We geeks sure love the cloud. Storage, streaming, computing - the modern world offers cloud-based solutions for many Earthly problems. Most online backup services are kind of similar, so choosing the right one can be tough. That’s why we’re here to present one of the better options for secure backup and data storage in a very saturated market.
Backblaze’s main claim to fame is that it provides unlimited cloud storage, but the company has other tricks up its sleeve as well. An incredibly simple and mostly automated backup procedure, competitive pricing, and some handy bonus features all work together to create an excellent product that can compete with the best in the biz.
There are some downsides, too - but more on those later. Let’s get right into it.
- Unlimited storage capacity
- Third-party app integrations
- Physical hard drive shipping for restoration purposes
- Automated backups
- No file-size limitations
- Simple to use
- Great file-sharing options
- Licenses are for a single computer only
Cloud computing and backup are all the rage these days, so Backblaze comes into a highly contested market. With many companies needing cloud computing services and online backup solutions, the market quickly became saturated with competitors, so Backblaze had their work cut out for them in trying to stand out.
First things first: Backblaze cloud backup has unlimited capacity, with no file-size limits. That said, each license provides support for just one device backed up to Backblaze’s data centers. You can inherit previous backup states on new devices or delete old backups and transfer licenses, but you’ll need to pay for several licenses to actively sync across multiple computers.
The backup procedure is about as simple as it gets, and the initial portion starts automatically as soon as you register, download the app, and enter your Backblaze login details. After Backblaze’s hard-drive review, the software begins the online backup procedure immediately.
If you leave the program at default settings, the first backed-up files won’t include system directories such as i386, MSOCache, Program Files, Recycle Bin, and Windows.
You’ll also have to add extensions manually for virtual drives and operating system files like .iso and .msi. The Exclusions menu allows for tweaking your backup settings, adding or removing any file types or folders you wish, and even limiting the maximum size for all your files down to a minimum of 5 MB per file.
After creating your first Backblaze online backup, you can do a file restore from the cloud through the web platform or mobile app. The interface allows you to search for files by name or simply browse through the list - much like File Explorer for Windows. You can also filter by timestamp to help locate specific file versions, and even view hidden files.
Files can be downloaded directly to your device or shipped to you on external drives - flash or a physical hard drive - through the “Restore Return Refund” program. You can also put them on B2, Backblaze’s cloud storage platform, for easier sharing. We’ll talk more about these options in the Additional Features section.
Unlike some other backup services, Backblaze supports file versioning. Similar to Carbonite and pCloud, the files uploaded to the unlimited cloud backup are time-sensitive rather than being tied to a specific number of previous versions.
That means you can have as many versions as you want, but Backblaze reviews your files constantly, deleting the oldest file versions once a month. We personally prefer IDrive’s versioning solution (which saves the 30 latest versions of each file, regardless of when they were created), but this system works better for people who update files very frequently.
When you transfer uploaded files to B2 cloud storage, they will be timestamped and stored indefinitely. Just remember that, unlike Backblaze, B2 has limits on stored data (10 GB for Backblaze users by default), so this option is best used to backup files that don’t take up much space (e.g., text documents).
To compete with other online backup services these days, a company needs to have a competitive file-sharing platform, too. Backblaze handles this through its cloud storage service, which you must sign up for if you wish to share files with others.
The process is straightforward, but it does require logging in through the Backblaze website, which is a bit annoying. From the View/Restore section, you’ll need to select your file(s) and then click on the “Share with Link” button. Unfortunately, there is no way to fine-tune access to these files.
If we pit pCloud or IDrive vs. Backblaze, pCloud and IDrive allow a Google Drive-like control over your files, allowing you to fine-tune who can edit and view them. With Backblaze, whoever receives the link to your shared files gets full and unrestricted access. That’s great for sharing your music collection - not so much for sensitive documents.
An important factor when picking a cloud backup service is how much of a pain the backup process will be, especially for very large files. We already mentioned that the company offers to ship physical drives to speed up this process, but we’ll talk more about that later. For now, let’s see how the program did in our Backblaze speed test, shall we?
The short answer is: not that great. Our 200 Mbps connection at the office managed only about 21 Mbps upload and 13 Mbps download speeds. This is better than IDrive’s snail pace when downloading files, but IDrive was significantly faster at uploading them.
What about other cloud backup services, though? Backblaze got trounced in both speed categories by pCloud, which maintained both download and upload speeds of nearly 70 Mbps.
