Backblaze has made a name for itself in recent years as a leading provider of cloud backup software for both Windows PC and MacOS users alike, their core backup product standing out from the crowd by offering unlimited cloud storage, ease of use, unlimited historic versioning and a simple monthly fee of just $7!
One of the most appealing things for many people considering Backblaze is just how easy it is to use, simply sign up, download the special installer (which will auto connect to your account) and after just a matter of seconds the tool can be installed and will instantly start backing up your data. Add on to this the fact that this service has been upgraded in recent years to now include unlimited historic file versioning, unlimited cloud storage plus fast desktop software at no additional cost and it starts to become clear why Backblaze is so popular.
In this review I really want to get to grips with Backblaze and the unlimited cloud backup service, check out how easy it is to use and put it through its paces, let’s go and see what it can do!
Key Features of Backblaze
- (New) Backblaze now supports unlimited version history
- Very well designed, easy to use native software
- Starts backing up straight away (no complicated set-up)
- Includes unlimited cloud storage
- Available for both Windows and MacOS
- Support for zero knowledge encryption (256-bit AES)
- Real-time (always on) cloud backup
- Backup wizard makes getting started quick and easy
- File-level backups only (no disk imaging supported)
- No recovery media builder or disk cloning tools
- Excellent value at just $7 per device per month
- Option to save more on long term plans ($70 / year or $130 / 2 years)
- 15 day free trial available (no personal or payment details required)
Backblaze Review Usability
In this section I will be installing the Backblaze software and then making use of the cloud backup functionality on offer to see how well it performs, this is with the aim of assessing how easy it is to use and how functional the backup service is which it provides.
This begins in the next section with the installation of Backblaze itself. Remember, Backblaze offer all new users an unlimited 15 day free trial of the software should you want to check this solution out for yourselves risk free!
Installing Backblaze begins at the Backblaze website where we can create a free Backblaze account and take advantage of the 15 day free trial, once signed-in the Backblaze installer will be ready to download and set running.
* Note that the installer is specially configured with the account details of the account it is downloaded from, this means, once installed, the software will be able to login and start backing up straight away (no need to enter login details).
During my testing the download itself was very quick at just under 8MB, once running, the install itself was completed in just a few seconds and a couple of clicks before everything was loaded and ready to work.
* It should be noted here that one of the reasons Backblaze installs and works so quickly is partially thanks to the use of native software for each operating system they support (basically, this means the software I am using on Windows has been specifically tuned to run well on Windows versus software which might be designed to work across several platforms, often at a reduced speed because of this).
As was mentioned a little earlier on, once the install has completed, Backblaze will automatically select all important files and directories that are typically required for backup and will start the backup process immediately. This means that at this point, only a few moments after signing up to Backblaze we have the software install completed and the backup in progress to the Backblaze cloud, excellent work so far!
* I will look at some of the advanced settings behind Backblaze later on in this review, but suffice to say, for the majority of PC and MacOS users these default settings straight after installation will work absolutely fine and, if this is the case for you, the Backblaze software can simply be left in the background and forgotten about at this point!
Backing-up within Backblaze
As we have already seen during the install process, one of the biggest and best features of Backblaze is how easily it can be installed in just a matter of seconds and then left to do its critical work behind the scenes (this is thanks to the automatic account login and its ability to select important files by itself). Whilst this set-up will undoubtedly work great for the majority of PC and MacOS users who choose Backblaze, it might be the case that you do need to adjust how the backup works or the selection of files it takes into account whilst backing-up.
Backblaze works by automatically selecting everything on your device for backup and then (as can be seen above) works with an exclusion list to ensure certain files, folders and file types are excluded form the backup set (this is in contrast to how most other backup solutions work whereby the files to be included are manually added instead). This selection method is great for many as it almost certainly ensures everything important on a device is automatically included in the backup set and as users of Backblaze we simply add any file or folder locations (or files types) to the exclusion list as and when required.
* Note that whilst it is unlikely you would want to backup anything in the pre-determined list of exclusions (shown above), if you are saving important data in any of these location (or using the excluded file-types) then you will need to manually adjust the exclusions (or simply move your files else ware).
If you have an external hard drive to keep backed-up then this is something which is also included as a part of the unlimited Backblaze service, simply ensure your external drive is plugged-in and, if necessary, make sure it is selected in the settings screen as can be seen below:
If making use of Backblaze for backing-up external hard drives it is really important to remember that one of the main limitations of the service is that any external hard drives will only remain backed-up on the condition that they are attached to the main device at least once every 30 days (if this does not happen then the external device will be removed form the backup).
