June 1, 2014

Backblaze – online backup system for your data

Backblaze is part of my back-up system which I use to ensure that data loss just isn’t going to happen. For me, it isn’t the only thing I rely on sure my data is safe.  There are a number of things I have in place for my overall workflow to make sure I don’t sadly cry when a hard drive dies on me.

I’ve posted a few times now about back-up plans for disaster …

… and Backblaze is an important part of this. And if you don’t have Backblaze, you should most definitely have something similar in place. The monthly cost is so low that it’s just plain willful stupidity to not have an online back-up system in place, and risk data loss.

Now, while I am a fan of Backblaze, there is a definite measure of self-interest in mentioning all this again now. They currently have a refer-a-friend promotion in place. If you click on this link - Backblaze - and sign up, you get a month free, and I get a month free too. I’d like that. And I am quite sure you’d also like the peace of mind knowing that your data is safer than it has ever been. Check it out … and make us both happy.


{ 9 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Jamie June 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

Thank you for this. It’s made me really look at my back up plans.

I’ve noticed that you have a lot of redundancy in your data backup plans, which is really inspiring. The one thing I haven’t noticed (or maybe I’m just overlooking) is what happens if you were to get a virus like cryptolocker or other ransom ware? It runs in the background and encrypts all of your data. Anything you sync to an external device (if it writes over old copies of it at least) or to an online backup will then also be encrypted. The only way of decrypting your data then is to pay the hacker money. I know that you use a Mac and there aren’t as many virus’ out there that affect Mac’s, but they are still there.

Have you considered this possibility of something like this happening? If so, are you doing to prepare for that? If not, is there a part of your plan that could be modified to prepare for this?


2 glandix June 5, 2014 at 10:36 am

I LOVE Backblaze … they’ve saved my butt more times than I’d care to admit … I also have local TimeMachine backups on my home network, but I’ve used Backblaze to restore more files than TM!


3 Joe Schmidt June 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

Hi Neal,
I tried BackBlaze. It didn’t work for me. It was downloading my whole computer and it was going to take about 6 months or more to do it, and it had not even started uploading any NEF’s, which they said would take forever. I have over 100,000 NEF’s. I was in touch with them and they said they were not for me and gave me a pro rated refund. There uploading is very very slow. I’m not sure why.
Have you run into any problems like this? And what are you backing up? Everything on your computer, just NEF’s or JPG’s.


4 Neil vN June 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

My Drobos took about 3 or 4 months to do the initial sync. (RAW + PSD + JPGs … everything.) So yeah, that’s slow because of the sheer volume. After that initial sync though, it runs in the background, and I’m not aware of it.

Ultimately though, if you don’t like Backblaze, there are other options out there – and imho, it makes a lot of sense to have an online backup system of some sort in place.


5 Anthony June 5, 2014 at 11:22 am

I’ve never used Backblaze, but I know they are well regarded and they pioneered the hardware design for their storage which they released publicly for others to use. I personally use Crashplan, which works very well off my Synology NAS drive. Crashplan has an option to send your data to them on a disk drive for initial uploading – it’s pricey to do that, but may be worthwhile if you have slow upload speeds. Other providers have similar options.


6 Paul Kelly June 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Agree 100%. In fact, the pricing of Backblaze and another alternative Crashplan is so (comparatively) low that I actually use BOTH services!. Even if it takes months to finish uploading a backlog, it really doesn’t matter.

One or both of them (I can’t remember which) prioritises on recently created/modified files over older files. This makes things REALLY easy. All you need to do is sort a one-off copy of your whole archive & store that off site temporarily, if you can manage two copies in two different offsite locations then all the better.

So, that’s all the old stuff secured. In the meantime both tools are doing their thing with any new files you’re importing so your /latest/ work is always protected very promptly.

Eventually, all your older data makes it online as well but it really doesn’t matter how long it takes because you already have a couple of copies of it elsewhere anyway. Once it’s all online, you can either re-purpose one of your other offsite copies or, because you haven’t used that disk for some months treat it as a point-in-time copy of your archive & just leave it there to save having to ever download the whole lot from the cloud should you ever be misfortunate enough to suffer a total loss at home/office.

This is besides using Crashplan locally for yet another immediate copy (which covers you from laptop storage failure).

Why am I so manic? I thought I was covered previously – I had one copy of photos on a RAID-5 storage setup and another copy on a USB drive. Sorted, until I suffered a DOUBLE HD failure in the RAID-5 set so lost the lot but that was ok as I had the USB, until I lost it somehow whilst travelling back from visiting my parents in Ireland. I hadn’t got around to making a fresh copy immediately after losing the RAID-5.

I won’t be making that mistake again…



7 Greg June 6, 2014 at 5:43 am

I have had a drive fail for the first time this week. Its an external drive that holds all my Raw files. I can read it, but cant write to it. At the moment my backup is to Time Machine everything to an external drive and store it off site. Not the greatest i know, but suits me for the moment.

I am looking at online backup and will be checking out backblaze..



8 Alwin June 8, 2014 at 5:30 am

I too use 2 online backup services; I use Crashplan and SOS Backup. Both cost only $ 60,00 a year for unlimited backup space. To avoid problems with 2 backup services running at the same time I set up Crashplan to run “real time” and SOS the run manually. So when I finished a job and the photos are ready to archive I just start up SOS and run a manual backup.

SOS Backup have some big advantages for photographers: upload speed is much faster than with Crashplan or with Backblaze. Anyway, in my case. I live in the Netherlands and my ISP gives me an upload speed of 18 Mbps. With Crashplan/Backblaze I reach about 3 Mbps and with SOS it is 14 Mbps (wich means I can upload about 5,5 GB an hour with SOS!!)

Backing up an extrernal drive is also very easy with SOS because it doesn’t matter if you never connect the external drive again, the files just won’t be deleted ever. It’s kind of cold storage, SOS will just never delete any files. This is important to knoew because some backup services delete files from an external drive when the extrernal is not connected for (example) say 30 days or so…

I have spent a lot of time testing different backup services. I hope someone can bennefit from my experiences. You can always ask me questions!

And Neil, you didn’t answer the first questions Jamie yet, concerning malware and how to deal with that? I myself use a separate computer wich is always offline and has just one function: to manage my external hard drives for my onsite backups. This is just a small simpel computer running Linux and I use this offline computer also for my cardreader. This way I have zero changes to get malware (no internet connection) and I always have 2 external drives connected with this offline computer.


9 Neil vN June 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Perhaps foolishly, malware doesn’t concern me as much. I’m very careful about what I install and click on.

And *cough cough* this will get a lot of reaction – I only use Mac computers. They appear to be less vulnerable for various reasons.

Then, with two on-line / off-site backups, I am fairly confident that I would be able to withstand that.

Ultimately, if you look at what is most likely to cause complete havoc, it would be a hard drive crashing on you when you have no other back-up for it. So with duplicate drives, and / or RAID arrays, and / or online backups, you’re much much more safe than without.


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