Thinking Of Switching To Backblaze

Thinking Of Switching To Backblaze

BackBlazeIf you are going paperless, having an effective and preferably automated backup system is absolutely crucial. I also recommend having your data backed up to at least two places – one local, and one offsite.

For years, I have used CrashPlan for my online backup, and have been reasonably happy with it. I haven’t experienced any big issues, but there have been some little things that have bugged me.

I read Katie Floyd’s recent post Yes, I really did switch to Backblaze, here’s why… with great interest, because I walked away from Macworld/iWorld with exactly the same thoughts[1] – I have been thinking of switching to Backblaze.

Some things that have bugged me about CrashPlan:

  • There is no native Mac or Windows app. Their client uses Java, which can cause weirdness and resource issues.
  • I haven’t done any testing on this like Katie has, but CrashPlan sure seems to take a lot of resources.
  • I back up an external drive with CrashPlan, and it seems like sometimes it does weird things and appears to re-upload things from that drive from time to time. I’ve been told by their support that it is not actually re-uploading and only looks like it is, but I haven’t had time to dig into what is actually happening.

When I was at Macworld, I was able to talk to many people from Backblaze, including their CEO Gleb Budman, who was outside the booth. I was really impressed with their approach and their technology, and the fact that they have native Mac and Windows clients.

I haven’t gone as far as Katie to actually make the switch, but I am thinking about it. The main thing that has held me back is the thought of re-uploading everything makes me cry.

Any Backblaze users out there? How do you like it?

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 30 comments

Maryon Jeane - August 23, 2017 Reply

I’ve used both CrashPlan and Backblaze – and been seriously let down by both. CrashPlan failed to alert me that my backups weren’t actually happening (although all seemed to be well) and, when I restored from Backblaze, at a crucial time of course, not all my backups were there.

Given this, and a corruption of data by Evernote (I was a Premium member and their answer was, basically, “Sometimes that happens”…!) and the fact that I no longer trust the Cloud, I gave up backing up to the Cloud a couple of years ago. Now I backup (using Cobian) to separate USBs on a backup hub (I’ve split up my data into useful chunks and labelled the USBs accordingly) and change them over regularly. I also copy data over to my tablet (using Send Anywhere, so again not allowing my data into the ether). If I’m going to be away from home, one of the USB backup sets will go with me, one will be lodged somewhere else, and there will be a set still backing up. (As I will be doing things on my PC remotely, using my tablet.) I will also have a backup with me, at least of the most crucial data, on my tablet.

This has worked seamlessly over the last couple of years and, when my PC failed recently, I was fully up and running on my laptop (which contained no programs or data other than a browser and the OS) in short order.

No more Cloud backups for me – being let down once was bad enough, but twice?!?

Hanes Worthy - April 30, 2016 Reply

A correction to John & Jim’s comments that Crashplan will not delete files. Perhaps that was true at the time they posted their comments, but it is no longer.

CRASHPLAN WILL UNILATERALLY DELETE BACKUPS TO THEIR CRASHPLAN CENTRAL SERVERS.

See below copy of an email I received from them in April 2016.

Dear xxxxxxx,

One or more of your computers has not connected to CrashPlan Central in more than 6 months. Per our retention policy, the backup for these computers(s) will be removed from CrashPlan Central in 5 days.

Below is a list of your affected computers(s):

Device Name | Last Connected Date | Identifier
xxxxxxxxx
yyyyyyyyy

Typically we find that these older backups remain from old computers that are no longer in use, and the data has already been backed up again. If the computer name above seems familiar, you can check the computers on your account to verify when they last connected.

CrashPlan Central’s retention policy does not apply to files backed up to your own external drives, friends’ computers, or other computer destinations. It only applies to those backed up to our online backup destination, CrashPlan Central.

CrashPlan is not designed as a data archival service. If you are using CrashPlan to store the only copy of your data, you are using CrashPlan outside of its intended purpose. For your protection, we strongly recommend that you have a secure and comprehensive backup strategy, utilizing multiple backup destinations.

