In this comparison I will be looking at the cloud backup service from Backblaze and comparing it to the relatively new Arq Premium, the special subscription version of Arq Backup which includes an allocation of cloud storage as a part of the licence fee. These are two very strong cloud-based contenders putting cloud backup at the very core of their latest PC backup offerings!
Backblaze is well known as one of the leading cloud backup tools and offers a very quick and easy way for PC and MacOS users to get their important data backed up safely to the cloud. Thanks to recent upgrades to the service (as of 2019), Backblaze now also allow customers to specify how long their historic versions are kept making this a very powerful backup option for many (additional fees do apply for longer retention periods beyond the included standard of 30 days).
Arq Premium is a relatively new cloud backup solution built upon the success of the Arq backup client itself. Whilst the software is virtually identical to the original Arq backup software, the Premium version of Arq is priced at $5.99 / month and includes an allocation of 1TB cloud storage directly from Arq themselves. It could be fair to say some potential users of Arq backup in the past might have been put off by the need to set-up their own cloud storage as a part of getting a backup running, thanks to Arq premium this should no longer be the case!
At first glance it is clear that both of these backup solutions put cloud backup first and foremost, they do, however have some differences so this should hopefully be a very useful comparison for anyone considering either option, let’s go and compare the two!
Whilst comparing Arq Premium and Backblaze it is immediately clear these are both very cloud focused backup tools, whilst Arq does still allow local and network attached storage to be used for storing backups, Backblaze is 100% cloud focused with no local storage element available.
Two of the most important differences between Arq and Backblaze become apparent when looking at the licencing and storage allocations on offer. Backblaze provides users with an unlimited storage quota but is licenced to just a single PC at a time (meaning those of us with multiple PCs might have to pay for multiple licences). On the other hand, Arq Premium provide a fixed allocation of storage (currently 1TB) allowing up to 5x PCs to be backed-up and share this same storage pool on a single licence.
|Base Price||$5.99 / Month ($49.99 perpetual without storage) 5x PCs Included||$6 /Month / $60 / Year / $110 / 2 Years|
|Unlimited Storage|| *|
|Unlimited File Versions|| *||**|
|PC / Mac Software|
|File Sharing||(via B2)|
|Secure File Sync.|
|Free Trial Available||(30 Days)|| (15 Days)
* Arq Premium will support unlimited version retention and storage when using your own storage, when using the included cloud from Arq this is limited a maximum of 1TB of storage in total (additional storage is charged at $.00599/GB per month).
** Backblaze comes with 30 days of historic versioning by default, a fee of +$2 / month affords users 1 year of historic versioning and +$4 / month affords unlimited versioning***.
*** Any files making use of the extended Backblaze versioning and over 1 year old will be subject to an additional B2 storage fee ($0.005 / GB / Month). More info on Backblaze Versioning can be found at the Backblaze versioning pricing page.
As can be seen in the table above, both Arq Premium and Backblaze offer a similar product at a similar price on the surface, dig a little deeper and it becomes clear they both have key advantages over each other in this key features category.
As was mentioned a little earlier on, Arq allow for up to 5 x PCs to be backed up whilst sharing a combined total of 1TB of allocated storage. At just $5.99 / month this makes the backing up of several PCs with relatively reasonable amounts of data a very cost effective exercise, even if the 1TB of included storage is exceeded at only $0.00599 per additional GB this could still prove a highly cost effective cloud service for heavy data users.
Some areas here where Arq Premium might start to lose out to Backblaze include the lack of built-in file sharing, lack of multi-factor authentication, lack of file synchronisation options (via B2) and by having no smartphone apps available meaning accessing files on the go could be something of a challenge.
Whilst Backblaze clearly does have more functionality and does include multi-factor authentication, smartphone apps and file sharing (via B2) it will clearly be a less cost effective option for this looking to backup multiple PCs (with fairly average storage amounts).
Both options include backup clients supporting both Windows PCs and MacOS devices and both providers offer free trial periods (30 days for Arq Premium and 15 days for Backblaze) meaning you can easily try both pieces of software for yourselves before committing to either, follow these links to get a free trial from either Arq Premium or Backblaze Backup.
Overall, these two cloud backup solutions both offer very good value, this value can, however be enhanced by choosing the best fit for your individual needs. For example, the ability to have up to 5 devices on a single licence might make Arq Premium better value for some, whereas, the unlimited cloud storage per device (included with Backblaze) might be more favourable for others. Additionally, the ability to make us of smartphone apps, multi-factor authentication and file sharing services (via B2) might just be enough to make Backblaze a preferable choice for many.
Very close to call this one, both excellent choices at their core!
Usability is a key consideration when it comes to choosing backup software, not only must any backup software be easy to use and configure, but also easy for users to understand their application and be confident that their data is being securely backed up at all times.
