NOTE: This review is for the personal version of C2 Backup, not the business one. Also at this point in time, C2 Backup for Microsoft 365 is still not available and will be reviewed at a later date.

On June 30th, Synology officially pushed out DSM 7 and some of its new C2 services. I have written a few articles on the subject including an overview of all upcoming services, as well as a review of the C2 Password.

Today we have another service that will be of great interest to most users, C2 Backup. I did mention it before (in previous articles) and there was some information on the prices, but now we can all test out and start using the service.

Let's see what this platform is all about, and is it worth your money.

NAS for backups? Please, cloud all the way!

What's C2 Backup all about then? Well, the cool thing about it is that this service can be used by anyone, not just us that are Synology NAS owners. C2 Backup allows you to install a desktop client, and once you connect to the cloud, simply backup your complete computer.

This included OS, data, the works. To make things better, it allows for a pure bare-metal restore as well. Not too bad I have to say. So this is essentially an Active Backup for Business alternative but without the NAS. Ok, maybe the comparison is not fair as ABB package offers a lot more features, but, from a point of Windows machine backup, it does offer the same functionality.

NOTE: C2 Backup, at the time of writing this article, only supports Windows OS (7 and 10) and no other OS!

Starting with C2 Backup

As I mentioned this is for Windows-based (desktop) clients only and to get started you will need two things:

  1. valid Synology Account (free)
  2. C2 Backup subscription (with a 90 day trial for free)

To get a Synology Account, go to account.synology.com and register. Then, from the main menu dropdown, select the C2 Backup service.

C2 cloud services

Pricing and features

Currently, C2 Backup is offered in both EU and US C2 data centers, and prices are listed in two main categories, 300GB and 2TB. Yearly prices give a bit of a discount and both tiers offer the same exact feature set

Current C2 Backup prices

Configuring C2 Backup

To start with your C2 backup, simply visit the C2 backup site at this address:

https://backup.eu.c2.synology.com

You will be greeted with a Synology account login, and once you have authenticated, C2 will present its "Get Started" page.

Your cloud backup starts here

The first thing you will need to choose is the subscription. The first 90 days are free, and payment will start only if you don't cancel your trial before it ends. Keep in mind that you will also be able to choose the data center and depending on that the prices will be in US ($) or Euro (€).

Select your data center and tier
The price announced is not the final price! VAT will be calculated on the fly

As you can see, like all C2 services calculating VAT will be a separate entry in your invoice, so bear that in mind.

Once you have selected your subscription you will move to the next, and final step, entering your C2 encryption key. This is the key that you have set up when you configured your Synology Account.

WARNING: Do NOT lose your key. You will not be able to access your backups or any other C2 service that requires it!
Make sure not to lose it! You will not be able to access your backup without it!
Here you are! C2 Backup ready!

Once you enter your key, you will be redirected to your C2 Backup management web portal. Now the fun begins.

Running your C2 Backup

With C2 Backup you can have unlimited endpoints (devices) connected and backed up to your account as long as you have the space needed.

Alongside endpoints, you can configure your backup policy, while also make new ones depending on your need.

Configure and edit your policies

To start configuring your device for backup use the Endpoint tab and click the green Add device button. This will open up a popup window telling you the three needed steps to complete your device and start backing it up.

Once you download and install the client, you will move to the final stage of the process.

Three steps and you are off to the races
Windows C2 Backup installer
Installation complete, time to backup

Now that you have your C2 Backup client installed, running it will open up a new wizard type window that you will need to complete in order to connect your device with the C2 service.

OS, data, the work, all going to the cloud
After authentication with your Synology Account, you are nearly there

The final check-up before actually starting the backup will be a place where you can make sure your task is going to the right data center, using the correct schedule, and covering the scope that you want. These settings are pulled from the backup policy section in the C2 Backup console.

If all looks good, time to backup

You can initiate a manual backup as well at any point in time in case you want to, or just wait for the scheduled time.

The tray icon will open a small popup window indicating the progress of the backup
Estimated time calculation will by updated in real-time depending on the actual process

While you can view the progress using the tray window, you can also see it in the main C2 Backup console.

Backup progress visible via C2 Backup console

Once your backup has been completed it will be reported as such. Again, you can view a more detailed view in the console.

Job done!
Job completed successfully

In my initial test, I have backed up a Windows VM just a little under 50GB within 38min. The speed was very well with about 20-30MB/s upload speed on average.

Any additional backup will be very short as deduplication will take care of the backup process, moving only data that has changed since the last time.

I am very pleased with the overall process of the backup from start to finish, it was smooth, with zero problems, and fast.

Ok backed up, now what?

Once you have backed up your data you will want to get to it. To access your data all you have to do is visit the C2 Backup site, log in, decrypt the backup up volume and access the files.

Open up Recovery Portal

Once you open up your specific device backup you will be able to access the menu on the far right side of the current version. There you will have options and one of them will be View in Recovery Portal.

Before you can access your data you will need to enter your encryption key

Upon successful login, Recovery Portal will open and you will have the option to access and restore your data.

Recovery Portal - restore what you want from any version you want

On the right-hand side, you will see the Version list, that will allow you to choose from multiple version of your backups and restore the exact file you need.

