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Duplicati Review

Duplicati is an open-source backup manager that’s been in development since 2008. Over the years, it’s grown to support many platforms and storage services without compromising security or privacy, although it still lacks in areas. Read this full Duplicati review to learn if this backup management tool is right for you.

Robin Barber
By Robin Barber (Associate Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-11-27T12:12:14+00:00 Facts checked by Eugenie Tiu

Backing up your data is the best way to keep it safe from accidents and disasters. However, most online backup providers bundle backup management tools and cloud storage space into a single plan. If you want the tools to manage multiple backups across several cloud storage providers, read this Duplicati review to learn about this solution.

Key Takeaways:

  • Duplicati is a free and open-source backup management service. 
  • It doesn’t come with its own storage, but instead allows you to connect a separate cloud storage provider.
  • It has plenty of features, plus easy backup and restore processes.
  • Duplicati has great privacy and security, including private encryption.

One of the best parts about Duplicati is that it’s open source; this means it’s free. The code is open for anyone to inspect or submit suggested changes, and you can even make additions if you know how to program with C#. It also comes with a hefty feature set, if you can navigate the “advanced options” menu.

Although Duplicati is a solid program — one of the best backup services overall — there are downsides that come with being free and open source. The key issue is the lack of customer support that comes with free products, whereas a paid alternative, like Acronis Cyber Protect, can have a far better support system (read our Acronis Cyber Protect review).

  • 11/23/2021 Facts checked

    Cloudwards.net performed a fresh review of Duplicati, including new images and our new standardized speed test.

  • Duplicati is one of the best backup services if you want the option to pick the cloud storage provider for each backup plan and don’t mind the lack of customer support.

  • Duplicati gives you the option to add zero-knowledge encryption to your backup. This means neither Duplicati nor the cloud services you choose are able to access the data you store in your backup, unless you hand over the passphrase.

  • Duplicati 2 is a complete rewrite of the original Duplicati. This was done to remove many of the inefficiencies and flaws that came from using code originally intended to just be a graphical interface for Duplicity — a similar program that was popular at the time.

Duplicati Review: Alternatives

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Duplicati Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Works with most storage providers
  • Completely free
  • Large feature set
  • Easy to get started 

Cons:

  • Limited customer support
  • No mobile apps
  • Storage sold separately
  • Advanced functionality is hard to master

Features

90 % – Excellent

Duplicati has all kinds of features, from the essentials to more complex settings. However, many of these are kept in the “advanced options” dropdown menus that appear in most pages, and these lists are long and likely too complicated for any new user to navigate effectively.

Sticking to the basic stuff, you can make new backup plans on the helpfully named “add backup” page. While all these backups are technically file and folder backups and Duplicati doesn’t support true image-based backups, you can select an entire drive and choose to include things like system files, which is close enough for most purposes.

duplicati review add backup
Adding a new backup in Duplicati is easy, but you still get plenty of options.

There’s also a good scheduler, which gives you plenty of control over how your backup is run. It even lets you create something close to a continuous backup by setting it to run every minute of every day. 

duplicati review continuous schedule
You can set a schedule that runs as often as you want.

Duplicati has great support for devices. It supports Windows, macOS and Linux desktops, you can back up an external hard drive through your computer and you can even monitor and manage a headless server or network-attached storage (NAS) device from any other device on the network. The only compatibility issue is that you can’t make a mobile backup, which we would like to see.

Duplicati doesn’t limit anything, either. Since it’s free, you can use it on as many devices as you want to back up as much data as you want. You can also keep as many old versions of your files as you like, although doing so can take a lot of space if you keep too many.

duplicati review file versioning
The file versioning in Duplicati is flexible, if you have enough storage space.

Some of the other features Duplicati offers include block-level file sync, bandwidth throttling and multi-threaded backups. These are great ways to boost the speed of your backup or prevent it from using up your system resources when you need them.

Advanced Options

As Duplicati is open source, many people have submitted changes they’ve made to do a specific job. Some are available as “advanced options” and, while we wouldn’t suggest you change things you’re unsure of, they can be useful.

duplicati review advanced options
There are hundreds of advanced options that modify how Duplicati works. 

