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  • Add-In Review - KeepVault Online Storage for Windows Home Server


    Add-In Review - KeepVault Online Storage for Windows Home Server www.keepvault.com


    After reviewing a product that billed by the gigabyte I was anxious to try something that was potentially unlimited. Little did I know by the end of my testing, the entire review would change with some big news from Keepvault.




    Add-In Review - KeepVault Online Storage for Windows Home Server www.keepvault.com


    This review was practically written and ready to publish when I contacted Keepvault one last time before going live with it. That’s when I got the news. Keepvault for Windows Home Server is no longer offering unlimited storage. What???

    This may come as a surprise to you but this move is actually a good one for Keepvault. As you know, the online storage game is getting popular and with it comes all the freebie services and the pains that follow them. There are plenty of horror stories out there and lessons to be learned about storing data “in the cloud.” This particular cloud, is Proxure. Started in 2005 with talent from Roxio, Sonic, and Veritas , they created two products. KeepSync, and Keepvault.

    Keepvault for Windows Home server is considered a “Commercial” Add-In. That simply means you have to pay something for it. In this case you are required to subscribe to the service before you can download the Add-In.

    Now, getting back to the unlimited storage news. Keepvault was known for having an unlimited storage offering for only $99 per year. The only caveat to this plan was you could not store any business related files. Take a look at the new pricing structure.


    KeepVault Pricing


    The $99 plan is now limited to 100GB. I say limited, but 100GB is a ton of data to store online. No doubt a few will not be happy with this move but hopefully they will be happy with the next piece of news. Your 100GB plan is unlimited in another sense. According to Dan Reynolds of Proxure, “users were asking to backup business, church data, etc, so this change allowed us to remove that restriction.” This should alleviate any confusion over what is considered business and what is personal. In my opinion this should lead to happier Home Server Users.

    Shall I review the product now?  Well, not so fast because Keepvault is rolling out with a new version of the WHS Add-In. Dan goes on to say, “In conjunction with the pricing changes we will be releasing a new version of the software.”

    So finally, let’s get started but remember, any screen shot you see here could be outdated very quickly! Once the new Add-In is released I’ll get some updates posted.

    The purchase of the Keepvault service is very easy and it’s initiated at the keepvault.com website. You can pay by credit card or use your PayPal account. Once you are finished with the payment details you will be presented with your Key and the download link. It’s a pretty typical download purchase transaction. Installation tips were also presented and are as follows:


    Run KeepVaultWHS.exe on a client PC that has Windows Home Server Connector installed. The installer will automatically find your Windows Home Server and extract the MSI install-set to your Windows Home Server “Add-ins” folder. Run the Windows Home Server Console and select the “KeepVault” add-in located under Settings | Add-ins.

    Soon after printing this page an e-mail arrived with my order summary, key, installation tips, and links to support areas and additional information about the service. The download was only 2.2MB in size.

    As the tips state, the downloaded file is to be executed on your workstation and it will find, or help you find your Windows Home Server. It will then copy the Keepvault to your Add-In’s folder and you may install it from the WHS console.

    Install the Add-In from your desktop. You must agree to the EULA in order to continue. Most just breeze through a screen like this but I recommend at least copy and paste it somewhere for reference.


    The rest of the installation is much like any other add-in. There were no other prompts and once it’s finished the WHS console must be restarted.


    When you first start the Add-In you will have to enter the e-mail address you used when you purchased the service as well as the key you obtained. You will also be able to generate an encryption key for your data at this point. Lastly, you are presented with terms and conditions.

    Once you are done reading the T’s and C’s click Login.

    The main screen of KeepVault will be very familiar to WHS users. Your shared folders will be presented to you almost exactly as they look under the shared folders tab. All shares at this point will not be backed up. Right click a share and select “Backup Folder and Sub Folders.”

    KeepVault main screen

    To my surprise the backup started immediately. I assumed there would be additional settings to configure in order to get started. I then checked the Settings tab in WHS to see if there was a Keepvault section for additional settings. Perhaps I should have checked here first before selecting shares to backup. I found the option to enable backups between midnight and 6 A.M. There is also an option to throttle the backup speed but since I’m starting mine at midnight I’ll let it have all the bandwidth it can use.


    After clicking OK I see that the backups have stopped. I clicked Protection History and am able to view each individual file that has been transferred.

    Here is a shot of the Keepvault settings. You will notice that there are not many options! This was one of my largest complaints with the service. I want more options but more on that later.



    I checked back on Keepvault the next morning and in fact it had been working all night. I accidentally cleared the history of my first night of data transfers so I don’t have that information for you. The Clear History button is right where you think a Close button might be. My DSL upload speed is horrible so it wouldn’t be a good comparison for you anyways.


    Capture Protection

    Restoring a file or an entire share is a breeze with Keepvault’s two options. There is One-Click Recovery and Selective Recovery. Selective is exactly as it sounds. You are presented with a File-Manager type window which lets you drill down to the exact folder and file you want to recover. One Click is also as it sounds. You click, it recovers. Everything.

