Backblaze: Secure unlimited automatic backups for $5

You really can’t hide behind the excuse of "data corruption", "accidental deletion", or "stolen hardware" these days. Your digital data is valuable. If you don’t have a backup plan in place, what are you waiting for? The cost of physical hardrives have dropped significantly over the past year. So much so that you should have some type of basic backup plan running in the background every day.

Hardrives aren’t fail proof though. Everyone will experience a faulty drive some time in their life. If your livelihood revolves around your computer data, your [redundant] physical backups should be supplemented with off-site backups hosted securely online.

The original option: JungleDisk + Amazon S3

Prior to receiving notice of the latest offering from Backblaze, my online backup routine consisted of a small desktop utility called JungleDisk + Amazon S3.

JungleDisk Preferences

The duo performed as expected with my monthly bill in the neighborhood of $11 per month ($2 / mo. for JungleDisk + ~$14 / mo. for S3 hosting). File management was done through a system folder with the added convenience of a web based UI for an extra $1 per month (JungleDisk Plus).

The new option: Backblaze flat rate + convenient data restore options

Why the change to Backblaze? With JungleDisk + Amazon S3, the monthly cost for storing important data could increase over time as my usage requirements changed. With Backblaze, each computer is a flat $5 per month for unlimited automatic secure online backups.

Assuming my current habits continued unchanged, a year of unlimited Amazon S3 backups would cost ~$132. A year of unlimited Backblaze backups would cost $60. If you prepay a full year, you get 2 months free bringing 12 months of backups down to $50 per year. On top of the lower cost, Backblaze offers three methods for restoring backups or historical versions of backups:

  1. Web restore via the desktop client or web browser. Archives will be queued up, zipped, and an email notification sent out when the download is ready.
  2. 4.2GB physical media DVD copies burned and shipped to you via Fedex.
  3. 500GB physical media Western Digital USB hardrive. Data is moved to a external drive and shipped to you via Fedex.

Although it is much more convenient to have immediate access to file backups, it’s reassuring to have data retrieval options. There are small handful of online subscription services that I believe are worth paying for, and Backblaze has been added to the list.

Similar to Apple’s Time Machine backups, Backblaze is constantly running in the background – accessible via the menu bar (OS X), or the task tray (Windows). You specify the folders to backup, create ignore rules, and control the bandwidth allotted for background data transfer. Screenshots below are of the OS X client but similar functionality / settings are found in the Windows client as well.

Backblaze Backup Settings

Backblaze Backup Preferences

Backblaze settings status view of my initial backup progress initiated after installation.

Backblaze ignore rules

You have the option of expanding on the default ignore rules initially setup out of the box. Note that Backblaze will backup any external drives you have connected via USB or Firewire (so make sure your exclusion rules are correct).

Backblaze data encryption

Backblaze offers its customers secure peace of mind when it comes to backing up data. The desktop utility encrypts data locally before transmitting (via a secure connection) where it is stored encrypted. Privacy nuts even have the option of providing their own private key.

Access your online backups from anywhere any time

Web based file browser

Included with the Backblaze subscription is access to a web based file manager accessible from anywhere with an internet browser. Need access to an old backup while you’re at a friends house? Visit your Backblaze user account to initiate a folder or file restore and wait for the email notification letting you know the download is ready.

With constant backups, it’s easy to make multiple changes to files over the course of a week and have those changes updated in Backblaze. Fortunately, the service allows you to look at up to 4 weeks of file revisions.

Restore history

File restores are initiated through the web interface. You select your restore method, select the folders or files that you wish to restore, and confirm your selection. Backblaze maintains a history of your restores up to 7 days after the request is submitted.

Backups locally, in the "cloud", and peace of mind

I have been burned too many times in the past due to accident, file management carelessness, or hardware failure. Backblaze is the off site supplement to my redundant backups at home, the office, or on the road.

  • Background backups on my home network with a Lacie drive connected to an Airport Extreme managed with Time Machine.
  • Manual full disk clones with SuperDuper to multiple Western Digital Passports. Previously discussed: Practice safe computing, use a clone.
  • Psuedo-backups with Dropbox – geared more for file sharing and quick syncing.
  • Background backups with Backblaze for important files, photographs, and documents.