With the selection of files, folders and the potential to backup external hard drives now covered, we can begin looking at some of the other features and settings within Backblaze. Starting off in the settings screen again (which is easily accessed form the main homepage of the app) and on the “Schedule” tab we can set the schedule we want Backblaze to run upon (Backblaze will run continuously by default, we can, however, set this to once per day or to be run manually should we so wish).
The “Security” settings tab is another important place to be aware of when making use of Backblaze, it is here that we can set a secure password for our backup set and have all data encrypted with strong AES 256-bit encryption before it leaves our device headed for the cloud.
* Note that the AES 256-bit encryption technology employed by Backblaze is generally considered to be very secure and, in-turn, is one of the best ways to ensure your important data is kept safe and secure whenever stored on a 3rd party cloud platform.
Whilst AES 256-bit encryption is undoubtedly a great feature to see included in this service, Backblaze further enhances this security by ensuring all (encrypted) data is always sent to their data centres over secure TLS / SSL connections, thus further enhancing the security of their cloud backup service.
Moving on and another important tab in the Backblaze settings screen to be aware of is the “Performance” tab, especially when making use of an older device or slow internet connection.
As can be seen above, whilst Backblaze will (by default) attempt to manage the performance of the device for us, we can optionally turn off this automatic mode and adjust both the number of threads used by the application as well as the amount of bandwidth consumed when sending data to the cloud. Other, potentially very useful options on this page include the ability to allow / disallow backups when using battery power (if applicable) and also being able to set up a list of Wi-Fi networks upon which backup is not allowed when the device is connected to them (potentially very useful if using a mobile data connection with a fixed data cap).
Finally, whilst still in the settings screen and Backblaze also provide a detailed reporting tab for the monitoring of the backup set, this shows the different content types being backed up, how much disk space each one is using and then a total storage amount for the backup set as a whole.
Whilst Backblaze does provide unlimited cloud backup for each device on the whole, it is still nice to see this data to get more of an understanding of how much data you are backing up and how Backblaze is being used.
Restoring Files within Backblaze
Now we have covered both installing and backing up within Backblaze, we can look at the process of recovering files from the unlimited cloud storage which the Backblaze service makes use of. This process begins in the desktop application itself where we can see an overview of the different methods available to us when recovering our data:
As can be see above, when recovering data straight away we must make use of the Backblaze web console to download it as a zip file or, alternatively, make use of the ability to have such data sent to us on an external hard drive or USB flash drive via a courtier service (additional charges apply for this service). Whilst this courier option is no doubt useful to have for those with large amounts of data to recover and a slow internet connection, in most circumstances the web console method should be sufficient.
* Note that Backblaze also include a separate application for full device restores called the “Backblaze Downloader” which I will look at in more depth in the next section.
As can be seen above, once logged into the Backblaze web console we can not only select the courier recovery methods (if required), but also opt to make use of the online recovery option and use the file picker further down on the page to select any files we might want to recover. When using this file picker we can also optionally set the date to recover the correct file versions in the case that we might need a file version older than that of the latest backup date (note that Backblaze now comes with unlimited historic file versioning meaning this is a useful option to have).
With the files to be restored selected and the restore process in progress (using the “Continue with Restore” button above the file picker), Backblaze will begin preparing the restore and will send an email notification when they are ready for downloading (a process I have found to be very fast when recovering a small number of files during testing). Once ready, a ZIP file containing all files selected for restore can be downloaded form the “My Restores” section of the Backblaze account:
It would be fair to say that this is not quite the simplest process for recovering files, it does at least work very well and coupled with the fact that restoring is typically a very infrequent task (for most PC & MacOS users) has little impact on how easy Backblaze is to use in general. Having said this, I believe this is one area in which Backblaze could easily improve is by providing the ability to easily recover 1 or more files from within the app itself as and when needed!
Using the Backblaze Downloader
As was mentioned above, when restoring from Backblaze under normal conditions we can either make use of the web console and download a set of selected files as a ZIP archive or make use of the courier service which sees a restore shipped to us on a physical hard drive or USB flash storage device (for an additional fee). If you require a full device restore and neither of these aforementioned recovery methods are ideal, Backblaze also offer another route via a separate tool called the Backblaze Downloader, a tool which can be downloaded form the “My Restores” section of the web console once logged in.
Once downloaded and un-zipped, this is a tool which doesn’t need installing but instead provides an exe file (an application file) which can be run whenever it is needed. The only manual requirements being that we enter our Backblaze account username and password at the time of running it to allow it to connect to our account.
As can be seen above, once logged-in to the Backblaze account, all that is required is to select the device to restore (if necessary) and then click on the “Begin Download” button to set the process going. At this stage the downloader will work in the background for as long as it takes to download all files relating to the device in question.