Both Arq Premium and Backblaze are easy to install, configure and get an initial backup running, as such both provide for a quick and easy first backup experience. Both applications also offer users the ability to use “real-time” backups whereby backups are taken very few minutes (or whenever files change) to ensure backup coverage is as high as possible. Having said this, I feel Backblaze does go just that little bit further by providing a special installer pre-loaded with all user account details at the time it is downloaded, this means getting that that first backup is just a little bit easier with Backblaze than with Arq Premium which is subject to a small amount of configuration before becoming functional.
In addition to making the initial install really easy, Backblaze go even further by automatically including all commonly used areas of a PC in the backup set (e.g. My Documents, My Photos etc.). This means, once installed and with no additional configuration needed, Backblaze will automatically backup everything important with no further user intervention needed. This, of course, sounds great but Backblaze really have got the formula right in this instance and this makes for a backup solution ideal for just about any type PC user (you can later on remove things from the backup should you not want a particular file / folder to be backed up).
Arq Premium, on the other hand, isn’t quite so automatic and does require some initial setting up. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for more technical users who like to have full control over what is backed up as Arq will require an initial backup set to be configured as well as other elements like scheduling. Having said this, Arq does go over and above Backblaze in that we can create multiple backup sets all with their own schedules (including real-time) and also make use of both locally attached, network (NAS) and cloud storage across potentially multiple backup sets.
So, if what you want is good cloud backup and nothing else, then Backblaze does make a very good job of doing this, Arq, however, does go further in providing more options for those also wanting to tweak how their backup is configured and make use of multiple backup sets, schedules, local storage, NAS drives as well as the cloud as part of a more diverse backup strategy.
Moving on to recovery and we see a slightly different picture, Backblaze provide their users the option to recover from the Backblaze website itself and via a smartphone app available for both Android and iOS (but interestingly not within the backup application itself). There is also the option with Backblaze to have a restore sent to you in the mail on a USB flash drive or external hard drive (for a fee), this is potentially very useful for anyone who has a slow or unreliable internet connection, more information on this service can be found on the Backblaze Restore options page.
Arq Premium takes a slightly more traditional approach to restoring with everything done via the desktop software itself, this means you need a PC or Mac running Arq to initiate a restore as well as a good internet connection if you are needing to restore a lot of data in a reasonable time frame. Whilst Arq does not have any smartphone apps nor drive mailing service, I think it is very good to see that they do take the restore process seriously and offer a free “restore only” version of their software. This means that even if Arq were to disappear tomorrow, you could still use this restore-only software (can be installed without a licence) and recover files to your device (although you should make a second backup to of one of the other third party storage providers (such as S3 or B2) to help ensure absolute safety of data here).
Following on from the restore only client (mentioned just above) it is also important to mention that Arq allows customers to backup to the Arq cloud in addition to supporting many other third party cloud storage providers including Backblaze B2 and AWS S3. Unlike Backblaze (who only allow use of their own storage) Arq users can potentially build-in more safety to their backup by having a second backup set running and sending data to a completely septate provider. This means extra protection is afforded to any backups even if one of the two (or more) providers hosting the backup storage goes out of business.
|Web Browser Access|
|iOS / Android Apps|
|Automatic (Real Time) Backups|
|Backup External HDDs|
|Recovery via shipped HDD|
|Local Archive Storage|
|Recovery Media Builder|
As can be seen above, despite both of these tools been very cloud focused, they both take a slightly different approach to how they do it. I feel the focus of Backblaze is much more about ease of use and convenience, this is shown by the inclusion of smartphone apps, web browser restores and the ability to have large restores mailed over on external hard drives should they be needed (for a small fee).
Arq, however, are clearly focused more on providing more functionality at the actual backup client level itself, this means more options to configure how the backup works at the expense of it been more-or-less fully automated as it is when using Backblaze.
It should also be noted that Arq does take a small advantage when it comes to versioning as they charge no additional fee to have potentially unlimited versioning (within the allocated 1TB or subject to the overage fees afterwards). Backblaze do allow unlimited restores as was mentioned earlier but this is subject to a +$4 / month fee (plus B2 storage fees for any version data over 1 year old).
So, in conclusion, I would say thanks to how easy it is to use and get an initial backup running, it has to be a small win for Backblaze in this section. Arq is clearly very powerful (potentially more so than Backblaze even) but I feel it does have a steeper learning curve as well as the need to plan your backup strategy out in order to make the best of the software. Backblaze, on the other hand, just gets on with what it needs to do!
Good security is an important consideration when making backups of your important data, especially when storing such data on the cloud! As such, it is good to see both of these backup services taking data security very seriously and both offering customers to ability to apply zero knowledge 256bit AES encryption to their backup sets before any data is sent to the cloud.
|Locally Encrypted Data|
As can be seen above, both applications provide their users with the option to password protect their backups and both make use of strong 256bit AES encryption on all files before any data ever leaves the device being backed up, be it to a local device or network drive (NAS) in the case of Arq Premium or onto the cloud in the case of either service.
