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· 5 min read

What's New?

"What's New?" is a new blog series covering recent changes to Comet in more detail. This article covers the latest changes in Comet Voyager over April 2022.

Important security fix with the Tenants feature

In early April, we became aware of a security issue affecting the Tenant feature in the Self-Hosted Comet Server version 22.3.1, 22.2.0 and all earlier versions. A certain API could allow administrators in one Tenant to see user profile details belonging to user accounts from another Tenant.

We discovered this issue internally, and there is no evidence to suggest that any misuse has taken place. All partners known to be using this feature have been notified directly.

Comet 22.3.2 and Comet 22.2.1 were released on April 6, 2022 to fix this issue. We recommend upgrading at your earliest opportunity.

Direct codesigning for macOS

Comet Server allows you to customize the branding for the client software, including changing the branding, logos, text, EULA, and icon for both the installer and the application itself.

When you download Comet Backup from your Comet Server web interface, Comet Server generates a custom installer on-demand. This custom installer contains all your branding as well as the built-in URL for your Comet Server, so no extra configuration is needed by the end-user.

However, newly generated installers are not immediately trusted by operating system security measures such as SmartScreen on Windows or Gatekeeper on macOS. Windows users are likely to be familiar with the blue SmartScreen dialog and practised in clicking the "Run anyway" button, but for macOS users, you may be surprised to learn that there is no such "Run anyway" button:

It's possible to bypass the dialog by right-clicking the *.pkg installer and choosing 'Open'. Then the dialog will include a 'Run anyway' button. However, this is a major user experience roadblock for macOS clients.

A better way to solve this solution is to codesign the installer. You can configure this on both Windows and Linux from inside your Comet Server, in the settings page, on the "Client branding" tab, using the "Codesigning" button at the bottom. For Windows, it's as simple as purchasing a certificate from one of our recommended vendors and uploading it to the "Authenticode" tab.

For macOS, the process was much more complicated. The tools used to perform macOS codesigning could only run on a real Mac machine. Comet Server required you to purchase a certificate from Apple, but in addition – to also to buy a Mac (or rent a cloud Mac), configure it for SSH, and set up some very careful permissions in order to allow Comet Server to remotely SSH into it to sign the installer *.pkg file. This was difficult for our partners (and difficult for our support team!).

Thanks to recent developments, we are pleased to announce that a Mac is no longer required for this process. You can simply purchase the certificate and upload it to this screen; Comet Server will handle all the necessary signing steps internally. We have further details on how to purchase an Apple certificate and register an App Store Connect ID in our full documentation.

This is a significant simplification of how Comet (and other software vendors) will be able to deploy macOS software going forward.

New Getting Started guide

When using a Comet Server for the first time – or giving access to a reseller Tenant for the first time – Comet Server used to show a small text box with instructions on how to download the Comet Backup client app and run your first backup job. To help streamline this process, we've expanded this first-use guide into a larger sidebar that walks you through each step individually:

This guide appears the first time an admin logs into a new server and can be dismissed at any time. It walks you through all the first steps of running a Comet Server, including configuring storage settings, adding a first user account, downloading and installing the Comet Backup desktop client, ensuring the user account has registered a device and a Protected Item, and running a backup job.

The progress through these steps is refreshed automatically using a live connection to the Comet Server.

If you're an established Comet Server administrator, you won't see any changes in this area, but if you onboard new reseller Tenants or if you create a new Comet Server then we hope it helps you walk through the process a little more smoothly.

Coming soon: New Quarterly release

Once every quarter, we roll up all our Voyager development into a new long-term support release. The current quarterly release series, 22.2 "Elara" was planned for release in late February, and received one dedicated point release to fix issues over its lifetime. We are now closely approaching the end of its patch support period. You should expect to hear from us very soon about what's coming up next!

After each quarterly release gets superseded by another, the old quarterly release will receive ticket and critical support only, with most issues resolved by encouraging users to move to the current series.

· 10 min read

What's New?

