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IotaBackup Documentation

David Holmes

Abstract

This document provides information about installing and configuring IotaBackup, a Cloud Based backup solution which stores your precious files off-site in a secure Data Centre.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The IotaBackup website
3. Installing IotaBackup
4. The Tray Status Panel
5. Configuration
6. Restoring your Backups
7. Advanced Topics
8. Uninstalling IotaBackup
9. Frequently Asked Questions
10. Revision History

List of Figures

2.1. Website menu once logged in
2.2. Client Downloads page
2.3. Your Backup Clients page
3.1. Launching the Installer
3.2. User Account Control panel
3.3. Prompt to install .NET 4
3.4. Launching the Installer
3.5. Installing Prerequisites
3.6. Selecting what folders to backup
3.7. Choosing a password to secure your backup
3.8. Selecting where to install IotaBackup
4.1. IotaBackup is the blue hexagon icon
4.2. The compact Status Panel
4.3. The expanded Status Panel
4.4. The popup menu
5.1. The IotaBackup Configuration panel
5.2. The IotaBackup Configuration panel since 0.9.4.4
6.1. The Restore application
6.2. Directory of Backed up files
6.3. Details of selected File or Directory
6.4. Available Snapshots
6.5. The Files and Directories selected for Restore
6.6. Restore Progress

List of Tables

1.1. The IotaBackup applications
3.1. IotaBackup Installation steps
4.1. Stages
6.1. The Quadrants in the Restore application
7.1. Application Files
7.2. Registry settings
7.3. 'Trait' settings usable in BackupConfig and BackupConfigExtra
10.1. Recent Revision History

Chapter 1. Introduction

Note

If you've followed a link to this document, and don't yet know what IotaBackup is, visit our Home Page.

IotaBackup is a Cloud Based backup solution which stores your precious files off-site in a secure Data Centre.

  • Off-site, Always-on Business Backup

  • 5 Minute Setup

  • Easy to use and unlimited space

  • Enterprise Level Data Security

  • Tries to be efficient about what is transmitted across the Internet for improved throughput

  • Allows you to get to old versions of your files

  • Backs up file permissions

The IotaBackup product consists of:

The Service that runs in the background performing the backup

The main IotaBackup user application, which sits in the tray and provides the Status panel.

Configuration tool
The application for restoring your files
A future application for administering IotaBackup in large organisations

Table 1.1. The IotaBackup applications


Chapter 2. The IotaBackup website

You can visit the IotaBackup website at http://iotabackup.pismosoftware.co.uk. If you have not already done so, Sign Up and then Login. When you Sign Up, you will be sent a confirmation email containing a link that you will need to click.

Once logged in, you will have more screens available to you from the menu at the top-right.

Website menu once logged in

Figure 2.1. Website menu once logged in


The Client Downloads link provides links to the latest clients. At the moment only Windows is supported, but we hope to broaden this to Mac OS X and Linux.

Client Downloads page

Figure 2.2. Client Downloads page


As the page explains, on a 64-bit Windows you can use the 64-bit build. If it doubt, the 32-bit version will always work.

The Your Backup Clients page lists the systems being backed up, shows some statistics, and allows you to Rename or Deactivate them.

Your Backup Clients page

Figure 2.3. Your Backup Clients page


The Total Data Stored & Total Files Stored tell you how big the current backup is, although undoubtedly many more historical files will be held in old snapshots. The Total sent to Cloud column records the total amount of data you have sent to the server.

Chapter 3. Installing IotaBackup

This section describes how to install IotaBackup on a Windows PC. Start by visit the IotaBackup website register yourself a user. As part of the registration you will be sent an email which you'll need to confirm. You should now be able to download the IotaBackup client.

Start by launching the Installer, either from the web site or a previously downloaded installer.
Launching the Installer
   
Launching the Installer

Figure 3.1. Launching the Installer


On recent versions of Windows you'll almost certainly get a message pop up asking permission to install the IotaBackup package.

You will need to select Yes to continue.

User Account Control panel

Figure 3.2. User Account Control panel


Depending which version of Windows you have, and how up to date it is, you may need to install the .NET Framework 4.

You will need to select Yes to continue.

Prompt to install .NET 4

Figure 3.3. Prompt to install .NET 4


You should now be greeted by a Welcome screen. Click Next.
Launching the Installer

Figure 3.4. Launching the Installer


You may need to install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable. If so, click "Install Missing Components" and then when this completes Click Next.
Installing Prerequisites
 
Installing Prerequisites

Figure 3.5. Installing Prerequisites


IotaBackup will now install, and then you can choose what to backup. There are some suggestions that you can tick, or click on the folder icon towards the top right to pick from a folder tree.
Selecting what folders to backup

Figure 3.6. Selecting what folders to backup


Next you will be given the opportunity to choose a password which will be used to protect your backup. This password secures your encryption key, and will be needed later when you restore backups. Although you won't be enforced to choose a password, it is strongly recommended.