These advanced features include the ability to pause your backup when your device is on battery power, prevent the encryption or compression of certain files, change which versions of SSL and TLS are allowed and more. 

As there’s nothing stopping an advanced user who knows how to program from making new options, Duplicati has the potential to be a very powerful tool. If something is theoretically possible to do in Duplicati, there isn’t a company stopping you from at least giving it a go. 

Compatible Cloud Storage Services

In addition to being able to back up your data to an external hard drive or a NAS, you can choose from a wide range of cloud storage providers. Even if the provider isn’t supported natively, you can use standard protocols like FTP and WebDAV to connect to a server directly. 

duplicati review supported services
You can save your backup to any of the major storage providers.

The list of services natively supported by Duplicati is long and contains most major providers and then some. The biggest services, like Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Backblaze B2, are there, as are cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and MEGA.

Compared to a similar service like CloudBerry Backup — read our CloudBerry Backup review here — this is an impressive compatibility list. Even if the service you want to use isn’t supported, you can make a request on the forums and there’s a good chance someone there might help you. 

Duplicati Features Overview

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 ProtocolAES 256-bit
Two-Factor Authentication
Hardened Data Centersn/a
Proxy Server Settings
HIPPA Compliantn/a
Support
24/7 Support
Live Chat Support
Telephone Support
Email Support
User Forum
Knowledgebase
Misc
File Sharing
Device Sync
Free Trial Unlimited

Pricing

100 % – Excellent

Duplicati has an advantage over most services with its pricing, as it’s free. You won’t have to pay a single penny to get access to all the features and future updates.

Free plans for storage are usually pretty limited, but you can manage backups across many services with Duplicati, which means you can make use of many free storage services at once. 

However, if you want to store more than a few dozen gigabytes of data, you’ll want to look for a paid service. Since it can be a hassle to scour the web for prices, here’s a quick reference table for the price per gigabyte of storage with some popular choices.

Dropbox
  • : $0.0050 per GB per month
  • : 2TB
Google Drive
  • : $0.0042 per GB per month
  • : 2TB
Microsoft OneDrive
  • : $0.0058 per GB per month
  • : 1TB
Amazon Drive
  • : $0.0050 per GB per month
  • : 1TB
MEGA
  • : $0.0049 per GB per month
  • : 2TB
Wasabi
  • : $0.0059 per GB per month
  • : 1TB
Amazon S3
  • : 0.023 per GB per month
  • : 1TB
Backblaze B2
  • : $0.0050 per GB per month
  • : 1TB
Google Cloud
  • : $0.0200+ per GB per month
  • : 1TB

Each provider comes with a unique set of features, and the transfer costs and specific plans can change this, but in a straight price per gigabyte per month comparison, Google Drive is the best — read our Google Drive review to learn more. 

However, if you’re not going to use most of that 2TB storage space, you might be better off paying per gigabyte rather than a fixed price. In this case, you should read our Backblaze B2 review to learn about one of the cheapest pay-as-you-go providers.

Ease of Use

85 % – Very Good

One downside to having lots of features is the user interface can get cluttered and complicated. Duplicati’s open-source nature means the features have come from many users, each with their own ideas on what should be included, so they don’t all fit into neat categories.

The basic set of features is clearly laid out. From top to bottom, the tabs on the left let you access your existing backup plans, make a new backup plan, restore files to your computer, change your settings, view the about page and log out.

duplicati review home page
Duplicati groups most of the basic features into four tabs.

There’s also two buttons along the top bar, which let you pause your backup or change your maximum bandwidth speeds. Having these available at all times is nice, as it’ll let you quickly stop the backup if you need to. You can also access the pause button when you right-click on the Duplicati icon in the system tray.

duplicati review bandwidth throttle
Throttling your speeds is easy with Duplicati

Each page is basic, because Duplicati hides the advanced features behind dropdown menus to stop things from getting overwhelming. As a result, the software is intuitive and easy to use.

However, things get complicated quickly in the advanced menu, and you’re missing out on the vast majority of features if you never open it.

There are hundreds of options, and all you get is a name and a single descriptive sentence to decide which ones you want. This makes it almost impossible to browse, so you should start by searching the forums for a way to do what you want before you mess with settings here. 

