Backblaze Backup (v7)
August 2021 Update:
As I update this Backblaze review in August 2021, the cloud backup offering form Backblaze has now been improved!
One of the biggest and most notable changes is that the standard file version retention period is now set to infinite (unlimited retention) on all accounts (this was previously just 30 days on the basic account with options to upgrade to 1 year or unlimited version retention for an additional fee)
The remainder of the Backblaze service is otherwise the same, albeit with a small increase in the price from $6 / month to $7 for what is now the single plan on offer (or $70 per year or $130 / 2 years if you are willing to pre-pay in return for a discount).
You can try Backblaze Backup for yourself via the 15 day free trial!
Backblaze have recently launched a new version of their cloud backup application (Backblaze Backup v7) and with it some big new features which make it a serious competitor to the likes of Crashplan and Cloudberry!
The big news, of course, is that Backblaze now support file version history beyond the mere 30 days which they did prior to this v7 update. This was a limitation which, in my opinion at least, made an otherwise excellent backup application unsuitable for many a professional or business orientated user who might need access to older version of documents on occasion!
There is however a cost to this update (quite literally) with Backblaze adding an additional $2 / month for 1 year of versioning and $4 / month (+ $0.005 per GB) for unlimited versioning. The cost of the basic service has also gone up since last year from $5 per month to $6!
There have also been a number of usability and performance tweaks since my last Backblaze review in August of 2018 so its time to take it for a spin all over again!
- (New) Now supports unlimited version history!
- (New) Multiple performance upgrades
- Great design, very easy to use
- Automatically selects all important files & folders for backup
- Real-time (always on) backup
- Private key encryption
- Only performs file level backups
- No disk cloning or system image tools
- No recovery media builder
- Excellent all round performance
Backing Up with Backblaze
One of the things I really like about Backblaze, and the reason I recommend it so frequently to others is the ease of which a backup can be configured and running. Simply sign-up, download and run the installer and within seconds the backup will be running!
When you download the software from the Backblaze website it will be pre-configured with your account login details meaning no sign-in is required during the install. Backblaze also automatically scans and selects all relevant files for backup meaning you will be amazed at how quick and simple Backblaze makes it to get your PC backed up!
Any external drives plugged into you PC can (optionally) be included in the backup as well. To specify an external hard drive simply open up the settings screen and select from the list of drives towards the bottom of the “Settings” tab:
You can, of course, also specify which files and file types should be excluded as and when required, this is again done in the settings window under the “Exclusions” tab:
Once the application is installed, the backup running and any external hard drives or excluded files accounted for the backups will pretty much take care of themselves from this point onwards. We can however still tweak the software to deliver optimum performance should we wish.
For example, Backblaze will handle security for us automatically should we wish however, we have the option of setting a private key (password) for encrypting the backup should we wish. NB if you do this Backblaze will have no knowledge of your key nor means of recovering it, this means your files will be unrecoverable should you forget it!
Scheduling is another area which can be tweaked, if necessary, although the default option of continuous backup will most likely suit most users. This can be set to daily or manual backups should you wish.
Another nice feature found under the settings screen is the ability to see both real-time reports of the backup as it is running as well as a list of files still awaiting backup. Together these reports help reassure users that their backups are working as they should and if any files are not being backed up (for whatever reason) they should be shown in the “Files Scheduled for Backup” screen.
Finally, Backblaze also offer network performance settings to tune the backup performance, this includes the option to stop backups whilst using battery power and throttle the network bandwidth when required. Useful to know these features are available but I would suspect most users will leave these settings on the defaults.
Is Backblaze Really Unlimited
Basically yes, Backblaze offer unlimited amount of file storage per device, however, there are some ‘limits’ you might need to be aware of:
- Backblaze automatically excludes certain files including ISO (disk images), EXE and VHD files amongst others. If you need such files backing up you must manually remove these exclusions within the application.
- Any external hard drives which are disconnected for more than 30 days will also be removed form the backup. If you have a lot of data on infrequently used external drives this could become an issue.
- Backblaze (by default) only retain historic versions of files for 30 days, this means if you need to restore to a version more than 30 days old you could be out of luck. As of version 7 (Oct 2019) Backblaze offer upgrades whereby you can pay an additional fee to have either 1 year or unlimited version history retained. If you think you will need this be aware this is an additional fee!
How Secure is Backblaze
Backblaze is a very secure service with all backups being encrypted by default. Backblaze make use of 128bit AES encryption which happens by default on the client device before any data is moved to the cloud, connection to the Backblaze servers is also always done over a SSL/TLS secure connection.
Security is further enhanced by the implementation of multi-factor authentication whenever logging into the Backblaze web console, this can be implemented via either a 2FA service such as Authy or Google Authenticator or via SMS messaging.