For safekeeping you may choose to upload the key to the server.

You will need to select Next to continue.

Choosing a password to secure your backup
 
Choosing a password to secure your backup

Figure 3.7. Choosing a password to secure your backup


Installation is now complete. When you click Finish a web browser will open showing your Backup Client, and the Backup Status panel should open to show progress.
Selecting where to install IotaBackup

Figure 3.8. Selecting where to install IotaBackup


Table 3.1. IotaBackup Installation steps


Chapter 4. The Tray Status Panel

Should you wish to, you can monitor the progress of your backup by launching the Status panel from the Tray app.

IotaBackup is the blue hexagon icon

Figure 4.1. IotaBackup is the blue hexagon icon


Double-click the IotaBackup tray app to open the panel:

The compact Status Panel

Figure 4.2. The compact Status Panel


This panel shows what IotaBackup is doing, what file is currently being backed up, and the total number so far. If you click on 'More', you get more details information:

The expanded Status Panel

Figure 4.3. The expanded Status Panel


The panel now shows the total amount of data backed up and how much as actually been sent across the Internet to the Cloud server. The Efficiency gauge shows the Backed up amount/Send to cloud amount, and the higher the value the better. There is also an approximate throughput based on the last data block that was sent. It is shown in red when it is below 150KB/s. You can hover over various metrics and the efficiency gauge for more detail. The efficiency dial will show roughly 1 if you are backing up personal data that doesn't compress well. All being well it will be 2 or more showing that you are benefiting from various deduplication techniques.

The queue length shows many files have been changed in the monitored directories, and that IotaBackup will return to when it is ready. The Retrying number (which is included in the Queue length) is how many files have had a problem being backed up, and will be returned to. You can bring up a list of the Retrying files by clicking More.

If you right-click either the Status panel or the Tray icon, a pop up menu gives you a shortcut to the other IotaBackup applications.

The popup menu

Figure 4.4. The popup menu


You can quickly launch the Configuration and Restore applications.

The Status panel will show what stage it is in, as well some more detail of what it is doing. The Stages are shown below.

Waiting: This is shown when the Tray application is trying to connect to the Service.
Connecting: This is shown when IotaBackup is attempting to connect to the Cloud server.
Full Scan: A full scan is taking place. If this is the first time IotaBackup is run, this will be time-consuming as each file must be read and potentially backed up.
Live Backup: Files are being backed up as they are changed
Paused: Either explicitly or because on battery
Idle: Nothing to do
Warning: More information will be shown

Table 4.1. Stages


Chapter 5. Configuration

IotaBackup provides a straightforwards configuration screen, as shown in Figure 5.1, “The IotaBackup Configuration panel”. If you are not an administrator most of the functionality will be disabled/greyed out.

You can launch the Configuratin panel from the Start menu, or from the Tray popup menu shown in Figure 4.4, “The popup menu”.

The IotaBackup Configuration panel

Figure 5.1. The IotaBackup Configuration panel


The IotaBackup Configuration panel since 0.9.4.4

Figure 5.2. The IotaBackup Configuration panel since 0.9.4.4


The panel allows you to:

Control the Service

You can Start, Stop, Restart and Pause the IotaBackup Service which performs the backing up in the background.

Pause when on battery

This is set by default, and sensible as you will want to preserve your battery reserves when on the move. The checksumming, compression and encryption can be fairly CPU intensive. With this enabled the Service should automatically pause shortly after going onto batter, and resume

Configure what gets backed up

The list of directories being backed up is shown in the right pane, and can be updated using the left and right arrows to update the list.

After making your changes, click Apply. If you have updated the directory list, you will need to restart the service if it is running.

Chapter 6. Restoring your Backups

You should see a screen similar to Figure 6.1, “The Restore application” when you launch Restore. If you have set a password on your backups, you will be prompted for it.

The Restore application

Figure 6.1. The Restore application


The four quadrants are:

The top left quadrant shows a directory tree of your backed up files.

You can choose what you restore by ticking the appropriate files/directories, and they will be listed in the bottom right quadrant. You can also select items and see further information in top right quadrant.

When you have selected the files you wish to retrieve, click "Restore Files"[a].

Directory of Backed up files

Figure 6.2. Directory of Backed up files


The top right panel shows properties and file permissions of the currently selected File or Directory.

