Had high hopes but wound up uninstalling

First, this is not knocking the software, just explaining why it does not work FOR ME.

Duplicati looked really promising, and I thought it was awesome until I realized that it did not directly support swapping out hard drives. For me, that is an absolute deal-breaker. My clients swap out hard drives and take the removed drive off-site to protect against fire/flood/encryption, etc.

Yes, cloud would be an option except most of my clients are in small towns with crummy internet connections and have literally millions of files so that is not a realistic option. I also did not feel like spending a lot of time “tricking” software into doing something it was not designed to do.

Again, if you never remove your external backup drive or have excellent internet speeds, this software looks really awesome, but that does not fit my clients. I appreciate all the hard work that you all do very much and am sure it is of huge benefit to a lot of people. If you ever bake in swapping out hard drives I will absolutely revisit the software as I really liked the interface and simplicity of setting up backups.

It shouldn’t be difficult to do with basic support. I believe just a bool (true/false) setting and then simply check that setting on next backup and if nothing is found wipe out the db and create a new backup. Though they probably have some really complex amount of stuff to do even though it should be fast to implement lol.

They should probably technically do that anyway to protect against issues. Deja Dup does it automatically every few months. Which would mean just the setting, call it, and implemented in a few minutes.

That could be expanded on if one swaps back other drives with the backups still on them, etc. Something like that would take longer as identifiers have to be saved and checked against.

Quite sure it definitely doesn’t do any of that.

No backup solution is for everyone. I loved Crashplan years ago. Today its not for me.

1 Like

hmm… can’t anything better be done ?
I never had this problem with Duplicati, but some time (years) ago I had to setup a backup with a commercial software - Acronis IIRC - and it had definitely no out-of-the-box support so I think that I fixed the drive letters in Windows, so that removable disk 1 was G and removable disk 2 was H (always) and there were 2 jobs (one for even numbered days of week backing up on drive G, one for odd numbered days of week backinp up on disk H).
If the user mixed up the 2 drives, the backup job aborted in failure (as it should, the user had no issue with failures caused by own mistakes).
While I have no need for such a setup with Duplicati, I don’t see why it would not work.

That was just a quick basic thing to get Duplicati to do it out-of-the-box which is what this person is looking for. You’re getting into something else which appears to be a user side only hacky thing with that example :slight_smile:

Technically, though, I don’t know how Duplicati will even handle that when drives are swapped. You remove a drive and the letter will change on the next drive and Duplicati db will have changed unless multiple jobs are created. I don’t know. That’s getting into spaghetti. Needs a chart lol.

However, I see Duplicati has a no-local-db setting which might already solve something here. I’ve never used it so don’t know how it works especially in this context.

thing is, OP was implying that there was software supporting this out of the box. But the only time I had this need, the software (not Duplicati !) had NO support for it. So I’m not sure that this out of the box support is even doable.

This can be done, but don’t remove the drive in middle of backup, and start-on-plugin is awkward.
The basic rule is that the local database that tracks the destination must pair with that destination.
Nice way to get that is to put it right on the destination drive using the Database screen to move it.

Backup rotation on removeable drives fails after drive change

What exactly does “directly support” mean? It’s definitely not a primary goal, but may work enough.
That concept also applies if you have paying clients. Will they take Beta software as good enough?
No software is perfect. Duplicati runs 50 million backups per year (good enough?) but issues exist.

There are several methods I use, the first being CloudBerry which can use rotating drives out of the box…
https://www.msp360.com/resources/blog/how-to-use-rotating-drives-strategy/

The next method uses FreeFileSync https://freefilesync.org/ to just keep a synced copy of the local data directories (and SQL backups) on an external hard drive. This is nice as it is fast once the initial backup happens and no matter what hard drive I plug in to E: it does its thing without complaint. It also uses a separate directory on the external drive to keep multiple copies of changed files for versioning protecting against encryption.

