A basic, open-source backup solution that lacks features, but still works surprisingly well.
By Joseph Gildred – Last Updated: 25 Nov'17
Duplicati is an open-source backup solution designed to provide disaster recovery capabilities for computer workstations. Unlike some of our other best online backup solutions like Backblaze and IDrive, Duplicati lets you choose your own cloud destination for file backup, with options ranging from Amazon S3 to Dropbox.
Additionally, it can be used to backup locally to an external hard drive, local server or NAS device. Thanks to its flexibility, it makes for a suitable backup solution for home and business users alike.
During this Duplicati review, we’ll be taking a look at how the software works and what online backup options are available. If you like the Duplicati model but want even more flexibility, have a look at our CloudBerry Backup review or read about a slimmed-down version in our Arq review; people that want a little less freedom should probably check out our online backup reviews for services more their style.
- 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
Duplicati provides a means of backing up data but doesn’t provide any storage capacity itself; for that, you’ll have to make your own arrangements. Far from a disadvantage, this should actually be a benefit to users who don’t mind the added work. More options means better price flexibility and the chance to really customize your backup.
Duplicati can currently integrated with several different cloud services. These include business-class backup solutions like Google Cloud, Amazon S3 and Backblaze B2, as well as cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, MEGA and OneDrive (for more information on all these services, check out our best cloud storage providers comparison chart).
Duplicati can also be used to backup to local external drives and servers. That makes it a good choice for implementing a 3-2-1 backup plan that takes takes advantage of both cloud and local storage.
Desktop clients are available for Windows, macOS and Linux. Duplicati has no smartphone apps.
Duplicati otherwise includes many of the features you’d want in your backup software, including the ability to schedule backups, encrypt files and set a versioning policy. There are logs available through the Duplicati web interface, but no way to set email notifications for issues like backup failures.
The Duplicati software itself doesn’t cost a thing; its free, open-source software downloadable from Duplicati.com. If you’re interested, there’s really no reason not to check it out.
You will, however, need to sign up for a cloud storage or online backup with a compatible provider, and that will likely cost money. Many compatible providers like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive given you a small amount of free remote server space. However, it almost certainly won’t be enough to protect your hard drive.
The cost will depend on which service you go with and how much space you need. Assuming 1TB of space, here’s a comparison a few popular options.
|Annual Cost for 1TB:||Notes:|
|Google Drive||$99.99||Flat fee|
|Amazon Drive||$59.99||Flat fee|
|Amazon S3||$281.28||Not a flat fee; Rate is $0.023 per GB per month.|
|Microsoft Azure Blob||$220.80||Not a flat fee; Rate is $0.018 per GB per month.|
|Backblaze B2||$60.00||Not a flat fee; Rate is $0.005 per GB per month.|
|Google Cloud||$240.00||Not a flat fee; Rate is $0.020 per GB per month.|
We’re oversimplifying the pricing for Amazon S3, Azure, B2 and Google Cloud in the table above by basing rates solely on how much each service charges for a gigabyte of storage per month.
All four are pay-as-you-go services that include additional transactional charges. We don’t have individual reviews for them at this time, but we do have an Azure, Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Backblaze B2 comparison article that should prove useful.
The range of choice is nice, though it’s not likely any of the options will beat Backblaze’s $5 unlimited plan for home users (read more about that in our Backblaze review). Also, CloudBerry Backup takes a similar approach to Duplicati, but offers many more storage options (over 30, in fact). However, a CloudBerry backup license will also cost you $29.99.
While Duplicati requires that you download a desktop client, almost the entire user experience is browser based. The interface gives you a clean look with navigation tabs lined up along the left side.
For a backup service that offers so many different user options, the overall experience is refreshingly simple and streamlined. In fact, we’d say that overall it’s easier than CloudBerry Backup or Arq, which are probably its two closest comps in terms of general user experience.
That’s said, it’s decidedly more complex than Backblaze or Carbonite, two unlimited online backup providers that do most of the work for you. Still, most users should be able to figure it out with a little trial and error. We’ll walk you through the basic process, next.
Backup plans can be created within a few minutes from the browser interface. Click “add backup” to get started.
You’ll be presented with the option to configure a new backup or import a configuration from a file. Selecting the first option takes you to a backup settings screen.
Add a backup plan name and select an encryption level, then click “next.”
The next option is to select a backup destination. Duplicati supports both local and remote backup. For local storage, you can pick a local folder or drive. You can also connect to your own server using FTP, SFTP or WebDav. For our tests, we elected to upload to Amazon S3.
Doing so required that we obtain an AWS Access ID and AWS Access Key from Amazon and input them in the appropriate fields. If you’d like to learn more about how to do that, check out our getting started with Amazon S3 guide.
