Review: BackBlaze backup service – 25 Beta Invites for Simple Help readers

by Ross McKillop on June 2, 2008

Windows

Recently a former co-worker of mine contacted me to tell me about his new startup – BackBlaze. I gave the service a try, and I have to admit – this is by far the easiest backup service I’ve ever used. Keep reading for the full review and a link to give the service a try.

Backblaze Philosophy: Backup All Data

The Backblaze service backs up all your data. We believe you should not need to worry whether you selected all the files you care about, put any files in a different location on your computer, or added any new files that may not be included in your backup. Therefore, we automatically select all your data.

Excluded Files

Backblaze does not want to waste your bandwidth or Backblaze datacenter disk space. Thus, we do not backup your operating system, program files, or temporary internet files that are transient and would not be useful in the future. At the moment we also exclude certain email file types since they change with each email received and the entire large file would be backed up and files that are individually over 100 MB. You can see these exclusions by clicking on “More Options…” in the Control Panel and selecting the “Exclude from Backup” tab.

And their software truly follows their philosophy. You run the installer, and you’re done. BackBlaze finds all of your Photographs/images, Music, Movies, Documents, Browser Favorites and Bookmarks etc, and backs them up. They have made backups so simple that yes, even your parents can do it.

At the end of the installation, BackBlaze tells you exactly what it’s going to start backing up (note: there are so few files in the screenshot below because I used the software on a nearly new Vista install).


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You can pause backups at any time, and the “tips” window will rotate through various suggestions/tips for BackBlaze.


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The main Settings page allows for you to throttle the bandwidth used for backups, alter the notification schedule, and edit the top directories.


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From the Schedule page you can change how often backups occur. You will likely want to leave the default setting, so that files are uploaded as soon as they are added/changed.


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By default, BackBlaze includes all of the Windows System folders to be excluded from being backed up. You can also use this section to add folders that you don’t want BackBlaze to backup.


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The Files Scheduled for Backup tab lists exactly what you’d think – all of the files currently scheduled to be backed up.


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There are currently 3 methods to restore your backups, and there’s a chance that before the product becomes “final”, they will have changed. The existing options are: 1) Back From The Web. You can choose sets of 1GB or less (BackBlaze zips your files into a 1GB zip file and you download that file). You can download an unlimited number of 1GB zip files. 2) BackBlaze will FedEx a 4.7GB DVD of your files. A fee applies, and this is one of the options that may be removed. 3). BackBlaze will load 160GB of your files onto a USB hard drive, and FedEx the drive to you. A fee applies for this option as well, and the final price has yet to be set.


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The web interface, as seen below, is quite easy to navigate and use. You just select the files you want to restore, and choose a restoration method.


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BackBlaze runs in the background all the time. It uses very little system resources and really does define the “set it and forget it” philosophy of software.

Pros and Cons

As I mentioned at the start of this review, this company was founded by a former co-worker. So in the interest of being completely fair, I will list some of the shortcomings of BackBlaze in addition to the benefits. Here goes.

Pros

  • It is painfully easy to setup and use. You don’t need to hunt through all of your folders to make sure they’re being backed up
  • Unlimited backup space. So if you have 300GB of audio files, they’ll backup your 300GB of audio files.
  • If you delete a file on your hard drive, BackBlaze will keep that file on their server for 30 days, so you can restore it if you need to
  • Very competitive price. $5/mo is cheaper than most backup services.
  • Cons

  • The 100MB file size limit. In an age of iMovie and simple video editing software, more and more people are creating digital video – and those files are almost always larger than 100MB. With that said, BackBlaze is looking at ways to remove the 100MB limit
  • No .pst backup. PST files are the ones that Outlook uses to store all of your email. That means BackBlaze doesn’t backup Outlook mail. Again, they’re looking for a way around that – but it is a current limitation.
  • No Mac or Linux client. Yet. Stress yet.
  • 15 days (the length of the trial) is a pretty short period to determine if you want to sign up.
  • So – there you have it. Now give it a try. Visit https://www.backblaze.com/simplehelp and the first 25 folks who sign up can skip the “invitation needed” requirement.

    • http://thomasmurphy.tumblr.com/ Thomas Murphy

      I had never heard of backblaze before, but its very useful and and as you said, very easy to use.
      Thanks Ross!

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

      @Thomas Murphy:

      The very private beta started earlier this year, it wasn’t until yesterday (Monday, June 2nd) that they started to open the private beta a bit more.

    • Franko

      Great concept! I downloaded the backblaze installer and it has been analyzing my drive for 2 hours…hope it finds what it needs…stay tuned for further updates.

    • http://www.backblaze.com Casey Jones

      I work at Backblaze and yesterday was a big day for us. We had some press from other sites and the beta slots filled up quickly.

      After working a year and a half on the product, we are excited about people’s response. We are having some growing pains, so if the install hangs on the Analyzing Drive part, you may want to try the install again. It shouldn’t take longer then 5 minutes for the install to finish.

      If you have any problems or want to leave feedback, you can drop us a line at:
      https://www.backblaze.com/support_cs.html

      Thanks again.

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