* Note that when the download does eventually complete, it is simply a ZIP file we receive with all files contained within it. This file can be opened up and the files extracted via the built-in Windows ZIP archiving tools when ready to do so!
Other Features and Limitations of Backblaze
Backblaze, to its strength, is a very simple and easy to use cloud backup application and one which is which is laser focused on the core task of getting important files backed-up with the minimal of fuss! The downside, of course, to such an approach means we don’t see some of the additional backup and disk related tools and functionalities found in some other “fully functional” backup software which is also currently available on the market.
With the above in mind, there are a few things to be aware of when choosing Backblaze Backup:
- No provision for local backups – Backblaze works with its own allocation of cloud storage and nothing else, this means it doesn’t provide the option to make a secondary copy of your backup on a local device such as an external hard drive or NAS system.
- Only a single backup set – Following on from the previous point, when using Backblaze we only have use of a single backup set (which, basically, contains everything being backed up). Whilst this wont be an issue for the majority of Backblaze users it is something to be aware of if you like to make use of multiple backup sets to optimise your backup routine (for example, backing up large video files outside of normal working hours etc.).
- No Image Backups – Again, as Backblaze is prominently a cloud based solution, it does not feature any image based backup functionality (this means that the backing-up of the whole device, including the OS and any installed applications is not possible within Backblaze).
- No disk cloning or recovery media tools – Following on from the above point, Backblaze is designed first and foremost to get files backed-up to the cloud with as little fuss as possible, this means the recovery media builders and disk cloning tools sometimes found in other backup solutions are not available as a part of Backblaze.
- External Hard Drive limitations – I have already mentioned this previously in this review, but it is important to note that Backblaze will only keep external drives backed-up if they are plugged into the main device being backed-up at least once every 30 days. Not a big issue for most people but just something to be aware of!
On the whole, it is important to note that most of these limitations are minor and as a cloud-first backup solution, Backblaze does everything required of it to a very high standard!
As a cloud first backup solution, one of the most important security features included within Backblaze is the option to make use of the integrated AES 256-bit encryption technology. As with everything built by Backblaze, this has encryption technology been designed and integrated in a such as way as to be very easy to use and, from the users point of view, simply involves clicking a button and then entering a strong password to activate it.
* Note that if you do choose to make use of this integrated encryption that you must remember your password! Backblaze cannot reset such passwords and if you forget it then your data could be lost and unrecoverable as a result!
With encryption aside, Backblaze further enhance security by allowing (optional) multi-factor authentication on the Backblaze account itself as well as making use of TLS / SSL secure connections for transferring all data from the devices being backed-up to the Backblaze data centres where it is safely stored.
Backblaze have a very detailed support portal featuring many useful guides and help articles on using the Backblaze products. If further support is required the company operates a live chat system between office hours alongside the ability to submit and check the progress of web-based support tickets 24/7.
Backblaze features unlimited cloud storage alongside unlimited historic versioning all for a simple and fixed price of just $7 per device, per month.
Alongside this base pricing, Backblaze also offer their customer the ability to make savings by pre-purchasing longer term plans up-front, these deals currently stand as follows:
- 1 year plan – $70 per device (save $14 over monthly plan)
- 2 year plan – $130 per device (save $38 over monthly plan)
Alongside these deals a 15 day free trial is available to all new Backblaze customers (with no need to enter any payment or personal details etc.). This means you can easily try Backblaze for yourself (risk free) and see how easy it is to get yourself backed-up with the minimal of effort!
Get a 15 day free trial of Backblaze backup by clicking here!
BackUp Maker FAQ
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 given its proximity).
No, Backblaze is a cloud based backup solution and is set to only make use of the Backblaze 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
What makes Backblaze really stand out as a serious backup solution is not only the unlimited cloud storage which comes with the service, but the ease and simplicity in which it can be installed, configured and how quickly it can have all important data on a device backed-up to the cloud!
What this means for the average PC or Mac user is that within minutes of signing up for the service, the software can be installed and then the Backblaze application left to do its work (unattended) in the background straight away with minimal configuration needed along the way. There are, of course, a number of settings which can be adjusted should you need to have the backup working in a specific way and thanks to the new pricing plans, Backblaze now offer unlimited cloud backup and unlimited historic versioning all for a simple $7 / month (this would have previously been $10+ per month on the old pricing scheme, so it is great to see even better value from Backblaze in 2021).
Overall, it is very hard to fault Backblaze as a cloud backup solution and it remains a firm favourite here at BestBackupReviews.com – great work Backblaze!