License, Source, Bugs

HashBackup has been actively developed since November 2008, with the first beta release in June 2009.  Over that time there has been a release about every 2 weeks, on average.  The current release is labeled beta, but there are ongoing backups of production servers from 2010 - over 2000 daily versions.  HB is being used for large production backups, often to handle offsite backup requirements in addition to an existing onsite backup.  The largest reported single backup by disk space (for the initial backup) is 18TB, with 26M files, at a research lab.  Other large reported backups are 25M files / 1.5TB for a large imap server and 27TB of 1.5TB VM image backups that uses less than 1TB of backup space after dedup.


HB will have a commercial license, probably with a 30-day free trial and an annual fee that includes support and upgrades.  Pricing isn't finalized.  The reason for an annual license vs a one-time license is simple: if there are only a couple hundred licensees, an annual fee makes it possible to continue supporting a small customer base.  Companies that sell one-time licenses usually have huge customer bases, make their money on support, or upgrades cost extra.  HB is not likely to have a huge customer base, so a one-time fee isn't sustainable.

Users with large backups receive much more value from HashBackup than users with small backups, so the license fee will probably be related to backup capacity.  A simple price model would be to add up the original file size of all the files stored in the backup and round up to the nearest TB.  This has a couple of advantages:  1) it's very easy for customers to estimate license costs without having to guess or figure out how much HashBackup can dedup and/or compress their data: a quick estimate can be made with the df -k command; 2) it aligns HashBackup LLC and users' interest.  What that means is this: if HB had a technology that could reduce 1TB of backup space into 1 byte, then pricing by the amount of backup space used would save customers a lot of money on storage costs, but HashBackup LLC's license fees would be reduced to pennies.  License sizing using the original file size means that any whiz-bang technology in HB still benefits customers by lowering storage costs without penalizing HashBackup LLC's license income.

"What if I don't need support?  How about a one-time fee with no support or upgrades?"
  While some customers may be fine with a single release and no upgrades, or buying the product without support, this causes long-term customer relation issues.  If a problem with the software occurs, or a question comes up and a customer needs advice or help, it's much harder to provide tech support for a 3 year-old version of the program.  And if the customer didn't purchase support, it's difficult to say "Sorry, you'll have to pay to get your question answered."   It leads to hard feelings all around.  It's better to have a smaller customer base with happy customers.

It's true, not everyone needs the features of HB or can justify a license fee, especially for smallish backups.  Some backup companies with huge user bases provide backup for $5/month.  But this pricing only works for crazy numbers of users, and realistically, HB will never have that.  For small backups, there probably will be a free version of HB with limits.

"What about giving away the program and charging for support?"  The ideal for HashBackup is that it is easy enough to use that support isn't required, users don't run into problems, and there are no bugs.  The more success toward that goal, the less likely customers will need support contracts.  Realistically, no one is going to pay for support contracts that aren't used regularly. 

"Will there be a cheaper plan for personal backups?"  I'd love to give away free versions of HashBackup for personal backups.  The hard part is that with cheap disk drives and high resolution phone cameras, a personal backup may consist of a terabyte or more of backup data just for photos and videos.  This makes it hard to distinguish between a personal and commercial backup.  One idea is to limit the frequency of large personal backups to once every 3 months for a free version.  Considering that most people have no personal backup, a 3-month old backup seems not so bad, and a backup every 3 months would not be acceptable for businesses.

How is Development Funded?

I sold an Internet business in 2005, have income from other projects, and fortunately, am okay financially.  
Making money is nice but it comes with a lot of hassles, and right now I'd rather focus on the technical aspects of creating a great backup program.

An ideal situation would be for the large online storage companies to sponsor HashBackup so I could work on development rather than all the business stuff, and users would have a great, free backup program.  My idea is that for a free version, backup data would have to be sent to at least one HashBackup sponsor.


"Where is the source?" 

One design goal of HashBackup is that users own and control their backup data.
  The HashBackup, LLC company is not a critical resource for daily backups and restores.  HB sends your backup data from the source directly to your own servers, or to companies you have chosen that are dedicated to providing online storage as a business.

Some backup companies do open source their backup programs.  They are able to do that because they manage a server operation and control your backup data.  Their license enforcement is easy: if you don't pay, your backup data is deleted.  Since the HB program itself is the only thing being licensed and backup space is not being sold, it isn't feasible to release the source because there would be no way to enforce a license.

Bug List

"Is there an online bug list?"

Bug lists often provide a comfortable home to bugs for many months or years.  But most customers would prefer that bugs are squashed rather than taking up residence on a bug list, so HashBackup works a different way: when a bug is reported, it's fixed, described it in the Changelog, released, and a reply is sent asking the customer to do an hb upgrade.  If it's a difficult bug, and most aren't, an update may be sent directly to a customer asking them to verify that the problem is fixed before doing a release.

Bug reports and correcting bugs take priority over new development, so not having a bug list also acts as a self-regulating mechanism to balance development and stability.

If you have any other questions, suggestions, or concerns you'd like to discuss, send an email!  It's always helpful to get feedback about HashBackup.

HashBackup, LLC