Backblaze Review

We geeks sure love our clouds. Storage, streaming, computing – the modern world offers more cloud-based solutions than the entire Final Fantasy franchise combined. Our Backblaze review is here to present one of the better options in a very saturated market. 

Backblaze’s main claim to fame is that it provides unlimited storage space, but the company has other tricks up its sleeve as well. An incredibly simple and mostly automated backup procedure, competitive pricing, and some very useful bonus features all work together to create an excellent offering 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.

Key features:

  • Unlimited storage capacity
  • Excellent third party integrations
  • Physical hard drive shipping for restoration purposes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • No file size limitations
  • Simple and intuitive to use
  • Great file sharing options
  • Licenses are for one device only

Main Features

Creating Backups

First things first: Backblaze’s backup capacities are unlimited, and they have no file-size limits. That said, each license provides support for just one device. You can inherit previous backup states on new devices or delete old backups and transfer licenses, but in order to actively sync multiple devices, you’ll need to pay for several licenses.

The backup procedure is about as simple as it gets. The initial backup is automatic. It begins as soon as you register, download the app, and enter your Backblaze login details. After the initial Backblaze hard drive review, the software starts the online backup procedure immediately.

By default, the initial backup won’t include system directories such as i386, MSOCache, Program Files, Recycle Bin, and Windows. And you’ll have to add extensions manually for virtual drives and system files like .iso and .msi. That said, you’re free to tweak the Exclusions menu, adding or removing any file types or folders you wish. You can even limit the file size for your uploads, all the way down to a minimum of 5 MB per file.

Backblaze review creating backups step 1

Backblaze review creating backups step 2

Restoring Files

After creating your first Backblaze online backup, you can restore files from the cloud through the web interface or the mobile app. The interface allows you to search for files by name or simply browse through the list – much like File Explorer in Windows. You can also set a specific time to help locate specific file versions, and even view hidden files.

Files can be downloaded directly to your device or shipped to you on physical media – USB flash or physical hard drive – through the Restore Return Refund program. You can also put them on B2, Backblaze’s cloud storage platform, in order to share them more easily with others. We’ll talk more about each of these options in the Additional Features section.

Like all good cloud backup services, Backblaze supports file versioning. Like Carbonite and pCloud, it is sensitive to time rather than the number of older file versions available. 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 time-stamped and stored indefinitely. Just remember that unlike Backblaze, B2 has storage limits (10 GB for Backblaze users by default), so this option is best used for smaller files such as text documents.

File Sharing

In order to compete with the best online storage solutions these days, you need to have a competitive file sharing platform as well. 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 very simple, but it does require logging in through the web portal, which is a bit annoying. From the View/Restore section you will 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 compare, say, pCloud or IDrive vs Backblaze, pCloud and IDrive allow a Google Drive level of 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 to them. That’s great for sharing your music collection; not so much for sensitive documents.

Transfer Speed

An important factor when picking a cloud backup service is how much of a pain the backup process will be, especially if you are backing up very large files. Our Backblaze review 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: 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. Backblaze also got trounced in both speed categories by pCloud, which managed 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, it’s a small victory for Backblaze. Luckily, you can still take advantage of physical drive shipping for speeding up the download process, but your initial backups may take quite a while.

Security and Privacy

Transfer speeds are all well and nice, but security is one of the key features that makes or breaks cloud storage services these days. While Backblaze has some excellent security features across the board, there is also one questionable decision that we’ll have to address.

Let’s start with the good things. Backblaze encryption uses a hybrid encryption 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, which is largely impossible considering that they change with each login session. The company also offers users the option of getting a private encryption key, and it features biometric as well as two-factor authentication options for mobile devices.

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 a less-than-ideal solution.

In terms of privacy, Backblaze implements the standard stuff that you’ll find with almost every online backup service these days. You can review what Backblaze collects in detail by reading its Privacy Policy and Data Processing Agreement documents. In short, it will be any data that you supply, including your email address and phone number. They’ll also know the number and size of your uploaded files 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.

User Experience

Installation Process

Backblaze is one of the best cloud storage providers for people who like keeping things simple. In order to get your first backup under way, 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.

Web Interface

We’ve mentioned earlier in our Backblaze backup review that the company’s design logic privileges simplicity over aesthetics. Although somewhat Spartan, the web 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. Backing up files requires downloading an app for your computer or mobile device.

Backblaze review web interface

Desktop App

Design is one area where Backblaze won’t win any best cloud backup awards. While everything is functional, the color scheme and overall design scream late 1990s. That said, there is a kind of beauty in its simplicity, and the desktop app provides a much-needed feature 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 set computer and internet usage. You can speed up 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 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.

Backblaze review schedule backup

Mobile App

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 cloud backup supports only one device per license. Further, 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 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.

Additional Features

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 more easily.

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, they won’t get deleted unless you do it manually.

In addition to the 10 GB of storage that are included when you sign up for Backblaze, every additional GB of storage will cost $0.005 per month, while increasing your download capacity will set you back  $0.01 per GB per month.

Restore Return Refund

Even the best online backup speeds won’t cut it when you want to create very large backups and don’t want to spend days doing it. That’s why it’s unfortunate that Backblaze only provides its physical drive shipping service for the purpose of file restoration, but not initial backups. You can choose between a USB flash drive of up to 256 GB for $99 or an external hard drive for $189.

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 to pay for saving yourself the headache of restoring your backups at Backblaze’s less-than-impressive download speeds.

Locate My Computer

Earlier in our Backblaze review, we mentioned that the company provides an unlikely service. Utilizing your IP address and location services, it can help locate a stolen or lost device. It can also help police identify potential thieves through images and videos that they may upload automatically without realizing it (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.

Customer Support

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 good for email support. If you need help immediately, reach out to the live chat operators. They work in two shifts from Monday to Friday: 9 a.m.- noon and 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. Pacific time.

Pricing Plans

Like everything else about Backblaze, the pricing plans are simple and 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 biyearly 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 $6 per month, $60 per year, or $110 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.

Alternatives

Backblaze is a great service, but it certainly has stiff competition. You can read our IDrive and pCloud reviews or check out the table below for a quick overview of what the competition has to offer.

How Does GlassWire Compare to Others?

backblaze logo Backblaze review
  • Unlimited storage capacity
  • Excellent third party integrations
  • Physical hard drive shipping for restoration purposes
Price $Free/6
spideroak logo backblaze review
  • Top-of-the-line security
  • Reliable backup
Price $69/year
idrive logo backblaze review
  • Full-disk image backup
  • free disk shipping on demand
Price $69.50/year

Conclusion

Having come to the end of our Backblaze review, it’s time for the verdict: Is it worth your time and money? That depends on your needs, mostly. If you want to 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 the way 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.

Things we liked / disliked:

  • No file size limitations
  • Simple and intuitive to use
  • Great file sharing options
  • Licenses are for one device only

FAQ

Is Backblaze secure?

You can get private encryption keys as well as two-factor and biometric authentication. Check our review for details.

Is Backblaze really unlimited?

In addition to unlimited storage for backups, all Backblaze users also get access to 10 GB of B2 cloud storage.

How long does Backblaze keep my files?

Your files are technically stored indefinitely, but the oldest copies of duplicate files are deleted once a month.

Does backblaze protect against ransomware?

We mentioned in our Backblaze review that Backblaze stores older copies of your files for up to 30 days. Should you become a victim of a ransomware attack, you can easily restore that data online or request a physical drive for recovery purposes through the Restore Return Refund program.