CloudBerry Backup Server Edition is a software that allows you to back up Windows servers as images to various public cloud providers. This post explains how CloudBerry Backup works and how it might benefit those who want to perform cloud backups quickly and easily.

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CloudBerry (sometimes misspelled as "Cloud Berry") Labs have made a nice niche for themselves. They are an independent software vendor (ISV) that makes viewers for the world's major cloud storage vendors (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and so forth). Cloudberry also backs up cloud backup software. In fact, that's what I'm going to tell you about today!

CloudBerry Server Backup used to be called CloudBerry Backup Bare Metal Edition, but it's the same product. This is a desktop app that's licensed per computer. It certainly isn't targeted at enterprises, but it’s fine for use by individuals or small businesses. Go ahead and download the 2-week trial version and get it installed on a representative Windows server in your environment.

The software supports installation on Windows Server 2003 all the way up to Windows Server 2012 R2. Note that CloudBerry Backup also supports Mac and Linux backups. However, this review is only about the Windows version.

I like CloudBerry's minimal footprint--there's no messing with SQL databases or Web services. Again, this product is intended for small shops that may not have the capital (financial and human) to deploy an enterprise server backup solution.

Running an image backup ^

If you're familiar with Windows Server Backup, or more specifically Microsoft System Image Backup, then you'll feel totally at home with the CloudBerry Server Backup workflow. To get started, study the following annotated interface screenshot and I'll explain each part:

CloudBerry Server Backup user interface

CloudBerry Server Backup user interface

A: Choose between file-based and image (block)-based backup

B: These are simply advertisements for CloudBerry's SQL Server and Exchange Server backup tools

C: Back up a volume image from one cloud storage account to another, or from a cloud storage account to your on-prem environment

D: Start the Restore wizard

E: Build a bootable USB stick that contains the CloudBerry Restore tool

F: Access your backup jobs (ad-hoc and scheduled)

G: Access your restore jobs (ad-hoc and scheduled)

Click the Bare Metal button to start the Create Backup Bare Metal/System State Plan Wizard. The first step in the process is selecting your destination cloud storage account. As you can see from the following screenshot, CloudBerry's partner list is impressive:

Choose a cloud storage account for use with CloudBerry Server Backup

Choose a cloud storage account for use with CloudBerry Server Backup

If you don't have a cloud storage account, then choose the File System option and point CloudBerry to a local or UNC network path. To connect CloudBerry to one of my Azure storage accounts, I simply provided:

  • storage account name
  • shared encryption key
  • target container

Next, you'll make the following decisions to complete your first cloud backup plan:

  • Choose a backup type: choices are (a) image-based backup; (b) bare metal recovery; or (c) system state
  • Select other partitions to back up
  • Whether to enable compression and/or encryption. The encryption strength goes up to 256-bit AES
  • Which retention policy you want to use: your choices are (a) application defaults; or (b) custom retention policy for this backup plan
  • Whether you want to do a one-time backup or set it on a schedule
  • Which commands, if any, you want to run automatically before or after the backup job runs or completes
  • Whether you'd like an e-mail notification and/or Event Log entries written for this backup plan

Once complete, you'll manage your backup plans on the (wait for it) Backup Plans tab in the product, as shown here:

Managing CloudBerry backup plans

Managing CloudBerry backup plans

Running a file backup ^

The "Bare Metal" backup option is cool when you need to perform block-level saves of entire local disk volumes. But what if you just want to back up individual files and folders? No problem. Click the Files button and proceed through the wizard.

The main choice you need to make when using CloudBerry file backup is whether to use Advanced or Simple mode. Here's the breakdown:

  • Advanced Mode: Encryption, multiple file versions, but you can't access the backup archives with ordinary (that is, non-CloudBerry) file managers
  • Simple Mode: No encryption or multiple file versions, but you can "dip into" your backup archives by using ordinary file managers

The CloudBerry literature tells us that you can't get to "Advanced Mode" file backups by using, say, Windows File Explorer. However, I found I could view the files just fine as long as I didn't encrypt them.

CloudBerry Server Backup keeps a nice log of its actions on the History tab, as shown here:

Viewing backup and restore history

Viewing backup and restore history

Performing a restore ^

Now let's turn our attention to the other side of the disaster recovery equation--namely, restore. Click the Restore button to start the wizard. The restore process consists of the following steps:

  • Select the cloud storage account where your backup is stored
  • Choose to run the restore once or save its properties as a plan
  • Select a restore type: individual files and folders; files from archives; volume image; bare metal restore; or Windows System State only
  • Decide whether you want the latest version of the backup or a point-in-time restore
  • Decide how you want to restore the volume image. You have many options here, so I decided to show you a screen capture below. It's especially powerful in that you can restore a system image directly to a new cloud-based virtual machine
You have many options as to where to restore backed-up volume images

You have many options as to where to restore backed-up volume images

Finally, there's the Recovery Disk. Here you can create a bootable USB disk or ISO optical image file that contains the CloudBerry software and enables you to perform bare-metal restores.

Check this out--you don't have to license the software to perform bare-metal restores! This means that if you backed up a server during your two-week trial, decided not to buy a license and later realize you have to restore a backup, you can do so without paying. That's rather kind of CloudBerry, in my humble opinion.

Programmatic access ^

Many modern-day Windows systems administrators are moving beyond graphical user interfaces and are now embracing administrative scripting. To that end, CloudBerry Server Backup includes a command-line client named cbb.exe that exists by default in the product's installation directory.

If you plan to call cbb.exe from PowerShell, make sure to (a) navigate to the proper directory; and (b) use "dot notation" to run the executable like so:

Another option is the C# assembly (CloudBerry.Backup.API.dll) that CloudBerry is developing. This DLL is also located in the product installation folder, and can be added to a C# project. Because I'm not a .NET developer I can't speak to what functionality exists within that library; sadly, CloudBerry doesn't document it very well.

It's probably that lack of documentation that explains why I haven't seen any Windows PowerShell wrapper modules at the PowerShell Gallery or GitHub. CloudBerry does say they have PowerShell snap-ins for some of their products (like CloudBerry Explorer). However, the documentation is poor--I don't even know where to find these snap-ins.

Wrap-up ^

In summary, what I liked about CloudBerry Server Backup is its broad support for many public cloud providers, as well as its overall ease of use. What I didn't like is the requirement to manage a separate application instance for each server I want to manage.

CloudBerry Server Backup is licensed per-computer at $119.99 USD. Actually, this is just one edition in a suite of four CloudBerry Backup products:

  • Desktop Free: Performs only file/folder backups.
  • Desktop Pro: Higher storage limit, encryption/compression.
  • Server: The edition I reviewed in this article. Can back up to 5 network shares with a 1 TB storage limit.
  • Ultimate: All features unlocked, with no limits on storage or network shares. This edition also supports Exchange and SQL Server backups.

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