If have yet to establish a regular backup routine, or are simply looking for a little more peace of mind with secure online backups, I highly recommend trying Backblaze. $5 per month for unlimited backups + multiple file restore options is hard to pass up. To sweeten the unlimited backups deal, Backblaze will pick 25 random [new users] who sign up today and offer unlimited backups for an entire year for free.

Discuss - 22 Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Another option that I’ve found useful is CrashPlan .. that (free) software lets you backup to other “local” computers or your friends computers or the cloud. You can seed initial backups from a disk so you don’t have to wait for weeks for your initial upload to complete. It is a pretty clever solution. Backblaze looks cool too. its nice to have so many options these days.

  2. Matt Brett says:

    I’m currently doing the Amazon S3 back-up via JungleDisk and am quite happy with it. I did look into Backblaze when I first caught wind of it, but decided to go with something I knew was stable, and wasn’t going anywhere.

    Backblaze seems like one of those “too good to be true” deals, and with it being a new service, there’s no guarantee it’s going to be around for the long haul.

    It looks like a nice service with plenty of bells and whistles, and the OS X native app is a lot prettier than JungleDisk. But I can’t imagine having to look for another service all of the sudden if Backblaze were to go down (for good) without notice. Perhaps I’ll revisit them in a year and see how they’ve done in that time.

    • Gleb Budman says:

      Hi Matt,
      I certainly understand your concern. However, Backblaze has been around for nearly 2 and a half years, has a profitable business model, and is here to stay. We do not rely on advertising and are not burdened with providing service to lots of free users.

      Backblaze provides a simple 15-day free trial and then charges $5 per month per computer. Some users cost us more than we charge, but on average it all works out.

      Cnet, US News, TechCrunch, TUAW, and numerous others have said we provide the easiest and best online backup service. Give the service a try today and you will be entered to win one of 25 one-year licenses.

      Thanks,

      Gleb Budman
      CEO, Backblaze

    • Matt Brett says:

      Thanks for the reply, Gleb. I didn’t realize Backblaze had been around so long. I recall the Mac client just recently being released, so perhaps that’s why? Regardless, you’ve convinced me to give it a shot. And since I’m going to actually save money, what’s to lose?

  3. Aaron says:

    I just went wireless at home – would love to be able to have a similar backup plan as you (have nothing now – yikes)! I’m unclear how you go about “Background backups on my home network with a Lacie drive connected to an Airport Extreme managed with Time Machine.”

    Any chance you could point me in the right direction? Thanks.

    • Derek says:

      Short gist of the setup required for a network drive accessible by Time Machine for backups.

      • Plug your external Lacie USB drive into the Aiport Extreme.
      • Open Aiport Utility [on your computer] and select the base station you are setting up. In the menu bar, select Base Station > Manual setup. Authenticate if necessary.
      • Select Disks > File Sharing and enable File sharing and choose the appropriate authentication mode for accessing the drive.
      • Select update and let your base station restart.
      • The drive should now show up as a shared drive in the Finder. Open System Preferences > Time Machine and specify the network disk to use.

      I recommend disabling the disk share from being broadcasted via Bonjour unless you want guests on your home network to have access. The beauty of this setup is that any computers on your home network can use Time Machine for incremental backups. As your drive reaches its capacity limit, older backups are deleted (Time Machine will warn you before any changes are made).

      If you ever find yourself in a situation where your computer is completely borked, you can use the Leopard install disk to restore your computer using your Time Machine backup (you’ll need to physically connect the drive to your computer for best performance).

    • Aaron says:

      Thanks Derek – I appreciate the help.

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  5. Anne says:

    Hello !

    Derek I come here from time to time – mostly for your fabulous and very interesting themes – and it is the first time I have left a comment, however I think you probably should have told us that you wrote this post as an affiliate partner since the link to Backblaze you give is really : http://www.backblaze.com/partner/af0065.

    And you probably should have mentioned that for each subscriber coming from your site, you will receive a commission.

    “Web site and email newsletter publishers can offer Backblaze online backup while receiving a commission for each signed-up user. You can earn $5 or more per computer per year for each referral that subscribes to the Backblaze service.”

