Founded in 2007 by Gleb Budman and Brian Wilson, Backblaze is a backup service provider offering the homonymous online backup application that finds important files for you automatically, and compresses and encrypts them for safekeeping and easy recovery in the event of computer theft or data loss. The service was initially designed for personal use, but was recently extended to business users as well. In fact, this provider was the first to ever offer unlimited business backup. The main trait the techies at Backblaze were aiming for was ease of use, and this is still one of the most striking features this application is credited with even today, alongside its superior encryption.
The company has been granted the Deloitte 2014 Technology Fast 500 Award and the 2013 SIIA Codie Award. It’s also been rated A by BBB based on its efforts in resolving its remarkably few customer complaints, which are presumably so rare due to the fact that Backblaze is very upfront about its service, offering a free trial to anyone who’s interested. Of the many thousands of companies that use Backblaze, Intel, VeriFone, and Toca Boca stand out.
If you should ever need to describe Backblaze in a word, that word has to be “unlimited”. That’s because your Backblaze account comes with unlimited data, unlimited file size, unlimited backup speed, unlimited file types, and unlimited external drives, continuously. So you needn’t worry about file size or free backup space left. Files are backed up using the exact same structure you have on your PC or attached drive – be it USB, Thunderbolt or Firewire.
You can download the Backblaze app straight from your account, but you can’t select the exact files you’d like to back up. There are various settings you could apply though to help you back up the most important documents as quickly as possible.
There are some differences in functionality for the products in the Backblaze suite. First of all, you can only access and restore backups online, but not view individual documents with a simple click. You can only upload your data using the local Backblaze app installed on your PC or Mac. The desktop app will also not allow you to view individual files at a time, and is strictly used in changing settings, pausing backups, and viewing your backup progress. Although all apps download in seconds, that first backup could take you the better part of a week, depending on how much data you’re looking at. You can select to back up at full throttle (2GB per day) automatically, or go with a manual backup to suit your broadband and spare time.
You can only change backup settings using the desktop app version where you can select between continuous and daily scheduled backups, or manual backups. Choose the file types you want to leave out of the backup and restore archive, and exclude files that are too large or too small. Tweak backup performance levels to make sure that your backups don’t take too long. You can also pause the backup at any time, over-riding the scheduled settings.
Private Encryption Key
For extra security, Backblaze allows you to select an encryption key of your own choosing, but be aware that nobody else has access to this key, not even Backblaze staff. So in the event that you should forget your encryption key, your data becomes irretrievable. The key can only be set using the control panel in the desktop app. Once you’ve selected your key, you must use it across all devices and platforms.
File Versioning and Types
With Backblaze you can restore previous versions of files of up to 30 days old. There is no limit to the amount of versions that will be kept on file, rather Backblaze promises to store anything of up to 30 days old. Backblaze promises to render all files backed up with the app, but you may run into situations where the mobile app is unable to give you a preview of certain files.
There are various ways to manage most files, and you’re able to access them using the various file readers on your device, to share them or save them. You can also post to Facebook using the mobile app.
You can locate your computer using the Backblaze website by logging in and accessing the dedicated section. The mapping function uses a simple Google Maps interface to give you the exact location of your computer and IP address at the time of search. It couldn’t possibly bring you any closer to a laptop thief, unless it gave you the apartment number.
Whenever you log into your account, the private key assigned to you will generate a decryption, which allows you to view files kept on our Storage Pods and restore them at leisure. Recovering your files is simplified by Backblaze’s cloud restore feature. Whereas you’d normally have to install a backup service provider’s application before you could start retrieving your data, with Backblaze, there’s nothing to install. Your data is encrypted on restore servers and securely sent to you as an archive over an encrypted connection to whatever new computer you want to use. As soon as the archive reaches you, simply unzip it and enjoy all your data. Assigned IT business account users also have access to the data without needing the user’s password. What’s more, online activity is monitored for irregular behavior.
Behind The Scenes at Backblaze
For added security, you’ll be logged off of your online account after a few minutes of inactivity, and you’ll have to re-enter your encryption key to access your data, every time. Backblaze does not create any sharing or syncing folders in your file explorer. It comes with a native client, meaning that the data will be backed up using the same file structure you have on your computer, and you should be able to access the data in your online account using a familiar tree structure where your files are organized just as they are on your PC or Mac.
