Synology C2 Backup for Business Review

Last year, I reviewed Synology’s Active Backup for Office 365 which is a cheap way of keeping another copy of Microsoft cloud data, as long as you have enough disks and space to fit it on.

This time, I’m looking at their Synology C2 | C2 Backup solution for businesses – which has a 90 day free trial (credit card details not required). This is a cloud based backup service – so no hardware required. Their support for Microsoft 365 data is quite new, and right now will cover user Exchange Online mailboxes, with OneDrive support coming in Q2 2022. Synology asked me to look at this and answered a few questions around timeframes; they’ve previously given me hardware to review, but this is not paid for content.

C2 Backup is one part of the C2 offerings, but you can pick and choose which components you want without requiring the others:

C2 Password
C2 Backup
C2 Transfer
C2 Identity
C2 Storage

At the time of writing, Synology have 3 regions you can choose from for C2 Backup: Europe – Frankfurt, North America – Seattle, and APAC – Taiwan. I’ll run through setting this up while giving a bit more information around what it is.

After creating an account, the first step is to pick your subscription – Monthly or Annual. The rates (which I won’t quote here in case they change, go have a look on their website) is per month and per terabyte, with the minimum at 5TB and the maximum 200TB.

I will note that there is an individual option that works a bit differently, but won’t run through that in this article. The data limits are smaller at 500GB, 2TB or 5TB and I’m sure there are other differences in the service vs the business option.

Next is setting up your domain, which will be a subdomain of c2.tw. You can’t change this later!

As I’m just doing a trial, I’ll skip the payment information, but it warns:

Continue without setting up a payment method? If you do not set up a payment method before the end of your free trial period, your subscription will not be automatically renewed.

Next is setting up the C2 Encryption key. This is like your password, but to all the data the service will hold. Synology point out they don’t store this – so you need to secure it yourself. If you lose it, you can’t decrypt your data and nor can Synology. They do provide a recovery code once this is done, which again you’ll need to keep – think of it as a backup password. This will be prompted to download a txt file containing the recovery code onto your computer.

Next is choosing the source of the data you want to back up. This screen will just jump you to the page for either – you’re not making a single choice between the two – it can do both.

Briefly looking at the On-premises device option, there’s 2 types of backup it can do: Personal Computer or Physical Server. There’s also Backup Policy where you can set the backup rules such as frequency, schedule and scope.

Backing up a computer or server will require an agent to be installed and signed into. Once done, a Backup Policy needs to be configured so the C2 platform knows what to backup and when. The policies are pretty simple, and the default policy will just back up everything daily, and keep all versions forever.

On the Cloud side of backup sources, we have support for Microsoft 365. You’ll need to sign in with an account that can grant access to certain areas of Microsoft 365.

It will need a little bit of time to connect before you can start configuring (about 30 seconds wait for me).

The next screen lets you pick which users to back up – which will most likely be all of them.

You don’t have to worry about adding future users in manually, there’s an option for Auto-Protection which will detect new users daily and just add them in. Note the 250 user maximum on this.

Once done, you’ll see the list of users you chose with the status ‘Not backed up yet’. You can trigger a backup now through the ellipsis button rather than waiting for the daily cycle.

The first backup will probably take quite a while – but after that first one is complete, future backups are incremental so will run a lot quicker.

The recovery portal is viewed in a per user state, you can choose which version you want to browse through (by date), and search if you’re looking for something in particular.

When restoring emails, you can either choose the emails you want to restore, or just restore everything. For specific emails, you can choose where to restore (either where they came from, or in a different restore folder) and if you want to overwrite existing items or not (only when restoring to original folder).

Restoring a single email for me only took a few seconds. Searching for emails was also very quick, with results coming up within a few seconds again.

Leaving the service going for a week, it has backed up successfully each time, and I can wind back to the daily versions for mailbox content with ease:

At the time of writing, only an administrator can perform these restores – Synology is planning for end user self service to be released Jan 2022 (any time now hopefully!).

I’ve reviewed and tested a few other backup solutions; this is one of the easiest to do out there, but I’m also hanging out for some of the features still on the roadmap. If you only care about emails via Exchange Online, then the platform is ready to go.

It will be interesting to see how far Synology takes their C2 Backup service; being quite new I’m impressed that they’ve got the most important items (emails) backing up reliably, with a simple to restore process. If you’re looking for a ‘forever’ copy of everything in a mailbox on a daily basis, this is worth checking out.

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