by      updated   7/11/14

Backblaze Review – The Real Unlimited Cloud Storage


Are you looking for an easy way to back up your personal documents and photos to a secure online location? In the category of personal, budget-priced backup service, Backblaze is an excellent choice. Continue reading this review to find out if Backblaze is a good fit for your needs.

Backblaze

Backblaze As Your Cloud Storage Company

The Backblaze team is led by CEO Gleb Budman and CTO Brian Wilson, both of whom were members of upper management at MailFrontier. The two, who describe themselves as “serial entrepreneurs”, got together to form Backblaze in early 2007, although the actual product was not available for purchase until mid-2008. The company’s headquarters is located in San Mateo, California, USA.

Backblaze has gotten quite a bit of positive press. According to their press kit, the company was selected as a winner of the AlwaysOn Global Top 250 private companies for game-changing technology and market value, selected as MacUser’s Labs Winner, and received accolades for its ease-of-use from Cnet, TechCrunch, Ars Technica, TUAW, and a myriad others.

During its startup years, Backblaze founder Budman refused to accept any venture capital to fund the fledgling business. Then, in 2012, he changed his mind when offered a cool $5M from British firm TMT Investments to help fund the already-profitable bootstrapped company.

The company invests quite heavily in technology and has come up with a proprietary storage configuration, which they later open sourced to make it available to other organizations. Read more about that under “The Technology Behind Backblaze” below. Currently, Backblaze can accommodate up to 40 petabytes of file space in their storage pods (a petabyte = 1,000 terabytes, or 10M gigabytes).

The Backblaze datacenter is described as a Mission Critical Facility that is staffed 24/7. It employs biometric security measures and an N+1 UPS power system. The company uses 25 independent telecom providers to ensure your data always gets to the datacenter securely.

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Backblaze also employs military-grade encryptions & support external drive backup

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Backblaze: Easy & Cheap Cloud Storage

What do you get with Backblaze online backup service? It’s known for being extremely user-friendly and low-priced, at $5 per month (or $50/year or $95/2 years), is very budget-friendly. These prices apply to a single computer, but you can access your online account and all your files from any device connected to the internet.

One of the biggest advantages is that you can simply set it and forget it so that your data is automatically backed up to a cloud server on a continuous basis. The service works for both Windows and Mac systems – and you can transfer files back and forth between the two systems.

Backblaze Installer

The application is simple, too. You will probably want to start with a free trial, and all you have to do to download the program is provide an email address and a password of your choice. The install is complete within seconds and immediately looks for files on your hard drive, as shown above. It will also recognize an external hard drive that is connected to your computer and back that up, too.

Military-grade Encryption with SSL Connections

Your data is then compressed and encrypted, using AES military grade encryption, before being moved to the cloud server via secure SSL connection when your computer is not in use. You can even set your own, private encryption key, if you wish.

Backblaze Control Panel

You can back up any kind of file, except applications, operating systems and temporary files (which you don’t need anyway); the full list of exempted file types is: wab~, vmc, vhd, vo1, vo2, vsv, vud, vmdk, vmsn, vmsd, hdd, vdi, vmwarevm, nvram, vmx, vmem, iso, dmg, sparseimage, sys, cab, exe, msi, dll, dl_, wim, ost, o, qtch, log, ithmb.

All accounts are allowed an unlimited amount of data to store.

You have the choice to back up files immediately (the continuous option), or schedule the service for a more convenient time (once a day or a manually set day/time). It is preset to an “automatic throttle” setting, but you can change that manually to various settings that determine whether or not your system or your backup works faster. Backblaze’s “FSCAN Engine” is supposed to ensure your computer works at an optimum speed while the backup occurs as quickly as your internet connection will allow.

We found that it took about an hour to backup 1GB of data, but your speed will probably vary.

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Learn how quick you can backup with Backblaze online storage

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Restoration Made Easy with Direct Download, Flash & Hard Drive

3 Restore Options with Backblaze

When you need to restore your data, you can either select a single file, a folder, or everything at once, via a downloadable zip file. Once the data is ready, an email notifications will be sent to you and you can proceed from there. If you’d rather receive a USB flash drive or a USB hard drive with all your files on it, the company will send that to you via FedEx, for an additional charge. Backblaze stores all versions of your files for the last four weeks, so if you need to find a previous version, it’s right there in your online account dashboard and you can find it by searching for a specific date.

Need help? You can search their online knowledgebase or send an email to support.

Currently, the only mobile app the company provides is for iOS devices, such as an iPhone or iPad. If you use an Android device, no luck… although with the way this company has grown in the past, we would expect an Android app to be forthcoming soon.

The Technology Behind Backblaze’s Storage Pod

In order to keep costs down, the company builds their own storage pods with 180-terabyte, 4U rack-mounted, Linux-based servers. These are self-contained units lined up in rows half a city block long. Backblaze shocked the tech company industry when, in 2009, they shared how to create a storage pod of your own – including diagrams, specifications and the like.

Stacks of Storage Pod

For geeks, you would want to know that each pod contains 1 Supermicro MBD-X9SCL-F Motherboard with 4 SATA cards plugged into it. The 9 SATA cables run from the cards to 9 port multiplier backplanes that each have 5 hard drives plugged directly into them (45 hard drives in total). Each drive fits into its own anti-vibration sleeve and is secured by a piece of foam underneath the lid. They run on free software (64-bit Debian 4 Linux and JFS) and access for data to flow to and from the pods is via HTTPS.

So much for the hardware. In order to create a cloud environment, Backblaze developed proprietary software that de-duplicates and chops data into blocks; encrypts and transfer it for backup; reassembles, decrypts, re-duplicates, and packages the data for recovery.

When you choose a company headed by self-proclaimed tech geeks, this is the kind of neat stuff you get to back up their service. Pretty cool.

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The Technology Doesn't Stop Here

See the full specifications of the Backblaze storage pod.

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Conclusions: Is Backblaze Recommended?

There are a lot of things we like about Backblaze’s backup service. For one, they don’t inundate free trial users with popups and emails in order to get you to sign up for a paid account, unlike many other backup companies. And their pricing is straightforward; there are no extras you will be asked to pay more for. Little annoyances aside, however, there’s a lot to love. Some of our favorite features include:

  • User friendly interface
  • Continuous backup option
  • Low price
  • Truly unlimited storage space
  • Unlimited file size
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • Unlimited data storage space
  • Easy to uninstall, cancel your account and permanently delete files
  • Easy file restoration
  • Ability to order hardware with copies of your files
  • Free trial of full version software

Are there any disadvantages? Just a few:

  • No file sharing capability
  • Unable to back up operating system and application files
  • Online support only
  • No Android app, yet
  • Full restoration of files costs extra (via USB or hard drive)

For the personal user who doesn’t have a ton of files, Backblaze is a very affordable and easy-to-use service that automatically saves all your files without having to think about it. This is a great choice for people who just want to set it and forget it and have access to their files in case of emergency. With the free trial period of 15 days, why not give it a test drive now?

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Enjoy Unlimited Cloud Storage Free for 15 Days

Full feature access is granted in BlackBaze's 15-days free trial.

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