Why Backblaze Is My Choice For Online Backup Provider

I chose Backblaze as my online backup service provider for one year (possibly, longer).

It was actually a tough choice. I was weighing many options. Do I just go with the well-known leaders (by customer base), such as Mozy or Carbonite? Do I go with a provider that offers me a finite quantity of backup space per subscription, but allows me to backup unlimited computers, such as SpiderOak?

Obviously, the answers to these questions were "No"; so here is why I went with Backblaze:

  • Good communication -- Backblaze communicated with me via Twitter and answered my pre-sales questions via email. SpiderOak was also very good in its email communication with me. Carbonite, iDrive, Mozy, Safecopy also communicated with me satisfactorily as well.
  • Let me into the Mac beta trial -- While very late into the party (they publicly released for the Mac a week later), Backblaze gave me an invitation to try their Mac service before it went public.
  • Ease of Use / Function Offering Ratio Balance -- It was very easy to set up the client on my MacBook Pro and get to backing up. An icon sits in my menu bar and allows me quick access to see what and how much is being backed up. But just because it is easy to use, doesn't mean they skimped on the functionality. I can throttle my backup bandwidth; choose file types and folders to exclude; set my own encryption key; and set basic scheduling options.
  • Price -- My choice came down to BackBlaze and SpiderOak. At retail, SpiderOak would have cost me $100/yr. Backblaze $50/yr. Like many people, I am doing my best to try to conserve some money, make appropriate purchase decisions. And while I really believe SpiderOak is a player in this space, a lot of my decision, maybe sadly, was based upon cost. Backblaze is a legitimate player and the cost was right -- especially after the 10% Chris Pirillo discount, which sealed the deal for me. (To be fair, you can find 10% discounts for SpiderOak and there are even some 20% discounts out there if you are resourceful)
  • Allows me to backup external drives -- As I write this, I am backing up content on an external firewire drive connected to my MacBook Pro. This drive is partitioned 3 ways, holding my Time Machine backups, SuperDuper backups and data that I just didn't want taking up space on my primary 120GB MacBook Pro drive (e.g., videos). Backblaze does not allow you to backup your Time Machine data (seems reasonable), but I am backing up about 42 GB of data. I am 7GB into that process, which, probably expectedly, is taking just a tad longer than the primary hard drive.
  • Backup speed -- The throttling mechanism is very useful and seems to work. With various degrees of throttling used in the 8 days, average 12 hours/day time it took me to backup 42.5 GB of data on my MacBook Pro, I average about 0.45 GB (450 MB) per hour. That seems pretty good to me.
  • Restore -- I tested restore just a little bit. Seemed straightforward and easy. You log into the website. Enter your private encryption key if you decided to use it. Choose what directories/files you want. Then click Restore. An email comes to you really quickly saying a zip file with all the files you chose is ready to be downloaded. If you need a bunch of your stuff urgently, and can't wait for download, you can also order, at extra cost, an overnight shipped DVD or USB drive of your data (see below why this could be an issue, though).

All that said, I do not believe Backblaze is perfect. Here are some items I think need improvement:

  • Multiple Computer Support -- Backblaze would be near perfect if it allowed multiple computer support on one subscription a la SpiderOak and others. While 95% of my time is spent on my MacBook Pro (because I can run both OS X and Windows), I do have another HP laptop. It would be nice if I could just add that computer to current subscription. But, while I can add the HP to my current Backblaze account, I would have to pay another $50/yr. So instead, if I want to backup items from that machine, I use an intermediary like DropBox or SpiderOak (which both offers 2GB of space free) and then access those items from my MacBook Pro to be backed up on BackBlaze.
  • Unencrypted Data on Their Media Restore -- Sort of a good cop, bad cop here. It is actually very cool that Backblaze offers the option to get your data on hard media, overnight. But the problem is that your data comes to you *unencrypted*. Me, I would be a little bit apprehensive of FedEx having a drive that has all my data readily accessible. I believe BackBlaze is working on a solution to alleviate this issue, but nothing has been announced publicly. That said, most providers don't offer this capability anyway, so it is a nice-to-have feature. And most people restore their data through download anyway.

So in summary, I believe Backblaze, while imperfect and a relatively new service (especially on the Mac support front) provides a great service. It offers great functionality at a very good price. And I have seen no major issues with the service thus far. And, they seem willing to communicate with you if needed. I have signed up for a year commitment. SpiderOak was a very close second, and, in the end, primarily came down to financials as to why I chose Backblaze over them. I think they are pretty even on all other aspects as for what I require in an online backup provider.

Now I just hope that I am a paid user and they have lured me in, they still won't mind the occasional Tweet every now and then :)