- Easiest backup solution available
- Unlimited storage
- Good desktop client
- Fewer features
- Too restricted for advanced users
Backblaze is the easiest online backup service out there. Therefore, I’d recommend this service to my mom or even my grandma. If you want hassle-free and easy online backup and don’t care about fancy options and adjustments, use Backblaze. You won’t regret it.
Who is Backblaze for?
Clearly, Backblaze is a product I’d recommend to my great grandma (yep, still got one, 91 years old and she even has a Facebook account). It is soooo easy to use. Want push-button backup? Don’t want to worry about what files to store and how much you can store? What if you don’t even know what the heck a “gigabyte” is? Go for Backblaze. If you are a more savvy user who already has experience with online backups or if you already have a backup strategy in mind – stay away from it and go with SugarSync or Mozy. I think you’ll be frustrated because you’ll miss some functionality and there are more “nerd-friendly” services out there. However, if you have huge quantities of data, Backblaze might be an option because of its unlimited online storage and low price.
Backblaze Online Backup Review
Backblaze has found its very own niche. Everything is designed to be as easy as possible avoiding distractions from the task you want or need to perform: backing up your data online. If one online backup service provider can be called hassle-free, then it is most likely going to be Backblaze. However, there are also drawbacks which we are going to explore in this online backup review.
Backblaze is a relatively young company founded back in 2007, so one could argue that they are still “new” on the market. One of the most remarkable features Backblaze offers is its unlimited – yes, you heard right – unlimited online backup storage for only $5 per month. Very few competitors offer unlimited backup storage for that price. Mozy eliminated its unlimited feature a few months ago. Obviously this wasn’t well received by the press. With Backblaze you can save even more when you opt for the two-year plan, where your monthly costs only add up to $3.96. Hey – I spend more on a tall caffè latte at Starbucks, and here I can save my entire LIFE with just a couple of bucks a month.
First impression and signing up
Backblaze’s website is well designed and thought through. You just see one big orange button that they want you to click, come what may. I am very drawn in by the unlimited storage offer for an incredible $3.96/month. But I imagine that this price only applies if you choose the one- or two-year plan. Nevertheless it is an enticing offer. However, I wanted to see whether there are any other plans available, such as unlimited PCs or something like that. But a complete overview is missing which is a shame but fits into their line – don’t make me think, make me click. Most of the online backup services want you to sign up online, choosing a plan wiping out your credit card to pay them. Not so Backblaze. Their one and only goal is to get you download their client and THEN sign up for a free account that you can test for 15 days.
If you are too lazy to investigate further your only option is to click the orange button which is an immediate download. As an experienced user I don’t like it if I have to download software to my PC without knowing what is going to happen and what my options are. If you look further you’ll find an option to sign up online but this is contrary to their notion of a push-button backup service. I’d wish (even if I were an inexperienced user) for a little more transparency. And please, don’t force me into downloading something I know nothing about!
- Incredibly, incredibly, incredibly easy to use. Period.
- Unlimited storage
- Forces you to download their software
- No real overview of their plans and pricing up front
How backing up your data with Backblaze works
OK, I guess this is going to be a short one. It is all done for you automatically. Backblaze scans your whole computer and it backs up all the files it can find. However, system files, programs and the like are not being stored. And to be honest, they don’t need to be because you can always reinstall your apps. But try to reinstall your photo album from 1987 when you or your child graduated. That doesn’t work. So it’s a good bet of Backblaze to just upload unrestorable files if lost.
Backblaze applies a different backup strategy than all the other services I have tested. Instead of choosing which folders to back up, you can choose the files or folders you DON’T want to back up. That interfered a little bit with my testing strategy because I prepared a test folder with 1GB in size to compare the upload speed of all of the backup service providers. Honestly, I was too lazy to select from all the hundreds of files I didn’t want to back up to narrow it down just to my test folder, so I chose to back up everything as suggested.n This machine is not my main working machine so I only have 3GB of total data – so it will be somewhat comparable down the road. Let’s have a look at what Backblaze says about itself:
“The Backblaze service backs up all your data. We believe you should not need to worry whether you selected all the files you care about, put any files in a different location on your computer, or added any new files that may not be included in your online backup. Therefore, we automatically select all your data.”
That’s a clear statement. If you can live with that, then Backblaze should be very high in your list of possible providers to choose from. But let’s have a more in-depth look into the client and the backup settings in general.
Backblaze’s client software
I have said it several times already during this review. Backblaze is super easy. So is the client software. I mean, there is one button that says “Start backup.” How easy is that? You aren’t bothered with any distracting options. However, you can dive in a little deeper when clicking on the settings button, which we’ll cover a tad later.