Lastly, I still have a client who is using an old Acronis for servers and two backup drives and two different backup plans. N: and M: both run every night and one always fails while the other always works. This kinda works because sometimes the failure does something weird and prevents the other backup from starting. While rare, it is a pain. I also cant use the ‘email on failure’ options because there is always a failure. This is the current client I am searching for a replacement for.

I would go Cloudberry (MSP360 now) but they have gone to a subscription model and I stay away from those like the plague when possible. I tried Duplicati for them, that doesn’t work. So now I am thinking about the FreeFileSync option.

I liked the Duplicati idea because if it had worked, it could also do cloud backups and FTP both of which would be awesome for my clients who do have good internet.

There is a Kopia (at kopia.io), which has respiratory (kind of virtual drives), which each one can by connected/disconnected at will (all config files are stored in the respiratory, so there’s no local stuff except caches), but Kopia requires fair bit of understanding what is doing and why, because its idea is different from a Duplicati.

I think that if you search hard enough the Acronis forum you will exhume the thread where someone asked Acronis support how to setup jobs running every other day.

Our clients swap out drives every week. I admit I have not looked in a long time but at the time there was no facility to do that with Acronis.

It looks like the difference is “out of the box” versus “one screen away”. Is there something I missed?
If that’s the difference, then point conceded – it’s not exactly out of the box, but it’s one screen away.

I “think” (I haven’t tested) that it’s not even an every-new-drive need. An empty drive would certainly initialize itself with a full backup, but before it did that it would probably see no DB, so run fresh start.

Certainly you’re more familiar with Cloudberry than I am, and their feature definitely looks intentional.
Duplicati, once set up (the one screen), should happily update any old drive with the current sources.

There might be some other oddities visible, e.g. the home screen stats won’t update on drive plug-in.
Currently they update on backup. Few people notice, but inquisitive drive-rotators might ask about it.

You’ve certainly thought through your sync plan, and taken versioning into account. That’s important.

I don’t know much about old Acronis. Duplicati does have an email feature. Hopefully fails are rare…
There are a bunch of third-party tools such that build on the reporting to more easily monitor backups.

As you’re likely aware, Duplicati doesn’t do too well on actually remotely administering client backups.
I think those are aimed at service providers and larger shops. CrashPlan has some (but subscription).
Industry-wide, there seems to be a trend towards fancier software. Maybe there’s more money there?

I would think that you could get the basics from any software that doesn’t keep backup records on C:\.
Presumably this is Windows, and clients may like VSS. That cuts it down some more. You can search.
I’m thinking Arq Backup may fit, but I’ve only got one hit so far about media rotation (so how smooth?).

If you have Duplicati questions, please ask, otherwise I think that’s about all the cheap advice I have…
Thanks to the others for joining in with their thoughts, but sometimes an Internet search can also help.

Perhaps it is something I missed. What exactly are you calling “one screen away”? All of the information I have found with a moderate amount of effort was a bunch of “duplicati doesn’t do drive swapping but maybe you could try this…” stuff.

One person seems to have gotten it to work using the dbpath option but then there was something about a upgrade issue that I don’t see what the issue was or a resolution, or if it is even related.

The next person says it too got it working, but then he starts talking about problems synchronizing files and with multiple backup jobs so I am not sure what he is doing. The second part doesn’t really seem related to the first.

I guess what I am saying is that the products I am looking for/at that work “out of the box” are specifically designed to do what I want without me trying to make it do something it was not designed to do. That is a factor because a: I may not do it right and backups are far too important for me to mess them up and b: I don’t get paid to spend a bunch of time trying to get something to work.

If you are saying that something as simple as telling duplicati to use the external drive as the dbpath will solve my issue, then that absolutely is something I can look into.

What I posted:

Specifically, that means on the detailed options for a given backup (click to expand), click Database.
Where it has Local database path, type over that to go somewhere on external drive letter. Click
Move existing database button. If drive letter doesn’t move, that might be all that’s ever required.

dbpath can be used for a command line run. If this is GUI, the database path is on Database screen.
They’re the same thing, just presented differently in the user interface. People usually prefer the GUI.

