A New Twist on Data Backup: CloudNAS

August 1st, 2017

Morro CacheDrive

There are many ways for SMBs, professionals, and advanced users to back up their data. The process can be as simple as copying files to a flash drive or an external drive, or as sophisticated as using a Synology or QNAP NAS device as your primary storage device and syncing the files to a cloud storage service such as Backblaze B2.

A recent entry into the backup arena is Morro Data and their CloudNAS solution, where files are stored in the cloud, cached locally as needed, and synced globally among the other CloudNAS systems in a given organization. There are three components to the solution:

  • A Morro CacheDrive — This resides on your internal network like a NAS device and stores from 1- to 8 TB of data depending on the model
  • The CloudNAS service — The software that keeps track of and manages the data
  • Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage — Where the data is stored in the cloud

The Morro CacheDrive is installed on your local network and looks like a network share. On Windows, the share can be mounted as a letter device, M:, for example. On the Mac, the device is mounted as a Shared device (Databank in the example below).

CloudNAS software dashboard

In either case, the device works like a folder/directory, typically on your desktop. You then either drag-and-drop or save a file to the folder/directory. This places the file on the CacheDrive. Once there, the file is automatically backed up to the cloud. In the case of CloudNAS solution, that cloud is Backblaze B2.

All that sounds pretty straight-forward, but what makes the CloudNAS solution unique is the solution allows you to have unlimited storage space. For example, you can access 5 TB of data from a 1 TB CacheDrive. Confused? Let me explain. All 5 TB of the data is stored in B2, having been uploaded to B2 each time you stored data on the CacheDrive. The 1 TB CacheDrive keeps (caches) the most recent or most often used files on the CacheDrive. When you need a file not currently stored on the CacheDrive, the CloudNAS software automatically downloads the file from the B2 cloud to the CacheDrive and makes it available to use as desired.

Things to know about the CloudNAS solution

  • Sharing Systems: Multiple users can mount the same CacheDrive with each being able to update and share the files.
  • Synced Systems: If you have two or more CloudNAS systems on your network, they will keep the B2 directory of files synced between all of the systems. Everyone on the network sees the same file list.
  • Unlimited Data: Regardless of the size of the CacheDrive device you purchase, you will not run out of space as Backblaze B2 will contain all of your data. That said, you should choose the size of your CacheDrive that fits your operational environment.
  • Network Speed: Files are initially stored on the CacheDrive, then copied to B2. Local network connections are typically much faster than internet network speeds. This means your files are uploaded to the CacheDrive fast then transferred to B2 as time allows at the speed of your internet connection, all without slowing you down. This should be interesting to those of you who have slower internet connections.
  • Access: The files stored using the Cloud NAS solution can be accessed through the shared folder/directory on your desktop as well as through a web-based Team Portal.

Getting Started

To start, you purchase a Morro CacheDrive. The price starts at $499.00 for a unit with 1 TB of cache storage. Next you choose a CloudNAS subscription. This starts at $10/month for the Standard plan, and lets you manage up to 10 TB of data. Finally, you connect Backblaze B2 to the Morro system to finish the set-up process. You pay Backblaze each month for the data you store in and download from B2 while using the Morro solution.

Learn More

Join us for the webcast “CloudNAS – the next evolution of storage” where you can learn more about CloudNAS from Paul Tien, the CEO and Founder of Morro Data (previously the founder of ReadyNAS – acquired by Netgear). Mr. Tien will discusses how combining the ubiquity of the cloud with the performance and local network server access of the NAS is the next evolution of storage. Signing up for the webinar does require you subscribe to the Backblaze BrightTALK channel.

The CloudNAS solution is certainly a different approach to storing your data. You get the ability to store a nearly unlimited amount of data without having to upgrade your hardware as you go, and all of your data is readily available with just a few clicks. For users who need to store terabytes of data that needs be available anytime, the CloudNAS solution is worth a look.

Andy Klein

Andy Klein

Andy has 20+ years experience in technology marketing. He has shared his expertise in computer security and data backup at the Federal Trade Commission, Rootstech, RSA and over 100 other events. His current passion is to get everyone to back up their data before it's too late.
Andy Klein

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  • francini

    What I’d be more interested in is being able to integrate some more professional/robust/proven product, such as FreeNAS (which I’m already using at home) without having to get some new untested box from some company I’ve never heard of.

  • karl

    The costs are a little high.
    499 USD one-off for the box, then 10 USD per month (of all my data I only pay 0.61 USD/month)
    So, after 12 months the “CloudNAS” will cost 619 USD
    Assuming the subscription does not increase, year two will be another 120 USD

    I achieved the same result. I used a cheap second-hand PC, with two HDD in BTRFS volume, then sync to B2 and S3. Much cheaper than the ongoing cost of 10 USD a month. It is a shame Morro Data company could not take a backseat and allow B2 to bill directly to users, which will ultimately save the customer money. I am not sure if you use your own account and skip the monthly fee because Morro allow you to use (CloudNAS Personal):

    – B2
    – OneDrive
    – Dropbox

    And what if Morro Data stops trading, who has access to your B2 account – seems to be affiliated to them. However, I could not confirm how this works from their website.

    The point of B2 is the value for money users get. For the convenience and reliability the CloudNAS may be the best fit for small businesses.

    • Владимир Рапацкий

      Totally agreed with @karl6876435:disqus
      It’s much cheaper to do NAS by yourself and then configure sync with B2 cloud

      • Rehan Fernando

        Well the main difference is if you have a NAS and do a sync it would make the NAS the primary storage. So if the NAS fails or you run out of disk space you are toast. With CloudNAS the benefit is the cloud (B2) is you primary storage which means even if you dropped the CacheDrive and it stopped working you have access to all your files thru the B2 Web Console and you would also be able to be able to buy a new CacheDrive and instantly have access to all your files without have to re-build etc. Recovery time is literally seconds. It also means you never run out of disk space again since the cloud is storing everything for you.

        • Aitor Bleda

          Yes but.. at that price I could buy a three disk x3 8TB NAS.. and sync it.
          Depending on the data protection I would get at least 16TB… way faster and way more data.. only sharing over the internet is a bit more tricky.
          I think the idea is very good, problably the implementation is also good and I just dont see a good price here..

    • Andy Klein

      The B2 account you use is your own account. Then you provide your credentials to the Morro Data system so they can use it. You always have access to your B2 account as you pay Backblaze for the B2 storage/downloads separately.

      • karl

        Thanks for that.
        So now I am confused. What’s the subscription charge for? The software?

    • Jens Hauser

      I think you forgot tp add the cost to B2 as well. So the cost is even higher. The main problem for me is actually the speed of up and down load of my file. If I have a 1 TB CloudNAS and upload a 1,5 TB video file the NAS will be full and it will take some time to upload that to B2.

      • karl

        My assumption was that you pay Morro Data your $ 10 per month and they cover any costs with B2. Now it seems as if you pay the subscription and B2 fees as you use your own B2 account. Double checked the website and it says : Purchase CacheDrive, activate CloudNAS (subscription) and activate B2.

        • karl

          I have asked Morro Data and they say you purchase the box and pay a subscription. You then link to your own B2 account to store the data. The subscription charge is for their management system (software on the device and the management software in the cloud). There is also a desktop app too.

          When I asked what happens if you stop paying the subscription:

          “You can repurpose it for other things. The G40 and G80 are Intel
          NUCs. But you won’t be able to access any data you leave in the system”.