Blog Post

Backblaze Online Backup Service

These days our lives revolve around our computers — for better or worse. We keep our finances there, photos, purchased music, and much much more. It seems like a no brainer that we should all be backing up our data regularly, but it still surprises me how often I hear from a friend that they’ve lost everything. I’ve written about the importance of backups before — illustrated by my own dead drive experience — so don’t write this off as something that can’t happen to you.

All you need to backup your computer is software, external storage space, and the will to set the two up. From my experience, the last of the three represents the greatest barrier to entry. Whether it be a lack of understanding or possibly a fear of how to setup the actual backup, and which files to choose for inclusion, I’m not sure — maybe both?

Well friends, I present you with Backblaze. For $5 per month (that’s the price of Starbucks for one day after all!) you have an internet based exclusion (that means you only choose what NOT to save) backup solution with unlimited storage space. That’s correct — there is no limit to the amount of data you backup with Backblaze. Ever. Your data is stored securely (via AES, military grade encryption) in the 365 Main datacenter, and can be further protected with your own private password. Versions are kept for 4 weeks in the event you overwrite something accidentally. And then when it is time to retain your backed up files, you have three options for doing so: Download a zip file, have DVDs burned of your data, or order a USB drive to be sent to you.

As is to be expected, Backblaze comes with both pros and cons. I invite you to read on to determine how the features and limitations may fit into your specific set of needs. And if this sounds like something that’s up your alley, the first 50 readers from The Apple Blog to follow this link will get in on the Mac beta (the rest will be able to sign up for future beta offerings) and have a 15 day, fully functional trial period.

The Upsides:

  • Easy!
    If you haven’t yet begun backing up your data, this is a fantastic way to begin. Now.
  • Backup Anywhere
    You don’t need a hard drive or be near one to backup your data for a rainy day.
  • Runs Automatically
    Backblaze runs in the background, so you don’t need to schedule it or remember to kick it off manually.
  • Exclusion Based
    Especially for the novice user, it’s much simpler to exclude the data you don’t care about, than figure out all of the stuff that you do care to keep safe. Choose to exclude file types, specific files, folders, or even limit to file sizes.
  • Web-based File Browser
    The web interface is simple and effective. Once your files have been backed up to Backblaze, there’s a web-based file viewer which displays all the files that have been saved. Come restore time, you can select any files or folders you wish to retrieve, and they will be prepared in a zip file for your download (or a DVD or USB drive which would be mailed to you).
  • Off Site Data
    Having your data backed-up off site is piece of mind in case, heaven forbid, your home burns to the ground, taking your backup with it!
  • Encryption
    AES keeps your data safe from even determined prying eyes.
  • 5 Bucks!
    And really, can you beat the price at only $5 per month for unlimited data?!

The Potential Downsides:

  • “Speed”
    A couple of factors weigh heavily on the speed of the Backblaze internet-centric backup solution: your connection speed, and amount of data needing to be backed-up. Media files (photos, movies, music) take up a great deal of storage space and at a 6Mbps cable connection like I have, it would’ve taken weeks to backup everything I really wanted to save. (For the purposes of this review, I limited to a single folder and then, only files under 2 megs.)
  • Security Concerns
    The encryption in use with Backblaze is top notch, but if you’re the tinfoil hat type (or if you’re just rightly concerned about your sensitive files), you may not be feeling great about letting your data out of your posession.
  • Restoration Costs
    While backups over the web are free, it’s not very convenient with a huge amount of data (I’m sporting 150 gigabytes…) to download in order to restore. The alternative is to pay for [a maximum of 4.2GB of data on] DVDs, or a USB hard drive of your data to be mailed out. The most convenient being the USB drive, which is easily the cost of buying your own drive for personal use and then some. (To restore my 1.3GB of test data, DVDs would have run me $99, or a USB drive $189.)

At the end of the day, Backblaze represents a backup solution that is within anyone’s grasp. The setup is almost nonexistent, it runs in the background (essentially saving you from yourself), and the service cost is almost nonexistent at only $5 a month. Despite some downsides, the functionality is solid and I truly forgot about it once I set it up and let it go. There’s piece of mind in knowing that, without any interaction, your data will be safe if and when you need it. I think if you’re not already backing your data up, you should definitely start today, and Backblaze could be the perfect place to start.