Browser-Based Backup Solution

Unlike most online backup solutions, Duplicati is almost entirely browser-based. There is a command line interface if you prefer that, but there’s no graphical interface that you can access directly from your desktop. 

You’ll still have to download and install the software to use the browser-based client, and that will have to run in the background. However, Duplicati works even if you close the page, as it just acts as a visual display for what the service is doing.

duplicati review system-tray-icon
You can quit, pause or open Duplicati from the system tray. 

Most of the time, using a browser is no different from a true desktop client. The main difference with using a browser is you can access the UI for one device on any computer on the network. This is useful for setting up servers and NAS devices, but it comes with the risk that anyone could access your Duplicati account if they’re on your network.

You can avoid this massive security risk by attaching a password to your account. However, we would like to see a standalone desktop client developed for users who want the option. 

File Backup & Restoration

85 % – Very Good

The Duplicati backup process is simple and easy to understand. There are just five steps, labeled “general,” “destination,” “source data,” “schedule” and “options.” Each is a single page with a handful of options. Unless you need to use the advanced options menu, there’s nothing too complicated.

Backup Process

The first step is titled “general,” and it’s where you’ll name your backup and choose your encryption type — either 256-bit AES or GNU Privacy Guard. You can also give your backup a passphrase, either by entering one manually or using the generator. You should consider using a password manager to keep this safe, so you don’t lose access to your data.

duplicati review backup steps general
The first step to making a backup is to add a name and encryption.

Next is the “destination” step, which lets you choose where you want your backup to be stored. You can pick a local folder, external drive, NAS or cloud storage service. Once you’ve entered the relevant details to connect to the backup destination, you can test your connection to make sure the details are correct.

duplicati review backup steps destination
Second, you choose where the backup will be saved.

After choosing a destination, the “source data” step will let you select which folders you want to include in the backup. You can also choose to exclude things like hidden, system or temporary files. 

duplicati review backup steps source
You can choose to back up anything from your device.

Fourth is the “schedule” step, which lets you set when your backup will start. We’ll look at it in more detail in a bit.

Finally, there’s the “options” step. This lets you change the file retention settings and the remote volume size, which controls how much data is bunched together into a single encrypted file. You can also use this step to add advanced options before you create your backup plan.

duplicati review backup steps options
Before you finalize the plan, you can change a few more general settings. 

Restore Process

The restore process is much simpler, having just two steps. The first, labeled “select files,” lets you choose which files you want to recover. You can select the whole drive or folder that you initially backed up or pick and choose certain files that you want to download.

duplicati review recovery steps select files
Recovering your files starts by choosing a drive and your folders.

Second is the “restore options” step. This lets you pick where you want to restore files — either to the original location or one you pick manually — and whether you want to overwrite existing files or save a copy with the timestamp in the filename.

duplicati review recovery steps destination
Completing the restore is done in one, slightly longer step.

Once you’re OK with where Duplicati will save your data, click “restore” and the restore process will start. Your data will be restored quickly, and you can choose to pause or cancel at any time.

Manual, Scheduled & Incremental Backups

By default, Duplicati will save your data once every day. However, you’re free to schedule backups as you like. You can choose which days it can run backups, at what times they will start and how often they are run.

duplicati review scheduler
The Duplicati scheduler is a good way to regularly back up your files.

You can also run manual backups by clicking the “run now” button on your home page. This is particularly useful for your initial backup, as Duplicati won’t start backing up files to your cloud storage until a time set by the schedule.

After your initial backup, every other one will be an incremental backup. This means Duplicati will only send the data that’s changed. However, unlike traditional incremental backups, which only add data to the cloud backup, Duplicati replaces the existing data in your backup. 

This means you aren’t storing old data and won’t need to download every incremental change since your last full backup when you restore files. You also don’t need to run full backup regularly, which is a nice extra benefit.

Speed

95 % – Excellent

Speed is an important part of an online backup service, as a backup that takes months to recover isn’t going to be helpful. To test this, we’ve backed up and restored a 5GB folder filled with various file types. Our bandwidth was limited to 100 Mbps each way, so we would expect times around 6 minutes and 40 seconds in an ideal scenario.

