DreamHost Now Offers Personal Backup Space

First of all, I did admit that I used DreamHost web space for personal backups. It’s fast, much more scriptable than Amazon S3, and have lots of space in my $10/month web hosting package — why not?! Except it is against their ToS and they have been cracking down on users using their allocated space for backup rather than for public websites. While you could put your files in “web accessible” directories and then guard it with a .htaccess file, at the end of day the message is clear — DreamHost doesn’t welcome their servers being used for backups.

However DreamHost is now changing the game. In their August 2008 newsletter, Josh Jones has announced their new feature — 50GB personal backup space for all web hosting users.

DreamHost: Backup User A new item “Backup User” has been added to the User menu to let you manage your backup user. The help text reads:

At DreamHost, you may only keep website-related content on your regular users.

You do, however, get one user per account where anything legal may be stored; your Backups User.

This user cannot have any websites pointed to it, nor may you share files via it… it is only to be used as an off-site backup for your personal files.

As such, we keep no backups of files on this account. These are already supposed to be your backups… not your only copy!

(Of course, you should always keep your own copies of all data stored with us.. we make no guarantees!)

Every full DreamHost Hosting plan includes 50GB of backups space!

(Additional usage will be charged at the rate of 10 cents / GB a month: the best backup deal on the net!)

It then let you manage your special backup user on a different server than your web server. Two methods of access — either FTP or SFTP.

What’s Good

A few good points that might tempt myself to use DreamHost’s backup user:

  • It comes with your web hosting account, free of charge (if you are already a DreamHost user).

  • 50GB free storage is huge, and 10 cent / GB makes it very competitive in pricing. Amazon for example charges 15 cent / GB. BQ Internet, which I currently use to back up all my servers, costs 15 – 50 cents / GB if you use all the space allocated to your plan. Joyent’s Bingo Disk is cheap at 4.25 cent / GB (their $49/year 25GB plan), but WebDAV?

  • I don’t know about how well DreamHost runs, but they look like a big cashflow positive hosting company that is not going to all the sudden going out of business (like many Web 2.0′ish online storage companies). I trust that they can make sure their disks have enough space.

  • LA servers — I love LA servers because they are fast enough for me (from Australia).

Well. I am almost sold on DreamHost’s backup plans, and I actually plan to use more than just the 50GB provided, because their 10 cent / GB overage is just too cheap. I am currently on $5/month backup plan with BQ Internet and while Scott @ BQ Internet runs a good job there, I occasionally still have access issues and would switch over to DreamHost backup if it supports rsync… Except it doesn’t.

What’s Not So Good

A few issues when I tested out DreamHost backup.

  1. Only FTP and SFTP access are provided. FTP is definitely a no-no. SFTP is not too bad — you can mount it using FUSE on Linux or Mac. Not too bad on Windows either. But if you have 50GB of data that needs to be backed up, and are only changing 10MB everyday — rsync is still much preferred.

  2. No backup on backup users. I found this is a bit ambiguous. Actually I found it less than assuring. I do hope they have RAID storage that does patrol read to against data loss. The last thing you want during data discovery is finding your backup files are totally corrupted.

Looks like a show stopper for me. Hopefully DreamHost can address these issues because there are actually people who are willing to pay for quality backup storage service.

Update

2008-11-05 — looks like DreamHost is now allowing rsync and scp. Well done!

Just a tip — DreamHost backup service seems to be taking DSA keys but not RSA keys, just in case you are wondering why you cannot log into their backup server using your private key. Also the shell is protected by rssh, allowing only scp, sftp and rsync.