The rather detailed setup and test results for the method I’m talking about are summarized by below:

Duplicati is designed to allow movement of the database, but drive rotation is only one of many reasons.

Just change the one screen, and see if you like it. If you really want to see how this connects to dbpath, Using the Command line tools from within the Graphical User Interface or Export As Command-line will show how the GUI change causes a change in the dbpath option. Test some further scenarios, but still

may be a bigger concern. If Duplicati has a problems, it’s not always super-simple to figure it out and fix.
Especially in a higher volume paid situation, even occasional tending might run up the bill pretty quickly.
Something aimed at volume usage would (I would hope) have minimal tending as one of its main goals.

Thank you, I will try it locally and see how it works. I should note, I was using the term “dbpath” generally, as a replacement for “the path to the database files” so either in the GUI or command line, I was talking about the same thing.

In several years using my current backup plans, I have had some hiccups. Most of the time, things run smoothly with the old Acronis, current Cloudberry, and the FreeFileSync. To be totally honest the only backup solution I have ever used that has…so far…never failed is the built-in Windows Server Backup. But of course it wont let me swap drives either without doing some stupid stuff with drive pools and then it too starts to break.

Anyway, thanks, I will try it out.

Looking (quickly) your alternatives

seems more expensive than Duplicati. Recurring payments tend to raise sharply the expectations from customers, if the provider does the heavy lifting (solving problems :-)) in your place it’s not a problem, if not well…

same price as Duplicati, but don’t seem to provide the same capabilities (no versions ‘out of the box’, no encrypted backup ‘out of the box’)

When I installed CB for my clients, it was a one-time payment, only recently have they switched to recurring. So all my clients have permanent licenses, not an issue. Also, you mention more expensive, not necessarily, CB offers a free version Free Products | MSP360™ but it does not offer the full feature set. Still, if you wanted a basic backup to AWS or an external hard drive and did not have a ton of data, its free.

You are incorrect about versioning, FreeFileSync has versioning built-in, look in Synchronization Settings, Synchronization tab, Versioning button. You can define where the versioned files are stored, the naming convention used, how many days to keep each version, along with the minimum and a maximum number of versions to keep. Very flexible.

You are correct on encryption, but not something I use so I am not concerned with it.

same for Acronis eh ? Seems they have all come together to decide what’s best for customers.

Looked a bit more at FreeFileSync and VSS support seems rather light. In fact I can’t find it in the source (but 20’ of reading is not very long, granted)

Look under Tools > Options > Copy locked files (hover over it and it tells you it uses VSS). While FreeFileSync may not be perfect, it has a really nice feature set.

Sure it does, but you’ll need to setup a job for each backup. For example I needed to have a daily backup taken offsite 5 days per week. I had 5 hard drives and 5 jobs, each to be used each day. Each drive had a unique file in a directory so that Duplicati would recognise the drives using the ‘-alternate-destination-marker’ switch. You just need to take into consideration that data base sizes. You’ll end up with 5 versions of the database and if as you each job had millions of files could mean large DB bloat. At worse you’ll need another disk for databases and the time to complete the first full backup of each backup job.

It definitely has no support with direct default. It does have a lot of combination of settings that might work well enough as the one post above this new reply will suggest.

Out-of-the-box to me is as I suggested in the first post I made here. I’m a developer, not a pure user like you. A quick and dirty implementation is to wipe the DB and make a new backup each time in Duplicati programmatically (not a user thing you will do).

And things that take more time to implement would be to add in support for other situations like keeping track of multiple drives.

You seem to be mixing my ideas with your pure user viewpoint :slight_smile:

I won’t repeat myself again so I’m done here. I’ve nothing else to add anyway. It really needs development time to improve it to eg a wizard or one setting and implement everything. That’s not something I will be doing.