Arq Backup’s search function is useless

I’m trying to love Arq Backup, but it’s fighting me all the way. CrashPlan is pretty bad so I’d really like it if Arq was the solution for my backup needs. It’s trying hard not to be. For a version 5.7 program, it’s still pretty rough.

I’ve seen bizarre error messages reporting problems that seem to fix themselves (I hope; it happens so frequently I’ve stopped reporting them to the support folks), scheduling collisions that result in 2:00 AM daily backups consistently running in early afternoon, automatic upgrades that never automatically upgrade, etc. I don’t care enough to go back into my lengthy history of support requests to enumerate all the problems, both bugs and UI design issues.

Today I went to another computer and tried to find a file. Arq has a very convenient search box that you can enter the name of a file and it will show you all the backups. However, there are two major issues with the search function.

The first issue is that, even though I have a fast quad-core i7, 16 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB SSD, Arq doesn’t show me the first result for about 22 minutes. Yes, minutes! The search didn’t complete for—well—I don’t honestly know when it would have completed. You see, I gave up waiting for the spinning in-progress gear to stop spinning. Was I too impatient to only wait 90 minutes for a single search? Needless to say, this renders the search function useless. I could easily find the file faster manually by drilling down into the backups. When a human can find results of a simple filename search faster than a computer search algorithm, you know that algorithm is unsuitable for its task.

The second issue is that the only information in the search results is the file’s source path and modification date. There’s no indication what destination the backup is on, or the file size. The destination is important if I need to restore a large file. I want to get it from the closest destination. I’d rather restore from a local disk than from a cloud service. Arq will show the same file with an indication of multiple backup times if you click the expansion triangle. I suspect the result sets are from the various destinations and are in the same order that the destinations appear in the left window pane, but since the order when manually searching doesn’t respect that, who knows? I backup the same file to multiple destinations, as one should, so it’s cumbersome to have to chose the destination by counting the backup sets from top to bottom in the window and then counting the search results. I haven’t verified my assumption though.

The size is important if I want to restore the version just before I accidentally deleted a large amount of data. I want the largest file, not necessarily the latest file.

What I’ve learned from the 30-day trial to my now 10 months of usage is that Arq Backup is quite suitable for simple configurations backing up a small amount of data to a single destination. But once you start using multiple destinations, multiple schedules, multiple logins, exclusions, and backup TB of data—ie. using Arq’s features—then Arq really starts to show its scalability issues (see previous post).

Having said all this, and it’s only a portion of the issues I’ve had with Arq, I do wish the developers success in addressing the bugs and scalability issues quickly. I really want them to succeed. I can’t imagine being forced back to CrashPlan.

Author: Tom

Destroyer of software. If I haven't tested it, it hasn't been tested.

10 thoughts on “Arq Backup’s search function is useless”

  1. Great post. What makes Arq Backup’s search even more useless to me is the fact that I cannot search for files from a different computer’s backup set. Arq support confirmed that this feature is not supported. I cannot believe that!

    This is such a common use case: I would like to be able to grab a file from another computer. And if one of my computers crashes and is not accessible, then I cannot search the crashed computer’s backup from another (working) computer to manually recover specific files. Instead, I have to adopt that crashed computer’s backup set and restore the whole thing!

    1. I haven’t encountered that scenario, but I agree, this is a HUGE problem. At least with CrashPlan’s mobile or web clients, you can quickly recover critical files to any other computer and continue working on a project while you work on getting a dead computer fixed or replaced.

      Once you’ve adopted a backup set, you should be able to restore only the files you’re interested in. I don’t trust myself to remember all the destination settings for my computers, and—wait for it—Arq Backup deliberately doesn’t backup its own settings (Arq works in mysterious ways), so I copy them to Dropbox so I can restore them to another computer and from there restore the files.

      There are so many design decisions that the Arq developers have made that I question.

  2. Hi

    Im still trialing ARQ and crawling the net to find potential issue I would encounter. I hadn’t tried the search function but just did on 2 different volume ( 1.5T and 500G ) and both search completed within ~30 seconds . Interesting that you cannot restore specific files , i was pretty sure I ran that test and it worked . Ill have to retest this

    My observations so far is that its much slower to backup then Crashplan . It perform much better with larger file but so does Crashplan.

    Crashplan VS ARQ backing to and old NAS
    Home folder backup (small and large files)
    du -sh testuser/
    35G testuser/

    Crashplan
    Start time 11h13
    End time 13h23
    Total Time –> 2h10 ~5MB/s

    ARQ
    Start Time 13h25
    End Time 18h00
    Total Time –> 4h35 ~2.5 MB/s

    Restore on the other end is as fast as crashplan

    Another nice feature missing is the ability to password protect ARQ like crashplan.

    1. I found that Arq was much faster than CrashPlan when backing up to the cloud: Amazon Drive vs CrashPlan’s servers, because CP throttles both uploads and downloads whereas Arq maxed out my uplink. I’m referring to the Home version of CP. I haven’t tried their SMB version.

      I think Arq’s search function may depend on the amount of data backed up, and/or the number of sessions. I haven’t tried it recently because it was so bad so it is possible they’ve made some improvement in that area.

      CP has many nice features that are missing from Arq. Password protection of the app is just one. If you need to administer multiple users on the same computer, CP makes that easy—all done from the app. Arq requires you to administer each user account separately. A real PITA. CP also allows you to have multiple destinations for the same file selection. Arq requires you to create separate destinations and tediously reselect the folders and files. You can’t even export/import selections. To me, this is a serious oversight and shows that Arq is really for users with simple backup needs. It doesn’t scale well at all.

      1. It is , unfortunately I cannot find any other software that does a better job . Now that CP is killing the home version (which granted free local backup) I need to move off . Ive tried Cloudberry , didnt like it , time machine is so bad , duplicacy seem promising but I quickly faced limitation that didnt meet my need ( sorry dont recall which ) , and Ive likely tried a few others which didnt qualify .

        I still have 15 days of trial on ARQ and wondering if ill make the jump

        1. I too tried CloudBerry just yesterday. I created the simplest backup of 1 file to a local folder. It failed to “upload” but wouldn’t tell my why or what I needed to do to fix it. When I drilled down to make the selection and I checked the box, all the parent folders should have had a “-” appear so you’d know there was something, but not everything, nested being selected. I don’t know how you’d find what was selected again without opening every damn folder. Unbelievably bad user interface.

  3. Do not use ARQ. You will regretfully find out that you will not be able to restore your files in the even your computer is lost. You can only successfully restore from the same/original computer you were backing up from. I was backing up my files with ARQ for years with no errors, when the computer was gone and tried to restore with another computer I kept getting an SHA256 does not match error. After consulting with ARQ they said, oh sorry, yes that was a bug, sorry about that” so no dice in restoring my files, lost forever. sucks. they till have not fixed this bug as of Nov 2017. The best most reliable alternative and free (for 2 computers) software I found is Ferro Backup System.

  4. Sorry for coming across this late thread. I’ve had good luck with JungleDisk Work Group and S3. My wife’s computer is one “User”, but I can see and restore her backups from mine. The JD Restore UI is frustrating (it closes after every restore, forcing you to reopen the file tree), but it does work.

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