Details of selected File or Directory

Figure 6.3. Details of selected File or Directory


The bottom left panel shows the Snapshots which can be restored. Initially the 'Current' one will be shown, which is the most recent backup. Snapshots are taken once a full backup completes, and then typically ever 20 minutes. If you have a large number of snapshots, they will be organised into days and months.

If you click one of the earlier Snapshot, IotaBackup will retrieve the state of your backup as it was. Note that this can be time-consuming as it can involve a significant amount of work to restore the state of your backup as it was.

Available Snapshots

Figure 6.4. Available Snapshots


The bottom right quadrant shows what you have selected to restore. When you select files or directories in the Directory tree, this panel will update.

The Files and Directories selected for Restore

Figure 6.5. The Files and Directories selected for Restore


[a] Note that Apply Permissions is currently disabled, and will be enabled in future releases.

Table 6.1. The Quadrants in the Restore application


When you Restore Files, you will see it progressing.

Restore Progress

Figure 6.6. Restore Progress


There are some refinements due in future releases to improve the memory usage and performance of the Restore application.

Chapter 7. Advanced Topics

This section provides information on more advanced topics. In day-to-day use you can skip this section.

Files

A small number of files are kept on your computer, on most recent versions of Windows in C:\ProgramData\IotaBackup (which may not readily be visible in Explorer).

keys\public.pem and keys\private.pem

These two files hold your private and public key pair. Please keep them safe as losing them will prevent you restoring your backup. If you do, but have uploaded them for safekeeping during installation, we can help recover them for you.

The full paths are stored in the PrivateKeyPEMFilename and PublicKeyPEMFilename registry setting.

logs\IotaBackup.txt

This is a log file that records what has been happening under the hood.

IotaBackup.db

This is a database that keeps a record of what has been backed up so that on a restart the full scan doesn't need to checksum each file.

The full path is stored in the DatabaseLocation registry setting.

Table 7.1. Application Files


Should you uninstall IotaBackup you will be given the option of whether to remove these files. Do so with care, as losing your keys may prevent backups being restored.

Registry Settings

IotaBackup stores settings in the registry, either at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\IotaBackup, or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\IotaBackup for 32-bit IotaBackup installed on 64-bit Windows. Most of these settings are read from the registry every minute, so you do not need to restart IotaBackup to pick up changes.

For completeness, the settings are listed here but you would not be expected to need to change them:

Registry Key Name Meaning
InstallLocation Where IotaBackup is installed
DatabaseLocation The path to the database file
PrivateKeyPEMFilename The path to your Private Key
PublicKeyPEMFilename The path to your Public Key
BaseURL The 'Base' URL of the Cloud Server
ActivateURL The URL used for product activation. A number of macros get expanded to form the path.
MaxChunkHashCount (default 500) Tunes behaviour. When this many chunks are available, flush them to the server.
MaxChunkHashSizeKB (default 10000KB=10MB) Tunes behaviour. When the chunk store hits this size, flush them to the server.
MaxCommandsBatched (default 500) Tunes behaviour. When this many creates/updates and deletes are recorded, flush them to the server.
QueueDelaySmall (default 10s) Tunes behaviour. During live backup, small files (<2MB) will be queued to be backed up this many seconds in the future. [Added in 1.0.1.0]
QueueDelayMedium (default 30s) Tunes behaviour. During live backup, medium files (>2MB and <20MB) will be queued to be backed up this many seconds in the future. [Added in 1.0.1.0]
QueueDelayLarge (default 180s) Tunes behaviour. During live backup, large files (>20MB) will be queued to be backed up this many seconds in the future. [Added in 1.0.1.0]
FullBackupSkipSizeOverMB (default 100) Tunes behaviour. Files larger than this size will be skipped during the Full Backup, and queued for the Live Backup phase [Added in 1.0.3.0]
LiveBackupSleepNSec (default 5s) Tunes behaviour. How long to go to sleep when Idle in Live Backup [Added in 1.0.2.0]
CommitEveryNSec (default 1200s=20 mins) Tunes behaviour. Determines how often a commit will be attempted.
AmPaused Whether the backup has been explicitly paused.
PauseOnBattery Whether to pause backing up when on Battery power.
ClientID This registry setting hold the computer's Client ID for convenience, but is not used
BackupConfig Subkeys of this key hold the directories to be backed up. See below for details of the format.
BackupConfigExtra Subkeys of this key hold the directories to be backed up, and are merged with BackupConfig. These are managed by IotaBackup and not shown in the Configuration application.

Table 7.2. Registry settings


The BackupConfig and BackupConfigExtra registry keys work as follows. The directory name is the key, and the setting is stored as the value.