In 2013, Code42 modified the End User License Agreement to require that a device connect to Code42’s servers at least once every six (6) months. In the event your device fails to connect to the internet, Code42 may, at its sole discretion, delete the backup associated with said device. You can review the terms of use in our End-User License Agreement (EULA). If you wish to, cancellation instructions can be found on our website.

Please contact support if you have questions.

~The CrashPlan Team

    Jim - April 30, 2016 Reply

    @Hanes, I received the same email from them. I have the family plan, and 2 of my old computers had not connected in 1-2 years. Computer A had not connected in 1 year and had several gigs of data backed up; Computer B had not connected in 2 years but only had about 20MB worth of data.

    So what I did was, downloaded Computer B’s 20MB to my current computer, and re-connected Computer A to Crashplan to update its “last connected” date. This ensured that my data would be safe.

    Interestingly enough, though, CP has not (to date) deleted Computer B’s backup, even though they threatened to do so “in the next 5 days” which was over a month ago.

    I agree that they should keep my data online for eternity as long as I’m paying for it, but there is very little I can do to make them change their policies, and I have not yet found a better alternative than CP. If you have, please share with us! 🙂

    Jim

      Hanes Worthy - April 30, 2016 Reply

      @Jim,

      I have only just begun examining alternatives to Crashplan so I do not have an alternative to offer. That search is what led me to this page in the first place.

      I agree that there are work-arounds, such as you mention, but I agree with your initial comment some months ago that any vendor that deletes your back up file that you have paid for without your explicit permission is a deal breaker. The fact that they apparently *may* choose not to delete does not strike me as particularly admirable; I believe they should NEVER delete a file as long as you are a paying customer. The last thing I want to worry about is if a vendor might decide to delete my back up data at all.

      Here’s strike two against Crashplan: I have had the unlimited family plan for 4 or 5 years, even though I have only 2 computers connected and well less than 1 TB backed up. The second computer is an old iMac used occasionally for odds and ends. It is rather old and so I’ve kept it on Mac OS 10.6.8 since it works fine and doesn’t really have the horsepower to bother with upgrading the OS. Crashplan no longer supports this OS, nor could I find a way to revert to an earlier version on their app, leaving me unable to use it on this computer after 5 years.

      In short, I expect the vendor I rely on for the important job of securing my files to not unilaterally abandon paying customers.

      I will continue my search, but this long time Crashplan customer is leaving a disappointed and unhappy camper.

Jim - November 29, 2014 Reply

@Jon, wow that’s ridiculous. How could they delete your backup if you’re still a paying customer, just because you haven’t connected recently??

That’s an immediate dealbreaker. I’ll stick with Crashplan…far from perfect, but at least my files are there when I need them!

Jon - November 29, 2014 Reply

The problem with Backblaze is their horrible data retention policy. I live for several months out of the year in a country with poor internet speeds. Further, I don’t bring my ~11 TB of data with me. With Backblaze, if you’re not online after a ridiculously short period of time – a few weeks, IIRC – goodbye backup. With Crashplan, it’s there as long as you pay for it, which is how it should be. Backblaze has the better client, but is utterly worthless to me because of their rubbish retention policy.

    Alex - December 8, 2014 Reply

    I think you’re confusing their external drive policy with something else. I did check this with support before I was out of the country for 6 months. Kinda hard to backup over a sat phone from a boat….

    As far as I can tell the system won’t delete anything while you are out of contact (unless you stop paying).

    If you are connected and a drive has not been connected to your computer in 30 days, then that drive’s data will be removed. All my drives were intact when I got back.

Adam Stauffer - October 2, 2014 Reply

I used Backblaze initially before switching to Crashplan… I had to reupload my 330GB over DSL twice due to some sort of “locks” that my data had. The third time it happened I opted to switch to crashplan. Tech support with backblaze was just ok. This was my experience for what its worth.

Pat - June 11, 2014 Reply

I use to use Blackblaze but found it very awkward and I wasn’t convinced it was grabbing everything. I cam across Crash Plan and have found them to be very supportive whenever I have had any questions. Occasionally it appears that the backup didn’t complete 100% however a quick email and viola I have a responses within a very short period of time.