"What's New?" is a new blog series covering recent changes to Comet in more detail. This article covers the latest changes in Comet Voyager over March 2022.

Time since job end

Comet Server's web interface has a filter system that can be used for searching job history, and for generating backup job reports containing a summary table of that job history. The query system is very flexible, supporting boolean operators (and/or/not/nor), sub-clauses, grouping, and drag-and-drop rearranging. You can filter for jobs based on many different properties including the job's status (e.g. Success / Failure / Quota Exceeded), its classification type (e.g. Backup / Restore / Retention pass), its upload and download size, usernames, Protected Item and Storage Vault IDs, and many more.

This allows you to construct advanced email reports such as "Email me immediately if a job fails, plus a weekly summary" as described in our email report recipes section.

When using a custom job history search to construct an email report, it's important that the result set has a time bound on it. Without a time bound clause, the system will produce a report containing jobs from all time. The 'Preview' button on this dialog is helpful in ensuring the result looks correct.

In Comet 22.3.0 and later, there is a new available clause to filter by 'Time since job end', joining the existing 'Time since job start' filter. In some cases, using one filter or the other in your scheduled email reports could cause you to miss out on seeing jobs that take longer than the period interval. We advise following the documented recipe for best results.

Bulk upgrade campaign improvements

Comet Server allows you to remotely deploy a software upgrade to your live-connected user accounts. You can do this for a single user from their live-connected actions dialog, or you can deploy the upgrade in bulk via the Bulk Upgrade Campaign menu item. The bulk upgrade campaign takes care of intelligently waiting for devices to come online and avoiding interrupting running backup jobs, giving you an overall percentage indicator of the software uptake.

In Comet 22.3.0 there are more options to control the behavior of the bulk upgrade campaign:

Firstly, you can use our query system - mentioned above - to filter and select which devices should be considered eligible to receive the software update. If you are troubleshooting issues on a specific platform, you can restrict the update to individual device operating systems. You can filter by username and other properties too, allowing granular mass deployment without needing to resort to individually sending updates via the live-connected actions dialog.

Another new option is to control whether or not running jobs should be interrupted. The bulk upgrade campaign normally avoids sending a software-upgrade message signal to the client if a job is running, preferring to complete a backup job with old software, rather than have new software and no backup job. Having the client be one or two versions behind the Comet Server is not a problem as we maintain a strong commitment to backwards compatibility.

But if the customer's job schedules are running back-to-back, or they are infrequently online, then the campaign system might not find any reasonable opportunity to deploy the upgrade, and the devices could fall significantly far behind. It's now possible to override this behavior and ask for the bulk upgrade to be deployed regardless of any running jobs. The software installer will terminate all Comet's running processes as part of the upgrade.

These new settings are all optional and default to the previous behavior, of sending the update to all devices while not interrupting any running jobs.

Find matching Storage Vault addresses

Comet Server is split into multiple roles, including the Auth Role - where user accounts log in - and the Storage Role - one place where a customer might upload data to. These are conceptually independent parts of the Comet Server and can be enabled or disabled as required.

When you log in to the Comet Backup desktop app, if you check the 'advanced options' checkbox, you can see the server address that Comet is logging into. This is the Auth Role address. If you have a Comet-type Storage Vault in the customer's settings, you can check the hostname field for that Storage Vault. This is the Storage Role address.

In small installations, it's likely that Auth Role and Storage Role will be both enabled on a single server. If you are using direct-to-cloud storage, you might not even be using Storage Role. In larger installations, the Auth Role and Storage Role can be decoupled, to allow scaling them independently. For instance, you could have one single Auth Role server for all customers, with many dozens of Storage Role servers. In that case, the two hostname fields mentioned would have different content inside.

The Role system is simple and flexible, but managing these URLs at scale can be difficult. If you have to perform a server migration, such as a replication failover, the easiest way to do it is to change what DNS points to, instead of changing a lot of login-URL settings and Storage Vault hostname settings.

