In this article we will review the pros and cons of Amazon S3 Glacier vs Synology C2 to backup data from a NAS directly to the cloud. While the focus is on Synology products, if you use another brand of NAS, the Amazon Glacier backup options may still be of interest to you.
Headless Synology NAS Cloud Backup
If you’re storing all of your creative industry business data to a Synology NAS, you probably already backup locally to an external drive (or a series of external drives). However, in the event of a local disaster at your home or office (fire, flood, theft) you still need an offsite cloud backup.
Most creative professionals have data backup requirements that far exceed consumer-level users (and most businesses as well). In my case, I have roughly 5 TB of data that is growing by nearly another TB every year (no matter how hard I try to delete my sh!t and unused files).
Up until recently, there were many unlimited cloud backup solutions available. Now, most cloud backup plans seem to top out around 1TB before substantial fees are added for additional space.
Further, most of these applications are designed to backup individual computers (and many are not even compatible with network storage), and they must be run from an application on a specific computer (the head).
Up until recently, I used SOS Online Backup to backup my Synology NAS to the cloud. However, since SOS canceled unlimited backup and the pricing became unreasonable, I was forced to find an alternative solution.
While I was generally happy with the SOS backup app, it was always an annoyance that I had to keep my desktop computer running simply to run a cloud backup on my Synology NAS, which is already always running and has its own built-in operating system and suite of applications: DiskStation Manager.
Since I was looking for a new cloud backup solution anyway, I wanted one that did not rely on a separate computer and could run headless, directly from the NAS itself. In my opinion, this is a much more reliable option and drastically simplifies network backups.
While the selection is much more restricted, Synology does offer a number of supported headless NAS backup applications.
In addition, DiskStation also supports a number of third-party headless backup applications for the following services:
I only briefly reviewed these services for two reasons: First, once you get into the several-terabyte-level of storage space required, most of these services cost substantially more than Synology C2 or Amazon Glacier. Second, I don’t trust any of them to be as compatible or reliable with Synology’s own built-in cloud backup C2, or Amazon Web Services.
Synology C2 Cloud Backup
Synology C2 cloud backup is built into Synology’s DiskStation management platform, so it is very easy to setup using Synology’s Hyper Backup application (which you likely already use for local backups). Here is a complete tutorial for setting up Synology C2 cloud backup.
Here is how Synology describes C2 cloud backup:
Synology C2 is designed to offer the most integrated and cost-effective cloud backup solution for your Synology NAS. Its data center is located in Frankfurt and meets the high privacy standards required by EU regulations. The security of data being transmitted and stored on C2 can be ensured with the support of our rigorous encryption technologies.
A few important features of C2 backup are client-side encryption (your data is encrypted as it’s uploaded), hourly backups and backup rotations.
C2 offers data recovery through Synology’s Hyper Backup application – however, this requires a functioning Synology NAS, which you may no longer have after a disaster. A web based application is also available for recovery, although reports indicate that it may only be possible to recover one file at a time. If you’re talking about your entire NAS, this obviously isn’t feasible.
If you’d like more information on Synology’s C2 Cloud backup solution, this article goes into much more depth.
Amazon Glacier Cloud Backup
Amazon S3 Glacier is the industry standard for many corporate level cloud backup solutions. In fact, many third-party cloud based backup providers simply re-brand their applications and use Amazon Web Services as their data storage solution anyway.
Here is how Amazon describes Amazon S3 Glacier:
Amazon S3 Glacier is a secure, durable, and extremely low-cost cloud storage service for data archiving and long-term backup. It is designed to deliver 99.999999999% durability, and provides comprehensive security and compliance capabilities that can help meet even the most stringent regulatory requirements. Amazon S3 Glacier provides query-in-place functionality, allowing you to run powerful analytics directly on your archive data at rest. Customers can store data for as little as $0.004 per gigabyte per month, a significant savings compared to on-premises solutions. To keep costs low yet suitable for varying retrieval needs, Amazon S3 Glacier provides three options for access to archives, from a few minutes to several hours.
It is important to note that Amazon S3 Glacier is not meant to be used for regular file retrievals. Instead, it is intended to be a reliable long-term backup to provide data redundancy in the event of an emergency.
While the Synology C2 cloud backup is built right into the Synology DiskStation Manager Hyper Backup application, the Amason S3 Glacier application is a native Synology app and is also included with DiskStation Manager (just download from Package Centre).
If you decide that you would like to use Amazon Glacier, the best step by step tutorial that I have found to take you through the process of configuring your Synology NAS to Glacier S3 Backup is here.
Synology C2 vs Amazon Glacier Pricing
Since this article is focused on creative industry professionals, we’ll skip any consumer level plans.
Synology C2 cloud backup pricing is listed as 69.99 Euros per terabyte (TB) per year, or roughly $6.60 USD per TB per month.
Amazon Glacier cloud backup pricing is listed at $0.004 per GB per month (depending on your location), or $4.00 USD per TB per month.
Both services are relatively similar in pricing, although Amazon also charges $0.03 per GB for retrieval – but since this is intended to be disaster recovery only, I’m not too concerned about a premium on retrieval pricing.
One major issue that you may want to consider is the physical location of the backup servers where your data will reside. Synology’s C2 servers are located in Frankfurt Germany and are therefore subject to European Union privacy laws. While Amazon has servers world wide (I selected Canada as my location), Amazon is a US corporation so I don’t have a lot of confidence that my data won’t end up in the hands of the NSA (who knows what kompromat is buried in 20 years of family photos, tax returns and emails).
This is a very serious consideration for many users, and it is no accident that Synology uses European Union privacy laws as a key marketing point.
While both Amazon S3 Glacier and Synology C2 are relatively similar in price, once you get up to several TB of data, Amazon S3 Glacier is a little bit more affordable (even more so in Canada as I have to convert everything to Canadian dollars).
I think that either service is the top choice for cloud backup of a Synology NAS, and a much better option than running a backup application on a separate computer.
After much consideration, I decided to go with Amazon S3 Glacier, mainly because Amazon Web Services is such a well trusted cloud data service provider.
But what would you choose?
Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!