How Long does Backblaze Keep my Files
Backblaze provide unlimited storage of backed up data albeit with some restriction on the time for which historic versions are kept. By default all historic versions of files are kept for 30 days, this means that whilst the latest version of a file will always be kept any versions modified over 30 days in the past will be removed.
Whilst this wont be a major issue for the majority of Backblaze customers it is something certain users who might need to revive old versions of files need to be aware of. Thankfully, as of October 2019, Backblaze now provide the option to upgrade backup accounts to have either 1 year of historic versions or unlimited versions kept should this be required.
One year of historic versions is available for an additional $2/m with unlimited versioning a further $2/m plus the cost of storing any version over 1 year as per their B2 cloud storage pricing.
Restoring Files with Backblaze
Restoring with Backblaze is relatively straight forwards, although lacking the amazing simplicity in which the backup can be created in the first place. To begin with files are not actually restored from the application itself but instead you must log in to the Backblaze website to restore anything from a single file to your entire backup set.
Once in the restore console (as shown above) sinply select the PC to restore files from and click restore, at this point Backblaze will highlight some of the other restore options available including the ability to have your files sent to you on an external hard drive in the post or sending your files to your B2 cloud storage account (if applicable).
For my testing I have selected the web based recover, entered my private key password (required at this stage if it has been set) and moved on to the web based file picker. This is a fairly intuitive tool allowing first a date to be set (for versioning) and then using the left side file tree the necessary files and folder to be selected:
Once all files are selected the restore can be started, this will result in the necessary files being downloaded as a zip file.
Other Features of Backblaze
Backblaze Backup is very much focused on being a file based backup tool, as such it is lacking in some features commonly found in other backup software. This includes tools such as disk cloning and full system imaging as well the ability to create different backup sets with different rules, storage, scheduling frequencies etc.
Despite these limitations it is clear this software is designed to one thing really well (and it does) which is performing file level backups to the cloud with the minimal of fuss!
Backblaze offers a good level of security including encryption of all files in addition to 2 factor authentication on your Backblaze account itself.
You can additionally configure your own private key password for your backup although be aware if you do this Backblaze will not be able to recover it should you forget the password. Such a scenario will almost certainly mean you will loose access to your entire backup so be careful to remember the password if you do this!
Backblaze have a great support portal and knowledge base on their website which provides answers to most questions you will have whilst using the software.
For additional help Backblaze run both an online ticketing system and live chat tool meaning help is available in real-time if required. As a B2 user myself I have used Backblaze support a few times and found it to be both quick and very helpful!
Backblaze is priced at $6 per month for the basic plan which is limited to 30 days of version history.
An additional $2 / month is required to upgrade to 1 year of version history retention and an additional $4 in total is required to upgrade to infinite file versioning (plus an additional storage fee of $0.005 per GB for versions over 1 year old).
August 2021 Update:
Backblaze is now priced at $7 / month under their new pricing structure which includes infinite (unlimited) historic file revisions as standard (making this configuration approx $3 / month cheaper when compared to the old pricing structure).
More details on pricing can be found on the Backblaze pricing page itself.
Yes, although Backblaze do not store data in the UK at present, you can still make full use of the service if you are based there. When making a new Backblaze account you will be able to choose between the (default) US data centres based in both Sacramento and Phoenix or the European data centre based in the Netherlands which is potentially a better choice for UK based users.
No, Backblaze is a cloud based backup solution and is set to only make use of the cloud when backing up files, this means keeping local copies of you backup isn’t possible.
Backblaze offers incredibly good value, in-part, thanks to their innovative approach to storing data, this includes designing and building their own hardware which can bring the cost of setting up a GB of storage down to just $0.05! (Find out more about Backblaze Storage Pods).
Yes, Backblaze offer unlimited cloud storage alongside unlimited historic file versioning for you backups. The only real limiting factors for most users will be that NAS (network) drives are excluded form backups and the subscription is sold on a “per device” basis (meaning if you have multiple devices the costs will go up).
No, Backblaze only offers the ability to make file-based backups to the cloud.
Backblaze Review Summary
Backblaze really is a fantastic backup solution and with version 7 one of its biggest limitations (the 30 day version history) has been removed making it possibly the best choice for many home and advanced users alike.
During my testing the software worked flawlessly with both backups and restores running smoothly and the application itself working as it should the entire time. I would ideally like to see restores being available form within the application itself but this is only a small issue, especially given the typical frequent most people use the restore functionality anyway.
The only minor gripe I would add is that that I feel it is a little unfair to add an additional $2 / month for the 1 year of version history in my opinion. By all means I don’t mind paying a bit more for unlimited versioning but with the two additional $2 charges (plus the $0.005 per GB) Backblaze is now actually slightly more expensive than Crashplan for a very similar product with unlimited backups!
I think at the very least Backblaze should raise the bar here and make the basic account inclusive of the 1 year version history making this a potentially unbeatable solution both in form, function and pricing!
But nevertheless a great backup solution, very highly recommended!