But sometimes these changes must be made. It is possible to remotely redirect a user to a different Auth Role login address via the live connection action dialog:

As well as the Auth Role login hostname, it is possible to change a user's Comet-type (i.e. Storage Role) Storage Vault hostname remotely by editing their Storage Vault settings. There is a way to do this in bulk via the 'Advanced' options > 'Bulk Replace Addresses' page. This page allows you to find-and-replace Comet-type Storage Vault hostnames across your entire user base.

In Comet 22.3.0, this page has gained separate 'Find' and 'Find and replace' modes:

You can now use the new 'Find' option to perform a dry-run, to see which customers are using any given Storage Vault URL. This is a helpful safety feature before switching to 'Find and replace'; and, it can also help with troubleshooting certain types of Constellation Role error message.

Simpler My Servers page

When you visit account.cometbackup.com, you can use the 'My Servers' page to manage your Self-Hosted and Comet-Hosted servers. Previously these were displayed on two separate tabs; we have now streamlined this page to show all your servers together, regardless of where they are hosted.

If you have a mix of environments (e.g. a primary a Comet-Hosted server and additional self-hosted servers for on-prem requirements; or, a primary self-hosted server and a test environment Comet-Hosted server) then you'll find it easier to see an overview of all your Comet Server infrastructure at a single glance.

Comet job information in custom command environment variables

Comet supports running commands as part of each backup jobs. You can configure a command to run before or after the backup job, or even when a disk snapshot is thawed. Custom commands can be attached to the Protected Item (e.g. for creating archives or database dumps for backup), to the Storage Vault (e.g. to supply extra login commands), or to an individual schedule (e.g. to shut down the PC after the backup job completes).

The commands are run as part of the job, and the output of the custom command is included in the job report. If your custom command returns a non-zero exit code, the job report will be marked as unsuccessful.

In Comet 22.3.0, the commands are run with additional environment variables available. These environment variables help you integrate Comet with your other systems. For example, you could use an After command that signals to your RMM software if a job has completed, including the device ID, job ID, and in-progress job status.

Export Device ID

Comet Server has a comprehensive API - anything that you can do in the Comet Server web interface can be done via our API. The API makes use of JSON over HTTP, and it's simple to interact with - we have sample code and SDKs for several programming languages.

When you are integrating Comet with other software, you will find that the customer's device running Comet Backup is always represented by a "Device ID". This identifier is automatically generated based on a private set of hardware and software identifiers. It is designed to remain stable throughout the lifetime of the device and be a consistent way to identify it. However, the proprietary nature of its generation means it can be difficult to correlate Comet's device IDs from the Comet Server API with any other identifiers running on the same PC.

For instance if you have RMM scripts running on a customer's PC, you may want to know the current PC's Comet Device ID in order to make API calls related to the current device.

On Windows, this has been possible up until now by reading the HKLM\Software\backup-tool\DeviceIdentificationID registry key. This key is created when Comet's services start up and is an easy way to correlate the current device with the Comet API.

However, macOS and Linux devices don't have a Registry that we can use in the same way. Comet 22.3.0 adds a new platform-independent technique for retrieving the Device ID, by running the backup-tool info device-id command. This command outputs the current device ID on stdout and should always have the same result as reading the registry key.

This feature is highly useful for ISV (Independent Software Vendor) partners who are looking to integrate Comet more closely with their other software utilities.

Wasabi integration improvements

Our partners at Wasabi are continuing to roll out new supported storage regions. Comet performs at its best when you minimize the latency from the end-customer through to the storage location, so when choosing a cloud provider, we recommend selecting a storage region as close as possible to the end customer.

Comet 22.3.1 adds support for the automatically detecting buckets in Wasabi's latest ca-central-1 region. Because Wasabi bucket names form a global namespace, Comet can generally autodetect the region without it having to be manually specified in the Storage Vault or Storage Role settings.

