Blog Post

Taking The Plunge: Jungle Disk 2

I just plugged in my 4th external hard drive today – the 1TB My Book Essential Edition. That brings my total external storage capacity to about 2TB – which is pretty good considering most people don’t have ANY sort of backup solution. But as I was plugging in the new drive I came to a realization that my backup solution was actually only a 50% solution to my backup needs.

The hard truth is hard drives fail. Manufacturers quote a lifespan of approximately 5 to 10 years. But most of us know that estimate is about as accurate as Apple’s estimated battery life. So although I have an entire row of hard drives, if one of them were to fail I would be “fraked.” (No, I can’t believe I said that either)

So in order to truly sleep soundly at night I moved my most sensitive and important data online. I looked into a number of different solutions including Mozy,, and even a manual upload using my Dreamhost account – but none of those solutions met all my needs. I wanted something simple to use and a solution that could grow depending on my changing backup needs.

Jungle Disk Desktop 2 seems like the best solution for the job right now. Although the price might turn some people away (read: it’s cheap but not free) the pricing structure allows you to pay for only what you use since the application uses Amazon’s S3 internet storage service. After the one-time purchase of $20, this translates into $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used, $0.10 per GB of data uploaded, and $0.17 per GB of data downloaded. For my current needs I’m paying about $1.95 per month for storage and pennies each month to upload new data.

The best feature of Jungle Disk Desktop is the fact that your Jungle Disk mounts just like your iDisk – allowing you to access your files directly from the Finder. Drag and drop, copy and delete. You can use your Jungle Disk just like any other hard drive.

Jungle Disk Desktop 2, which was just released this week provides some welcome upgrades to the previous version. Perhaps the biggest change is the user interface. The new backup preview dialog so you can see exactly what will be backed up and the selection dialog makes it faster and easier to set up automatic backup.

The new version, which is a free upgrade to previous users, also includes a number of other upgrades and new features including:

  • Better “bucket” management – Jungle Disk uses Amazon’s “bucket” structure to store files. Amazon S3 itself doesn’t have a built-in notion of directories or folders at all. Because of this, it is up to each application that uses S3 to decide how to use buckets to store files and folders. The new bucket features allow you, among other things, to encrypt your data without having to re-upload your data.
  • Support for connecting to multiple buckets at the same time
  • Support for multiple backup jobs with independent scheduling
  • New command line options to integrate with external task schedulers and batch jobs
  • Expanded bandwidth limiting feature

I’ve used Jungle Disk primarily to backup my iPhoto library – the most precious 13GB of data I own. However, due to the changing nature of the iPhoto library, I opted to purchase the optional Jungle Disk Plus service which allows you to make block-level file updates – uploading only the changed portions of your large files. It also gives you web-based access to the files (even via iPhone) and the ability to resume uploads of large files where they left off. The Plus service will run you an extra $1 per month, but I think the savings in both bandwidth cost and time are worth it. Every week at a given time, Jungle Disk scans my iPhoto library file for changes and uploads them. That’s it. It’s that easy.

Of course, if you’re uploading a large amount of data it’s going to take time. As I write this post I’m backing up an additional 6GB using my cable internet connection at 360 kbits/sec. According to Jungle Disk it’s going to take approximately 1 day and 13 hours to finish uploading. But if you’re performing incremental backups quietly in the background or in the middle of the night, this shouldn’t be an issue.

After using Jungle Disk for a few weeks, I have to say I’m impressed. It’s proven to be the easiest, most convenient, and most affordable solution for me. It quietly backs up my data in the background and I feel safe knowing that my data is floating around inside Amazon’s data cloud. Combined with my external hard drive backups, I can now sleep soundly at night knowing my family photos are backed up.

18 Responses to “Taking The Plunge: Jungle Disk 2”

  1. Alfredo

    By default restores every file and every folder ever deleted or renamed. Jungle Disk simply does not have the option to age deletions so they get purged out eventually. Instead either restore way more files than actually got deleted by mistake, or never get the chance to recover from deletions. Strangely they do handle versioning, so it baffles me why they could not implement deletion aging. You should also know that files restored lose their creation date, which is reset to the restore date, so it’s harder to recuperate from the problem. Support was just awful and since I did not loose data, they were very insensitive to the hours lost and major mess caused. Took 3 weeks to diagnose problem and some 30 back and forths. 4 weeks for resolution. Did give $20 software price refund.

  2. @Mark, 1TB of photos? Your paying $150 a month just to host it? sounds a tad crazy to me! Or have I missed something here?
    Im currently looking for a backup solution with faster than 1MB upload speed, as I can go up to 10MB now.

