Getting rid of Dropbox
I am currently trying to rebuild my Backup strategy from the bottom up.
Why am I doing that now? I just recently hit the perfect storm.
- I finally reactivated my FTP server from cold storage. I found (to my biggest surprise!) that all 8 HDDs survived those 4 years of not spinning, and also an entirety of 4 moves in that time. Yay!
- All of those disks are formatted as ext4 in a simple RAID. I need some temporary "swap space" to get a ZFS or btrfs or whatever set up. Same applies for my PCs. Bitrot sucks.
- I bought a new SSD, and put it into my PC. I intended to hot-copy over from the old HDD to the SSD, so I did not make a backup first. That was a mistake. I don't know what exactly happened (best guess is a bead of sweat dripped onto the electronics), but long story short the HDD motor controller releases its magic smoke and my HDD was toast. The data loss was not catastrophic, but the backups were older than I liked. I need something more reliable. Losing more than a week of work is unacceptable.
- I recently found exciting new technologies.
- Borgbackup (or its competitor restic) are pretty much the end-all for filesystem-based backups (block-based content aware deduplication, compression, encryption, integrity checking, scheduled pruning...) Amazing for somebody like me who does not yet have zfs and only recently warmed up to LVM snapshots.
- I really want to try syncthing out, it seems to be the first solution that has a delta algorithm on par with Dropbox.
- Dropbox raised its prices which caused me to cancel my auto-renewal. I am a mostly happy Dropbox Pro customer, but a price hike of approx +30% is unacceptable. In addition, I would like to do more flexible syncing. Simply sharing stuff wherever on the file system. Also the lack of (open source) client encryption in Dropbox always caused me some uncomfortableness.
So my current plan is something like the following:
- Set-up my FTP server with Borgbackup, and have it collect my backups daily (that part is actually already done.)
- Set up syncthing on the FTP server.
- Find a new cloud hoster which supports both Borgbackup and Syncthing, so I can have both my daily backups and real-time syncing.
I soon found out that privately hosted storage is still not super cheap, and on the first glance Dropbox is actually pretty competitive in price. Let's use Dropbox (with new prices) as a benchmark:
|143,88 €/yr||2 TB||unmetered||
One of the first offers I found was the Borgbackup no-support expert package by rsync.net. The first Terabyte costs you $180/yr, the second to tenth Terabyte will be half as expensive. This offer allows every tool as long as it speaks SSH, so syncthing is right out. So what we have is:
|180,00 €/yr||1 TB||unmetered||
|360,00 €/yr||2 TB||unmetered||
So I kept looking, and checked some VPS offers. Just as a benchmark, I looked at what Hetzner had to offer, and their offer is actually already quite nice and above all competitive to Dropbox in price!
It turns out that Hetzner offers something called Storagebox which is what it says: A managed server with no root access, but rather a well-defined number of storage access interfaces (sftp, borg, Samba, NFS...) you can use from over the world. The storage gets cheaper in bulk with an (in my opinion) nicely degressing price curve for private individuals.
So what we have here are:
|109,92 €/yr||1 TB||
5 TB / month
|137,76 €/yr||2 TB||
10 TB / month
These numbers (even though they are competitive on their own) actually come with another caveat:
- Borgbackup does both deduplication and compression. Dropbox meteres the storage required for your uncompressed, undeduplicated data.
- Traffic is only metered as soon as you take data out (egress), ingress traffic (backupping data to cloud) and internal traffic (important for the variant below) do not get billed!
But as I said: This offer provides no root access, and also no dedicated syncthing support. Anyways, Hetzner generally offers free traffic within their own organization, so just book a cheap VPS and let it use the Storagebox!
The cheapest VPS that Hetzner offers are the Cloud VPS. But even then the smallest has a whopping 20 TB of Traffic inclusive!
Let's assume we pick that cloud VPS for 2,89 € / month. (We could also be miserly and only turn it on when we need it, but that would somewhat defeat the purpose of real-time sync with syncthing.)
|144,60 €/yr||1 TB||
20 TB + 5 TB dedicated to box
|172,44 €/yr||2 TB||
20 TB + 10 TB dedicated to box
This means that the Hetzner offer is at least for Dropbox-like volumes of data more or less objectively better than the offer by rsync.net. (Not considering stuff like support, disaster recovery, as I have not yet any experience with them.)
Other hosters seem to have similar offers. For example:
- Netcup offers 1,5 TiB of storage for 15,59 €/mon (187,08 €/yr)
- Hosteurope offers 2 TiB of storage for 19,99 €/mon (239,88 €/yr), only in connection with a VServer offering (10 €/mon on top)
- Strato offers 1,2 TiB of storage for 15,00 €/mon (180,00 €/yr)
The only competitive offer I found so far was the Strato Hi-Drive, which seems to be aimed at people trying to get rid of Dropbox and looking for a EU hosted alternative:
- 1 TiB for 7,50 €/mon (90,00 €/yr)
- 3 TiB for 18,00 €/mon (216,00 €/yr)
- dedicated support for CIFS/Samba, rsync, scp/sftp, WebDAV, git
- No dedicated support for Borgbackup, accessible via rsync backend
- No syncthing support, but seems to be running some kind of NextCloud clone, which would provide real-time sync.
- Collaboration support similar to Dropbox, multiple users.
So to summarize: I was really surprised that Hetzner is actually competitive in price here.
People who just want to get rid of Dropbox with not a lot of integration work may find a valuable alternative with the Strato Hi-Drive.
(All prices and evaluations with no guarantees. Or as we say in Germany: "Alle Angaben sind wie immer ohne Gewähr" 😉)
Do you know any better offers? Want me to set up a similar storage setup for you? Feel free to contact me!