Elara rollup release

As with every quarter, we released our latest Comet 22.2.0 'Elara' release on March 8th. This release rolled up all the features from the 21.12.x Voyager series into a new long-term-support release that we will continue to patch and support. Some of the feature highlights include a new Settings page in the Comet Server web interface; support for WebAuthn as a 2FA method; and single file or folder restore for Disk Image backups. All users of the previous quarterly series 21.11.x 'Himalia' and earlier are encouraged to upgrade, but we’re happy for them to continue using older quarterly versions if they are not experiencing any issues.

Comet Elara takes its name from another moon of Jupiter - It is the eighth largest Jovian satellite, and is named after Elara, one of Zeus' lovers. It was discovered on January 5th 1905.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the release launch webinar - if you missed this coverage of all the new features from Elara, you can watch the replay on our YouTube channel.

Synology improvements

We recently added support for installing Comet Backup on the Synology NAS platform using a *.spk file. This support debuted with Comet 21.12.7 and we have been continuing to improve it since then. In the latest 22.3.x 'Voyager' series, you'll find improvements for installation on DSM 6; reduced job log verbosity on DSM 7 with @eaDir paths; and better support for the AdminBrandingAvailablePlatforms API.

Thanks for reading - stay tuned for our next monthly update summary, and if you would prefer to watch instead of read, we have a large number of update summaries available on our YouTube channel.

Mason Giles, CTO

· 11 min read

What's New?

"What's New?" is a new blog series covering recent changes to Comet in more detail. This article covers the latest changes in Comet Voyager over February 2022.

Synology client installer

Comet Backup now has an SPK package installer available for Synology NAS devices. It supports both DSM 6 and DSM 7 firmware versions. This is a great way to ensure your NAS devices are backed up in a consistent way with all your other Comet infrastructure.

As with the existing Windows, macOS, and Linux Comet Backup client installers, you can get started with Synology by downloading your SPK package from the Comet Server downloads page.

Until now, it has been possible to install the Linux version of Comet Backup on a Synology device if you enabled SSH access to it. This was a complicated process, and upgrades to the DSM firmware would often cause the installed Comet Backup client to get deleted. Using the spk package avoids all these problems - the installation process is much simpler as your branded Comet client can be installed entirely via the Synology web interface through the package manager.

In DSM 6, Comet has full access to the system to back up and restore files. In DSM 7, Synology introduced a sandboxing system for packages to improve security. As a result, you will need to explicitly grant the Comet Backup app access to your storage volumes after installation. Please check the documentation closely when going through this process for the first time.

At this stage the new Synology installer is being released at no additional cost, but please note that we plan to introduce a Booster charge of $1 per Synology device starting April 15th 2022.

This has been one of our top feature requests on our Feature Voting page. We look at this system often to help guide our development priorities - if you've been using Comet Backup for a while and have some ideas about how we could improve the software, we would encourage you to make your voice heard and share any new ideas you have. Often multiple MSPs will rally together around an idea and refine it into something really wonderful.

The next time you look at the Comet Server web interface, you'll see a new search bar at the top of the screen:

This search bar allows you to quickly find user accounts by entering a few characters of their name.

The search bar will also find matching Storage Vaults and Protected Item. This is the first time it's been possible to find all matches of these by name from the Comet Server web interface. There are a few highly interesting scenarios that this enables - if you make good use of the Protected Item name fields, you can find all users backing up a certain product to troubleshoot them in bulk. Likewise if you are migrating storage platforms, finding all Storage Vaults named after your old platform might be very helpful.

For maximum productivity for keyboard users, you can focus the search field with Alt+Q, like Microsoft Outlook - and you can navigate through results with the arrow keys.

This request also came from our Feature Voting system, so I'd like to thank everyone who voted and commented on it for their advocacy and suggestions.

Single file restore from Disk Image

As of Comet 21.12.5, it's now possible to restore single files and folders from a Disk Image backup job. When you select a Disk Image backup job to restore, you'll see a new third option alongside the existing virtual disk (vmdk) and physical disk (partition) restore options:

If you select the new option, you can browse and restore single files and/or folders to restore:

This feature is accessible from either the Comet Backup desktop app or from the Comet Server web interface when remotely controlling a live-connected device.