As you can see in the screen shot below, it gives you most of the relevant information, such as how many files are selected for backup and what file it is currently backing up. It always good to know how many files you have left to back up. Unlike SugarSync, Backblaze does not come with a prioritization feature, which I definitely miss. I like to structure my workflow because it makes it more efficient to do my backups. There’s nothing more inefficient than just backing up everything without any structure or idea. But that’s the idea behind Backblaze and I am not going to rant more about it. You can see your data in the queue, but you can’t change the order.
- Dead easy to use
- Most important information directly visible
- No prioritization of your files
I expected to see a well-designed, easy to use online backup client. And though it is well-designed and easy to use, it is not made for online backup. It is solely reserved for restore purposes when you can’t access your files anymore. Apparently, they don’t want you to use the browser because it might confuse you.
While SugarSync has successfully leveraged the trend towards browser usage, Backblaze doesn’t seem to care and keeps you in your “protected” Windows environment. I know it is slightly unfair to compare Backblaze and SugarSync because they have completely different user groups in mind. I just want to show you the options you have if you don’t belong to the push-button people (which is totally fine; those are the people who I made this site for, ultimately).
With Backblaze you are “required” to back up all your files on your machine. Yes, you can deselect the files you don’t want. But I think that’s too tedious. Therefore I just let him go and backup my entire machine. Thus, I couldn’t use my test folder of 1 GB to test the speed (when the backup is finished I’ll update this review and break it down for you).
Backblaze’s Online Backup Settings
Eventually, Backblaze didn’t forget about the geeks! There are several neat settings you can dabble in. You can schedule your backups so that Backblaze does not have to look constantly for changes. So if your grandma has also a grandma PC, that’s very convenient because it can easily be scheduled for tea break, that is, when the computer is not in use. Just select “Once a day” and then the time, and you’re done. No more worries about losing your data.
Also a very important feature for those of you who don’t have a speedy Internet connection yet is the throttle: you can define whether you want to speed up your backups by squeezing your bandwidth, or if you’d rather take it slow and save your bandwidth for other tasks.
Online Backup Security
Security is a major topic these days. Your data must be absolutely safe and that’s why your online backup service has to use the latest security techniques to protect your data. Fortunately Backblaze can live up to that standard (as most of the online backup services do). Using the web standard 128-bit encryption (that banks also use) your data is mostly secure. As I have said in my online backup security guide, the bottleneck oftentimes is not the provider, but rather your own PC. If you are not careful with protecting your PC against viruses, then you are prone to Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
If you want to take an extra step then you have also the option the encrypt your data with an encryption key. This ensures that only you even if somebody has access to your backup file can open it. The drawback is that if you lose your “secret key” to open your backup file. Everything is lost. And I mean everything. Backblaze does not store your private key for security reasons.
Recovering your data with Backblaze
OK, so unfortunately the day has come. YOUR HARD DRIVE SUCKS! You can’t start your computer anymore. Fortunately, you decided to back up your PC and data with Backblaze. Now it’s time to recover. We can break down the recovery process into two important questions:
How do you recover your data?
As with everything else, Backblaze made the recovery process as simple as possible. You just need two clicks and then you are there, all your precious photos, files, videos, and whatever else will be restored. Some unique features we have to point out here: you have several options to restore your data. You can buy a DVD of your data or even a USB drive with your data on it if you don’t have an Internet connection available at the moment but desperately need your data. These options are obviously quite pricey. A DVD would cost you $99 with a maximum of 4.2 GB of data and a USB hard drive costs $189 with a maximum 400GB.
It is obviously free to restore your data via digital download. In the next step we’ll have a look at how fast this process is, and whether we manage to restore our data without any errors.
How fast is the recovery process?
Here is a little video I made that shows you how fast you can recover your data:
Most of us are looking for the best bang for the buck. And honestly, Backblaze is very close. It is one of the few online backup services that offer unlimited backup for as low as $3.96/month. That’s a real bargain. Also, they live up to their promise with all the major features that one might need, which I covered extensively in this review. Since Backblaze focuses on simplicity, its pricing model is also very easy. There are different plans to choose from. The only thing you can alter is the duration of your contract, and save some dollars that way.
Clearly, Backblaze is not for everyone. It’s for people who don’t have time to think about their backup strategy, who want pushbutton backups with the option of minor changes. Backblaze offers just that. If you are very tech-savvy then only consider Backblaze if you have huge storage needs, because you can save a good amount of money. However, if you have a higher budget, it might be better to choose from other services that offer greater flexibility. I would recommend using Backblaze as a secondary backup because it is cheap and offers unlimited storage.
Let’s see all the important specs in a general overview:
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