    Backup speeds are going to be dependent upon the upload speed of your broadband connection. If you have a 256k or 128k upload on your DSL prepare to backup over many nights. You might want to backup during the day if you can. My 24GB Photo Share took a very, very, very, long time. I hope you have upload speeds faster than mine!


    More options please! More Status please! Dan Reynolds, Proxure, Inc’s Director of Sales and Marketing, tells me that I’m not the only one requesting more out of the service. My main requests were the ability to do selective file and folder backups, and the ability to choose what time my WHS starts and stops backups. Dan tells me, “it’s very high on our list for the next version.”

    When I speak of status I want to know more about what is going on with my backups. My Photo Share size is roughly 24GB and I have been backing up for days. I have no clue via the console how much more I need to transfer in order to complete this folder. It would be nice to have some status indicator beyond the “x number” of files queued. X out of what?


    Keepvault could even average upload speed and estimate when the transfer will complete. It would be nice to have a status of protection when it’s not transferring. When the Add-In had transferred all of my files the status was still “backing up.” So I had no way of knowing that it was Backed Up by a quick glance. It could have more files to back up the coming evening.

    Lastly, I tested a scenario by having Keepvault set to protect new files immediately. I moved a folder within the share and it started backing up the moved folder right off. That’s good if you move a new folder to the share but somewhat of a pain for it to backup something that has already been backed up already. This becomes more of an issue with the new limited data plans. I don’t want to store two copies of a file just because I decided to move it to a different folder. Dan’s reply settled my worries on the issue. “In conjunction with the pricing changes we will be releasing a new version of the software. This will include reporting on the total amount of storage used and also the ability to delete files from their online backup,” said Mr. Reynolds.


    Protection Status

    The Add-In functionality as tested is good. The actual software was functional but not as good as I think it could be. On Keepvault’s side, I didn’t get to see the new Add-In features. These new features should make this a very solid backup product for Windows Home Server. Price-wise, 100GB for $99 annually is a great price. I have been shopping for offsite storage I can trust and I wanted a combination of personal data storage as well as business data storage. Now that Keepvault has removed the restriction of no business data, I am going to be a loyal subscriber.


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    Hey David, Like the review of Keep Vault. Very enlightening, looking at some storage for my data (both Personal & Work). Wanted to know also if you will be comparing it side by side with any other services. Not sure if there are any other at this time. Keep the up the podcasts. Definitely consider me for the contest.
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    I currently use Jungle Disk for my online backup needs. Keep Vault looks like it might give me more storage for my dollar so that I don't have to be as selective in what is backed up. Please put my name in the hat for the free year of Keep Vault.
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    I don't like the fact that you have to pay up-front for something you might or might not use. If I use a service, I will pay for it -- but handing any company money up-front is not customer friendly. If something goes wrong, they already have my money, and my "power" to do something about it is diminished. I use Amazon's S3 service in conjunction with JungleDisk and it fits me nicely. I pay about $4-$5 a month, and if I decide I don't want to use it anymore I am not out any money that I cannot recover.
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    I've had Keep Vault for a while now, and am really disappointed to hear of their pricing change. I liked the service because it was unlimited for a reasonable price. It was meant to be a back up solution for emergencies, not a remote access solution. This filled my requirement. The problem is that I have about 300-400 GB of data being backed up (a LOT of pictures). When my current unlimited term expires, I will have to look for other solutions (or scale back what I am backing up) I have been with Keep Vault through their troubled beginings. If you look through the forums, you'll notice the Archive Bit they introduced in later versions of KeepVault. Before that, the service would consume all of my server resources at every re-boot for a few hours until it re-indexed everything. The Archive Bit feature fixed that, and now there is no noticable delay due to the service running. My point is that it is a good service, but they are still working out the bugs and adding "required" features. The good thing is their support is very responsive, and have fixed any problems I encountered. When is Microsoft going to enable a WHS box to remotely sync with another WHS box? This would fill a void in the whole plan. You have a WHS box, you give a WHS box to a family member, relative, whatever (you can even lock them out of your files through the security). Point them to each other and have them sync files back and forth through P2P. I believe that MS is doing this with it's Live Mesh service, where you can store 5gb in the cloud for synching between computers, but anything after that, the two computers connect directly. It would be nice to have an add-in that added this functionallity. That way, I can control the storage space I use by buying more hard drives for both systems. Anyway, loved the review. Please add me to the contest
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    Dave, Love to try the Keep Vault service for free! I have thought of using jungle disk but just haven't gotten it done. I currently use an external USB drive to back up the server. Maybe this will change my mind! I was disappointed that MS didn't add a scheduler to the back up feature. Would have made it very useful. Love the podcasts. Keep at it!
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    [...] Read more about KeepVault's review here. Published 14 October 2008 22:35 by homeservershow Filed under: Add-In [...]
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