Backblaze Review

Welcome to our Backblaze review where we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the most well-established names in the world of online backup services. The key to Backblaze’s success lies in the incredible simplicity and automation of its backup processes. This, combined with its unlimited storage and competitive pricing, makes for a compelling package. Unfortunately, its licenses apply to one device only, and customizing your backup is more convoluted than it needs to be.

So, how well does Backblaze stack up against the competition in 2020? Let’s find out.

Key features:

  • One device per account
  • Unlimited storage capacity
  • 15 day free trail
  • Integration with B2 cloud storage
  • Excellent file sharing system
  • Inheriting backup states across devices
  • Locating your computer remotely
  • Physical drive backup

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Easy setup
  • Almost automatic operation
  • Unlimited storage capacity
  • Backblaze only offers one computer per license
  • No full disk imaging support
  • Badly implemented private encryption key usage

Pricing

The Backblaze pricing scheme is as simple as it gets – it is one of the major contributors to the popularity of the service. Whether you go for the Personal plan or Backblaze Business, the price scheme remains the same. Backblaze provides backup with an unlimited storage capacity for one device per license across both of the plans. This costs either $6 per month (maximum flexibility but highest cost), $60 per year, or $110 for two years (cheapest option but requires the longest commitment).

If we compare Backblaze vs Carbonite, another similar cloud backup service, it’s clear that the basic offer at Backblaze is flat out better. While Carbonite’s cheapest plan also costs $6 per month, it’s a yearly plan, which has less flexibility than Backblaze’s monthly solution. If we compare it to the equivalent yearly plan at Backblaze, it works out to be more expensive ($72 vs $60).

Unlike iDrive, Backblaze offers no free plan, but its Personal and Business plans come with 15-day trial periods, no strings attached. Comparing Backblaze vs iDrive here, the latter’s 30 day free trial is also better, but 15 days should be more than enough to properly test any online backup service.

User Interface and Installation Process

The installation process for both the desktop and mobile apps is quick and easy, requiring only your email address and password. In terms of user interface, regardless of the device, emphasis is put on simplicity. Therefore, how much you will enjoy Backblaze’s interface depends mostly on how hands-on you like to get with your backups.

backblaze Overview

As almost any review of Backblaze will tell you, the software is fantastic for people who want to back up their storage device automatically and be done with it, without thinking too much about what to save and what to toss. The initial backup starts as soon as you install the app, and you can choose to let it run or go into the settings and check what’s being backed up (more info on that later in our review here).

The interface looks very basic and somewhat dated no matter what platform you are using. The white, grey, black, and blue color scheme makes Backblaze backup look like any generic early 2000’s Windows app, but all of the program’s features are clearly laid out.

The web interface allows you to access, share, or restore backed up files as well as check the status of your account and even locate your computer in case of theft.

The desktop app has much more extensive options available from the settings menu. You can check your latest upload speeds, set up threading/throttling limits to speed up uploads, or do a Backblaze storage review through checking which files are scheduled for backup. Adding and replacing folders or file types is done from the Exclusions menu, and there are dedicated sections for Reports and Issues, while you can also add a private encryption key from the Security menu or decide how backups are scheduled in the Schedule tab.

backblaze initial

The mobile app is pretty basic. It allows you to view, search for, or download files that have been backed up. As a single license only supports one device, you cannot get anything from your phone backed up automatically. However, the app does support biometric authentication when logging in, for added security.

Features

Backing up and restoring files

Earlier in our Backblaze review, we mentioned that the company offers unlimited storage for one device per licence only. This license can be transferred to a new device (deleting your old backups in the process) or you can choose to inherit the previous backup state, so that when you change computers, only the new files will get backed up.

The backup procedure is mostly automatic, unless you choose to make manual changes. As soon as you first install the program and enter your Backblaze login, it begins the initial backup of your files. From there, you can pause the backup or go into the settings menu. You can also go into restore options. However, if you want to restore Backblaze’s online backup of your files, you will need to log in to the web interface first.

The automatic backup by default omits system files and anything in directories such as  MSOCache, i386, Program Files, Windows, as well as the Recycle Bin. Initially, Backblaze didn’t allow for backup of file extensions such as iso, dmg, sys, msi, hdd, etc. at all, but these days you can choose to re-include any of these extensions into your online backup. You can also set file size limits when performing an online backup, which can range anywhere from 5 MB to unlimited (the default setting).

backblaze schedule

Our Backblaze backup review would be incomplete without mentioning how to get your files back once you’ve backed them up. Fortunately, it’s a really simple process. Just log in to the Backblaze web interface or mobile app. From there you can browse through your files on an interface or search for them by file name. You can also view hidden files or search for files based on a set timeframe.

Once you’ve picked the files you want, you can choose whether to download them directly (in .zip format), upload them to B2 cloud storage, or have them shipped on a USB flash (up to 256 GB) or a hard drive (up to 8TB). We won’t get into a detailed Backblaze B2 review here, but suffice it to say that Backblaze takes care of the file encryption and online backup portion, while B2 provides cloud storage not affected by your local or online backup storage. Backblaze licenses get you access to 10 GB of storage and 1 GB of downloads per day on B2. If you need more than that, every additional GB of storage will set you back $0.005, while a larger download capacity will cost $0.01 per GB per month.

While Backblaze’s cloud backup through the B2 service is limited, standard online backup provides unlimited storage. This can quickly lead to huge backup sizes, which can take a long time to upload and an even longer time to restore. Unlike iDrive Express, Backblaze doesn’t offer the option of getting an external storage device for initial backup purposes, but in order to quickly restore your backed up files later, you can order a USB flash drive for $99 or an external hard drive for $189.

