Test driving Backblaze online backup for Mac

I have been testing various online backup solutions for home.  I really like the peer to peer backup solution , though I’ve yet to take up my buddy’s offer to host my backup drive at his house…  Speaking of, I guess I need a larger backup drive.  So, in the meantime, I’ve been looking at new options that come online.  Backblaze is one of those solutions which has been around for the PC world for a while now, but they have a new Mac client.  (Sorry PowerPC folks – Intel only).  I downloaded and setup a trial account today.

The trial period is only 15 days, but you get the full experience of Backblaze for those 15 days.  It is a true trial as opposed to a solution like Mozy which offers free accounts for up to 2G of data. 

The installation was very simple.  The client integrates with your system preferences, just like Time Machine, and the options are very straight forward to configure.  Out of the box (err, disk image), the software automatically eliminates some of the common areas and attempts to backup just your data.  Folders on the Mac HD like System and some of the hidden OS folders are auto-magically excluded from backup.  You can manually go in and configure additional locations – like your movie library in iTunes which would take forever to backup.

Also out of the box, Backblaze sets the schedule for backup to be contiuous.  That is a nice feature that many higher-end softwares include, but few inteded for home-use include.  Backblaze also included bandwidth allocation so that you can throttle the backup traffic so you don’t saturate your upstream.

Privacy is always a big concern and Backblaze takes that into account with their private encryption key.  The private encryption key is used backup the files with AES (“military grade”) encryption before transmitting the files over SSL.  Backblaze also includes a web front-end to restore files.  When you login to the restore portal, you also have to supply the private encryption key to view the files available for restore.

And speaking of restore, there is one key differentiator for Backblaze versus Mozy.  Backblaze offers users 3 options for restoration.  Users can zip and download their files as option 1, they can request that their files be burned to a DVD and shipped as option 2 or finally they can request their files be delievered on a 500GB external hard drive.  The second two options come at a premium price, but this is a service that a business or a home office professional must have.  Many cannot afford to be without their files for several days while they download from the restoration portal.

Even though the Mac verison of the sofware is still considered beta software, so far, it is working well.  The only gotcha that I have encountered involved conflicting agendas between my Norton Antivirus and Backblaze.  Backblaze was driving Norton’s AutoProtect crazy.  It has locked up my dual-core Intel MacBook Pro several times before I figured out that AutoProtect was maxing out the CPU trying to scan the files being transmitted.

Oh, and one more thing – pricing.  As of right now, you can get a year’s worth of unlimited backup for $50 per computer  if you pay annually.  That’s not a bad deal.  Otherwise, I believe they are offering it for just $5 per month per computer.

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Author Information

Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at Techazine.com.

8 Responses to “Test driving Backblaze online backup for Mac”

  1. I just wanted to add to the restore part regarding Mozy… they also offer a DVD restoration option:

    DVD Restore via FedEx — Have your restored files delivered to you on DVDs. Please allow 2-5 business days for order processing, and an additional 24 hours for shipping. A shipping and processing fee will be charged to your credit card on file.

    DVD Restore (Recommended for large restores)

    When restoring large amounts of data, avoid long download times and slow connection speeds by ordering a DVD restore. MozyHome will recover your data and burn it to CDs within 3-5 business days, then ship your DVDs via FedEx Next Day delivery.

    Please be aware that the current FedEx Next Day shipping rate will be charged to your credit card, as well as a $29.95 processing fee plus $0.50 per GB of data.

    So if I had to do a full restore of my laptop (87.8 GB), I’d be looking at a $73.85 charge. Any idea what Backblaze’s rates are for this option? And what about the drive… I assume it’s USB. Do you return it when done, or do you keep it? Cost?

    May 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm Reply
    • Philip #

      Very nice site by the way… Anyone looking for information about online backup services should check out Online Backups Review!

      May 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm Reply
  2. Philip #

    Good questions… I should have noted this. I thought their restore options (while good) were pricey. $99 for a DVD (limited to around 4.5GB) and then $189 for the external hard drive (max of 500GB). The external option notes that you’ll receive a drive large enough to hold your backup. It doesn’t say whether or not you must return the drive. So, sounds like Mozy wins on that. I didn’t know they now offer an offline restore option – that is good information. I have an active Mozy account that I might finally use knowing that. I just wish that one of these online solutions had the ability to do a local initial backup and ship them a drive rather than having to backup online and take days for your initial to complete!

    May 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm Reply
  3. Jane #

    Nice article!! Yes I agree, online backup is a life saving technology. One thing you forgot to mention is that, some of the online backup providers allow you to backup USB, External and network drives. For instance, I use SafeCopy backup (www.safecopybackup.com) and it allows me to do so. I can also use one account to backup both my Pc and Mac with very reasonable price.I love it!!

    May 4, 2009 at 4:35 am Reply
  4. Hey Philip,

    I think what you just described is what IDrive features with their IDrive Portable drive. I’ve got one of these (somewhere… it’s so small I’ve lost it on my desk!) but haven’t worked with it yet. I’ll be doing an in-depth review of the IDrive portable soon.

    May 4, 2009 at 9:51 am Reply
  5. brentvw #

    Hi I thought I would share this recent comparison on Backblaze vs Mozy for PC

    http://brentvw.blogspot.com/2009/10/pc-computer-backup-mozy-is-superior-to.html

    October 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm Reply

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