Being in the cloud backup industry for a few years now, BackBlaze is a service that offers some of the simplest backup solutions that users can take advantage of when planning to protect their data. Key features of the service include unlimited upload, file size, and bandwidth as well as several other notable characteristics that will be discussed in this review.
With the release of BackBlaze 2.0, the company promises to deliver needed improvements in upload and download speed as well as file restoration – three things that were found lacking by many with BackBlaze 1.0. So lets commence with our updated BackBlaze review.
What BackBlaze is All About
Similar to other backup solutions in the market these days, BackBlaze allows users to easily back up and manage their files upon sign up. It automatically choose which files to back up and immediately proceeds to setting up your cloud account to receive all data that is to be uploaded. Once upload is finished, the software will continue to work in the background to save and upload any changes you have made to files which have been previously backed up.
At first glance, BackBlaze’s backup and restore capabilities are pretty much the same as many of its competitors in the market. Upon closer inspection however, there are several features that distinguishes the service from its counterparts and these are what I hope to explain in detail later on.
Signing Up for BackBlaze
If you’re new to using BackBlaze, you need to create either a trial account or a paid account by entering the needed information on their website’s registration page. Once this is done, you can download the software to your PC and begin the installation process. What’s notable about the BackBlaze software is that users can choose from 11 different languages based on their preference, and these include Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and a number of European languages. Once installation is complete and the software is linked to the account you have created, the service automatically crawls the hard drive on your computer to determine which files need to be backed up and which ones to exclude. This takes about a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the volume of files you currently have on the device. The total number of hours needed to complete a full backup will also depend on how much data needs to be uploaded and of course, the speed of your internet connection.
The BackBlaze interface is as simple as it can get, and like its counterparts has an icon that is added to the system tray which allows for easy access to the control panel, update checker, help center, and the progress of the current backup. This icon also gives users access to the restore option that leads to the BackBlaze restore site. What it lacks are indicators which are present in most backup services, and there’s nothing to show you whether backup is currently in progress unless you hover your mouse over the software icon. The control panel on the other hand does not have any of the complicated buttons or areas present in other backup software. It has three options which users can choose from – back up now, restore files, and change settings.
One difference that users will notice about BackBlaze is that the software does not allow one to immediately back up a file as soon as it is changed. With other backup services, you can easily right click on the file icon and choose the back up now option, but not with BackBlaze. The software follows a certain upload algorithm that cannot be altered while backup is in progress so even if you have finished editing a file and need to have it backed up right there and then, you have no choice but to wait until the software gets to the file and automatically backs it up for you. Some may find this feature quite off-putting, especially those who are working on projects that constantly need to be saved and backed up once a version is edited. If you are not in a rush however, this won’t certainly be a problem.
Backup Features and Functions
Unlike most backup services in the market, BackBlaze does not give users the option to choose which files to back up and which ones to exclude in the process. What it does, however, is automatically determines the files for you – basically everything the software deems to be of importance to the user. Documents, images, and other types of files are automatically included in the backup even if the user does not see these as important as other files. Nonetheless, because it is an unlimited backup service, there’s no reason to worry about any caps in storage space and bandwidth. Advanced users may see this as too much, considering that the more files being backed up in the background the larger the internet usage is. What’s good about BackBlaze however is that it offers throttling capabilities, meaning you can choose to decrease the speed of the upload when you’re working on several applications or browsing several web pages at once.
BackBlaze offers backup control to the user in terms of what files and folders to exclude from the process. You just need to access the exclusions tab under preference settings during backup and check on the Add Folder option. This is far from the file trees that most backup service providers offer to their users, and it is admittedly a bit of work. However, if you are after specific file exclusions during backup, this feature can work really well. As with other backup processes, files which are over 4GB in size are automatically excluded from the list, although users will have the option to include these because of the unlimited storage and upload capability.
Users should also take note that BackBlaze does not back up system files, programs, applications, and temporary folders. Network and NAT files are also excluded from the backup. This means that you cannot back up your OS or any other file that is located in the system and programs folders. If you really want to have these files backed up, what you can do is take advantage of an image backup instead. This will allow you to create a second version of your computer’s hard drive so you don’t have to spend a lot of time recreating everything in case the machine malfunctions and crashes.