    Even though people who are regulars of your site are most likely to be proficient in those matters and will see this, still I think it would make it clear to everyone that you have an interest in writing about the service.

    I personally use an external drive + Intego Personal Backup to clone my mac (http://www.intego.com/personalbackup/) and I am definitely looking for an online solution. I did not know of Backblaze and I will look into it, but there are other services such as Mozy or Elephant drive which seem to be fairly equivalent. (I’m only mentioning the mac compatible ones.)

    • Derek says:

      I routinely insert Amazon Associate and [service specific] affiliate links into posts whenever am a strong supporter of a particular product or service. Backblaze is no different.

      Thanks for the heads-up about Intego. I had never heard of that option for backups. Looks interesting especially with the advertised support iPods, iDisks, and Air Disks. Btw, SuperDuper (mentioned above), offers free bootable disk clones. For smarter incremental backups the license is $28.

  6. Anne says:

    I had read about Intego here :
    http://www.osxfacile.com/clone.html – I’m French – and since you may not read the language, according to him Super Duper is the best tool.

    I think I went for Personal Backup because it works really well – “clone x 3″ made errors when I tried it ! – and the interface is nice too, it is so easy to backup with it. But Super Duper is less expensive.

    (And if I ever decide on Backblaze for my online backups, I’ll use your referral link.)

    Thanks.

  7. [...] Backblaze: Secure unlimited automatic backups for $5 [...]

  8. Dobi says:

    I use SafeCopy backup(www.safecopybackup.com). I can backup all my files including my pictures, videos, etc. I can also share files over 1GB easily. It also works with Mac, PC, iPhone, USB drives, network drives and has so many features than other back up providers. Check it out!! I’m sure this will be helpful

  9. c. rose says:

    I was a big fan of backblaze during my trial – until I actually had to do a restore and discovered that they decrypt your before you get it back. The idea of my personal data being decrypted off “in the cloud” somewhere does not sit well with me. True – your data is encrypted at every other stage of the process – but until Backblaze offers Client Side Decryption – it is far from being 100% secure.

  10. Jason says:

    what about spideroak.com you can setup sync folders and they don’t care about multiple computers

  11. Derek – how’s your experience been since you started on Backblaze? Still better than S3/Jungle and other options?

    • Derek says:

      Backblaze has been fantastic. I have been meaning to write a follow-up post since rolling it into my overall backup solution. The utility is constantly backing up data in the background. One incident where I had deleted a album of photos was quickly remedied with a quick visit to the restore page. There was even an incident where I though Backblaze had missed files during its continuous backup. Customer service replied to my worries within a couple hours with a very thorough walk through on how to troubleshoot. In the end, I discovered that my worries were due to my own error while reading file names and directories. The only downside or gripe that I have with the service is the fact that in order to initiate a file restore, or browse the backup archives, I need to wait for my default browser to load then open the Backblaze site. It would be really great if users could have the same granular control from within System Preferences.

      Two weeks ago I moved some hardware around at home and the Time Machine disk was disconnected. I really should re-connect it but I have been feeling so confident knowing files and multiple versions of each file are backed-up.

      It is so IMPORTANT for people to understand though that Backblaze is not the one answer for all your worries. I still do a complete disk clone locally every few days. Seeing as though my notebook is the only machine I development on, the thought of a complete HDD failure scares me. Backblaze allows me to remain confident concerning my “personal” files like photos, documents, and music. But if I experienced a HDD failure, the only relief would be a up-to-date disk clone. A clone means that my system dev environment is restored immediately.

  12. Will Wilkins says:

    Derek, Is there any specific reason you decided to go with Backblaze rather than Mozy or Carbonite?

  13. Mark says:

    “The main reason was the USB drive restore option.” do you really want your files decrypted the put in the postal system?

  14. Greg says:

    I’m pretty sure Mozy has a private key option.

    I chose Backblaze because the client software and network connection is solid. When I tried Mozy a year or so ago I had problems both with the (Mac) client getting hung up, and with the connections timing out. I hear it’s improved now though.

    One differentiator for Backblaze is their simple configuration approach. The default is to backup _all_ personal data, with the option to exclude folders. This can be good or bad depending on your perspective…