The Disk Image backup in Comet produces a backup job snapshot containing a VMDK file that is a complete image of the raw partition data. When you restore single files, Comet will attempt to parse the backed-up VMDK files directly from the Storage Vault without spooling. If you intend to restore a large amount of files, the extra indirection makes this process slightly less efficient than restoring the entire disk image - but if you have only a few files to restore it is significantly more convenient, as you do not need to restore the entire disk image first. This reduces the total bandwidth and helps achieve your recovery time objectives.

Because Comet has to parse and process the filesystem within the VMDK file itself without relying on the operating system's filesystem drivers, we don't have exhaustive support for all filesystems. This feature currently only supports parsing the NTFS filesystem, and only regular file types, directories, symlinks, and EFS files. Other exotic NTFS object types, some types of reparse point, and other filesystems such as FAT, exFAT or ReFS are not supported yet by our built-in filesystem parser. However, this independent NTFS implementation does mean that restoring single files from a Windows disk image backup can be done on any Comet device platform, such as a macOS or Linux device logged in to the same account.

As of 21.12.8, this feature also integrates with the other restore options, such as restoring files directly to an archive (zip, tar, tar.gz, and sqfs) and performing test restores with the "download only, do not save" option.

Custom retention pass timing

Comet Backup allows you to configure retention policies to choose how long old backup jobs should be kept for. At some point, your retention policies have to be actually applied to the data in the Storage Vault; this is called a 'retention pass'. At the end of each backup job, Comet automatically considers whether it should run a retention pass.

Because the retention pass takes some additional time and system resources, often Comet will decide to skip running the retention pass until there's a sufficiently worthwhile amount of space that can be saved in your Storage Vault. The exact decision logic for this is more like an art than a science - we've got an excellent set of default settings, but as Comet grows larger we do find many users that are not well suited by our default settings.

If you do feel that the default behavior is not working well for you, then in Comet 21.12.x and later it's now possible to override the retention pass decision logic. You can choose this option as part of the advanced options for the backup job schedule, or, when running a backup job manually. There are four configuration options available:

The default setting is "Automatic" and is the same logic that Comet used in previous versions. When this option is selected, Comet uses a number of heuristics to determine whether to run a retention pass, based on the relative device performance compared to other devices in the account; the number of backup jobs in the Storage Vault that exceed the configured retention policy; and the time since the last retention pass. We have a full explanation of the rules in our documentation.

With the "Immediate" option, a retention pass will be run immediately at the end of every backup job, to completely enforce your retention policy. This is particularly helpful if your data set has a large amount of changes between incremental backup jobs, and you want to save as much space as possible in the Storage Vault at the expense of additional time to complete the operation.

The last two new options are "Run more often" and "Run less often". Like "Automatic", these options generally run retention passes after a few jobs or days have passed, but by explicitly setting "more often" and "less often" on your different devices within the same account, you can gain effective control over which device in the account is generally responsible for running retention passes.

If you have a low-powered laptop that's often put to sleep, and a high-powered always-online server with a lot of RAM both logged in as two devices in the same user account, then you can use these two options to encourage the high-powered device to do the retention pass work. Our "Automatic" logic does generally take uptime and system RAM into account in its decision making, but these options allow you to bias that decision in cases where you have a clearer understanding of the devices than Comet is able to determine automatically.

Two-factor TOTP codes without QR

Comet Server supports two-factor authentication using WebAuthn - such as U2F dongles and fingerprint readers - and also TOTP, the standard and widely-used system of six-digit codes that change every 30 seconds.

Like most other services using TOTP, Comet provides a QR code to scan to enroll for TOTP in your mobile authenticator app. However there are genuine situations where no camera is available to scan the QR code. The most pressing situation is when enrolling the TOTP code into an enterprise security app or password manager, from a desktop PC without a camera available. In this situation, it's possible to enter a text code instead of scanning the QR code.