My husband – (a PC lover) used Blackblaze and has, over the past couple of months, experienced many issues.

For now (until I check out arq with glacier as mentioned in above posts) I will stick with crash plan.

PS – I am a MAC lover!!

Jim - May 28, 2014 Reply

Here’s my huge gripe about Crashplan. Recently, I deleted my whole Documents folder. About 76GB. Still not even sure how I managed that. But no big deal, it was backed up to both an external HD and to CP central.

The problem was, while the backup to CPC was continuous, I only backed up to the external HD about once a month. Soooo, the restore process went like this:

1. Restore from the most recent external HD backup, about 70GB – check, done.

2. The other 6GB were the files that were created or modified after the last external HD backup, so I figured I’d just restore those from CPC. Except, CP does NOT support skipping existing files when restoring. Therefore, my choices were A) download the whole 76GB from CPC (huge waste of time and bandwidth) or B) go through the restore file list line-by-line, file-by-file….thousands of files, comparing what was available for restore from CPC to what was already restored from the external HD and unselecting already-restored files from the restore job.

I eventually ended up doing B, but what a ridiculous waste of time and effort. Chatted with tech support about it and they confirmed that their software has no mechanism for skipping existing files when doing a restore, other than by manually unselecting each individual file. This was an enormous pain in my derriere and has me thinking seriously about switching when my subscription is up.

cryptochrome - May 28, 2014 Reply

The one thing that really bugs me with Backblaze is that you can not select the files you want backed up. All you can do is specify a whole volume and some masking filters. So it’s always going to backup the complete volume, even if you don’t need to have all the files on the volume backed up.

So in my case, for example, I have a 16 TB NAS volume. Which is almost full. Most of the data on there is not worth backing up. Yet, if I want a single folder of that NAS to be backed up, I have to backup the whole freaking 16 TB.

Yes, the interface of CrashPlan is not ideal give that it’s Java and all that…. but how often do you use the interface? I set mine up and let it do it’s thing and I have nothing bad to report about CrashPlan. It doesn’t do any wierdo stuff either, and I have a quite complex setup with multiple backup destinations and other computers in the house backing up to that CrashPlan instance.

In my opinion, switching to Backblaze is just not worth it.

    Keith Flanagan - May 28, 2014 Reply

    I’m not understanding why you would have 16 TB of data that is “not worth backing up”. I don’t think I have 16 TB for my whole system including movies, music, photos and other documents. If it is not worth the time to back up then it is not worth saving in the first place.

    I would spend most of my time cleaning up the data that is “not worth backing up” before I would worry about backing up a drive anyway. Also, you mention that this is a NAS drive. Backblaze does not back up NAS drives, only drives that are directly connected to a single system. You can have as many drives and they can be as large as you like but they must be directly connected through USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt, serial, PCI or IDE.

      cryptochrome - May 28, 2014 Reply

      Yes, you obviously don’t understand it, Keith. Yet you make assumptions for other people with your lack of understanding.

      First of all, everybody values and uses data in a different way. My 16 TB NAS contains mostly temporary video material that is not worth backing up for me. Duh. Bummer. Just because you can’t wrap your head around how someone can have 16 TB of data not worth backing up doesn’t mean this data is not worth saving in the first place. Why do people always assume their point of view ihas to be applied to everybody else?

      Second, Backblaze does back up NAS devices perfectly fine, if you use a protocol such as iSCSI, which makes the NAS appear like a locally, directly connected drive to the system. So before you start throwing expert terms like PCI or IDE around, make sure you know what you are talking about.

Jesse - May 27, 2014 Reply

Brooks:
It doesn’t backup “file permissions, symlinks, Finder flags and locks, creation dates (despite claims), modification date (timezone-shifted), extended attributes (which include Finder tags and the “where from” URL), and Finder comments. Arq, CrashPlan (as of version 3), SuperDuper, and Time Machine all support all of these. Dropbox supports all of them except creation dates, locks, and symlinks.”

