A survey of GUI-based free online backup

John Hupp ubuntu at prpcompany.com
Thu Nov 27 00:02:42 UTC 2014

Duplicati recently released a v2.0 Preview 
which offers a browser-based GUI interface over a "block-based" storage 
engine that knows how to access popular online storage from Google, 
Microsoft, Amazon and more.  It removes the need for periodic full 
backups, and its block-based incremental approach is finer-grained than 
file-level incremental backup.  The backups are compressed and encrypted 
on your machine before upload.  There is a built-in scheduler.  The 
software is open source.

I don't think it supports file versions, and to back up open/locked 
files in Linux it requires LVM.  But otherwise,  pretty darn good on 
lots of counts.

I have it working under Windows, aimed at a Microsoft Onedrive account, 
giving me up to 15GB of free online backup.


In Lubuntu I had been running SpiderOak, which has a nice GUI interface, 
supports some sort of incremental backup -- I forget the details -- and 
provides 2GB of free online storage.

The Duplicati 2 Preview supplies a GUI that supports Linux, so it looked 
like I was poised to take a giant step forward.

But after tripping over the installation, and then over the 
configuration (see 
<https://groups.google.com/forum/#%21topic/duplicati/FSejerztk0c> for my 
problems with those), I stopped and reviewed the fact that Duplicati 
only works under Linux if you install the Mono runtime environment, 
which supports running .NET Framework code in Linux and on a Mac.  
Alluring if you are a developer: write once, deploy everywhere (like Java).

It seems to me, however, that installing Mono introduces additional 
security risks similar to those posed by Wine.  Anyone disagree?

Duplicati principal Kenneth Skovhede took some pains to reply to my post 
at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/duplicati/FSejerztk0c 
<https://groups.google.com/forum/#%21topic/duplicati/FSejerztk0c>, but I 
don't know enough to evaluate what he said.  I would be happy if someone 
here can chime in with greater authority about whether the Mono 
environment adds significant security risks (which I don't think he 
directly addressed in his reply).


So I wondered if there were other Linux online backup solutions out 
there that 1) provide a GUI that is friendly for the average end-user, 
and 2) offer more than 2GB of free storage.  Other considerations: the 
solution is well-tested, secure and reliable; the provider has a good 
track record.

I should add that I'm leery of trying to use sync services (e.g. 
DropBox) in lieu of backup.  It seems to me that in the event of a 
disaster, an *average* user could inadvertently sync his online storage 
down to zero instead of restoring his files from that online storage.  
Anyone disagree?

My notes on a few near-hit candidates during this look-around:

*Cloudsync* - https://github.com/HolgerHees/cloudsync

Encrypts and uploads individual files to Google Drive or Dropbox. No 
mention of compression.  Requires some Java components.  Seems 
unpolished and thin on backing.

*Cyphertite* - https://www.cyphertite.com

Provides 8GB of free storage.  The software is open source. Security and 
the incremental backup method look good.  There may be a question of how 
to install it under Trusty -- see 
https://opensource.conformal.com/wiki/cyphertite_installation for binary 
package info.  But the most significant drawback for my purposes is that 
this is a command line program.

*Idrive* - https://www.idrive.com

Provides 5GB of free storage.  Good on security and incremental backup.  
But though it promisingly describes a desktop app at 
https://www.idrive.com/remote-manage, Linux users find out at 
https://www.idrive.com/online-backup-linux that scripts or the command 
line are their only options.

*There may be a few other offerings at 2GB, but I haven't seen anything 
that seemed superior to SpiderOak at that storage level*.


OK, so I found no elegant step forward from SpiderOak.

Though I'm leery of using a sync service in lieu of backup, it would be 
more acceptable as a second level of defense.  Maybe the next thing then 
would be to choose a GUI local backup tool that will compress, encrypt 
and also make nice use of a delta/block incremental approach, and save 
those backups in a folder that's set for online sync.  File versioning 
would be a plus.

Are there packages that fit that bill?  (I think that we have had here 
some version of this discussion before, but things change. Kindly humor me.)

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