Cloud Backup Showdown: Azure vs Amazon S3 vs Google Cloud vs Backblaze B2

obrBy Joseph Gildred — Last Updated: 25 Apr'18 2017-04-28T05:22:11+00:00
Generally speaking, here at Cloudwards.net we put most of our focus on personal cloud backup solutions like those featured in our best cloud backup roundup. With regard to businesses, we often look at ideal backup solutions for SMBs and promote tools designed for simplicity, that let entrepreneurs go about the business of being entrepreneurs.

However, there’s a much more complex class of cloud platforms aimed at application developers, enterprises with rigged compliance demands and others with broader technical needs. We’ll be comparing four of the best of these solutions during this head-to-head roundup: Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage and Backblaze B2.

Should you decide to go for either of the first two in the list, we’ve done beginners’ guides for Azure and Amazon S3; we also have a Backblaze review. For more applications aimed at entrepreneurs, check out our best accounting software roundup or our 30 apps for small business article.

Who These Services Are For

Unlike with simplified online backup tools like IDrive and Carbonite, business-class storage allows developers to build on a massive scale. APIs and user-friendly portals are designed to quickly integrate storage with application infrastructure and frontends while multi-regional datacenters decrease latency.

This makes such solutions more equipped for handling media, financial data, scientific data and similar high-demand objects.

Storage platforms like those featured in this article also provides the kind of scalability and cost-control that let developers and enterprises redirect resources to other project demands.

Such flexibility comes from pay-for-what-you-use pricing models. Rather than pay a set subscription fee, there’s a flat rate for however many gigabytes are actually stored during a given month. There are also often usage fees for moving data. Understanding both are key to keeping your storage costs under control.

Another key aspect of storage services like Amazon S3 and Azure is the common use of “storage classes.” Storage classes let you further control costs by assigning data to active or cold storage. With cold storage, you get reduced per-gigabyte costs but increased usage costs. That makes cold storage better suited to archival and disaster recover.

On a final note before we get started, while each of these services is meant for larger projects, you can use them to backup your home computer, too. However, to do so you’ll need to either get technical by designing your own app or using a command line interface, or purchase backup software designed to easily integrate with your storage pick.

For that, we recommend CloudBerry Backup, which you can read all about in our CloudBerry Backup review; the service is also our preferred way to backup Windows Server.

The Battle: Azure vs Amazon S3 vs Google Cloud vs Backblaze B2

Over five rounds of comparisons, we’ll touch on some of the essential costs and capabilities you should know about before forging ahead with your own backup solution.

We’ll spend two rounds unraveling associated costs and three rounds on speed, security and support. While there’s much more to consider before settling on the right tool for you, this roundup will give you the handhold you need to make the smart decision.

Round One: Storage Costs and Classes

The first critical step in weighing storage services requires examining the cost of storage. We’ll break down usage pricing in the next round, but for most people the bulk of costs will come from the base storage fees.

All four featured services offer great scalability by following the monthly cost-per-gigabyte model outlined earlier, which makes comparisons reasonably easy. Variation among the services comes from complexity of storage classes involved and how storing your data in one class versus another impacts rates.

Azure

Azure storage rates change based on how much storage you need, where you’re located, how often you intend to access stored content and what kind of data redundancy you opt for. While complex, the Azure pricing model lets you closely control costs if managed properly.

There are no upfront costs or termination fees. You pay for what you use during a given month.

Regional costs are similar for most areas of the the world, with the exception being South America, where they’re about double the global average.

Here’s a look at the prices for blob storage in a data center in the Eastern U.S.:

 LRS - CoolLRS - HotGRS - CoolGRS - Hot
First 50 TB per month$0.0152$0.0208$0.0334$0.0458
Next 450 TB per month$0.0152$0.0200$0.0334$0.0440
Over 500 TB per month$0.0152$0.0192$0.0334$0.0422

The table above pertains to Azure four common storage classes.

LRS stands for “local redundant storage.” With this class, multiple, synchronous copies of your data are kept in a single data center.

GRS, meanwhile, is short for “geographically redundant storage.” If you go with GRS, a second synchronized set of your data is stored in another data center hundreds of miles away. GRS provides an added layer of redundancy and means faster access times for people in different parts of the world.

