Backblaze is a little different to the average online backup service, in that it’s intended to back up everything on your computer. Most online backup services are designed more around a principle of backing up your own selection of files and folders.
This makes it a rather different proposition to services like Spider Oak, but you needn’t worry about the cost if you have a large amount of data, as the price is fixed. Privacy issues may bother you if you’re preoccupied with security, but this is a great service that will meet the needs of many. Read on to find out more.
Pricing & Plans
There’s nothing at all complicated about the pricing for Backblaze. The model is as simple as any we’ve seen.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the price for Backblaze is a straightforward $5 per month, and this is for unlimited data on a single computer. There are also discounts on offer for up-front payment, with a two year deal working out at a very generous $3.95 per month.
Although these prices are highly competitive, the “per PC” pricing model won’t necessarily suit everyone. Backblaze needs to fit your requirements, and if that means keeping a collection of files synchronised across a large number of computers it may not be ideal for you. However, there are Android and iOS apps available that allow you to access stored files from mobile devices, which is a great addition at no extra cost.
Business options are available too (we concentrate on consumer options here) for the same cost. Interested businesses need to fill out a contact form for further information.
Finally, there is also a free 15-day demo available.
The key features of Backblaze are a little different to some services. The provider assumes that due to the unlimited data storage, most users will back up everything on their machine to get their moneys worth. However, it is possible to exclude files or folders from backups.
There is also retention of deleted files in place, which is essentially a versioning feature. You are able to restore previous versions of files for 30 days after deletion.
Generously, Backblaze allows you to include external drives in your backup job, making the storage available truly unlimited.
We’ve already mentioned that iOS and Android apps are available to access any stored data, but Backblaze also features a “restore to anywhere” option, allowing you to get to all or any files via a Web browser.
Our favourite feature of all costs extra, but could be a lifesaver in certain circumstances: If you need it, Backblaze will arrange to Fedex you a hard drive or flash drive containing all your data. This is an innovative option that we haven’t seen from any other mainstream provider.
Security & Privacy
All online backup providers are keen to emphasise their security credentials and Backblaze is no different.
To save you time, we’ll say up-front that if you are an NSA-fearing type with an obsession with security, you’ll probably find a few things here to put you off. That’s not to say Backblaze is in any way insecure, but it doesn’t work on a “zero knowledge privacy” principle like SpiderOak. This means that, in it’s default state, Backblaze employees could get to your data if they wanted to.
You can enhance security by encrypting your private key with an additional passphrase. This will lock out Backblaze staff, but in turn take away any ability they have to give you access if you lose your credentials.
In reality, unless you’re really paranoid, you should be perfectly happy with the security Backblaze provide. Data is pre-encrypted “client side” and sent over SSL. It’s usually possible to pick holes in provider’s security choices, and Backblaze do perhaps lean closer to ease-of-use than privacy, but it’s really down to you whether you let that worry you or not.
Online backup provider websites often seem cut from the same cloth these days and the one for Backblaze is no different: it’s clean and simple, with a prominent sign-up link and lots of impressive media outlet logos.
We should compliment Backblaze for their website, as it really is user-friendly and explains the service very well. It’s always pleasing to see that thought has gone into the copywriting as well as the design.
Support options for Backblaze consist of a well-populated knowledge base and FAQ section.
In addition (and as you can see above), there’s a support ticket system with a one business day response time. We won’t refrain from our usual moan about the lack of a telephone support number, but Backblaze are far from alone in not providing one, and the guaranteed support response time is better than most providers commit to.
(NB. We tested SpiderOak on a MacBook Pro using the latest OS X Yosemite. Windows screens will look different but function largely the same).
To sign up, we headed to the “Try it Free” button on the homepage. We were pleased that the provider didn’t try to get credit card details up front, and only required a minimal amount of sign up info.
It was refreshing that the email address and password was all we needed – often providers show a really simple form and then ask for a load more info on the next screen. In this case, the software download started immediately, a welcome email dropped into our inbox, and install instructions appeared – all very smooth and simple.
The install process was straightforward, just requiring us to click a couple of times and enter the Mac system password.
A drive analysis process then began, accompanied by the above screen explaining how the initial backup would take “days or weeks.” We’re glad the provider is up front about this if they’re backing up everything on a computer. Most people have broadband connections with far slower upload than download speeds.
In the case of our test Mac and test Internet connection (600GB of data and 400Kbps upload speed respectively), we couldn’t help but wonder if months would be a more realistic estimate!
Obviously individual experiences will vary. Someone with a small music and photo collection, and a cable Internet connection, could see the first backup complete very quickly. There’s nothing Backblaze can do about how long this initial job will take, so the company are wise to manage expectations.
With the analysis complete, we were encouraged to visit “System Preferences” to access the software’s status and options.
While the options in the settings menu were not enormously extensive, they were sensible and useful. Certain file exclusions were preconfigured to reduce the size of the backup, and these made sense. We also had the ability to adjust the backup schedule and throttling options, and to add additional encryption for extra security.
That was really about it, which is both good and bad. We loved the simplicity, and feel it will suit plenty of users. Enthusiasts, however, might want a little more to play with. Above all, however, we should emphasise that everything worked seamlessly, leaving us with nothing to criticise.
As we explained above, Backblaze is sold on a “per machine” basis for Mac and Windows. However, there’s also a free app for iOS and Android that allows you to reach your backed up files. We took the iOS version for a spin on an iPhone.
Unsurprisingly, the first thing we had to do upon opening the app was enter our Backblaze login details. We could then see our backed up machine and browse the file content.
We were impressed with the ability to browse the whole copied file structure, and also just how much data the service had managed to back up since we installed the software.
If we had to criticise (and we really ARE being picky), we might be inclined to point out that the visibility of the whole file structure might be a little confusing to novice users, especially as there are plenty of backed up files on the average computer that an iOS or Android device wouldn’t know what to do with. However, the app is intended to show you what’s held within your backup, and it does that just perfectly.
We were truly impressed with Backblaze. It’s refined and well-developed, and the ease-of-use is spot on.
We concede that it’s not for everyone. Some individuals may want more flexibility, or more privacy and security features, and those people have other options to consider, but as a simple backup solution for a single machine you won’t find much better than this. We’re very tempted to leave Backblaze on this review machine and pay for it when the demo ends – which is praise indeed.
Check out BestBackups for lots of reviews of other online backup services.
- Refined, faultless software.
- Perfect ease of use.
- Flexible restore options.
- Guaranteed support response time.
We weren’t so sure about
- Lack of options for techies.
- Default “full machine” approach won’t appeal to all.
- Security may not be sufficient for the paranoid.