  • Before version 1.0.0.5 the value would just be 'include' or 'exclude'.

  • From 1.0.0.5 onwards the value is generalised as 'traitname1=value1;traitname2=value2'. If you look in the registry you'll see 'include_exclude=include' to include a directory. IotaBackup will read and automatically update the registry configuration.

This table shows the 'trait settings' which are available.

Trait Name Meaning
include_exclude Specifies whether to include or exclude a directory. 'include' includes a directory, while 'excludes' excludes it.
queue_delay_small This trait overrides the default QueueDelaySmall registry setting for all files below it. [Added in 1.0.1.0]
queue_delay_medium This trait overrides the default QueueDelayMedium registry setting for all files below it. [Added in 1.0.1.0]
queue_delay_large This trait overrides the default QueueDelayLarge registry setting for all files below it. [Added in 1.0.1.0]

Table 7.3. 'Trait' settings usable in BackupConfig and BackupConfigExtra


Restoring Backups from other systems

Although it's commonplace to restore backups on the same computer that you backed up on, this obviously won't always be the case. If you need to restore on another computer, copy the keys directory onto the other computer, and launch the Restore application by dragging the directory onto it.

Chapter 8. Uninstalling IotaBackup

Tip

Should you wish to just disable IotaBackup indefinitely, including across reboots, just go into the Control Panel Services, and disable the service.

You can uninstall IotaBackup many ways, such as using the IotaBackup Uninstaller, or from the "Uninstall a program" section of the Windows Control Panel.

Should you do so, we'd be interested to know what didn't meet your requirements. Please email us at iotabackup@pismosoftware.co.uk and let us know what features you feel were missing.

Chapter 9. Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

How much data can I backup?

This section provides answers to questions that we get asked.

How much data can I backup?

There are a few factors to this, and no straightforward answer. The quick answer is that users tend to be able to back up typically 6GB per day. That assumes roughly a 100KB/s to 150KB/s upload speed, and takes compression and encryption times into account.

Various other factors can improve this:

  • If your data compresses well, less data will need to be uploaded. In particular text files can often compress to 10%-50% of their original size. Unfortunately many file formats these days are already compressed and won't compress any further, such as Images, Videos and Office Documents.

  • As your files are being backed up, the server will be checked to see if it already stores them. If so, there's no need to compress, encrypt and transmit data. That speeds things up loads!

Both these factors influence the Efficiency dial — the higher the number the better the compression and deduplication are working. For personal data, such as your personal photos, there's little that can be done to speed up transmission.

Chapter 10. Revision History

This section provides a revision history so that you can decide whether you need to upgrade.

Version Release Date Changes
0.9.4.0 04 Aug 2014 First public release
0.9.4.1 08 Aug 2014 Fix a problem with backing up newly created Reparse Points. Manifests itself when creating a new Windows User.
0.9.4.2 12 Aug 2014 No visible changes. Communication update
0.9.4.3 14 Aug 2014 Fix to exclusions when running as a service. Although not essential, an upgrade is suggested
0.9.4.4 22 Aug 2014 Enhance Config application to allow directories to be excluded.
1.0.0.0 28 Aug 2014

Reach 1.0 release. Thanks to everyone who helped us reach this milestone.

Fixes a problem with restoring individual files.

1.0.0.1 01 Sep 2014 Trivial tweak for when Configuration application run by non-Administrator.
1.0.0.2 08 Sep 2014 Small tweak to remove queued items when backed up in full scan.
1.0.0.3 24 Sep 2014 Some fairly siginificant all round performance improvements. Also includes some improvements to Configuration panel. Certainly worth upgrading to.
1.0.0.4 26 Sep 2014 Some refactoring which should reduce the memory footprint of the Service.
1.0.0.5 30 Sep 2014 The BackupConfig and BackupConfigExtra registry settings can now store more 'traits' than just which directories to include/exclude. This functionality will be expanded in future versions.
1.0.1.0 02 Oct 2014 Some tuning of the Live Backup phase. Larger files will now be backed up less urgently. This tried to improve backing large mailboxes or repositories that change frequently, and would previously have required IotaBackup to spend significant time rescanning the files for changes.
1.0.2.0 14 Oct 2014 Add LiveBackupSleepNSec registry setting which controls the time to sleep when idle during Live Backup.
1.0.3.0 16 Oct 2014 Add FullBackupSkipSizeOverMB registry setting which causes large files (by default over >100MB) to be initially skipped during the initial full backup phase, and then be picked up by live backup. This will help back up the majority of your files quicker on the first and subsequent runs. There isn't currently finer control using a trait.

Table 10.1. Recent Revision History