We also had to pick an Amazon S3 server region and storage class. We went with U.S. East (Northern Virginia) and “standard.” Test your connection to make sure it works, then click “next.”
The next step is to pick content for backup. Duplicati requires that you backup data based on its location. However, you can also set filters to do things like include files based on extension and automatically exclude system and temporary files.
After tagging your source data, you’ll have the chance to create a backup schedule. You can run backups every few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years, and pick which days of the week backups run.
The next screen will let you set a retention policy. You can keep unlimited backup versions, a select number or automatically delete backups older than a certain date.
That’s it for setting up a backup plan. If you’ve set backups to run automatically, it should kick off immediately. If you’ve opted for manual backup, you’ll need to start it yourself by clicking “run now.”
The initial backup can take some time. If you got hundreds of gigabytes to upload, it could be days or weeks before its done depending on your connection speeds and where you’re located. For our tests, we only uploaded a single gigabyte of data, so it ran quite quickly (see speed, below).
After that intitial backup, things will run much more smoothly. Duplicati added block-level file copying to its storage engine in 2016. With block level copying, when a file change occurs, only the parts of the file that changed get replaced rather than recopying the entire file.
File restores are completed from the “restore” tab of the web interface. There, you can pick from your backup plans to restore from.
On the next screen, you can pick what folders and files you want to restore. There’s a search bar to speed things up. We only uploaded a single zipped folder, so that’s the only thing displayed.
Next, you’ll need to pick a restore location. You can restore files to their original locations or pick a new location. You can also choose to overwrite existing files or create new versions if there are conflicts. We chose to restore to our desktop to keep things simple.
Click the “restore” button when you’re ready to go. Duplicati will keep you apprised of the progress while running, let you know when it’s completed and ask for a small token of appreciation.
Here’s our file, restored safely from the cloud:
Overall the process is pretty slick, with lots of options to enhance your backup. Our only complaint is that Duplicati doesn’t have smartphone apps to access your files.
How fast your backup runs is going to be depend less on Duplicati and more on the backup destination you’ve picked. However Duplicati’s ability to quickly compress and encrypt files will play a role.
We tested Duplicati’s capabilities by connecting to Google Drive and uploading and downloading a 1GB compressed folder.
Our tests were run from outside of Boston, MA. We added 256-bit AES encryption, which will add some time to the upload. Tests were performed over a WiFi connection with 12 Mbps upload and 187 Mbps download speeds at the time they were run.
Here are our results:
|Test 1:||Test 2:||Average:|
These are pretty good speeds. At 12 Mbps without overhead, a 1GB file should upload in roughly 12 minutes. At 187 Mbps, download should take around 50 seconds.
When you create your backup plan, Duplicati will give you the option to encrypt files before sending them to your backup destination. For this, it uses 256-bit AES. This is the recommended encryption protocol and is not known to have ever been cracked.
If you take the recommended step of encrypting your data, you’ll need to set a password. Duplicati will not only tell you if your password is weak, it can also generate a strong password for you.
Duplicati will also give you the option of using SSL. This will slow down backups, but protect your data from Internet eavesdropping.
Beyond that, the level of security will depend on what vendor you select to backup to. Most services offer hardened data centers. Some, like Amazon Drive, don’t encrypt data, but so long as you let Duplicati perform that task, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Support is where Duplicati feels the weakest compared to the rest of the backup field. While we rank it low in this area, it’s fair to point out that this weaknesses mostly a direct result of the fact that Duplicati is open source and free.
Duplicati doesn’t have a dedicated support center staffed by knowledgeable technicians because it would have no way to pay them. That means no telephone, chat or even email support. Instead, you get a support forum staffed by developers, IT professionals and fellow users.
The good news is that Duplicati is popular enough that forum response times are quite good. Replies generally come within 24 hours and usually within six.
The technophile in us loves Duplicati. The ability to turn our cloud storage account into an online backup solution makes for a fun project, especially since Duplicati is free. We wish that there were more cloud storage options available. Google Drive and Dropbox are a bit pricey for that kind of project. Amazon Drive and OneDrive are cheaper, but more choice is always better.
Solutions like Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Azure, meanwhile, are likely too pricey for most home consumers. Backblaze B2, on the other hand, might be worth looking into.
For those looking for more diverse cloud options, a generally more feature-filled experience and stronger support, consider spending $29.99 for CloudBerry Backup. For those who desire simplicity, Backblaze or IDrive are the best bets. Otherwise, Duplicati makes for an intriguing backup option that earns our recommendation.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, let us know below.
|Price||Starts from $ Array per month|
|Free External HD Backup|
|Bare Metal Backup|
|Exclude File Extensions for Backup|
|File Size Limit|
|Share Photo Albums|
|Server Side Encryption|
|Keeps deleted files|