With encryption aside, Backblaze do go just a little further on the security front by offering users the ability to turn on multi-factor authentication (2FA) for their account, Arq, however, do not yet offer such security as of the time of writing.
Whilst both tools perform very well on basic backup security (i.e. offering strong file encryption), the additional multi-factor authentication options give Backblaze a very slight edge in this category.
Both Arq and Backblaze offer multiple, convenient support options including detailed knowledge bases, FAQ sections and ticket /email based support options.
|Online Knowledge Base|
|Ticket / Email Support|
As can be seen above, both Arq and Backblaze provide some very detailed online support pages featuring product documentation and FAQ sections amongst other related resources. Both providers offer email / ticket support although Backblaze, it could be said, do go just a little bit further by offering live chat support on their support portal as well.
In this section it is very difficult to separate the two, both providers support their products very well and offer good documentation and related support materials via the web.
Having said this, when encountering a problem, the ability to get a fix applied quickly can at times be vital. Within this in mind the live chat offered by Backblaze and not (as of yet) by Arq means this has to be a slight win for Backblaze!
As was mentioned earlier on in the key features section, both Backblaze and Arq offer their software on a subscription basis with cloud storage included as a part of the subscription. In addition to this, Arq is also available as a software only perpetual licence without any cloud storage included, this is ideal for those not wanting to make us of Arq’s own cloud storage but instead use other third party cloud storage providers (or local storage) and only pay a one-time fee for the software.
Backblaze is priced as a base level of $6 / month (or $60 / year or $110 / 2 years) per device with Arq Premium simply priced at $5.99 / month for use on up to 5 devices.
|Price per Device||$5.99 / Month |
(includes 5 x devices & 1TB cloud storage)
|$6 / Month|
|Additional Pricing||$0.00599 / GB / Month over the included 1TB||$60 / 1 Year
$110 / 2 years
+$2 / Month (1Yr versioning)
+$4 / Month (Unlimited versioning*
|Pre-pay Discounts||N/A||1 and 2 year pre-paid discounts (see above)|
|Business / Team Plan|
|Free Trial||(30 Days)||(15 Days)|
* Any files making use of the extended Backblaze versioning and over 1 year old will be subject to an additional B2 storage fee ($0.005 / GB / Month). More info on Backblaze Versioning can be found at the Backblaze versioning pricing page.
As can be seen in the table above, both of these providers offer a similar pricing when it comes to the core cloud components, although Backblaze could start becoming a little more expensive for users with multiple devices given they offer no multi-device licence discounts as Arq do by default (although they do offer pre-paid annual and 2 year discounts).
It also needs to be kept in mind that even though Arq do not offer unlimited cloud storage per device (as Backblaze do), the additional cost of storage once the included 1TB is fully committed is only $0.00599 per per GB per month – very cheap cloud storage by anyone’s standards!
With all of the above in mind, Backblaze is certainly very well priced for those with a single device and needing a lot of cloud storage, but by including up to 5 devices per licence, Arq Premium might be much better value for others who have multiple PCs to keep backed up (although the unlimited cloud storage available only within Backblaze might need to be a big consideration for some). Add in the local and network storage (NAS) options as well as the ability to make use of other third party cloud storage providers and Arq Premium might start looking like a better value proposition for many.
Winner: Arq Premium
Both Backblaze and Arq Premium are very competent, easy to use and well priced backup solutions which make backing up your important data to the cloud easy and stress free.
The Arq Premium service is a relative newcomer to the cloud backup space, yet thanks to the well established Arq backup software at its core it has quickly become a very solid offering. Add in to the mix that both Arq’s own cloud as well as third party cloud storage can be used and the ability to have up to 5 devices per licence for only $5.99 / month and this is clearly a very serious contender!
Backblaze, on the other hand, despite still been very capable does lack behind Arq Premium in some key areas and could work out more expensive due to the lack of multi-device licencing. For example, with Backblaze we cant use multiple backup sets nor make us of third party cloud storage such as Amazon’s S3 service, both of which are available within Arq Premium. Backblaze does redeem itself, however, by offering unlimited cloud storage per device, 24/7 live chat support, 2FA security on accounts and by being one of the most straightforward and easy to use cloud backup solutions available on the market as of today!
For the purposes of this comparison, it has to be a small win for Backblaze! Backblaze has for a long time provided a solid and stable service and one which can crucially be setup in just minutes with very little effort or configuration to worry about. Having said this, Arq Premium is clearly not far behind Backblaze and with just a few tweaks such as the introduction of cloud based restores, mobile apps and a more automated install / initial backup process could even become the de facto cloud backup solution themselves!
Overall Verdict: Backblaze