This text code is now displayed when setting up TOTP in Comet Server 21.12.5 and later. It should make life easier for users of managed TOTP password managers - or just users who have dropped their phone and broken the camera!

Single snapshot identification (Advanced)

Sometimes in Comet, if your underlying storage platform experiences a data loss event, you may find that some of your backup snapshots within a Storage Vault are missing necessary chunks and can no longer be restored. In this case, the job report for a Retention pass normally mentions the exact IDs and filenames of the non-restorable snapshots to delete, in order to acknowledge and resolve the issue.

However when faced with this issue, many administrators might not have convenient access to the Storage Vault's data location in order to delete the affected files - for instance, if you are troubleshooting a customer's external harddrive backup that experienced some disk corruption.

In Comet 21.12.8, there's now a way to do this remotely from the Comet Server web interface. If you enable the "Advanced Options" toggle from your user menu in the top-right, then when going to restore data for an affected user, you'll see snapshot IDs and filenames listed directly alongside the snapshot option. This allows you to use Ctrl+F to find affected snapshots and select them for deletion via the 'Delete' menu option.

This feature has been available via the Comet Server API for some time, but having it as an option in the Comet Server web interface should make it much more accessible to the bulk of our partner base.

Short thoughts

There's much more that's been happening in Comet - the admin homepage in the Comet Server web interface now loads faster when you visit it multiple times; the "Checking for free space" phase of backup jobs is now more resilient to network errors; the Thai translation has been significantly updated; the Comet Server web interface now visually shows icons for your Protected Items and Storage Vaults in more places; and many minor bugs and cosmetic bugs have been resolved. For more information, check out the full changelog.

Coming soon: New Quarterly release

Once every quarter, we roll up all our Voyager development into a new long-term support release. The current quarterly release series, 21.11 "Himalia" from late November 2021, received three dedicated point releases to fix minor issues over its lifetime, and we are now closely approaching the end of its patch support period. You should expect to hear from us very soon about what's coming up next!

After each quarterly release gets superseded by another, the old quarterly release will receive ticket and critical support only, with most issues resolved by encouraging users to move to the current series.

Check back next month for our next regular update summary - you can subscribe by RSS to never miss an article - or check out our YouTube channel.

Mason Giles, CTO

· 11 min read

What's New?

"What's New?" is a new blog series covering recent changes to Comet in more detail. This article covers the latest changes in Comet Voyager over December 2021 and January 2022.

Comet 21.11.0 "Himalia" was released in late November 2021 - the latest in our series of quarterly releases. Quarterly releases bring you new features while still providing increased long-term stability around testing periods and update cycles. Himalia introduced many significant features, most notably the launch of Microsoft Office 365 backups into the quarterly release track for the first time.

We also publish weekly releases through the Voyager branch. Install the Voyager version of Comet to get the latest-and-greatest features as soon as they're out.

Since Himalia was launched in November 2021, there are a few Voyager highlights to cover:

New documentation page

We recently made a major overhaul to our documentation site:

While this isn't a software change, your interactions with Comet extend beyond the software itself and we are committed to continuously improving that experience.

With the new page design, it's now much easier to:

  • Navigate within large pages with the split side navigation
  • Look things up on a mobile device
  • Use the more responsive search system which should give more accurate results
  • Search through past release notes

The release notes have moved to docs.cometbackup.com as well, which replaces both the old changelog website and the popup dialogs on the Downloads page in your account. We've also migrated the Comet Blog here too; this is the inaugural new blog post on the updated platform.

Storage Vault size measurement

Comet 21.12.4 now keeps track of the historical size of your Storage Vault. In the future, this will let us chart the storage growth over time for your partners in the Comet Server web interface. Until this release has been out in the wild for a bit longer, though, there's not much data to show yet; you can enable the Storage Vault Size as a hidden optional column from the Job Search page.

This feature is also available via the BackupJobDetail.DestinationSizeEnd API and in our PHP and Ruby SDKs.