Once you have located the version of the file needed and the file itself, simply click the check box and then the Download icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

Pull down the file that you need

One question that might come up on this particular image is does the Search bar work? The answer is no.

Well yes and no to be exact. That's not a search field but rather a filter one, just like in the Active Backup for Business recovery portal. That means that you have to be in the exact folder before you can start to filter out what you are looking at inside that folder.

There is more bad news (or good depends on how you look at it). The filter function is case sensitive meaning that you will have to be exact when it comes to spelling what you are filtering out.

So if you are looking for a Synology Restore Media Creator folder/file as I am in this example, you will have to first move into the folder where you know your data is (I know right?) and then, type it correctly if you want to filter it out.

Using the correct case will either show the results...
...or it won't. Not happy!

So, just like in ABB, the search is not working as intended. Maybe it will in the future.

Bare Metal Recovery (BMR)

Apart from a partial restore, again just like Active Backup for Business, C2 Backup offers a full bare-metal restore option.

If you find yourself in a similar situation this is what you need to do.

NOTE: create a bare-metal recovery USB or ISO ahead of time or you will need a spare (separate) device to create it!

Log into C2 Backup and select the device that you want to restore. After that, using the More menu select the Restore entire device item.

Begin full bare-metal restore of your device

This will bring up a dialog window that will guide you through the steps needed to make a C2 Backup Recovery Media Creator.

Start making your USB or ISO recovery media

Be sure to mind the notes in this step:

  • If the device you intend to restore has different Windows versions or drivers then this computer, follow the instructions here to manually create recovery media.

  • Download C2 Backup Recovery Wizard if you're creating recovery media manually: Windows 64 bit

If you start the creation process ahead of time, then you can use the button in step 1 to continue.

Begin the process by downloading the Restore Media Application installer

This will download the Restore Media Application installer that will guide you through the creation of the USB/ISO recovery media.

Creating the bare-metal restore media

NOTE: restore media can be only created on a Windows OS-based machine at this point in time.

Once you have download the installer, unpack it and start it up with launch-creator.exe file.

Start the media creation app
Choose your media type (USB or ISO)

Just like with ABB, media creation will allow you to choose between USB or ISO format. Once you have selected your destination, click Create.

Creation in progress
Recovery media is complete!

ISO file is about 635MB in size just in case someone is interested.

Once the process has been completed, you will be ready to boot up your device that has no OS and data on it and restore it from C2 Backup directly. Let's how that works.

Restoring bare-metal device from C2 Backup (ISO method)

Is will be using ISO format for demonstration purposes. The reason is that you can use ISO in a PXE boot-ready environment that will allow you much faster restore options to multiple devices at the same without the need to have multiple USB keys.

Once the computer boots up it will start to load up the C2 Backup Recovery process.

Machine booting
C2 Backup recovery application loaded

In case you have the need to set specific network settings, you can use the network icon in the upper right corner of the window.

To proceed forward, click the green Start button.

The process starts with authentification with your Synology Account

Chromium browser will load up and ask you for verification that will lead up to your Synology account login page.

Enter your credentials
Once you have logged in, close the browser
Finally, enter your encryption key
Here it is, your C2 Backup ready to be restored

Select your device from the list and click the Next button.

You will have multiple restore options

Depending on your needs you can select one of three options and proceed forward.

Details about the currently selected version
Here we are, the summary. If all looks good, continue forward
No going back!
Restore in progress

That's, all that's left now is to wait for the restore process to finish.

Depending on your Internet speed it will take some time

Nothing left now to do but reboot and boot up your restored device.

Initial boot will take some time.

The first fresh boot of the restored device might take some time and it also might run several reboots before it finally boots up. My advice is to let it do its thing, DON NOT REBOOT manually.

The final result, restore completed, and the machine booted

I have done a restore inside a VM (virtual machine) and compared them side by side. All works fine, and there are no files missing. The difference in drive size (free space) might be due to the fact that there is no "garbage" on the restored device, but OS, configurations, apps, and data are all there to the letter.

Conclusion

As much as I am a fan of having your services, data, and backups on-premise, I have to say that Synology has made a great move with offering C2 Backup.

The platform works as advertised, and both backup and restore processes have been without a single problem. Funny that upload (backup) was faster than the actual restore by 50%, but for 50GB one hour restore from start to finish is commendable.

If I would have to mention anything that I would like to see better is the search option in the Recovery Portal. I know it may be silly, but while you are looking for something it would be nice to actually be able to search instead of filtering.

Then again, if you have your computer up and running and are just looking for an older version of a specific file, chances are you know where it is and whats it is called.

Finally, support for other OS out there. Linux and macOS deserve some love. Considering that Linux was implemented into Active Backup for Business, and macOS is still on the waitlist, I guess the same will happen with C2 Backup at some point. When, time will tell.

With C2 Backup in place with decent pricing, there is really no more excuse not to have a valid backup, even if you don't own a NAS device. Give yourself peace of mind and have it up and running for $30/y. Your data deserves that much.

Let me hear what you think about this service, and do you see yourself or your part of the family using it.