup service. It doesn’t come with backup space, but instead provides you with a web client that lets you manage your backup on a cloud service. That’s a blessing or a curse, depending on your IT knowledge and willingness to tinker. If you’d like a simple service that makes it easy to backup your data, consult our best online backup list.
If you’re excited about the prospect of managing your backup the way you want, note that Duplicati can connect to more than 20 cloud providers. It’s also open source and free. That doesn’t mean it’s a weak product. On the contrary, it has strong and private encryption, a backup scheduler, the ability to backup to local and external drives and quick speeds, to boot.
Because it’s free, it lacks a dedicated team of support technicians ready to help solve your problems. That said, there’s an active forum where you can ask for help. There are no mobile apps, though, so those who want to access their backup on the go should look elsewhere.
If you’re interested in learning more about the service, stick with us as we get into the details in this Duplicati review.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Multiple cloud options
- Software is free
- Backup scheduling
- Client-side encryption
- Local backup options
- Weak support
- Storage sold separately
- Limited cloud options
- Harder for laymen
- No mobile apps
Alternatives for Duplicati
Duplicati doesn’t provide backup space like standard online backup providers do. Rather, it only gives you the means to backup data. You’ll have to take care of the backup space. That’s extra work, and mainstream users probably won’t like it.
On the other hand, if you’re a power user, organizing your backup space the way you see fit is a plus. You get many providers to choose from, so you have access to better deals and you can tweak your backup the way you want.
Duplicati works with 21 cloud services. They include cloud infrastructure services, such as Amazon S3, Backblaze B2 and Google Cloud, as well as cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and MEGA. You can find all of those on our best cloud storage providers comparison list.
You can choose to set your own servers as a destination and connect to Duplicati using FTP, its more secure variant SFTP or WebDAV. If you don’t know what those protocols mean, read our guides to FTP and WebDAV.
Duplicati also supports backup to local external drives and servers. That’s good if you’re someone who wants to implement the 3-2-1 backup rule, which takes into account local and cloud backup.
Duplicati creates a full backup initially. Afterward, it updates it by adding only the parts of the data that have changed. That’ll save you time and space, and the backup size usually grows slowly. The whole process is called “continuous backup.” We’ll talk more about the backup and restore processes below.
Duplicati also has advanced options that are commonly associated with proprietary cloud backup services. They include the ability to schedule backups, set versioning policies and encrypt files. If you like to tinker you can add more options, such as zip encryption level, scripts that run at certain points in the chain and emails that are sent after the backup completes.
The retention policy lets you keep a custom number of versions. You can specify how often Duplicati should keep old backups in days, weeks, months or years. If you don’t want to wrestle with that, you can use smart backup, which saves one backup for each of the last seven days, each of the last four weeks and each of the last 12 months.
Otherwise, you can choose to automatically delete backups older than a specific value or keep a specific number of backups.
System administrators and other individuals who are inclined to use the command line can do so by using the command line executable for Duplicati. It allows you to add backup features to your scripts or run backups in a terminal window.
For more information about cloud backup dive into our online backup library.
Duplicati Features Overview
|External Drive Backup|
|Mobile Device Backup|
|Block-Level File Copying|
|Courier Recovery Service|
|Mobile App Access|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Encryption Protocol||AES 256-bit|
|Hardened Data Centers||n/a|
|Proxy Server Settings|
|Live Chat Support|
Duplicati itself is free and open source software that you can download from duplicati.com. There are no barriers if you want to give it a try.
If you want to use cloud storage as a destination for your backup, though, you’ll need to choose a provider. Depending on how much you need to backup, that’ll cost you. You can’t rely on free plans because they don’t provide much storage.
How much it’ll cost depends on which service you go with and how much space you need. Assuming you need 1TB of space, consult the table below to see popular options.
