Cloud-based Cold Storage Suggestions

Greetings! I am interested in some cloud-based cold storage suggestions.

I am a graphic designer and university professor. I keep current work projects and currently needed teaching material local on my main iMac.

Archived work and teaching material that I am not presently using are kept on my Drobo 5N that is attached to my eero router.

I back-up my iMac with Time Machine to an external HD. Long-term, “cold storage” is handled on the Drobo which while it has built-in redundancy, I am feeling like I need to consider some off-site, cloud back-ups for my cold storage files.

I do have a 1 TB Dropbox paid account of which I am currently using only about 20%.

If I increase my Dropbox to 2 TB, that should give me plenty of room for all of my off-site cold storage. Then possibly I consider Backblaze or something similar for off-site computer backups.

I want to be sure that my data is safe if all of my equipment gets stolen or my house burns down. My insurance will replace my hardware, but I cannot lose my work!

Ideally, I envision a system where a completed project gets uploaded to the cloud, copied to my cold storage folder on my Drobo and then gets deleted off of my computer. I’d like to eventually script this.

Thoughts and suggestions?


I would buy a couple of external drives and keep one off site, perhaps at your school. Backup to them using TimeMachine, so that you have an archive that goes back in time. Rotate the drives every so often. (Take your home backup to school, then bring the school backup home, for increased safety.)

I would also add Backblaze to the mix. In the event of a major catastrophe, they can mail you a drive with your files that you can restore from.

The thing I like about Backblaze and TimeMachine in addition to Dropbox is that, depending on your plan, Dropbox files can go away after you (perhaps accidentally) delete them from your Dropbox folder. So I consider it a copy, rather than a backup.

Lots more discussion here on the forum.


Thanks for the feedback.

Yeah, I was wondering about rotating external drives for my cold storage files and keeping one off-site. I used to work that way but foolishly got away from it when I bought the Drobo.

With the cloud options being more prevalent these days, I wondered if it might be the best way to go. Given how busy I am, I was liking the thoughts of just running a script in the middle of the night to archive completed jobs to the cloud, the Drobo and then delete. Rotating external drives isn’t as convenient but it’s not the end of the world either.

I’ll look into setting up a Backblaze account.

My current work is in my Dropbox folder which syncs to my MacBook Pro, so there is a bit of added protection there too.


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For cloud based cold storage, I use Amazon Glacier. Very affordable IMO. For stuff you just need to keep an archive copy of and isn’t in a hurry to restore, I like it.


Backblaze is very price competitive compared to Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

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Backblaze (B2) was the least expensive that I found.


We’re looking at Amazon Glacier for long term cheap storage as an oh SH** backup of critical files and data.

I do that with 3 rotating copies 1 stored about 75 miles away, 1 stored in another building and one in the main building. We’ll be adding Amazon Glacier as a backup to those devices.

I use Arq to backup to B2. Very inexpensive for storage. If I had to do a major restoration the cost would be considerably higher.


I have a college-issued MacBook Pro and a personal MacBook Pro. Dropbox syncs to both and I use Time Machine to back up both to a their own hard drive. So, that’s four copies plus the online copy without thinking about it.

To clear hard drive space, I regularly move old work files onto the network storage we have, and personal files to a hard drive. Before I do that, I’ll put a copy of those files onto a Dropbox folder I don’t sync. That’s one of those Christmas break and summer break projects I do.

I second the suggestions for Amazon Glacier. Costs start at $0.004 per gigabyte/month. There are additional costs to retrieve but that isn’t a factor when you use it as:

I’ve been backing up there with Arq since 2012.

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Also keep in mind, that some of the backup services only save backup for 30 days, so if you use BackBlaze, not there B2, I would call it cold long term storage, meaning if you delete something on your Mac drive, it will be removed after 30 days.
DropBox is not a backup solution, it is sync, so delete af file on one device, and it will be gone within 30 days from DropBox.
So again long time storage, in my opinion means, you control when it should be deleted, not the service.

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If I was to use Dropbbox for long-term archiving of work, I’d set up a cold storage folder on Dropbox that I could add files to, but then not sync the folder to the computer.

I think that I am leaning toward going back to using two external cold storage drives that get rotated weekly with one drive always being kept offsite.

Then I’ll add Backblaze as an off-site backup to protect my work in the event my Time Machine backup drive gets destroyed in a fire or flood, gets stolen or otherwise fails.

This will give me local backups and cloud backups for my entire computer, as well as local cold storage on my Drobo and offsite cold storage on rotating external drives.

I sleep better with a good safety net in place and this should cover my needs without breaking the bank.

