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Arq Backup Review (Version 5)

Arq ABckup 5 Review

Features - 80%
Usability - 85%
Security - 95%
Support - 89%
Pricing - 94%

89%

Good

A secure and capable, albeit somewhat basic cloud backup solution. Very fair licencing terms make this ideal for those seeking want a good value could backup solution for use across multiple devices.

arq backup review logo

Arq Backup v5

Arq Backup 5 is a cloud backup solution which places an emphasis on simplicity, security and value for money. All of the major cloud storage providers are supported including Amazon S3, Backlaze B2 and Dropbox meaning you can backup your important data to one or more providers of your choice.

Arq is priced at one-off $49.99 and is licenced per user meaning this is potentially a very good deal for those working across across multiple PCs versus the more traditional “per device” pricing often found with backup solutions. There is also an option to upgrade to a lifetime upgrade licence, this means for an additional $29.99 users will have access to all new versions of the Arq software whenever they are released for life. Altogether this is very competitive pricing making Arq seem ideal for those seeking good value for money!

It is also nice to see security being taken seriously with a “zero knowledge” approach seeing all data encrypted on the PC itself with a private password before being transferred to cloud storage (when turned on and a password set). In this scenario neither Arq nor the cloud storage provide will have access to your data!

Features

  • Secure, reliable and easy to use backup software
  • Great range of cloud storage providers supported
  • Easily control backup version retention and storage costs
  • Somewhat basic (and slightly unintuitive) interface
  • Only supports file level backups (no image backups)
  • Minimum scheduling interval is every hour
  • Impressive Encryption and compression support
  • Option for email based backup reports (requires SMTP)
  • Lifetime licence (with upgrades) is potentially very good value

Usability

Backing Up:

Installing Arq was very quick, simply download and run the installer and within a few seconds of running the installation was complete and I was greeted by the home screen.

arq backup home screen

Once on the home screen It becomes immediately evident Arq have their own way of doing things, the fairly simplistic layout is all about form over function and you are not bombarded with unnecessary menus, buttons, graphs and the like.

Instead, whilst configuring your first backup it is clear Arq is very much build around the idea of external cloud storage. Backup sets as such are not supported however, each cloud storage provider could be considered like a backup set in many ways (e.g. you could have all of your photos and videos going to Amazon S3 and everything else to Backblaze B2).

For the purposes of testing I’m am going to connect Arq to my Backblaze B2 account, this involves first generating an access key for Arq over on the B2 admin console as well as a creating separate bucket to store my files.

Once the bucket and API key are set up over at Backblaze we can start setting up our first backup by going to the Preferences window and under the destination tab clicking add.

arq prefrences destinations screen

Arq will at this point provide a list of the supported cloud storage options, in addition to the option to select a local folder on your PC / external hard drive or NAS solution.

arq backup select destination

Once a storage location has been selected (Backblaze B2 in my case) Arq will optionally ask for credentials to access the storage, this is where the API key for Backblaze created earlier is to be entered. Once authenticated you will then be prompted to either create a bucket or select from a list of buckets to use for this backup.

arq backup select B2 bucket

During this setup Arq will also ask for an encryption password to be set, this is optional although highly recommended. If you do set the password remember there is no way to recover this password so make sure not to forget it!

arq backup password warning

Other options which can be setup n the preferences window include email alerts (requires SMTP credentials), bandwidth transfer limits and if necessary which specific WiFi networks must be connected for the transfer to begin.

arq backup email reports settings

Once al of the preferences have been set we can return to the home screen and start adding folders to the backup. To do this simply select the “Add a Folder to Backups” and using the file picker select the folder to add to that backup storage.

arq backup select files to backup

NB if you have multiple storage accounts set up (i.e. sets) then remember to first select the relevant storage on the left tree before clicking on the “Add a Folder to Backups” button.

Once our storage is configured and the folders to backup included we can finally configure the schedule upon which the backup will run. Going back to the Preferences window and then clicking edit will show the “Edit Destination” screen which, somewhat confusingly, is where we can set our schedule.

arq backup scheduling settings

As can be seen above the scheduling is functional although noticeably limited to fairly basic schedules, it is also disappointing to see the most frequent backup interval is set to 1 hour which I feel is too long for professional users like myself.

From this same screen we can also see Arq offer other features such as the ability to run scripts or applications before and after our backups as well as the option to specify how frequently the backup should be verified.

arq backup run scripts before and after

Finally this “Edit Destination” screen provides us with the ability to set a “Budget” for the backup destination which (again confusingly) appears to be the way to enforce a versioning policy on the storage (e.g. remove any versions over 180 days old). The Budget section can also be used to enforce a cap on the amount of storage used by the backup.

arq backup budget settings

Restoring

Once we have one or more backup destinations set up and the backups running we can, when required, restore files via the Arq home screen.

arq restore files selection box

To restore we must first start by selecting the storage destination we are restoring from under the “RESTORE FILES” branch, then select the PC name and then finally select the date from which we want to restore from.

Once the date has been selected the main panel of the screen will be changed to show the files and folders available for restore.

Once the necessary files are selected Arq will ask for a destination to restore to, there is no option to use the original location and overwrite meaning if you want to do this the destination must still be selected manually.

Other Features

Unlike many other backup applications Arq is very much focused on the task of backing up your files and very little else. There are no additional tools such as recover media builders or disk cloning tools meaning this might not fit the needs of everyone.

It should also be mentioned that Arq stores backups in a format which is openly documented and provide an open source recovery tool “arq_restore” to access any backed up files.

Security

Arq seemingly take data security very seriously and (when set) the backup password ensures all data is encrypted before it ever leaves the PC. Additional encryption can optionally be set by some storage providers supported by Arq.

Both Arq and the storage provide have zero knowledge of this backup password meaning if it is forgot it cannot be reset and the backup becomes useless in such circumstances!

Support

Arq have a good website and provide a full set of documentation for the product online. Additional support can be gained via the official support email address listed on the website.

Pricing

Arq backup is priced at a one-off $49.99 per user, this licence covers a single user across unlimited devices. For an additional $29.99 Arq offers lifetime upgrades for the licence.

Summary

Arq is somewhat unique in that it is lazer focused on the core task of providing file and folder backup to the cloud and very little else. This is, in many ways, a good approach as certain users will be looking to simply get their files backed up to the cloud storage of their choice with the minimum of configuration whilst doing so.

Features such as disk imaging, recovery media builders and disk cloning are all absent from Arq backup 5 meaning if you are looking for anything along these lines you would need to consider another solution or maybe even run Arq backup alongside another backup solution. It is also disappointing to see the minimum scheduling interval for the software is set to one hour which I feel is a little too long in many use cases.

During my testing Arq performed very well, ran smoothly and the integration with Backblaze B2 worked flawlessly. All in all a very solid, if somewhat basic backup tool. A great job!

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