26 Responses to “Backblaze Online Backup Service”

  1. This is so great about Backblaze.I like Backblaze because of the unlimited backup plan they have and unlike for Mozy which has banished the unlimited backup plan.Today luck was on my side because i found an online website that writes about Backblaze called well it does not only write about Backblaze but also writes on other backup services like Safecopy,Mozy,SugarSync and it really gives one the choice to choose an online backup that suits his or her needs.

  2. I have backblaze and I recently purchased a imac book, I am trying to restore my files which were in microsoft office and jpeg can anyone help me with what I need to get these files converted?

  3. topomatt

    Backblaze looks great, has everything I want. Unfortunately I can’t use it due to their belief that everyone wants to backup everything. I have about 30 gigs that I want to back up. Backblaze wants to backup 280 gigs and there is no practical way for me to tell Backblaze to only backup the 30 gigs. You can’t even see which folders Backblaze is trying to backup so I’m not even sure the data I want to backup is included in that 300 gigs. Appears to me that Backblaze has purposely created a system that is as unfriendly as possible to power users because they are afraid we’ll take advantage of the word “unlimited” in their marketing information. There is no other practical explanation for the system they have created.

  4. I’m using the BackBlaze trial on my Mac. Like it overall.. though I realized that, since they provide a Zip file of unencrypted files (or the DVD or hard drive) that their employees have full access to my data.. not so good. Seems many of the other services encrypt things *before* the are backed up and *after* they are restored.. so everything is on the client machine. May be a deal breaker for me.

  5. For the Mac, I like They offer online backup and file sharing. Their online backup supports scheduled unattended operation and AES 128b-it encryption. Combine their backup with their file sharing (both public and private file sharing) you have a great combination. That alone sets them apart from most online backup sites – but their accounts – from free to Pro accounts that start as low as $1.99 makes then the value leader. They run as a Java applet in the browser and support Mac OS / X.

  6. I had almost the exact same reaction to Backblaze as this guy (just found that blog in this one while doing some searching for product reviews):

    Summary: exclusion based backup with an option to go with inclusion is not as great as it sounds for a few key reasons.

    If you don’t want to back up everything on your computer (I don’t), or want to use their free trial before you commit, then this software becomes almost unusable. This is too bad as I’ve not found a good alternative (I have had bad experiences with Mozy).

    If anyone can think of a good workaround, let me know. I’d love to make this product work.

  7. Christopher Holland

    One drawback is the limits that BackBlaze puts on what files/directories it automatically excludes from backups. For instance, it won’t let me backup .dmg files. Thats unfortunate because as a developer I keep various versions of our products in their final GM state as DMGs. I also use encrypted DMGs for various reasons for regular storage of files.

    It also won’t let me backup the the /etc, /applications, /library, and many other directories. So I can’t use this to recover data that is in my /Library/Web Server/Documents directory. Nor can I recover server config files from /etc. These things are deal breakers for me because those are important files that I need to recover quickly in the event of a meltdown and rebuild. I do like the idea of the application and I really want it to work for me (I’m backing up locally to a TImeCapsule and remotely to JungleDisk right now). I like the fact that it is a hands-free solution but I want to be able to backup anything to fit my needs, not just my photographs and documents. They’ve dumbed it down just one step too far. I also can’t deselect hard drives to backup. This is just a beta so maybe they’ll fix these issues.

  8. @Ethan you could pony up for Apple’s Time Capsule, which is a wireless access point and network drive rolled into one, and is made to work with Time Machine. I haven’t used it, but assume it’s pretty simple.

    @Jon, see some of our other online backup reviews on The Apple Blog – particularly Jungle Disk and Mozy:
    JD –
    M –
    M –
    M –
    Svcs roundup –
    Svcs compare –

  9. @Nick- I think you’re right. I just checked out Jungle disk, and at $.15 per gig per month, my 200gb of backup would cost $30 per month! So this is quite a deal for the money. This article also inspired me to do some more research about time machine, which I have been using. I’d really love to have it back up to a network disk, but no such luck.

    @David- I’m curious what your workflow would be for using this and dropbox in conjunction?

  10. @David the link worked when I tested prior to posting, and seems to work now (unless Josh fixed something). But it looks like you got through?

    @Ethan I think from a perspective of those who aren’t savvy at backing up, and unsure of what and what not to mark for a rainy day, the exclusion model that backblaze offers is a great angle. Because realistically, it’s easier to mark out the few things you don’t need/care about and leave everything else. But that’s just my opinion of course.

  11. Isn’t this similar to JungleDisk? I feel like there are so many of these online backup services and I have no idea which one is better then another. Any comments?