When comparing Backblaze vs. Carbonite, things looked a bit better, with the latter lagging in both categories.
Considering that Carbonite is one of the slowest online backup services around, Backblaze’s victory is a bit hollow. Luckily, you can still take advantage of physical-drive shipping to speed up the download process, but your initial backups may take quite a while.
That said, after you’ve done syncing files on Backblaze’s servers, continuous backup will take much less time and system resources. It will backup files anytime your computer is not doing much, helping preserve system resources.
Security And Privacy
Transfer speeds are all well and good, but security can make or break cloud storage services these days. While Backblaze has excellent security features practically all across the board, there is also one questionable decision we’ll have to address.
Let’s start with the good stuff: Backblaze’s encryption uses a hybrid method with 2,048-bit RSA key pairs securing symmetric 128-bit AES keys. The 128-bit keys are, in theory, not as secure as 256-bit keys would be, but in reality, you’d need a supercomputer or decades of effort to crack them, and they would then be useless, considering that they change with each login session.
The company also offers users the option of getting a private encryption key and features biometric and two-factor authentication options on its mobile apps.
So far, so good, right? So why is our Backblaze security review not giving the company a glowing recommendation across the board?
It’s quite simple, really. While you can set up a private encryption key easily, you have to enter your master password every time you plan to download anything from online data storage.
Since file restoration works only from the web interface, you can see where we’re going with this. Backblaze says it purges your login credentials as soon as you’ve successfully logged in, but it’s still one of the Backblaze features we would love to see changed.
In short, it will be any data that you supply, including your email address and phone number. The company will also know the number and size of your files stored in the cloud and, unless you use a VPN, your IP address. All of these may, in theory, be given to third parties, including government agencies. These are standard policies for just about any online service these days.
Backblaze is one of the best cloud storage providers for people who like keeping things simple. To get your first backup underway, all you need to do is provide your email address, choose a password, verify your email address, and install the app.
The desktop software will automatically start the initial backup procedure, which you can interrupt at any time to add or remove folders and files. By default, the app backs up everything except your operating system and application files, empty directories, and temporary internet files and will do automatic backups regularly.
We’ve mentioned earlier that the company’s design prioritizes simplicity over aesthetics. That doesn’t mean it’s overly sparse - the Backblaze interface has all the basic features you will need.
You can view, download, restore, or share files, check various reports, settings, and billing information, and even use the Locate my Computer feature to find a stolen or lost device through its last known IP address. Backblaze backup requires downloading the app for your computer or mobile device, however.
Design is another area where Backblaze won’t win any best cloud backup awards. While everything is functional, the color scheme and overall design are intensely reminiscent of the late 1990s. That said, there is a kind of beauty in its simplicity, and the desktop app provides a much-needed upgrade compared to the web interface.
The desktop app handles backups automatically for the most part, but you can use the Performance tab to check and adjust CPU and internet usage. This could speed up the backup and restore operations or give your computer and internet connection some breathing room.
You can also do a Backblaze storage review to check which files are scheduled for backup storage and make modifications using the Exclusions menu. Pending issues or reports can be read from their respective menus, while the Security tab allows you to add a private encryption password to your account (it’s not enabled by default).
The Settings menu houses global account settings, and the Schedule tab lets you fine-tune backup scheduling. You can set up specific user folders or the frequency at which all the backup devices perform uploads to the online servers.
Remember that you don’t get unlimited backups in terms of file versioning, so the app will delete files that have newer versions on the cloud once per month.
The mobile app is very basic, but it gets the job done if you need to access your files remotely. You can use it to search for, view, and download files from your online storage. Unfortunately, Backblaze’s cloud backup supports only one device (one computer) per license.
What’s more, unlike IDrive and pCloud, the app’s primary purpose is accessing your computer-file backups rather than backing up mobile data.
That means you can’t use the app for an automatic backup of your phone’s documents, contacts, or media. On the bright side, the app supports biometric authentication for logging in, and you can also use your phone for two-factor authentication when logging in from your computer.
B2 Cloud Storage
Every new Backblaze user gets 10 GB of storage on the B2 cloud storage service. We’ll keep our Backblaze B2 review brief: All you really need to know about B2 is that it provides additional cloud storage separate from your standard Backblaze account, and it’s useful primarily for sharing your files with other people.
B2 can also be great for storing multiple versions of older files, complete with timestamps for easy navigation. As these are separate from your Backblaze storage, you won’t have any deleted files unless you delete them manually.