“Hot” storage is for users who intend to access their data more frequently, while “cool” storage is meant for archival and disaster recovery. While per gigabyte storage costs are higher with hot storage than with cool storage, access and transaction costs, which we’ll discuss in the next round, are lower.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 provides much of the same flexibility for scaling your storage needs as Azure. You’re charged for what you’re used and there are no upfront or termination fees.

The biggest differences between the two are that Amazon S3 doesn’t have multi-regional storage like Azure but provides an a middle-tier class between standard and archival storage called “standard-infrequent access.”

Here’s a look at the storage costs for the U.S. East (North Virginia) region:

TierStandard per gigabyteStandard - infrequent access per gigabyte
First 50 TB / month$0.023$0.0125
Next 450 TB / month$0.022$0.0125
Over 500 TB / month$0.021$0.0125

Charges vary slightly by region, even within the same country. However, most cost differences from one region to another are within a few pennies. As with Azure, the lone exception is South America, which costs considerably higher.

Amazon S3 also has a lower tier of pricing for each of these classes that falls under what Amazon calls “reduced redundancy storage” (RRS). This option is for non-critical data only, since the decrease in redundancy increases the chances of permanent data loss.

Standard storage is for data that requires frequent access. For data that’s not actively touched — perhaps just once a month — you can transfer it to “infrequent access.” Access rates, as we’ll see, are higher but storage costs are lower. Note that there’s a 128KB minimum object size for infrequent access storage. You can store smaller objects but you’ll be billed at 128KB.

For data you don’t need active access to, Amazon Glacier provides some of the lowest rates you’ll find. With Glacier, you can only put data in and take it out (for more information on this, check out best backup tools for Amazon Glacier). However, that will do fine for archival and disaster recovery needs.

Google Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Storage provides a nice mix of the storage class options offered by Azure and Amazon, making it somewhat more scalable than either. This includes multi-regional and regional options, a mid-range access option called “nearline” and Glacier-like archival option called “coldline.”

 Multi-regional per GBRegional per GBNearline per GBColdline per GB
General pricing$0.026$0.020$0.010$0.007
Tokyo pricingN/A$0.023$0.016$0.010

One thing of note is that Google Storage takes a simpler approach than Azure and S3 by mostly nixing variable pricing by region and tiered-pricing based on total gigabytes stored. There are only two options: Tokyo pricing for Northeast Asia and general pricing for everywhere else. You get charged the same rate regardless of whether your store 50GB or 1000TB.

We prefer the simplicity of this approach, particularly since Google Cloud’s regional rates are roughly equal to the regional rates of both Azure and S3 for those storing over 500TB per month.

Google’s multi-regional storage class adds the advantages of geo-redundancy to your content. It’s best for content that will be actively used around the world, like video streaming.

Regional storage means your data will only be stored in servers near you geographically. It’s best for projects like data analytics.

Nearline storage is designed for content you only need to access infrequently, more in line with traditional backup, while coldline storage is best for archives and disaster recovery.

As with both Azure and Amazon S3, there are no fees to start using or cancel the service. You’re charged only for how much data you store.

Backblaze B2

Backblaze is known for simplicity and the company follows suit with its B2 cloud storage pricing. The general costs are much easier to parse than the other three services covered in this article.

There’s just one class of storage and it only costs $0.005 cents per gigabyte per month. That’s only a penny more per gigabyte than Amazon Glacier and substantially cheaper than every other class we’ve looked at so far.

Aside from being dirt cheap, another advantage of this pricing model is that you don’t have to manage data as much to reduce costs; there’s no need to shift data from an active storage class to an archival class, for example.

There are no upfront costs, either. As with the other services, you can get started with a free account and add your credit card information once you eclipse the 10GB free storage allotment Backblaze gives you.

The downside to going with B2 is that there are no regional options. Uploaded data is stored in multiple copies and on multiple servers but all within the same data center in Sacramento, California.

That likely means slower file transfer speeds for people in other parts of the world, particularly outside the U.S.

Round One Thoughts

Backblaze doesn’t have the class options for scalability but it doesn’t need them because it’s so cheap. While there are reasons to go with the other three services if you’re developing an application or have employees accessing your data around the globe, B2’s affordability earns it the win for round one.

For those who need more powerful, multi-regional storage, though, let’s look at the pricing of the other three services again, this time side-by-side.