However, as is common with the best online storage options on the market, returning the USB flash drive or HDD that they send you within 30 days makes you eligible for a full refund. The program is called Restore Return Refund, and it effectively makes the restoration of your files through physical drives free of charge, postal costs notwithstanding (only if you live in the United States).

File versioning

Being an unlimited online storage solution, you’d expect Backblaze to deliver when it comes to older file version retention. Unlike iDrive, for example, the limit here isn’t set by the number of file versions but rather by time. Backblaze reviews your files regularly and deletes 30-day-old copies, providing there are newer versions of the files available. You can pay an additional $2 per month for a one-year retention of any number of old files. You can also add an additional $0.005 per GB per month to keep the storage in their database forever.

backblaze whats backed up
Whats backed up

Alternatively, if you’re using B2 cloud storage, it automatically creates new versions of uploaded files with timestamps, which can populate your cloud based backup until its capacities have been exhausted. B2 storage also features several advanced settings relating to how the file versions are stored, shown, or deleted for those who want more control over their uploaded files.

File sharing

The best cloud storage solutions allow you to easily share the files you’ve backed up online, and Backblaze is no different. Once you’ve made your backups, you can choose to share them with your friends from the View/Restore menu of the web interface. In order to do so, you have to be signed up to the B2 cloud backup services, though. After clicking on your desired file and selecting the Share with Link option, the file becomes publicly available through that link.

Unlike the best cloud backup and sync options such as iDrive and Google Drive, there’s little you can do with read/write permissions, in order to restrict access to the file. Instead, people clicking on your link are given full access to an online copy of your chosen file.

Security and performance

So, the backup and restore options are extensive, and the file sharing options could be better. But how secure are your files, and how quick is it to upload and download them? Our Backblaze security review can be summed up in four words: it could be better.
While Backblaze does offer a private encryption key, it’s something you have to opt for – it’s not selected by default. Worse, though, is how it is implemented. Because restoring your files is done entirely through the web interface, you effectively have to give the company your encryption key every time you log in to restore your files. Backblaze claims that the encryption key data is purged immediately after logging in, but it’s still a security oversight in our books.

According to the company, Backblaze encryption uses “2048-bit public/private keys to secure a symmetric AES 128-bit key that changes for every backup “session” on your computer.” In practice, this means that they don’t use full end-to-end encryption, but what’s there should be more than enough to keep any hackers away.

Additionally, we have to praise that all of Backblaze’s apps support two factor authentication, and the mobile app also has a biometric login option, which is a nice touch.

When it comes to speed, Backblaze won’t win any best online backup rewards, we’re afraid. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that in our Backblaze speed test we uploaded the data from a device located in Europe, but either way both our upload and download speeds were worse than iDrive’s. On a 150 Mbps upload connection, we managed around 16 Mbps during upload and 10 Mbps when recovering our files. As with most services of this type, if you have a huge number of files to backup, you need to review if Backblaze can do it in a reasonable timeframe or if using physical drives may be a better bet.

Luckily, the company’s Restore Return Refund program allows you to drastically speed up your restore times, however your initial backups will still take a while, as the service doesn’t send USB or hard drives to perform the backups, only recoveries.

Additional features

We’ve already mentioned the Restore Return Refund program and the handy computer locating service, which lets you attempt and find your lost or stolen device through any tracking IP address or device changes.

Let’s go back to our Backblaze Personal vs Business debate for a moment. Backblaze cloud storage for personal and business accounts are pretty similar in terms of functionality and price per device. However, there are some additional features that Backblaze Business offers its users that the Personal plan doesn’t have.

For example, cloud storage through B2 can help you expedite server backups and NAS data syncing through native integrations with Synology, QNAP, and TrueNAS. You also get access to a Web-based Admin Console for managing all of your business data and accounts.

In addition to providing online data storage, cloud syncing, and these extra services, Backblaze does a hard drive review every quarter as well, with insights about drive longevity and other stats based on the drives in its data center. While not necessarily helpful for your cloud storage needs, it is a nice bonus feature based on real life hdd usage by fellow Backblaze users.

Conclusion

It’s time to wrap up our Backblaze review. Having looked at the features, speed, and security of Backblaze, how does it stack up against the competition? As we hinted at the beginning of this article, Backblaze is best for people who are new to cloud backup and storage or just want an experience that’s mostly hands off. While you can definitely pick and choose what and what not to backup, the idea that you add files/file types and folders to exclude rather than include can be tedious if you just want a quick backup of a couple of folders on your computer.

Our Backblaze cloud storage review mentioned that cloud storage is done through the B2 platform. While handy for individuals (especially for syncing and sharing files), its true potential lies in the numerous excellent integrations with services such as Synology, QNAP, and TrueNAS. Additionally, the option to quickly restore files through a shipped USB or physical drive is an excellent feature for large scale backups. While Backblaze doesn’t have true end-to-end encryption, it’s security features are excellent with biometric and two-factor authentication adding an extra layer of protection for your files.

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Easy setup
  • Almost automatic operation
  • Unlimited storage capacity
  • Backblaze only offers one computer per license
  • No full disk imaging support
  • Badly implemented private encryption key usage

FAQ

Is Backblaze any good?

Yes. It’s especially good for beginners, as it does almost everything automatically.

How secure is Backblaze?

It’s secure but with a caveat regarding the implementation of private encryption keys. Check our Backblaze review for more details, but in short, it uses a mix of RSA and AES encryption and generally does an excellent job of keeping your data safe.

Is Backblaze really unlimited?

Yes, it’s one of the main selling points of Backblaze. However, optional B2 cloud storage is not unlimited, and new Backblaze accounts get 10 GB of storage space.

How long does Backblaze keep my files?

The standard length for duplicate or locally deleted files is 30 days, but you can extend that to two years or an unlimited amount of time by paying extra.

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Price $60/year
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