First Look: CloudBerry Online Backup - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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Tweaks Needed

We’d like to see a few aspects of the interface improved ‑‑ some minor, some more substantial.  

When you set up a scheduled backup, the Online Backups tab, in its simple, default mode, doesn’t tell you when the backup is actually running. It only displays the next scheduled start time.

Cloudberry backup wizard
CloudBerry Online Backup wizard.
(Click for larger image)

This is confusing if the time has already passed. Only by clicking the down arrow beside the start time do you see a detailed view with status, elapsed time, expected complete time, etc.

Another flaw – or missed opportunity: the interface doesn’t report S3 costs incurred. It should be easy for the software to calculate, based on volume of data selected, frequency of scheduled backups and published S3 prices.

CloudBerry should also hire a copyeditor who’s fluent in English to clean up grammar and spelling in the program messages and labels.

A Few Glitches

Again, this is a beta program, but you should be aware of certain issues before diving in.

CloudBerry Online Backup crashed a few times during our testing. In one case, it wouldn’t restart until we used Windows Task Manager to manually end a CloudBerry service. The good news: backups that were running when the program stopped restarted when it launched again.

The Backup Plan wizard worked fine the first time we used it, but on subsequent attempts – after a few crashes – it wouldn’t let us set up a schedule. An error message in non-standard English told us we didn’t have “enough permission” and that we should use a Windows administrator account – which we already were.

These kinds of problems are common with beta programs. But given the cut-off date for adding new beta participants, CloudBerry seems intent on launching sooner rather than later, and it’s hard to see how this product could be ready for its mid-August launch.

Slow Going

It’s hard to tell what impact each component – the CloudBerry software, the Amazon storage server and our network connection – might have on performance, but it wasn’t good in our testing.

The software does let you control how much network bandwidth it uses, but even with the default option of unlimited bandwidth, transfers were painfully slow, with reported speeds of between 600 and 900 bytes per second.

This translates into the more standard metric of 4.8 to 7.2 kilobits per second (Kbps). (The uplink speed on our Internet service is typically about 500 Kbps, suggesting the problem was with S3.) An initial backup of a little over 5 GB was estimated to take more than 24 hours.

Bottom Line

Despite the problems, CloudBerry Online Backup has promise. With the addition of open-file backup and virtual disk drive, and with the glitches and performance problems cleaned up, this could be an ideal – and very economical – backup solution for small businesses.

In the meantime, you can sign up for S3 and use CloudBerry’s free downloadable CloudBerry Explorer Pro program to experiment and manually transfer files to S3. Even if CloudBerry Online Backup doesn’t pan out, other S3 backup programs are sure to emerge.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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This article was originally published on July 15, 2009
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