Aside from what’s included in the Backblaze sign-up package, every additional gigabyte of storage and increased download capacity needs to be purchased separately.
Restore Return Refund
Even the best online backup speeds won’t cut it when you want to create extensive backups and don’t want to spend days on them. That’s why it’s unfortunate that Backblaze only provides its physical-drive shipping service when you need to restore files, but not for the initial backups.
You can get an external hard drive for $189. The service used to offer a USB flash drive and DVD option in the past but sunsetted them due to poor demand.
As the name of the service suggests, these costs can be refunded if you return the drive without any damage within 30 days. You still have to pay for shipping costs, but that’s a small price for saving yourself the headache of restoring your backups at Backblaze’s less-than-impressive download speeds or facing the prospect of lost files.
Locate My Computer
We already mentioned that the company provides an uncommon service. By utilizing your IP address and location services, it can help locate a stolen or lost device. It can also assist police in identifying potential thieves through images and videos they may upload automatically without realizing it via the automatic backup procedure.
All you need to do is log in to your Backblaze account through the web interface, make sure that mapping is on, and click on the Locate my Computer button. This will display the computer’s latest sign-in location. You can also check the latest backups to see if the potential thief has inadvertently uploaded any new files from your device.
Our review of Backblaze’s customer service will be brief, as there isn’t much to say. The company offers support through email or live chat along with an extensive self-help FAQ, but there’s no phone support.
We sent an email to the support staff during working hours and got a reply within four hours, which is pretty decent. If you need help immediately, reach out to the live chat operators. They work in two shifts: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, and 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Pacific time from Tuesday to Friday.
Like everything else about Backblaze, the pricing plans are easy to understand. The two main options are the Personal plan - that we based our review on - and Backblaze Business, which is aimed at companies. While there are some differences when comparing Backblaze Personal vs. Business plans in terms of features (the latter offers a web-based admin console, for example), the pricing scheme is identical for both.
You can opt for monthly, yearly, or bi-yearly payments depending on whether you prefer flexibility or maximum savings. Both plans offer unlimited storage capacity for one device only (additional ones can be added for the same price). Backblaze will cost you $7 per month, $70 per year, or $130 if you pay for two years in advance.
Signing up for an account will also get you 10 GB of storage on the B2 cloud platform. Adding more will cost you $0.005 per gigabyte while increasing your download capacity from the default 1 GB per month will set you back $0.01 for each additional gigabyte.
Backblaze is a great service, but it certainly has stiff competition. You can read more about IDrive or check out our thoughts on pCloud for more info about the competition. Alternatively, check out the table below for a quick overview of how Backblaze stacks up against its main competitors.
Backblaze Pricing Plans
How Does Backblaze Compare to Other Online Storage Platforms
- Unlimited storage capacity
- Third-party app integrations
- Physical hard drive shipping for restoration purposes
- Automated backups
- Remote access via mobile app
- Top-of-the-line security and file sharing features
- Unlimited devices
- Up to 5 TB of storage
- Point-in-time recovery
- Free 5 GB trial
- Full-disk image backup
- Free disk shipping on demand
- Unlimited devices
- Up to 10 TB of storage
- Snapshots and versioning
It’s time for the final verdict: is Backblaze worth your time and money? That depends on your needs, mostly. If you want to have unlimited backup and never worry about storage space, alternatives such as Carbonite are a lot more expensive without offering anything special to compensate.
We also have to give Backblaze credit for its excellent security features (minus how private encryption keys are handled) and overall ease of use. Bonus features such as Backblaze B2 cloud storage, the ability to locate lost devices, and physical drive shipping for restoration purposes are just icing on the cake. Backblaze’s biggest weaknesses are supporting only one device per license and having a rudimentary mobile app.
To summarize: If you’re looking for unlimited online storage, Backblaze is the way to go. Otherwise, we feel that other options, such as IDrive and pCloud, offer more bang for your buck, but you may need local backup, too.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. You can get private encryption keys as well as two-factor and biometric authentication. Check our review for more details about Backblaze, including the pricing.
Thirty days. Your files are technically stored indefinitely, but the oldest copies of duplicate files are deleted once a month.
Yes. In addition to unlimited storage for backups, all Backblaze users also get access to 10 GB of B2 cloud storage. The trial account also comes with 10 GB of storage, so you can test out all the features before making a purchase.
Yes. Backblaze stores older copies of your files for up to 30 days. Should you become a victim of a ransomware attack, you can quickly restore that data online or request a physical drive for recovery purposes through the Restore Return Refund program.
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