Schedules: If the last job was missed

When configuring a user's scheduled backup job settings, you can schedule a backup to run at any particular time, or also when certain events happen. If you are working with laptop devices that are often offline, a regular job schedule is often insufficient. One solution to this problem is to aim for a scheduled time - say 5pm every day - but if the laptop is not available at that time, then run a new backup job as soon as the device is seen online again.

In the past, we had an option When PC starts, if the last job was missed - but modern laptops hardly ever fully turn off; between Always Connected PCs (ACPC), Windows Fast Startup and more, the PC usually only enters a deep sleep state, and this setting was not being triggered as intended.

We've updated this same setting to just say If the last job was missed. This reflects the concept that we will make use of other possible signal indicators to make this happen in practice. As part of the 21.12.3 update, the device will look at when the live connection to the Comet Server is dropped and reconnected; because this happens during PC sleep, this is a possible time to check if the new schedule option should run now.

Digital Ocean, Catalyst Cloud, and Cynny Space

Comet supports a lot of cloud storage providers. When you set up your Comet-based backup infrastructure, you're welcome to use any kind of storage you like, whether that's a colocated RAID array, a commercial cloud storage provider like Wasabi or Backblaze B2, or just some harddrives in your basement. There's always a balance between price and quality, but an additional major factor is the physical geographical location of the data, which affects not only latency - Comet's performance is somewhat latency-sensitive - and of course also data sovereignty requirements if your customers are storing data that is subject to local regulations.

We've published a large list of compatible cloud storage providers on the Integrations page of our website and in our documentation, and we'd certainly recommend any of them or any provider that can be connected via a supported protocol (SFTP, S3-Compatible, ...), but we have recently taken to adding built-in support for more and more of these partners.

In Comet 21.12.2, we're pleased to announce that three new cloud storage providers have been raised to built-in options.

  • DigitalOcean Spaces, the S3-compatible offering from this publicly-listed US cloud company costs 20 USD/mo/TB and is currently available in seven countries including the USA, Netherlands, Singapore, the UK, Germany, Canada, and India.

  • Catalyst Cloud Object Storage, an S3-compatible offering from Catalyst in New Zealand. Prices start from 30 NZD/mo/TB for a single availability-zone with triple replication.

  • The SwARM, by Cynny Space, the latest S3-compatible offering from Cynny Space. Datacenters are hosted in Italy and France, and there are no additional charges for bandwidth.

If you're shopping around for a new cloud storage provider, we can recommend all three of these offerings, which have been tested and verified by our team for performance and reliability.

150% scaling support on Windows

The Comet Backup desktop app now has improved support for high DPI screens. If you have your Windows OS set to 150% scaling size, previously Comet would round up to 200%. We've upgraded our Qt integration to improve this and now Comet will seamlessly work at non-integral scale fractions.

This has been particularly helpful for many current-generation 14" laptops with high DPI screens that are factory-shipped at 150% scale. Despite meeting Comet's minimum system requirements for screen resolution, the Comet Backup app would have been larger than the physical screen by default. This is no longer an issue with the latest changes.

Two-Factor Authentication using WebAuthn

If you're using U2F for two-factor logins to the Comet Server web interface, you may have recently seen a prompt in the web browser asking you to upgrade to WebAuthn.

We're very pleased to announce that Comet Server has completely upgraded all two-factor support from U2F to the full WebAuthn in a seamless way that preserves full compatibility with your U2F devices, but adds support for two-factor via fingerprint readers, your Windows Hello PIN, or even facial recognition.

There are no changes required at your end to take advantage of this new feature. We do recommend checking if you can now add additional two-factor devices, if you have the hardware support for it. You can configure supported two-factor devices from the Account page within your Comet Server's web interface.

This change also partially unifies Comet Server's two-factor authentication capabilities with our self-service account page. Did you know that you can configure 2FA for account.cometbackup.com from your 'My Account' section?

