Get 3 free months of Backblaze cloud backup

by Philip Rothman on December 10, 2016 · 6 comments

in Opinion

It’s time to start thinking about those new year’s resolutions. One resolution that many computer users have is to get serious about backing up their files.

It’s inevitable that storage media will fail. It might not happen today, tomorrow, or in many years, but there may come a day where your reliable hard drive doesn’t play so nice anymore. And Murphy’s Law says that day will be the day before the deadline on your major commissioned orchestra piece, or the day of your recording session.

Even in the era of solid-state drives, it’s clear that they can fail, too, albeit in different ways than older-style spinning platter hard drives.

So why not act on that resolution early and make a backup plan? The first step, of course, is to make a local backup, like with Apple’s Time Machine, included in the Mac OS, or the Backup and Restore tools in Windows.

But a key element of any modern backup strategy is a good cloud backup service. There are several out there, but the one I’ve used for several years and trusted my files to is Backblaze. For $5/month, it will back up all — yes, all — the files on your computer, including documents, photos, music and movies, without restrictions on the number of files, other than operating system, applications, or temporary files. It will also back up any external drives connected to your computer.

Backblaze, a service for both Mac and PC users, is incredibly simple. You install it and it backs up your files continuously. That’s it, unless you tell it otherwise (you can optionally set it to backup once per day or manually). The first backup will take a while — perhaps several days so if you have lots of files to back up. But after that, incremental backups will be fast.

You just use your computer normally, and Backblaze will automatically back up files on an ongoing basis. It will detect when your network connection is idle and make the most of that time to back up, and will throttle itself to tack a back seat while your network usage is heavy, so that you’re not delayed when actively uploading and downloading files.

You can always see your status via a menu bar or your system preferences.

It’s important to note that Backblaze is not designed as an online storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive — those services are intended largely as way to sync active files among many computers or devices, and to share and collaborate on them easily. In contrast, Backblaze is a true “set it and forget it” service. You hope that you never need it, but it’s there in case you do.

Even so, there is a modest versioning feature, which can be very helpful: Backblaze will keep versions of a file that changes for up to 30 days. Just remember, Backblaze is not designed as an additional storage system when you run out of space; it’s intended to mirror whatever is on your drive. If you delete your data, it will be deleted from Backblaze after 30 days.

OK, so what happens if that fateful day arrives and you need to restore your files?

Say you’ve got a fairly recent local backup of your drive and only need a few files, or you’re away from your computer and need to access a file that you don’t have in a Dropbox or similar sharing service. You can easily log in to Backblaze either from a computer or from a mobile device and request the file(s) you need. Once you do so, you’ll get an e-mail notifying you that your files will be available to download. I’ve used this option several times and it works very well.

If you have a lot of files you need to restore, and they can fit onto a 128 GB USB flash drive, Backblaze will send you the drive for $99. If you have up to 4 TB of data you need, you’ll get a USB hard drive for $189. You can keep the drive or return it. If you decide to return it, Backblaze will refund the charge, less shipping costs. I’ve thankfully never needed this service, but I sleep better knowing it exists.

Encryption is built into Backblaze at every level when you select a private key to secure your data. If you want an additional level of privacy, you can select a passphrase that is known only to you. If you lose or forget the passphrase, no one, including Backblaze, can recover it for you.

Backblaze’s approach to cloud backup might not suit everyone out there, but its combination of simplicity, unlimited storage, and low cost have made me a satisfied user.

That low cost gets even lower if you sign up by clicking on this link, or on any of the others in this post. That’s because from now until January 7, 2017, if you’re a new Backblaze customer and you purchase a Personal backup license, you’ll get three months credit applied to your Backblaze account.

Now, my reasons for writing this post aren’t entirely altruistic, because as much as I want you to have a reliable cloud backup solution and get three months of it free, if you sign up, I’ll also get three months of Backblaze free. Think of it as if we’re exchanging holiday gifts, or if you like, a way of getting a good deal and supporting this blog in the process.

In any case, whether you sign up for Backblaze or not, we spend an awful lot of time on this blog discussing ways to make our music creations as nice as possible. Those creations are stored as computer files — make sure you’ve been backing them up!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed Hirschman December 10, 2016 at 5:05 PM

Hi Philip,

The proof of these systems is not in the backup, but in the restore. I’ve had (and heard) of a few that have failed miserably right when you need them. Have you done a mass restore with this service yet? Dropbox is the only one that has earned my trust so far, and it does more than backup as you know.

Cheers,

Ed

Reply

Philip Rothman December 10, 2016 at 5:14 PM

Hi Ed, I haven’t done a mass restore with Backblaze. I do check from time to time if all the files are being backed up that should be, and everything has appeared as I’ve expected.

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David January 23, 2017 at 3:23 PM

Dropbox isn’t a true backup service; it’s a file synchronization service. Dropbox saves previous versions of files for only one year.[1] So if you use Dropbox for “backups”, be sure to check every one of your important files at least once per year to see if any have become corrupted or been accidentally deleted, and if they have, perform a restore before Dropbox deletes their copies. Have fun!

[1] https://www.dropbox.com/en/help/113

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Carl-Henrik Buschmann December 10, 2016 at 6:59 PM

Just want to give jottacloud.com a shout-out (and here comes the obligatory non-affiliated thing: not affiliated). I have it backing up my main iMac and thunderbolt pegasus (3.5tb(!) worth) and never ever had a issue getting single files/whole folder/whole drives back. Worth checking out.

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Terence Jones December 10, 2016 at 7:06 PM

I personally have a Crashplan subscription as my primary backup solution, but I also have a Dropbox subscription for backing up my day to day work files amongst other things. That Dropbox folder also backs up to Crashplan and I try to make regular backups of everything to an external HDD as often as possible… you can never be cautious enough. ;)

Reply

Philip Rothman December 10, 2016 at 7:08 PM

Indeed!

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