- : Flat fee
- : Flat fee
- : Flat fee
- : Flat fee
- : Flat fee
- : $0.0059 per GB per month
- : 0.023 per GB per month
- : 0.005 per GB per month
- : 0.020 per GB per month
The prices for Wasabi, Amazon S3, Backblaze B2 and Google Cloud in the table above are simplified and reflect only how much each service charges per gigabyte of storage per month.
All are services that only require you to pay for the storage you use, but charge for data transfers, too.
You can check out our Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Backblaze B2 comparison article to see how those services stack up to one another. To learn more about Wasabi, read our Wasabi review. If you’re leaning toward Google’s product, read our Google Cloud review.
Though some of those offers give you 1TB for $60 per year, they still can’t beat Backblaze’s $5 unlimited plan for home users. You can learn more about it in our Backblaze review.
Those who need more options than Duplicati offers can give CloudBerry Backup a try. CloudBerry Backup can connect to more than 60 providers, but note that the desktop version costs $49.99, and that doesn’t include the price of the cloud storage provider you choose. Read more about CloudBerry Backup in our Cloudberry Backup review.
Ease of Use
You need to download the Duplicati desktop client to use the service, but you’ll use the browser most of the time. The desktop client is available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
The web app has a minimal interface that’s easy to use. The left side contains the navigation buttons, which let you access the homepage, add a backup, restore files, tweak settings and read the “about” page.
The experience is simple. When you create a backup you follow the steps and choose the options you need, just like with a basic installer app. We’ll talk more about the backup and restore processes in the next section.
We compared it to Cloudberry Backup in the previous section, but the user experience of the two services is quite different. Duplicati is much more friendly and simpler to use, but it’s still more complicated than Backblaze and Carbonite. Both Backblaze and Carbonite automate most of the backup and restore process, so you don’t have to do much of the work.
Duplicati doesn’t have mobile apps, so if you need to check your backup from your smartphone, it’s better to pick one of the mainstream online backup services.
File Backup & Restoration
To create a backup plan, click the “add backup” button.
You can choose to configure a new backup or import a configuration from a file. If you select the former, you’ll be sent to a screen where you can set general backup settings.
Name your backup plan, choose an encryption level and set a strong passphrase, then click “next.”
The next step requires you to select a backup destination. You can choose a local or remote one. Local storage gives you the option to select a local folder or drive. For remote, you can choose a cloud storage provider or connect to your own server using one of the available protocols.
We chose Google Drive for our test. If you do so you need to authorize Duplicati to interact with Google Drive by clicking the “authID” link.
Once you do, you can test the connection with Google Drive by clicking “test connection.”
The following step requires you to choose content for backup. Duplicati doesn’t preselect files or folders based on type so you have to make selections manually. That said, you can add filters to include and exclude certain files.
You can include files based on extension using regular expressions and exclude hidden, system and temporary files, as well as files larger than a certain size.
Next, you can set your backup to run on a schedule. You can run backups after a set number of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years. You can also choose which days of the week backups are allowed to run on.
The last screen lets you set a retention policy. You can choose to keep all previous backup versions, a specific number of them, use smart retention or delete backups older than a certain date.
That’s all you need to do to create a backup plan. If you’ve set your backups to run automatically, they should start on the schedule you’ve chosen. If not, you need to start manually by clicking the “run now” button.
Duplicati Backup Speed
Depending on how much data you have to backup, the initial backup can take a long time. Hundreds of gigabytes might take days or weeks to complete, depending on your internet service provider and how far you are from a server.
After the initial backup, the transfers will be much faster thanks to Duplicati’s block-level file copying algorithm and continuous backup. The block level copying algorithm helps select and transfer only the parts of the file that have changed since the last backup, rather than whole files.
To restore files, click the “restore” button in the web client. From there, you can choose to restore files using a configuration file, directly from your backup file or from your backup plan.
The next window lets you select files you want to restore. For us, it’s only a single zipped folder we used for testing.