We’ll narrow the view by just taking the rates for less than 50TB of storage (not that it makes a difference with Google Cloud Storage). Bear in mind that for Azure and Amazon S3, these are East Coast U.S. costs and for Google Cloud, they’re general costs.

 Multi-regionalRegionalCold storage
Azure$0.0458$0.0208$0.0152
Amazon S3N/A$0.023$0.004
Google Cloud$0.026$0.020$0.007
Backblaze B2N/A$0.005N/A

Simplification aside, this table should give you a better idea of how these services compare. Overall, Azure is the most expensive due to the high cost of its archival option.

While Amazon S3’s Glacier option is $0.003 less than Google Cloud coldline, its standard option is $0.03 more. Also, Amazon S3 doesn’t have a multiregional option, while Google Cloud has one that’s just $0.026 per gigabyte.

Based on these considerations, for users who need more than what you get with Backblaze B2, Google Cloud is our round one runner up.

Round One Winner: Backblaze B2

Round Two: Usage Costs

For many, the bulk of the costs associated with cloud storage will be almost entirely attributed to the per-gigabyte storage costs. However, each of these services also charges for usage, which includes data manipulation operations (i.e., PUT, COPY, POST, LIST) and data movement (i.e., uploading, downloading and transferring).

If you intend to access your stored content frequently, which likely includes building an application that accesses and processes stored data, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with these costs.

Azure

Azure bills usage for operations and data write and retrieval. Operations are billed at per 10,000 transactions, while write and retrieval are billed per gigabyte.

 LRS - CoolLRS - HotGRS - CoolGRS - Hot
Write per GB$0.0025Free$0.005Free
Retrieval per GB$0.01Free$0.01Free

As you can see, both write and retrievals are free for LRS-HOT and GRS-HOT storage. Free retrievals, especially, are noteworthy because most other services charge.

Here’s a look at other operational costs when using Azure.

 LRS-CoolLRS-HotGRS-CoolGRS-Hot
PUT Blob/Block, LIST, Create container operations$0.100$0.050$0.200$0.100
All other operations except Delete, which is free$0.010$0.004$0.010$0.004
Geo-replication data transfer (per GB)N/AN/A$0.020$0.020

Usage costs for cool storage are roughly twice that of hot storage, which is why for active storage projects, you’ll want to keep your data hot.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 usage pricing is extremely complex depending on what you’re doing and with what type of storage class you’re working with. We won’t cover every single aspect but will instead focus on the most pertinent charges in order to simplify comparisons to the other services.

However, you can find a full accounting of charges on the Amazon S3 pricing page.

The costs we’ll be looking at pertain to the U.S. East (North Virginia) region but are similar for most server locations around the globe.

We’ll start with data write and retrieval costs for standard storage. Uploads to Amazon S3 are free. Retrieval from Amazon S3 Standard Storage is based on how much you retrieve each month.

First 1GB per monthFree
Up to 10TB per month$0.090 per GB
Next 40 TB per month$0.085 per GB
Next 100 TB per month$0.070 per GB
Next 350 TB per month$0.050 per GB

Data retrieval costs for standard – infrequent access and Glacier are priced differently. Data retrieval from infrequent access costs $0.01 per gigabyte per month.

Glacier retrieval typically takes longer to process and charges extra for expedited retrieval.

Retrieval levelProcess timeCost per GB
Expedited1 - 5 minutes$0.03 per GB
Standard3 - 5 hours$0.01 per GB
Bulk5 - 12 hours$0.0025 per GB

Operational costs for data manipulations and transfers between classes (for example, from Standard Storage to Glacier) are mostly billed per 1,000 requests.

 StandardStandard - infrequent accessAmazon Glacier
PUT, COPY, POST, LIST requests$0.005 per 1,000 requests$0.01 per 1,000 requestsN/A
GET, all other requests$0.004 per 1,000 requests$0.01 per 10,000 requestsN/A
Lifecycle transitionN/A$0.01 per 1,000 requests$0.05 per 1,000 requests

In the table above, “lifecycle transition” refers to transfer from one class into another. So, for example, it costs $0.05 per 1,000 requests to transfer data into Glacier. There can be any amount of gigabytes moved per request.

As you can see, the costs for transactions when dealing with data stored in standard – infrequent access are quite a bit higher than working with data in standard. In Glacier, meanwhile, most transactions are prohibited.