Why Arq? I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times on this thread, but I’m not sure what exactly it provides that makes it worth the purchase. Can one of you help me understand why you use that? Is it similar to something like carbon copy cloner?

Carbon Copy Cloner and Arq are very different tools that share some features. CCC will allow you to create an exact, bootable, copy of your hard drive. This is a very useful thing to have. But, even with its SafetyNet feature, you will be limited in your ability to retrieve older versions of your files. Arq, allows you to backup your data offsite, and maintain as many versions of your files as you choose. I use both.

Earlier this year I was searching for a very old file and couldn’t find it on my drive. Turns out it had been lost around 3 years ago, but I was able to search for and recover it from my Arq backup.

Keeping a local backup of your data using CCC, or Time Machine, etc. is a good idea. But you also need offsite, up to date, backups of your files for situations like I ran into.

Arq, and similar software, does this for you automatically. Those of us that have lost data understand how important the offsite and automatic features are.

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Can you provide more info on this, perhaps a detailed thread of how set up etc? Looking into using it as that sort of BU for me on Glacier as well but haven’t a clue about ARQ at all. Sounds like exactly what i am looking for.

as far as I recall setting up are is pretty straightforward: you choose the destination, what to BU, optional end to end encryption and the forget it…

At the time I purchased Arq, it only worked with AWS. And I had never used AWS. But as it turns out getting started was just a matter of logging in, with my regular username & password I had been using to make purchases.

After installing Arq, launch the software and go to Preferences. Hit the + to choose your destination.

Select AWS, at this point you will be asked for your AWS credentials which are an Access Key - i.e. an account number, and Secret Access Key, i.e. a password.

You can click “Learn How . . " for assistance creating these”

After you enter your credentials you create a “bucket” for your data - Arq will create this for you, or you can make up your own. I let arq do this. You will also be asked for an encryption password. Pick a good one and keep it safe.

At this point, as I recall, Arq will choose your entire home directory to back up and you are in business. You can add or remove files & folders, through the main screen, and edit your schedule and set budgets by editing your destination found under preferences. (You may notice I currently have it set for $5/month)

I have Time Machine running constantly but schedule Arq to only backup between midnight and 6am, so it doesn’t interfere with streaming video.

Creating my AWS credentials was the most complicated part when I set up my account, and Arq made this pretty straightforward. I’m sure everything else needed to set up your system will be familiar to you.

I’ve linked to the arq documentation below.

Hope this helps get you started.


I am a long time Arq user. I do NOT see Arq as a solution for cold/dead storage, however.

Arq is essentially a TimeMachine or BackBlaze like backup solution, differing from TM in both implementation and the fact that it able to backup to many different back ends, and from BackBlaze in that you purchase your own backend storage rather than having it come with the subscription (there is a version called ArqCloud which includes backend storage with a different pricing model).

Arq can backup to many places now, including Amazon S3 and other S3-like storage systems, Glacier, BackBlaze B2, your own folders and SFTP server, etc.

What I prefer with Arq over BackBlaze is that Arq does NOT delete files if the source has been missing for some length of time; does not limit the number of versions you can keep or for how long (you can choose to do this, but you can also keep every version forever if you want - you are paying for the backend storage, and it’s up to you); and allows backup of anything you can mount - local drives, network shares, etc.

The downside to Arq is there is no web-based interface (unless you go with ArqCloud); no option to have your data shipped to you on a disk (since it’s your own back end storage).

WIth Arq, I can send all of my different computers’ backup to my B2 account and I pay for my total usage, whereas with BackBlaze I’d be paying for each computer to have a subscription, which makes Arq cheaper for ongoing costs for me.

What Arq does not do is “dead storage.” You can mimic that by backup up a folder and then deleting it from your local disk while setting the options not to ever remove anything, but I don’t see that as the proper way to do this.

For cold storage, I would get an account in the place of your choice - B2, Glacier, whereever, mount it via something like ExpandDrive or CloudMounter, copy the files there, and dismount. If you want the data encrypted, put it into an encrypted SparseBundle which you copy to the dead storage.

Another option is which is a Dropbox-like product that costs about $99/year for 2TB of storage and has a mechanism to copy files from the shared Dropbox area to an online storage area that effectively provides cloud storage.


I purchased two 8 TB back-up drives to use in rotation for backing up the Drobo containing cold storage files of client work and teaching material.

I bought CCC and have already run one full backup and the second task going to the second drive is going now.

I decided that since I am keeping one of my two Drobo backups off-site at my sister’s place across town each week, I may as well alternate time machine backups of my main iMac at the same time. In the event of a disaster, this will be my quickest and easiest route to getting myself back up and running.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!


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