updated 06:40 am EDT, Mon October 29, 2012
How Backblaze saved me from heartache
Over the weekend I experienced first data loss in some time. However, unlike some data loss experiences, this one ended happily. I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, which is attached to a 3TB Thunderbolt equipped drive, a 3TB Firewire 800 drive and a 500GB mobile Firewire 800 drive piggybacked to that. Realizing that the idea of keeping redundant drives to back up my files was both impractical from a room saving perspective, not to mention costly, I decided to use Backblaze and am very grateful for making that decision.
For quite some time, I had used an Apple Time Capsule 2TB as my data back up solution. I was able to do this as my main hard drive and external hard drives were matched by the capacity of my Time Capsule (Time Machine preferences can indeed be configured to allow this). Although Apple now makes a 3TB model, it is outmatched in capacity by the 256 Flash storage on my MacBook Pro as well as my external drives. I would also have to cough up close to $1000 to continue with this solution, as each 3TB Apple Time Capsule costs $499.
While local back ups are always a nice thing, I also happen to live in a bush fire zone, which means that having all my precious family photos among other very important files stored remotely is an attractive option. I had stumbled across Backblaze in an article that I had read just over a year ago and thought that it looked like a potential solution to my back up conundrum. Its service can be accessed for as little as $3.96/month for unlimited data, which certainly caught my attention, so after a bit more research I decided to give the service a go. (At this price, I could back up my data for around 20 years for the cost of the two Apple Time Capsules).
Backblaze backs up everything on your computer (Mac or PC) and external drives (if selected) except for the OS, apps and temporary files. It involves downloading a small application that then works in the background compressing and encrypting data in small packets that can be sent continuously in the background, or at a selected time. Backups are stored encrypted on Backblaze's remote servers and protected by a private key unique to each user.
The company says that it has developed a unique 'single-read' engine that ensures no slowdown of your computer. It also automatically throttles data to most efficiently use your available bandwidth - the company adds that it the typical home connection can backup between 2 to 4GB per day. This of course means that it can a few weeks for your initial back up to be completed, but once it has done this, you can start to breath easy.
After having paid for the service over the past year or so, I had never had to use it for file recovery until the weekend. Somehow, I managed to delete about 10 - 20 Garageband projects while trying to consolidate them into on folder. Without trying to go into the details of what went wrong or how it went wrong, I calmed myself down by taking some comfort in the fact that these were stored remotely with Backblaze.
While I was waiting for Backblaze to ready my back up of the 500GB Firewire drive, I tried a few Mac recovery software utilities. None of them worked. They all recovered certain file types, but none that I used could also recover .band files. As promised, Backblaze sent me an email when my files were ready to be downloaded (I chose the zipped file option) after I initiated a request. Good to their promise, I was able to recover all the files that I had deleted. While there are many ways to back up your files, I can say that my experience with Backblaze leads me to recommend it to other users. It saved me a whole lot of grief, while the backup and recovery process was highly user friendly and effective.
By Sanjiv Sathiah, News Editor