Google Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Storage makes up for the relative simplicity of its base storage pricing with a transactional pricing that outpaces Amazon S3’s in terms of complexity. So you can better understand the costs relative to the competition, we’ll break things down as simply as we can.

Google refers to data writes, or uploads, as “ingress” and data retrievals, or downloads, as “egress” in their pricing model. The costs in the below table are for multi-regional and regional storage for U.S.-based customers. Note that “ingress” costs apply worldwide except for Australia and China (minus the Hong Kong SAR), these two have special pricing.

 Network ingressNetwork egress</strongNetwork egress (China)</strongNetwork egress (Australia)</strong
0-1 TB</strongFree$0.12 per GB$0.23$0.19
1-10 TB</strongFree$0.11 per GB$0.22$0.18
10+ TB</strongFree$0.08 per GB$0.20$0.15

Retrieval costs for nearline storage are billed at $0.01 per gigabyte. Coldline retrievals cost $0.05 per gigabyte.

Other usage operations are charged variable rates and per 10,000 operations. There are two different classifications for grouping charges: “Class A” and “Class B.” There’s also a small subset of free operations like deletions.

 Class A (per 10,000 operations)Class B (per 10,000 operations)
Multi-regional and regional$0.05$0.004
Nearline$0.10$0.01
Coldline$0.10$0.05

Operations are quite a bit more expensive for nearline and coldline, although you can perform them on coldline storage, which you can’t with Amazon Glacier. A breakdown of which operations fall into which class can be found on this page.

Backblaze B2

As with its base-storage charges, Backblaze B2 keeps things simple with how usage is charged.

Here’s everything you need to know in a nutshell:

DownloadUploadTransactions
$0.05 per GBFree$0.004 per 10,000 downloads $0.004 per 1,000 other transactions

The $0.004 per 10,000 downloads charge is in addition to the charge for $0.05 per gigabyte but it shouldn’t increase the total cost much. The first 1GB of data downloaded each day with Backblaze B2 is free. Beyond that, there’s really nothing to explain.

Round Two Thoughts

To figure out which service offers the most value, let’s start with upload and download costs and just look at each service’s basic storage option.

 UploadDownload
AzureFreeFree
Amazon S3Free$0.09 per GB (below 10TB)
Google Cloud StorageFree$0.11 per GB (below 10TB)
Backblaze B2Free$0.05 per GB

Azure’s free data retrievals stands out and helps make up for the high archival storage costs we saw in round one. While free is best, we also like the fact that Backblaze B2 charges half of what Amazon and Google charge.

We won’t compare every single operation charge for these four services but let’s look at some baseline rates for standard storage.

 Rate rangePer request amount
Azure$0.04 - $0.0510,000
Amazon S3$0.004 - $0.0051,000
Google Cloud Storage$0.04 - $0.0510,000
Backblaze B2$0.001,000

As you can see, operational charges are basically the same for each service. With nothing more to add to the conversation, Azure’s free downloads wins this round.

Round Two Winner: Azure

Round Three: Backup Speed

When you’re running full backups or working with large files, file transfers to the cloud can take a long time. If speed is of the essence to you, you’ll want to pay attention to this next round.

Speed Comparison Tests

We’ll ran all four services through a few basic speed tests to see how each performed against the others. These tests were conducted with a 496MB compressed folder comprised of multiple different file types.

Our test location was just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Tests were performed over a WiFi network with Internet speeds of 39 Mbps downloading and 12 Mbps uploading at the time the they were run.

Because Amazon S3, Azure, Google Cloud and B2 aren’t designed to upload and download files without help, we integrated each of them with CloudBerry Backup first.

For each integration, we kept the settings the same while going through the CloudBerry Backup wizard process. We opted for block-level backup and file compression to maximize speed but otherwise left everything alone.

Additionally, we tagged only our test file for backup. This approach helped eliminate the noise of other backup activities to ensure the numbers we monitored were only for our test file.

Once setup, we initiated backup immediately and used the “backup plans” tab of CloudBerry Backup to monitor progress. In the following image, you can see how the software displays the file upload speeds in MB/s and Mbps.

While it also displays elapsed time, this number is a bit inaccurate as CloudBerry Backup spent about a minute preparing a VSS snapshot of the partition and analyzing our test file in each case before the backup began.

