Amazon Glacier

Backup to Amazon Glacier with FastGlacier for free

Amazon GlacierI own a QNAP TS239 TurboNAS. I use it for a variety of things. One of those things is just plain storage of the Family’s documents. From invoices, to Insurance policies, I scan and archive everything. It’s a project of mine, to see how much paper binders I can eliminate.

Even though I have my NAS running with Raid 1 for maximum dataintegrity, that stills leaves me with a need for a backup solution. I have been trying the QNAP S3 integration. The problem with that function is, other than the technical issues, that the S3 service is designed for delivering content to the web. It’s not a archiving solution. Amazons solution for backup and archival is called Amazon Glacier.

If you are looking for a way to take your backup to the cloud, Amazon Glacier is by far the cheapest service to use.

For this guide I will use only free software. This means that I use FastGlacier, that comes as a free and Pro version. The free version is just fine for personal use. Are you setting up a Backup solution for a business, you are required to purchase the Pro edition. If you wish to spend a few bucks, I will review CloudBerry shortly.

I have a Server standing idle, for me to use for this guide, but you can pretty much do the same thing on a Windows Box. For this guide, I will just upload my files one to one, instead of zipping them first. I am creating a mirror of my NAS, but in that way, that if I delete anything on my QNAP NAS, it won’t delete the file in Amazon Glacier.

Requirements

  1. Amazon account
  2. Signed up for the Glacier Service
  3. Security Credentials
  4. A Vault set up on the Glacier Service
  5. FastGlacier program
  6. Scheduled Task for backup

Amazon Account

First you will need to have an Amazon Web Service (AWS) Account. To get one of those:

  1. Navigate to: http://aws.amazon.com/ and click on the “Sign Up” button
  2. Type in your e-mail address and select “I am a new user”
  3. Follow the instructions on the screen
  4. You could read some additional guides on AWS here: http://aws.amazon.com/documentation/gettingstarted/

Amazon Glacier Service

Once you’ve signed up with Amazon, you need to sign up for the services. Go ahead and sign up for the Glacier service: https://portal.aws.amazon.com/gp/aws/manageYourAccount? Have your credit card ready.

Security Credentials

For your local client to get authenticated against any AWS service you need to get some Access keys. You generate the Access keys by clicking on the Security Credentials link at the “My Account / Console” Menu.

Amazon Security credentials

Here you will see the Access Keys, which you will need for setting up FastGlacier in a jiffy.

Access Keys

Setting up the Vault

Go to :https://console.aws.amazon.com for your AWS consoler. From here you can access all your Amazon services. Click on the Glacier Service and click on “Create Vault”. Don’t forget to set your region in the upper right corner.

Creating Amazon Glacier Vault

FastGlacier

With your Amazon Glacier Service all ready and standing by to receive some data, let’s get busy uploading some stuff. Normally with a server backup, I would use a backup program like CloudBerry. But that costs money, and for now, I’m going with 100% free software

  1. Download and install FastGlacier from the website: http://fastglacier.com/download.aspx
  2. Click on “Accounts – Add New Account”
  3. Fill in the blanks – Account name is NOT your Amazon username. It’s any name you choose.Setting up FastGlacier
  4. When your done, click on “Tools – Options” and under the “Connetion” tab, remember to set it to use a secure transfer via HTTPS.Use secure HTTPS

Scheduled Task

First you need to mount your drive on your machine as a Network drive”. The reason for this is that the “Scheduled Tasks” doesn’t accept UNC paths like “\\QNAP\Public“.

  1. Open “Scheduled tasks”
  2. Click on “Create task”
  3. Name the Task and make sure that it’s set to “Run only when user is logged in”Windows Scheduled tasks
  4. Create a Trigger for the job. If this is your local machine, I would set the task to begin “On workstation lock”. That way you know that it runs when you lock your machine and you don’t use it. If you’re using a server for the task, just set the trigger as you feel.
  5. Activate on workstation lock
  6. Go to actions and use the following:
    • Program/Script: “C:\Program Files\FastGlacier\glacier-sync.exe”
    • Argument: [GlacierAccount] [sourcefolder] [region] [Vault]/Folder [Options]

Here is an example that uploads new and changed files, but doesn’t delete anything:

Ulrich Z:\Ulrich eu-west-1 QNAPBackup/Ulrich nchs

Read more about the Command Line Folder Sync Tool: http://fastglacier.com/console-folder-sync-tool.aspx

Final thoughts

FastGlacier is a great tool. You can sign up for the Service, add Vaults and tons of other stuff with that program. It’s free for personal use, which is great. It’s the Command Line Folder Sync tool I find the most useful in my case. The GUI is very easy to understand and all in all it’s fairly easy to pick up and use.

Amazon Glacier is designed for Archival and backup. It’s very important to point out that it’s not a fast “Live” system. When you upload your files, it’s not unusual that it takes a few hours before you can see your files in the files-browser. It’s also a Service where it takes 4 hours before you can retrieve your data again. The use-case is that you sync your local backup whit the Glacier Service. If all hell breaks loose and you loose all your local backup and all servers are burned to the ground and your need to restore from your Glacier Service… You should not have a problem with a 4-hour waiting period. I want to stress, that Glacier is not designed to be a Content delivering Service. That is the S3 Service that’s used for that. Glacier is for backup and long-term storage of files.

The way I’ve choose to setup my backup is without compressing any files and without setting any passwords on the files. If you need a backup system, before you put your things in the cloud, there are several good ones I can recommend. It all depends on your needs.

Please leave a comment below, if you have questions or if there is something I’ve missed.

8 replies
  1. Bjorn van der Neut
    Bjorn van der Neut says:

    Nice and good tutorial. A shame I have a Mac Book Pro and I don’t know the alternative software for FastGlacier. Also the trick to go around the UNC path would be nice to now on a Mac.

    Reply
  2. stickycChris
    stickycChris says:

    The alternative software for Mac is Arq backup (http://www.haystacksoftware.com/arq/). Sadly, not free. Though considering the purpose, not a huge expense either. Since it’s a Mac, you could always roll your own with the AWS services and something like Ruby/Fog (http://fog.io/).
    it’s worth noting that most of these solutions take a *long* time to upload – not a great thing to be running directly from the Macbook – More likely something you’d want to run on a machine that’s on all the time at home. Also, Synology NAS devices have Glacier support built in. Sadly, QNAP is way behind the curve and only supports S3.

    Reply
  3. Steve
    Steve says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Key thing to know about the command line (got me stuck for a while): if there are spaces in the local folder/file name enclose in ” ” i.e. “C:\Family Photos”

    Reply

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