Source (with links elsewhere): http://mjtsai.com/blog/2014/05/22/what-backblaze-doesnt-back-up/

Again, I would LOVE Backblaze if it backed up these things. And I’m confused why they don’t. I don’t think it would add that much more storage requirements. Maybe to make the service more cross-platform? Not sure.

But for that reason, I’m paying the slightly higher price of storage and use Arq: http://www.haystacksoftware.com/arq/

Glacier backups are pretty affordable & super reliable by Amazon. Arq is also very Mac friendly, in fact it’s Mac-only.

I’m not paid by Arq to say this, I’ve just looked into it a LOT, and used to use Backblaze until I discovered all this.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - May 27, 2014 Reply

    Awesome, thanks for the info Jesse.

      Michael - June 12, 2014 Reply

      Brooks, it’s important to balance Jesse’s points with those of Joseph from ApertureExpert — https://www.apertureexpert.com/tips/2013/2/13/backblaze-and-backup-bouncer-test

      Here’s an excerpt — What they are saying is that Backblaze was never designed to make a mirror or clone of your system, which is what Backup Bouncer looks for. So using a clone-checker to check a non-clone backup isn’t an accurate test.

    GD - May 27, 2014 Reply

    What in that metadata would be crucial for your workflow? I’ve lost that type of metadata before from copying to various *nix boxes, and I don’t find it crucial at all.

    Yes, maybe my photo files don’t have the Finder comments I added, and creation dates are messed up, and permissions aren’t set identically as they were backed up, but the photo of my dog is still the photo of my dog, same as it was.

    Heck with EXIF and other similar file integrated metadata, I’d have the same stuff that Aperture/iPhoto works off of.

    Not to mention any sane person would only use online backup for disaster recovery, not primary backup. If I had a fire, and my house burned down, and my primary and secondary backups at the house also went up in smoke, I wouldn’t care if the photos of my kids didn’t have 100% the same esoteric metadata that they had before – I’d only care that the *content* was the same.

    Arq is great, until you dig in to how much Glacier will cost you. Last year with Backblaze, I had about 2TB backed up, and retrieved about 200GB worth of data from their servers when I accidentally overwrote the wrong folder.

    Using this calculator:
    http://liangzan.net/aws-glacier-calculator/

    Glacier would have cost me $326, whereas Backblaze was only $50.

Algebraman - May 27, 2014 Reply

I have a four year plan with Crash Plan- it was the cheapest for the price. Do you think Crashplan would refund my remaining months if I was to cancel?

Jesse - May 27, 2014 Reply

I really want to like Backblaze, but just can’t with how poorly they backup your files’ metadata. Suffice to say, it hardly backs up any file metadata, which can cause serious problems if you were ever need to restore your files.

I use Arq with Glacier. If Backblaze changed their metadata storing techniques (they’ve told me they have no plans to), I would seriously consider using them again.

Keith Flanagan - May 27, 2014 Reply

My reason for going with Backblaze instead of someone else is that it allows backup of attached drives. A lot of the other backup services don’t. I have my photo’s on one drive, movies on another and music on another. As long as Backblaze can see the drive it gets backed up.

My only problem with it and any other backup is encrypted logical drives that are not mounted don’t seem to get backed up. I keep things like taxes in an encrypted logical drive using Espionage and those items are not backed up. Can’t find a way to back them up while they are encrypted.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - May 27, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Keith. Weird question and hopefully I explain it right. When you have your external drive detached for a while and then plug it back in, does Backblaze do anything wacky? Or does it just sort of pick up where it left off?

Greg - May 27, 2014 Reply

I have been a backblaze customer for about 18 months and absolutely love it. As “cryptochrome” stated, you can seed the backup by mailing a hard drive, and they can also mail you a hard drive should you ever need to restore files. The pricing is fair for that service too. If I ever have need of a restore, I like knowing they can ship me a hard drive overnight and I don’t need to wait a month for a download.

Highly recommend the service.

cryptochrome - May 27, 2014 Reply

You can send Backblaze your initial backup on a hard drive to bootstrap the backup….

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