So, we waited until the compressed folder we had prepared, “cloudspeedtest(2).zip,” started uploading. Here are the results:

 Amazon S3AzureGoogle CloudBackBlaze B2
Upload5:307:007:306:30
MB/S1.51.31.21.4
Mbps11.611.110.911.4

Round Three Thoughts

All four services performed well, particularly compared to consumer backup services like IDrive and CrashPlan or cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive, which typically upload at around 1MB/s.

For our tests, though, Amazon S3 came out on top, followed by BackBlaze B2.

We should mention that at any given time, these tests could have come out differently. The numbers were so close that Amazon S3’s win probably shouldn’t be the deciding factor in choosing it over another service.

Round Three Winner: Amazon S3

Round Four: Support

During round four, we’ll touch on customer support resources offered by our featured services. All four services reviewed offer basic support for free and premium support for developers and production environments.

We’ll compare costs and examine availability, channels and online resources for each.

Azure

In addition to the basic, free support, Azure gives you the option of paying for one of four levels of advanced support.

Free support gives you access to 24/7 help for billing and online resources for everything else. Added perks for the three paid support levels are broken down in the table below.

 DeveloperStandardProfessional Direct
Monthly cost$29$300$1,000
Tech supportBusiness hours24/724/7
Response time for critical issues< 8 hours< 2 hours< 1 hour
Account managementNoNoYes
Advisory servicesNoNoYes

Technical support provided also pertains to non-Microsoft technologies running on Azure.

There’s also “premier support” package that covers all Microsoft products, has rapid response (below 15 minutes) and personal account management and advisory services. Pricing for premier support is only available via quote.

Regardless of which support plan you choose, access to Azure support runs through the Azure portal. The support center is well-designed with resources like tutorials and how-to articles to get started and work through basic issues.

The support center also gives you direct access to dedicated space in the MSDN, Stackoverflow.com and Serverfault.com forums, where you can touch base with IT professionals and developers.

Along the right side of the portal, you can click on “new support request” to open a ticket.

All support begins with a ticket. Azure doesn’t offer live chat or telephone support. However, given the severity of your issue, support may escalate to a live conversation if it helps resolve things more quickly.

There’s also a section to check resource and service health, plus link called “advisor” you can follow to get recommendations.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 also offers a basic, free support plan and three paid tiers.

Free support gets you 24/7 access to customer support for basic inquiries and billing issues. You can also visit Amazon’s support portal for access to documentation, white papers and forums.

You also get access to health status and notifications services to keep tabs on your storage plus four core “Trusted Advisor” checks. AWS Trusted Advisor intelligently scans your infrastructure and makes recommendations for process improvements.

The three paid tiers offers a range of additional support advantages. The following table details some of the more important ones.

 DeveloperBusinessEnterprise
Monthly costFrom $29From $100From $15,000
Technical supportBusiness hours24x724x7
Response time for critical issues< 12 hours< 1 hour< 15 minutes
Architectural supportBest practiceUse-caseConsultations
Third-party software supportNoYesYes
Operations supportNoNoReviews and reporting
Health supportPersonal health dashboardPersonal health dashboard and health APIsPersonal health dashboard and health APIs
Trusted advisor checksFourAccess to all checksAccess to all checks

Technical support for the developer support plan is available via email only and puts you in contact with a cloud support associate. Business and enterprise technical support include live chat and telephone support, too. Plus, you’ll be dealing with more experienced cloud support engineers instead of associates.

Note that technical support turnaround times are based on severity. So, for example, general knowledge inquires always have a 24 hour response time.

Support for Amazon S3 is run through a central support portal. There, you’ll find notes on current issues and be able to create and monitor help desk tickets.

Along the right side of the support portal are links for documentation, technical FAQs, the forums and a knowledge base, among other options.

The knowledge center is more of an FAQ portal covering all AWS topics. Go to documentation if you want a more in depth look at Amazon S3 and other AWS services.

The forums, meanwhile, are a good resource for development advice thanks to subsections devoted to Java, Python, .NET, PHP and other languages. Sometimes the best advice comes through crowdsourcing.

Google Cloud Storage

Support with Google Cloud Storage follows the path laid out by Azure and Amazon S3: You get free (bronze) support for billing inquires but technical support requires some money.

You can also access Google’s support center for free, where you’ll find basic FAQs, detailed documentation, tutorials and community forums. One advantage of going with Google Cloud is that Google remains a very popular product with developers and has one of the most active community bases of any cloud service.