Devices and Operating Systems
As some of the techies at Backblaze worked with Apple in the past, they were able to develop an app that integrates with Mac using Xcode, using a native interface that makes it easy to back up data from both Mac OS X Lion and Leopard. All you need to be able to run the Backblaze app is an Intel Mac processor in your machine, the OS X 10.5 operating system or higher, a broadband connection and 5GB of available space.
If you‘re a PC user, you’ll need either a 32-bit or 64-bit Windows edition, 1GB of RAM, 5Gb of free space, any Windows operating system from XP on. For added peace of mind, you can also order a restore hard drive of 4TB or less and a 128GB flash drive, which are delivered fast and securely by FedEx.
There’s also a free Backblaze mobile app available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. The iOS version takes up only 3.8MB and is currently available in English only. It’s compatible with iPod touch, iPad, and iPhone, and it’s optimized for iPhone 5. The Android version takes up 2.8MB and requires Android 4.0.3 or higher. The app allows you to access backed up files even if the computers or external drives you sourced them from are turned off or offline. It doesn’t matter how many devices you’ve synced up and linked to your account; Backblaze will backup everything and allow you to access as much or as little of the information as you need. The mobile app also has a few settings of its own, but these will not affect your backup in any way.
Ease of Use
When it comes to setting up an account, Backblaze goes out of its way to make it easy for you. Enter your e-mail address and a password of choice, and download the free trial version before moving on to the full version. If you have over 1GB RAM, 5GB of hard drive space and a broadband connection, you’re good to go. The software is optimized to use less than 1% of your total memory and CPU. The 4.9MB Windows desktop app installs within seconds provided you disable any security programs and firewalls you may have. You’ll have your Backblaze icon close at hand whenever you start up your computer, and depending on your particular settings the backup can go on in the background whenever your PC is running.
The desktop app comes in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese (Hiragana and Kanji), Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Korean. The website is translated in all of these languages, as well as in Russian. The mobile app currently only comes in English.
Plans and Pricing
The pricing structure is straightforward. Rather than the complex payment plans you see elsewhere, Backblaze charges you according to the number of computers you’d like to back up. All plans come with unlimited data and unlimited upload file size.
The personal backup service goes for $5 per month, and there’s a $10 discount if you sign up for a yearly plan. If you’d rather sign up for 2 years, Backblaze will cut $25 off your total payment. This amounts to a 16% discount for the yearly plan, and 20% for the 2-year plan. When it comes to business users, Backblaze claims to charge the lowest flat fees on the market. For a one-off payment of $50 charged annually per computer, you can enjoy unlimited data and automatic, continuous backup for any Mac or Windows PC.
As compared to similarly priced backup services, Backblaze is by far the best on the market. For $9 less per year than Carbonite, Mozy and CrashPlan, Backblaze will deliver unlimited data storage and file size with full backup, whereas all the others offer partial backups only, with Mozy limiting your storage to 50GB and Carbonite accepting only manually backed up files if they are above 4GB. Furthermore, none of these services are able to locate your computer if it is stolen or lost, Crashplan doesn’t offer native PC or Mac coding (‘C’ coding), and MozyPro only extends its personal encryption key feature to Pro customers. IDrive, on the other hand, is $0.5 cheaper per year, but limits file size to 10GB and data storage to 150GB.
Backblaze manages to keep its prices low due to the fact that it runs an extremely efficient cloud storage system, based on the best and cheapest hard drives on the market, tested in-house and re-evaluated for optimum output constantly. Its cost per petabyte over a 3-year span is little over $150,000, as compared to Dell’s nearly $880,000 or Amazon’s S3 web services, which stack up to a whopping $2.5 million over the same period.
Customer requests are dealt with via a ticketing system, and Backblaze holds A-rated BBB accreditation for the level of service it provides to customers. Check out Backblaze’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ profiles for more follower and customer feedback, as well as the blog accessible from the Backblaze homepage. The Backblaze online helpdesk is available in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Korean. The website is also available in Russian. There’s a knowledge base and an FAQ section available via the helpdesk. Headquartered in the United States, the company can be reached by telephone and on their address in San Mateo, California in addition to all this.
You won’t come across many online backup providers that can offer so much for so little. If the price doesn’t reel you in, then you’re bound to fall for the ridiculously easy set up for this genuinely unlimited backup service. The moment it’s up and running for the first time, Backblaze will literally take over any aspect of the backup that you could possibly think of. It’s like switching your backup app to autopilot and letting it do all the work. If you’re looking to back up to an external drive or a flash drive, Backblaze has got you covered. To round off the package, Backblaze will help you track down your stolen computer with accurate computer and IP tracking information.