Since Duplicati doesn’t provide its own storage, we used Dropbox to store our files. As you can see from our Dropbox review, it’s crazy fast, so we expect good results. However, this means you might get worse speeds if you choose a different cloud storage provider.  

First attempt:Second attempt:Average:
Upload0:09:570:10:450:10:21
Download0:03:560:03:580:03:57

The upload speed wasn’t as fast as we’ve seen, with Jottacloud still being the fastest for uploads (read our Jottacloud review), but it’s still good. With the overhead of adding encryption, running at 66% of our expected speed is a respectable achievement.

However, nothing compares to the download speeds we got. We saw similar speeds when downloading from Dropbox directly, but finishing in under four minutes even though Duplicati had to decrypt the files makes this a go-to backup provider for getting your files back quickly. 

Security

95 % – Excellent

When it comes to security, Duplicati does well. Its zero-knowledge encryption means no one can access your data without your passphrase, and the use of SSL/TLS encryption helps prevent things like man-in-the-middle attacks.

There’s also a password generator for the passphrase you attach to your backup. We would like the option of selecting a length for the password, but the roughly 16-character strings it makes are long enough to keep your data safe.

duplicati review password generator
Duplicati has a password generator to ensure your data is safe.

There is an issue where other users on your device — or even other devices on your network, depending on your device settings — can access your files. This is a useful feature for managing a device remotely, but it means it’s important to add a password when you first open the client.

Duplicati can’t deal with many other security issues, such as a physical breach of the data center. However, since it encrypts your backup data, you don’t have to worry about what kind of encryption is being used on the cloud storage servers and you can instead focus on things like hardened data centers

Privacy

100 % – Excellent

Duplicati is open source, so anyone can look at the code to check that there isn’t anything trying to grab your data. There’s also an option in the settings that lets you turn off the anonymous usage reports. With these reports turned off and zero-knowledge encryption enabled, not much of your personal information is left unprotected.

The privacy policy outlines what else is collected — your name, your email address and your IP address. The policy is short and sweet, pointing out that it collects these when you sign up to the forum and that they’re never sold or shared.

duplicati review privacy policy
The Duplicati privacy policy is easy to read and has no major red flags.

If you want to hide this data, faking your name is as easy as not entering one. You need a username, which can be anything, but your real name is optional. Hiding your IP address is also easy. Just use a good VPN service and make sure it’s turned on.

That leaves your email address. You can theoretically create a one-off address for Duplicati if you want. Ultimately, outside of messages you send to people or posts you release publicly, there’s basically nothing to worry about if you’re trying to protect your personal information.

Customer Support

40 % – Terrible

The customer support for Duplicati is several steps behind other cloud backup services. Since it’s free, there’s no money to employ dedicated support members. It doesn’t offer support phone numbers or email addresses, and there’s no live chat, either.

There is a user manual that functions like a knowledgebase, but it’s better used as a technical guide than as a way to get help. Instead of these support tools, Duplicati offers a user forum where you can post your problem or search for other posts that might help.

duplicati review user forums
Despite lacking a dedicated team, the user forums are good.

Not only does this forum seem to get responses within a day, but many of the issues users post are solved within 24 hours. As users from around the world can use it, support comes at all times of the day, and people on the forum seem to be friendly and helpful.

The Verdict

When it comes to managing your backup, there aren’t many programs that rival Duplicati. It’s compatible with all major operating systems, it can save backups to online and local storage and the included encryption will keep your data safe regardless of the cloud storage providers you choose.

However, getting cloud storage space separately from the management tools isn’t for everyone, and it makes the whole cloud backup process more complicated. If you prefer a simpler solution that just uses one service, then IDrive and Backblaze are good choices (read our full IDrive review and Backblaze review). 