Changes to Windows Server supported versions

With Comet, we are acutely aware that there is a large and diverse partner base of client devices and operating systems running in the wild. The Windows Server 2008 series of operating systems are coming to the end of their extended support lifecycle from Microsoft. There's always a long-tail of stragglers who are stuck on old versions of Windows Server for various reasons, and some of those are valid and important reasons. However, it remains a fact that over time it becomes more difficult for us to maintain support for these old operating systems.

Unfortunately the WebAuthn feature was the "straw that broke the camel's back" and we have needed to make some changes to the versions of Windows that are supported.

OSComet BackupComet Server
Windows Server 2008
(NT 6.0 / Vista-based)
✅ Still supported⚠ No longer supported in 21.12.x, please continue to use 21.11.x
Windows Server 2008 R2
(NT 6.1 / Windows 7-based)
✅ Still supported✅ Still supported

This change in compatibility only affects your use of Comet Server, not the client; and it only affects the original Windows Server 2008, not the updated R2 release. We expect there to be very few partners affected by this scenario.

Settings screen: Page redesign, Tenants, and Test Connection

We have shipped a major redesign of the settings screen in 21.12.0. Previously Comet Server's integrated settings configuration led you through a settings wizard. However, over time the wizard became too long.

The new Settings page makes it far easier to navigate to the specific single setting you are looking for, making for a much improved experience. We are working to reintroduce some of the workflow in a future iteration of this page.

As part of this change, we've also renamed 'Organizations' to 'Tenants', to make it more clear that you are constructing a multi-tenant world. Tenants are Comet Server's feature to partition your Comet Server into multiple isolated zones, so you can sell access to reseller partners or unrelated companies and give them a nearly-full Comet Server experience while still maintaining global management.

Another change in the new settings screen is a 'Test Connection' button for Storage Role storage. If you aren't 100% sure about your cloud storage provider settings or your SMB credentials when configuring where your Storage Role Comet Server stores its data, the new 'Test Connection' button will let you check it immediately, shortening the debug cycle time when setting up your storage environment.

Recovery environment: ISO support, timezones, and logs

Comet Backup supports taking disk image backups of a Windows PC or server. This is a bare-metal backup of all disk sectors for disaster recovery purposes. If you take a Disk Image backup with Comet, you can restore it back as a VMDK file for virtual booting (physical to virtual - P2V) or for uploading to a cloud provider to virtual-boot in the cloud. Or you can directly reimage a local disk.

When the time comes to restore, you will ordinarily find that Windows is currently running from C:\ and it's not possible to overwrite it. This is a good and important restriction - overwriting the running OS, including the pagefile, drivers and NTOSKRNL would be a recipe for an instant bluescreen! Instead, Comet provides a built-in Recovery Media feature, allowing you to create a miniature Windows environment that boots directly into Comet, allowing you to safely restore your C:\ partition from a Disk Image backup.

There are a few new features with the Recovery Environment. It's now possible to generate the recovery media as an ISO file, in addition to the previously existing USB flash drive support. Creating an ISO file is much more convenient if you have a virtual environment. The generated ISO file can be booted via both BIOS and EFI.

Thank you to everyone in our Feature Voting system submitted feedback that this feature was important to you. We use your input to help guide our development priorities.

It's now also possible to reconfigure the timezone within the recovery environment. Because the recovery media might be booted on any different PC, the timezone settings might not match. This can cause a problem for S3-compatible providers in particular, as the signature steps within this protocol involve the current time and many cloud providers require a close time sync in order to access the storage service. In the past, you would have had to open the Command Prompt window and use the time.exe and w32tm.exe commands to update the time in the Recovery Media. Now, it's as simple as choosing the "Configure Timezone" option from the top menu bar and following the wizard.

It's now also possible to view the full recovery media generation logs. In the past, you could only see the most recent line, but some types of error with the generation are best understood with more context. We've redesigned the wizard screens to seamlessly show more detailed information on demand.

That's all

Thanks for reading - stay tuned for our next monthly update summary, and if you would prefer to watch instead of read, we have a large number of update summaries available on our YouTube channel.

Mason Giles, CTO