You can choose to restore files to their original location and overwrite those with the same name or save different versions. Otherwise, you can restore to a different location. Once you’re ready, click the “restore” button to start the process.
Duplicati will put a progress bar at the top of the screen to show the status of your restore. After the restore finishes, Duplicati will notify you and ask you to make a donation. The process works well and has a lot of options that you can use to enhance it. You can consult the speed table in the next section to see our test results.
In general, how fast your backup runs depends on your ISP and how close you are to one of the cloud backup service provider’s servers. In this case, though, that won’t be Duplicati, but the service that provides the storage space. That said, how fast Duplicate compresses and encrypts files will be a factor, too.
We tested Duplicati’s transfer speeds by connecting it to Google Drive and uploading and downloading a 1GB zipped folder. Our tests were done using an Ethernet connection in Belgrade, Serbia, that had an upload speed of 6 megabits per second and a download speed of 100 Mbps.
Considering that, we expected it to take about 21 minutes to upload and about a minute to download without any overhead.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
Our tests were similar to what we expected. Average upload time was 25 minutes and 23 seconds, while download, surprisingly, only took 40 seconds on average. That’s thanks to Google Drive’s global network of servers.
If you find that Duplicati’s transfers take too much of your bandwidth, you can throttle them by clicking the speedometer icon at the top of the web client.
You can turn on encryption while you’re creating your backup plan. The first step in the backup process lets you choose between no encryption, GNU Privacy Guard and AES 256-bit. We recommend using AES 256-bit because it’s the standard for encryption when transferring to the cloud. It hasn’t been cracked as far as anyone knows.
If you want to encrypt your data, you need to set a password. Duplicati will tell you if your password is weak and give you the option to generate a strong password if you don’t know how to create one.
Duplicati encrypts your data locally before transferring it to a server. Your password never leaves your computer. Because of that, Duplicati qualifies as zero-knowledge encryption. With zero-knowledge encryption, no one but you will be able to read your files. You can also turn on the SSL protocol to protect your data from man-in-the-middle attacks.
That’s all the security that depends on Duplicati. The rest will depend on the cloud service you use. You should pick a service that has hardened data centers. Fortunately, most of them do. Some services don’t encrypt data, such as Amazon Drive, so enable encryption with Duplicati.
Your privacy will rely on Duplicati and the service you choose to host your data. For an example of a service that has strong privacy, read our Sync.com review.
Duplicati collects information about you when you register with the website and participate in the forums. It uses that information to improve the website and customer service and send you periodic emails.
Duplicati uses many security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information, but note that website administrators have full access to messages on the website, including private messages.
The service doesn’t sell, trade or otherwise transfer your personal information to third parties. That doesn’t include trusted third parties that help Duplicati run its website, though, so long as they agree to keep the information confidential. Duplicati may also release information to comply with the law or protect the rights and safety of others.
The support category is the biggest difference between Duplicati and the rest of the backup services. That’s because Duplicati doesn’t have a dedicated technical support team, which means no email, chat or phone support. To be fair, though, Duplicati is open source and free, so it can’t afford to pay them.
What it has instead is a support forum where other users will help you fix your problem. Among the users are Duplicati developers and other IT experts. Response times are generally good, with most topics receiving an answer the same day they were posted.
Duplicati offers a smooth user experience, even though it takes IT gymnastics to set up your backup. Advanced IT users won’t be affected, though. Those who want a streamlined experience should find a more suitable service.
That said, Duplicati is free, and if you choose a storage service that’s not expensive, you can save money. If you choose one with a global network of servers, you’ll achieve fast speeds, too, because Duplicati encrypts and compresses files quickly.
The backup and restore process isn’t difficult and has the standard options we like to see when using a backup service. Duplicati is also secure because it uses strong encryption to protect your files.
What are your thoughts on Duplicati? Do you lean more toward a service that includes storage? If you already use a backup service, let us know which one in the comments below. Thank you for reading.