One feature that I found to be quite useful from BackBlaze is the ability to back up files which are stored on a USB device provided of course that the USB storage device is connected to the PC at the time of the backup. Users can choose to include files in thumb drives during the installation process or manually add these in the list through the settings page. I’ve tried using this feature once when I signed up for a free trial to test the service, and it worked really well for me. Users who are always on the go or those who have to switch PCs either at work or at home while working on a file will certainly find this feature handy, seeing that you can copy a file from the office, save it on a USB storage device, work on it at home, and back it up once finished.
Another thing that you will notice about BackBlaze is that it does not have the usual scheduling pattern that most services have in their software applications. Users cannot specify dates and times when the backup process commences. Rather, they can choose among three options: a continuous backup which means that the software runs in the background as soon as you boot your PC, a once-a-day backup schedule, and the choice to start the backup only when you choose to click the backup now button. You can also choose to have the software automatically control bandwidth usage or just utilize the throttle slide bar if you want faster uploads and quicker backups especially when you’re not using the internet that much.
As a test, I chose to upload about 300MB worth of mixed files onto my account to see how fast BackBlaze can go, considering they promised to provide better upload speeds in this version of the software. All in all, it took about 7 minutes tops, with 2 minutes allotted to the software distinguishing the files to be uploaded and 5 minutes for the actual backup. Not bad in my opinion, but this of course is a matter of internet connection quality. The results may vary depending on how strong or weak your internet connection is. Compared to the previous release, BackBlaze 2.0 isn’t too shabby as its predecessor in the upload department.
The restore feature is also another issue that BackBlaze users have had problems with in the past, which is why I personally made it a point to see if version 2.0 is any better. BackBlaze provides the user with three restore options, one is to download a zip file containing all the necessary data, another is to have the restore files sent via DVD, while another allows a user to request for a USB drive containing the restore files. The first option can easily be done through the BackBlaze restore site, while the other options will require payment before delivery. A DVD worth about 4-5GB for example will set you back $99, while a USB drive costs $189. The first option in my opinion is more feasible for those who want to restore the needed files as soon as possible, while the paid options on the other hand will work well for those who can wait or those who currently have no internet to download the zip file straight to their device.
Any backed up file stays on BackBlaze servers for 4 weeks before being discarded, which is in truth quite disadvantageous if you’re the type of person who uses different file versions each and every time. When compared to other services such as SOS Online backup for example, the 4 week file versioning feature will definitely seem lacking especially since SOS never deletes any file versions and archives files should the user need them. For such a simple service however, 4 weeks is considerable enough seeing that most users of BackBlaze will probably be on the “beginners” side of the fence and will not have any need to restore files as far back as when the file was first uploaded.
Locate My Computer
If you’re familiar with Apple’s Find My iPhone or Find My Mac features, the Locate My Computer service from BackBlaze allows you to track and trace your device in the event it is lost or stolen. BackBlaze offers you information that can help locate the missing or stolen device, such as files which have been uploaded in the last 24 hours and the current ISP being used to connect to the internet.
Pricing and Recommendation
BackBlaze offers a very competitive price for single PC backups which can get as low as $3.96 per month. This is really, really good especially since the service is unlimited everything. Other service providers charge more than $50 for a single PC and with various caps at that. What is disappointing is that BackBlaze does not offer multiple PC packages, and if you choose to back up 3 PCs on a per month basis for example, you will end up paying $60 a year for each or $180 in 2 years. Nonetheless, if you’re just concerned about your primary PC and just want to ensure that everything in it is available when you need it, this is the perfect price plan for you.
There are no additional frills offered by BackBlaze to users – no file sharing, syncing, mobile applications, etc. It is after all, a simple backup solution. However, its unlimited service makes it quite ideal for a lot of users who don’t want the fuss of additional features that they won’t be able to use anyway. If you’re a rookie in cloud backup and storage, BackBlaze is certainly a choice that you need to consider. If you’ve been doing cloud backups for as long as you can remember, the service may still work for you, considering you don’t have to worry about any restrictions in storage space and file size. Besides, you can’t really expect to have all your files backed up with one provider. BackBlaze, in my opinion, is one of those services that you can keep as an alternative – and a good one at that, or you can always check out our best of cloud storage page for our suggestions.