Google also does a great job with building out robust tutorial libraries. And, of course, those libraries are searchable.

Here’s a look at what additional advantages you get by paying for support:

 SilverGoldPlatinum
Monthly cost$150Starts at $400By quote only
Technical supportBusiness hours24/7 (critical issues only)24/7
Response time for critical issues4 business hours1 hour15 minutes
Phone supportNoYesYes
Architecture supportBest practiceUse-caseUse-case
ConsultationsNoYesYes
Technical account managementNoNoYes

Costs for gold and platinum support are minimum costs. There are usage-based rates that are a percentage of how much you’re spending on Google Cloud Storage which you will be charged if that figure exceeds the minimum price. This can be between three and nine percent depending what you’re spending.

Backblaze B2

Backblaze B2 actually has two free support plans: “mega” and “giga.” You get upgraded automatically to giga when you add your credit card information to your account. The difference between the two is that Backblaze decreases target response time from two business days to one.

One advantage of Backblaze B2 is that you get email support for both billing and technical inquiries with a free account. With all levels of support you also get access to product documentation, sample code and the Backblaze knowledge base.

The only advantages of paid support are access for more individuals, response time and telephone support for the highest tier.

 TeraPeta
Monthly cost$150$400
Response time< two business hours< two business hours
24/7 Phone supportNoYes
Individuals with accessTwoFive

The problem with Backblaze is that there aren’t options for more personalized support with regard to architectural support, operations management and support for third-party tools using Backblaze B2.

For production environments, this is a critical shortcoming and a strong reason to consider the other three services instead if you’re running a business.

Round Four Thoughts

While we love the fact that B2 offers free technical support for free and phone support for its highest level paid plan, compared to the other three services, what you get is pretty sparse. The online resources aren’t and deep and tailored for support for building complex production environments isn’t offered.

Azure, S3 and Google Cloud all offer some degree of technical account management and consultations if you’re willing to pay.

 Developer supportBusiness support
Azure$29$300
Amazon S3$29$100
Google Cloud$150Starts at $400
Backblaze B2$150$400

While Google Cloud offers deep resources, though, the costs of support are more than either Azure or S3.

Between Azure and S3, we prefer Azure’s support portal design. However, with S3 business support, you get faster turnaround times, live chat and telephone support. The closest Azure gets to live support is Twitter.

Round Four Winner: Amazon S3

Round Five: Security

During our fifth and final round, we examine how our four featured services encrypt your data.

Most cloud storage options at least offer server-side encryption (SSE). This means the provider scrambles your data prior to writing it to disk. With your data scrambled on the server, anybody who happens to breach that server won’t actually be able to read it.

Some cloud storage services also let you provide the keys used to encrypt data. This is called server-side encryption with customer-provided keys (SSE-C). In this case, the provider doesn’t know the key. This provides more security but if you lose your key, the provider can’t reset your password. Meaning, you lose access to your content.

Alternatively, you can go with a key management system (KMS) if the service offers it. With this setup, keys are still managed by you but are stored in the cloud for safekeeping. KMS technologies help businesses control access to storage and follow industry compliance guidelines.

Azure

Azure supports SSE, which you can set up from within the Azure portal.

To do so, once inside your storage account, click the encryption button in the left-side menu. This let you click the “enabled” button in the right-side pane to turn on encryption. Going forward, any files sent to the Azure cloud will be encrypted.

The encryption protocol used by Azure is AES-256, the protocol recommended by the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology. Encryption keys are created and stored by Microsoft.

Azure doesn’t yet have a KMS to let you create and manage keys. Microsoft is reportedly working this feature, though.

Azure does support client-side encryption. So, you can encrypt your files yourself prior to sending them to the cloud. If you use CloudBerry Backup to manage your file transfer process, you can set your encryption protocol (AES-128, AES-192 or AES-256) and password from that software.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 gives you the option to encrypt your data server side using either an S3-managed key (SSE-S3) or an Amazon AWS KMS-managed key (SSE-KMS).

Regardless of whether you use SSE-S3 or SSE-KMS, your data will be encrypted with AES-256.

Amazon also permits client-side encryption if you want to track your encryption key yourself.

If you use CloudBerry Backup to send data to Amazon S3, you’ll be able to pick your encryption method during the setup process (you can go back and edit your backup plan later, too).