Have you tried Duplicati? How do you feel about the lack of customer support? Was there anything we missed in our review? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

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10 thoughts on “Duplicati”

  1. I tend not to share your view on Duplicati. In short, as long as there are no hiccups Duplicati works fine, but on hiccup you risk losing your ability to restore.
    The details of the story are not relevant. Just a question : when testing backup, do you verify “bad weather scenarios”, the behavior if some of the backup’d [block] files are corrupt/missing.
    – robustness of the tool if the local database (of backup’d files) and the backup content on the cloud fall out of sync.
    – transparency of files backup’d, the ability to re-create a list of files in the backup from scratch
    – ability to continue backup (identify corrupt or missing files and handle appropriately)
    – ability to restore at least the remaining content

    Reply
      1. Use restic. It lacks a GUI but it’s hardly difficult to use and automate with task scheduler. It’s certainly faster, more reliable and uses less system resources.

        Duplicati is a joke that is not even funny. It is persistently in beta and I have lost multiple backups in two years of using it. You usually find out something inexplicable went wrong right at the point you need to restore. I don’t even understand why anyone is still contributing to it at this point. Four years later and it’s still beset by all these ridiculous problems. It is not a backup solution because no matter what foresight you have or what contingencies you make you can never trust that your Duplicati backups are complete, free of irreversible corruption and restorable.

        Reply
  2. I fully agree with Bruno’s remarks about Duplicati. I had to move away from it exactly because of the things that Bruno mentioned.

    Reply
  3. I also agree with those that have issues with Duplicati. The actual server backup (only about 80Gb) to Dropbox was fairly simple once you understand the paths etc. It does incremental backups OK (checked daily), but try a restore if anything goes wrong and it’s a nightmare. I have posted on the Duplicati forum, but the biggest issue is that the proagressbars don’t move and there is NO feedback to the user. You have no idea whether things are happening or not. After 40 hours I had the disk folders all empty. It take 2 hours to do a database reconstruct then does a temporary reconstruct (many hours) when you select the files to restore. I can see in the first three hours the progress bart has actually moved, but the feedback is atrocious). Further, the buttons on the screen are live when you are sitting around waiting. If you accidentally click one, several hours of just waiting are down the tube.

    I used the free crash plan, it was much better (and for $10/month now I will move there). I believe backblaze at $5/month is good as well (tossing up). For servers, more complicated, but $3/month for 2Tb (IIRC) is good. Regardless, Duplicati is frustrating, very very slow, provides poor feedback (for slow tasks) and did I say slow. So on the PLUS, I like the backup and it seems to work. On the MINUS, getting stuff back (from say Dropbox) in the real world is a nightmare – my experience, YMMV. The software (UI) is OK, but there are some issues that should be taken care of as in UI design/operation 101.

    Reply
    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for the details, it is interesting for me. Now, 2019/05 I have found that Crashplan, which I was willing to pay for, stopped silently backing up my vmware files. Just one day they decided, implemented and here you are. That pissed me off literally. How the h*ll they want to decide next time instead of me what to backup and what not. So I am searching alternatives. Alternatives that do NOT primarily depend of any company’s stupid decissions. ANd Duplicatti seems a good way. Unless you are unable to restore the backup 🙂 lol non-responsive interface as is described here seems to be nightmare and it is good to know about it. But I wonder, I would like to hear from people that experienced coruptions and freezes in order of hours: [Did you finally get your data back from backup?] Because answer to this question is what counts in the end of the day. I missed this answer in the posts an I would really like to know, besides of frustration I understand, were you able to retrieve the data finally? Because restore is something one does not do so often…… I consider buying my hardware and configure my own server. Disks are cheap and only thing I have trouble figuring out some reliable alternative physical location. One extra question that comes to my mind. Ransomware. Is Ransomware able, when it controlls Duplicatti (with perhaps cached S3 Login credentials) able to tell “delete all my backups” on behalf you your credentials? I wonder whether some non-cached “delete password” was implemented. Weird that regarding security noone else asks similar question. Have a nice day

      Reply
    2. Definitely, robustness is an issue.

      I had a problem where the shared drive to which Duplicati backed up became full. It happened when I inadvertently included some large files in the backup.

      Duplicati was not able to recover.

      Reply
  4. Nice review, but you left out one of the most important aspects of Duplicati – deduplication. This can save huge amounts of backup storage space, if you are sloppy about organizing files, like I am.

    Reply
  5. The review says “Deleted File Retention” = No. What does this mean? How can a backup service not retain deleted files for at least some period of time? I’m guessing it’s a mistake.

    Reply
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