  3. For me, a professional photographer with > 1TB of photos to be backed up, JD is the hands down winner. I have a 20MB up/down connection and JD and S3 is capable of using all of it. I was backed up in a couple days where as other solutions required months, yes months, to get my first backup online. In this respect JD is a generation ahead of all other solutions I’ve tried, and I’ve tried ’em all.

  4. Kenny Kant

    I will echo the comments on using your hosting provider/webhost for personal backup. I subscribe to and they offer unlimited storage so naturally I thought I could back up my 15 + gigs of data.. NOPE. Once I exceeded 15 gig they asked about the content and then disabled my account referencing the TOS which does state not backups of any sort.

  5. @David — I agree with Digitarius that you should NOT use your webhost to store your personal files. It’s true that they give you a lot of space (not really “unlimited”) for cheap, but they don’t guarantee the safety of these files… these companies take the liberty to free up drive space at their will…no warning to you.

    Amazon S3 is the safest solution currently. Why? Because Amazon has the most (and the largest) servers in the world! I’m not sure why David thinks Amazon doesn’t have backups….they do, hundreds (maybe thousands) of them! So if there’s a fire or earthquake or flood at the Amazon S3 headquarters in California, no problem! Your uploaded files are distributed in the cloud…meaning there are backups of your data all over the world on their other servers… Europe, Asia, etc. You can rest assured that your data is safe and backed up.

    I use several steps for backup of my personal and business files. Heck, I have over 6TB of storage in my photography studio, between my PowerMac G4, Mac Pro, and external drive cases. Not all of that is backed up online because not all of it is that important. But the most crucial things are backed up in the cloud. Here’s a list of my backup strategy:
    1. Master files on internal hard drives
    2. External RAID-1 (2bay) FW800 drive enclosures; double backup of internal master drives. I use SuperDuper! as my #1 Mac backup (similar to Carbon Copy Cloner), it’s only $28 and you can schedule it to do “smart updates” or incremental backups of only files that have changed…similar to how JD Plus works.
    3. Online (Cloud) Storage… still trying several options:
    • Amazon S3 via Jungle Disk
    • Crash Plan Pro
    I like Crash Plan because it conquers both the local and remote storage issue. You can backup to an external hard drive next to your computer, as well as to an internal or external hard drive at a friend or relatives house (in town or far away), and also backup to places online like Amazon S3. Even though I already have SuperDuper! I’m still leaning this direction. But Jungle Disk does seem very simple to use….

    Anyway, the important lesson is to backup your data in at least two different locations. As they say, “having one copy of something is like not having it at all.”

  6. Just thought I’d point out to Paulius that NAS is not an alternative to OFF SITE backup. Jungle Disk gets your data OFF SITE – because -what if you (God Forbid) have a break-in, Fire, Earthquake, Flood….. and loose that NAS. I think JD is a great solution. Hopefully, Amazon will be around for a long time and all of us can sleep easy.

  7. @David – Read the EULA for your webhost very carefully. Most include language that says you shouldn’t be using them for personal backup storage, and they’re not liable if they delete such files (or, in general, lose files) on the server to make extra room. I imagine they might take notice when you break 15+ Gigs like I do with Jungle Disk. You do pay for storage on S3, though. And you’re using the exact some service that is using, among other very large sites.

    I’ve been distrustful of webhosts since I’ve lost data on Hosting plans with two very reputable hosts. You should always have a backup of what’s on a shared server.

    JD’s on-the-fly encryption is the best selling point. It allows you to enter keys that only you will have for encryption, as well as change said key and add the old ones to a key library.

  8. Paulius

    I recommend you to get ReadyNas NV+ and you will sleep better.
    It works with Mac, Linux or PC. Easy to setup and its easy to upgrade. You will need to get few hard drives that’s fits your data if you have in future more data files than you only need is to get extra hard drives.

    In my opinion External drives are good when you moving with your laptop. But if you have desktop than time to think in big.

  9. The new interface is greatly improved! The old method was much more challenging to determine just what was going to be backed up. To the point about HW failure above, according to the S3 design information, it was setup to avoid single-point of failure scenarios so any loss due to HW fault should be extremely rare.

  10. I have choosen to go to someone like HostMonster who gives me unlimited storage for $7.00 a month and then setup a webdav.

    All jungle is doing is a webdav connection also. While there is no monthly hosting with Amazon S3 it is also not guartuneed. What happens if they have a hardware failure. At least with using a hosting provider, they are backing up the server with they backup solution, and they guaruntee that backup.

    I like Jungle, and use it for some things, but in the end my backup is three fold. 1. Local HD with TimeMachine, 2. Local HD with CarbonCloner (for bootable backup weekly). 3. Backup to external webdav location. I have already had a crash on my MBP and it was nice that my WD Passport (which dropped in water) was not my only backup… I reloaded with discs, and pulled evertyhing down via FTP from my webdav server and done. PERFECT!