Because Amazon S3 permits client-side encryption, you can tell CloudBerry Backup to handle that for you. Or, you can select SSE-S3 or SSE-KMS (you’ll need to obtain and input your KMS key if you go with that option) while creating your CloudBerry Backup backup plan.

Google Cloud

Any content stored to Google Cloud gets automatically encrypted using AES-256 and remains that way while at rest. Each file gets broken up into pieces and each piece has its own individual encryption key.

Google Cloud is the only service in this roundup that encrypts by default. With the others, you have to turn encryption on. Interestingly, you also can’t turn at-rest encryption off with Google Cloud. That said, you probably shouldn’t want to.

While you don’t have to set up encryption with Google Cloud, the service does let you customize the approach used to a degree.

Like Amazon, the options presented includes a cloud-based key management system. Google’s version goes by “Cloud KMS.” However, while this service is available for most Google Cloud products, storage integration isn’t offered just yet.

But while the broader Cloud KMS tool isn’t available, Google Cloud still lets you generate your own encryption keys. The downside is you can’t do things like automatic rotation and key destruction that a good KMS tool lets you do.

Alternatively, Google Cloud does support client-side encryption. So, CloudBerry Backup encryption-key creation is again an option if you have need of added privacy.

Backblaze B2

Backblaze B2 does not encrypt your files at rest. That means, left alone, anything stored there is more susceptible to compromise in case of a data breach.

So, in order to secure your files, you’ll need to encrypt them yourself before sending them to the cloud. There are many ways to do so. You don’t have to use CloudBerry Backup but we we would definitely recommended settling on a solution before performing any backups.

Round Five Thoughts

Without providing its own encryption solution, B2 is the clear loser in this round. The other three services each offer AES-256 encryption.

Really, there’s not much to distinguish them beyond that. All three make it easy to setup at-rest encryption. Google Cloud maybe gets a slight nod for performing encryption by default but that isn’t a huge advantage so long as you’re careful to enable it with S3 and Azure.

So, in need of a decision, this round tilts towards Amazon S3, which sports a fully realized KMS solution. Google Cloud offers one but it can’t be used for cloud storage yet. And Azure’s KMS, meanwhile, is apparently still in the oven.

Round Five Winner: Amazon S3

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re developing an application or running a business, choosing the right cloud storage platform can help you control costs, enhance your development options, provide high-level support and keep your product safe. In short, it can have a huge impact on the success of your venture.

We’ve covered a good deal of ground in this matchup but the truth is we’ve just barely scratched the surface of what you can do with these four cloud storage services. While we have a favorite, our pick isn’t going to be the best choice for everyone.

So give these services a try. Each can be used on a trial basis and, if you need a tool to get up and running quickly, so can CloudBerry Backup.

For now, though, we’d recommend you start with a good look at Amazon S3. While the charges are a bit higher than what you get from Azure and Google Cloud and much higher than B2, S3 has the best support and best security setup of the four and narrowly won our speed tests.

If you’re only care about minimizing your budget and don’t mind occasionally latency issues, encrypting your own content and support that might not meet production-level demands B2 will save you a bundle.

Think we got it wrong? Tell us why in the comments below. Thanks for reading

Final Winner: Amazon S3

5 thoughts on “Cloud Backup Showdown: Azure vs Amazon S3 vs Google Cloud vs Backblaze B2”

  1. After setting up and using Amazon S3, I discovered they also charge a recurring $100/month in addition to the storage rates listed in this article. I didn’t see it listed anywhere in their pricing before I signed-up for the service.

  2. Correction. Amazon said somehow our account was setup for “Business Support” service that costs $100/mo. I had a note when doing the initial setup that I selected the basic free support. That’s where the mystery $100 recurring charge came from.

  3. Nice writeup, good work!

    I’m crunching my numbers on two things tho:
    1) Can we assume that the speed of storing files at providers is almost matching the max speed of the Internet connection used during testing and that speeds might be higher?
    2) If we were to download files, how do they perform in that situation?

  4. Hi Dennis, in the case of our tests, yes, upload speeds are pretty close to Internet connection speeds. We were working with pretty meager upload speeds, though. In my experience, higher Internet speeds will result in better upload times, but at some point, you start seeing diminishing returns. Downloaded files generally behave the same way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More about

Most Visited News