First public release of Underscore Backup 2.0 beta and open registration for new backup service

The first release for the 2.0 beta has now been released and is available for download on for download from the Underscore Backup dedicated site at

The main new feature though is the introduction of this companion service that will help with many aspects of running Underscore Backup such as.

  • Keep all your sources organized in one place to easily restore from any of your backups to any other backup.
  • Help facilitate sharing of backup data with other users.
  • Optionally allow private key password recovery.
  • Easily access application UI even if running in a context where a desktop is unavailable, such as root on Linux.
  • Use as a backup destination. Storing backup data is the only feature that requires a paying subscription, giving you 512GB of backup storage per $5 per month.
  • Support multiple regions of data storage. Currently supporting Oregon, Frankfurt, and Singapore regions to satisfy latency and data governance requirements.

With this release, the registration for accounts on this service has also been opened.

On top of the companion service changes, the following features and improvements are implementing.

  • Switched from pbkdf2 to Argon2 for private key hashing function.
  • Introduced log rotation for the application log.
  • Move the schedule jitter onto a dedicated setting instead of a custom property and default to 1 hour.
  • Changed all references to passphrase to password.
  • Introduced a password strength meter which requires a score of at least “ok” when setting up.
  • Added detection of new versions and easily download and install from inside the application.

The one major feature planned before 2.0 is complete is to add continuous backup functionality.

Underscore Backup 2.0 still retains all the great features from version 1.x including privacy first focused asymmetric encryption, safe and secure backup sharing and flexible backup destination options.

Announcing the first public release of Underscore Backup

Underscore Backup pre-release is available for immediate download from Github.

  • Public key based encryption allows continuously running backups that can only be read with a key not available on the server running the backup.
  • Pre-egress encryption means no proprietary data leaves your system in a format where it can be compromised as long as your private key is not compromised.
  • Runs entirely without a service component.
  • Designed from the ground up to manage very large backup sets with multiple TB of data and millions of file in a single repository.
  • Multi-platform support based on Java 8.
  • Low resource requirements, runs efficiently with only 128MB of heap memory.
  • Efficient storage of both large and small file with built in de-duplication of data.
  • Handles backing up large files with small changes in them efficiently.
  • Optional error correction to support unreliable storage destinations.
  • Encryption, error correction and destination IO are plugin based and easily extendable.
  • Currently supports local file and S3 for backup destinations.

Best of all it is available as open source for free under a GPLv3 license.

For now this software is still under heavy development and should not be relied upon to protect production data.

Introducing Your Shared Secret service

The Your Shared Secret service allows you to safely and securely ensure that private information that you have is not lost if you are in any way incapacitated.

The basic premise is that information is submitted through your browser where it is encrypted before it is ever sent to the service. The key to decrypt the information never leaves your browser. The key is then then chopped up into multiple pieces which are securely handed out to a number of people that you chose to act on your behalf and only by a group of them collaborating (You chose how many) can they together assemble the key required to access your information. For a quick introduction you can check out this video.

You have complete control over who of your caretakers is able to initiate accessing the information and also how many of the total group of caretakers need to participate to access the information. Even better the service does not even need know how to contact the caretakers. This information is only known by the unlocking caretaker and the owner of the information.

Furthermore the act of one of your caretakers trying to assemble the key will give you as the creator a notification that allows you to cancel the unlocking information or delete the information all together within a 7 days quarantine period. For more information on how the service works see the Usage section on the website.

The entire service operates on a zero trust model where all the functionality is ensured with cryptographically strong primitives with the single exception being the 7 day quarantine period. There is plenty of detailed information on how the encryption works in detail and how the service has been built. To ensure what is claimed on the site is actually what is happening the source code to the entire service is published on GitHub and you can even run the entire website locally by just cloning the website repository and just run.

npm start

The service is available for an introductory price of $1 or if you want to have completely anonymity you can also pay with either Etherium or Bitcoin although that is slightly more costly because of the value fluctuations of these currencies.

The service is available now so feel free to get started now keeping your information safe without you.

Moving to WordPress for hosting

The website of Underscore Research is moving to WordPress from a .Net based self coded site hosted in Azure. This will allow us to easier do blogging and other site updates.

It does however preclude the site for hosting any kind of other services and these will be either discontinued such as in the case of the Nest Thermostat skill, or moved to other domain names (More on these in the fullness of time when they are ready).

Discontinuing Alexa skill for Nest Thermostat

Unfortunately the Alexa skill for controlling the Nest Thermostat has been discontinued. We are in a way a victim of our own success in that we have hit our limit for how many tokens Nest will issue the skill. Raising this limit has proven too cumbersome for something that is only available as a free service.

Fortunately the built in support for Nest on the Alexa platform has improved to a point where this skill is not needed that much anymore.