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Use Amazon S3 to automatically back up your Mac
Authored by: misterdna on Jul 26, '10 08:16:14PM

Hey sreitshamer, I was checking out your site for ARQ, and I couldn't find anything that mentioned file encryption. You do say an S3 account is encrypted with a password, but that seems like a semantic trick to make it seem like file encryption is going on (isn't every account anyone uses online encrypted with a password???). While you kinda ridicule other company's security (or lack of encryption), I'm not seeing any documentation of what makes ARQ secure.

While I'm asking, any word if any major press will be reviewing your software? I noticed a lot of favorable quotes on your site, but was not familiar with the people/organizations.



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Use Amazon S3 to automatically back up your Mac
Authored by: sreitshamer on Aug 09, '10 07:19:31AM

Sorry the encryption approach isn't clear on the web site. I'll work on that.

Arq encrypts all your files using AES-256 with whatever password you choose, before the data leave your computer. The encryption password is stored in your keychain on your Mac. Haystack Software doesn't have it and Amazon doesn't have it (it's separate from your Amazon S3 keys). To restore your files, Arq downloads the encrypted data from your S3 account and decrypts it on your computer.

This is different than Backblaze, for example, where you have to type your encryption password into their web site to restore your files; they decrypt your files on their servers and leave a zip file of your unencrypted files on their server for you to download.

Sorry if it sounds like ridicule -- that's not classy. Which part? I'd like to change it.

Regarding major press coverage: I'm working on it!



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Use Amazon S3 to automatically back up your Mac
Authored by: misterdna on Aug 09, '10 03:02:54PM

Well, I had looked on the Arq site for info about your encryption method, and I saw absolutely no details (I see the details now: "Arq encrypts your data before it leaves your computer using AES-256, a government and industry standard," I suspect you added this since I posted my comment). I did see this critique of some other services: "And their security felt like a lot of handwaving instead of straight talk. They all said they encrypt my files, but there was no way for me to verify that since I couldn't access my stuff on their servers." So, without clear explanation of Arq's encryption method, while speculating about the encryption used by other companies, it seemed unfair (at best). But now that I see you specify the AES-256 encryption, I have no complaints.

As far as press goes, I can see that as you slowly tweak and upgrade the application, it may be hard to decide when the right time is to try to get Arq reviewed (with a better product always coming with the next update)... Not that I know a thing about getting press. But perhaps letting the application ripen over time, then really pushing to get it reviewed, might be the way to go. I would imagine that one really good review in a well-read Mac or Tech column (Macworld, Gizmodo, etc.) could make your customer base expand far beyond what I imagine it is now.

I guess the tough part is Arq isn't dumbed down, like the Mac version of Carbonite (which I tried and then removed, as it just didn't have the flexibility I was looking for). While just about anyone can use Carbonite with the click of a few buttons, and the price is low and fixed, Arq requires extra effort of signing up for S3, and it's somewhat hard to know what the yearly cost will end up being for the S3 service. So perhaps Arq will never be for the many Mac users who just aren't very adept, and want to keep it as simple as possible...



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