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Storage

Restore

Of course, what’s really important about having cloud-based backups is the ability to restore from the cloud when needed. To restore from the cloud, you need to download and install a restore program from http://cloudbox.lacie.com. There are 32 and 64 bit versions for MacOS and Linux as well as a Windows version.

When you first install the program, you will be prompted for the administrator’s user name, password, and the 16 digit contract number. You can opt to remember the contract number, but you’ll need to log in with administrator’s credentials each time you launch the program. After logging in, you will see the simple screen shown in figure 16. Your only two options are Browse or Full Restore.

CloudBox Online Restore options

Figure 16: CloudBox Online Restore options

When you select browse, you first select from one of the ten last successful backup points. Using an Explorer-like interface, you first select the files or directories you want to restore. Then you choose the destination location for the restored files. You can restore directly to the CloudBox or to your computer. Figure 17 shows the selective restore interface.

Selective restore from Online Storage

Figure 17: Selective restore from Online Storage

While your selected files are being restored from your online storage, a status box keeps you informed of the progress along with an estimate of time remaining as shown in Figure 18.

Online restore status page

Figure 18: Online restore status page

If you have to replace your CloudBox for any reason, you’ll need to do a Full Restore. You can launch the full restore either from the Online Restore application, or from the Dashboard (Figure 5 above).

All data on your existing CloudBox will be deleted and replaced by the Full Restore. However, you also have the option of selecting your computer as the destination for the Full Restore. Of course, depending on the amount of data stored online and your internet connection speed, a full restore could take several days to complete.

Performance

If you compare the performance of the CloudBox to other single-drive NASes, you’ll find that it ranks near the bottom. The file write performance Chart over on SmallNetBuilder shows the CloudBox ranking 10th out of 13 as shown in Figure 19 with only 19 MB/s of throughput.

Online restore status page

Figure 19: File Copy Write Performance of single drive NAS devices

For read performance the CloudBox was slightly faster at 27 MB/s, but still ranked last among single drive NASes (Figure 20).

File Copy Read Performance of single drive NAS devices

Figure 20: File Copy Read Performance of single drive NAS devices

While the performance is somewhat disappointing, you have to remember that the primary purpose of this device is for backups.  Since the backup software runs in the background, performance is probably less of an issue than if you were using it to move large amounts of data between devices.

As noted in several places in the CloudBox manual, synching to the cloud can take many hours or days depending on the speed of your internet connection. My service provider is Comcast Cable, and when I periodically test the connection speed, I get fairly good results. Figure 21 shows that my download speed is a little over 31 Mbps and upstream is 5.8 Mbps.

Cable connection performance

Figure 21: Cable connection performance

My initial synchronization of the CloudBox with online storage was about 2.9 GB and took 10 hours and 58 minutes. That equates to just a little less than 600 Kbps upstreamabout 10% of my measured speed. On another test, the CloudBox uploaded 192.6 MB to the cloud in 22 minutes—slightly over 1 Mbps.

On download restore tests, of course the performance was much better. I restored 259 MB of files in 3 minutes and 23 seconds, and 173 MB of files in 2 minutes and 18 seconds. These both work out to around 10 Mbps. Although better than upload, this is still only about 33% of my available download bandwidth.

Closing Thoughts

The LaCie CloudBox was designed to be a simple-to-use backup device that provides both local and cloud-based storage. The magic is in its simplicity, i.e. anything that you put onto the CloudBox gets backed up online. While the CloudBox ships with backup software for both MacOS and Windows, you can use whatever backup or synchronization software you prefer.

While I applaud LaCie for including the fully-featured Intego Backup Manager Pro for the Mac, I wish that they had included at least the Home version of Genie Timeline. The included free version of Genie Timeline lacks the ability to create a recovery image – a “must have” feature in my book.

It would be a mistake to think of the CloudBox as a typical NAS. While it does support multiple users with separate shares, it lacks UPnP AV/DLNA/iTunes media servers. It also lacks remote access, though arguably you could retrieve any files you need from the online backup.

My initial impression was that a network storage device with only 100 GB of space would be of limited use. I have several TB of storage locally and the disaster recovery image for my computer is over 400 GB. But clearly, this device wasn’t designed for the enthusiast market, but rather for the typical home user who doesn’t have a huge video, photo or music library.

At around $180 street, the CloudBox doesn’t look like a very good deal for 100 GB of storage until you realize that the price includes a one year subscription to 100 GB of online storage. That makes it a pretty good bargain. As a comparison, 100 GB of online storage at Dropbox costs $19.99/month or $199 per year. SugarSync, another online storage and synchronization vendor, charges $149/year for 100 GB.

Once your first year is up, however, the CloudBox starts looking less attractive at its $129/year renewal price. And when you consider that you can get ulimited storage from a vendor like Backblaze for under $50/year from your own Windows or MacOS machine, you might wonder why you'd buy the CloudBox at all!

The Lacie CloudBox is a simple appliance that can automatically backup your important files to a network storage device, which is then automatically synchronized to offsite cloud-based storage. With this solution in place, you have both onsite and offsite secure backup of your files. If that simplicity appeals to you, you can live with the 100 GB limitation and don't mind paying a premium price for cloud storage, the LaCie CloudBox could be the perfect backup solution for you.

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