If you’re trying to choose between Backblaze B2 or Amazon Glacier, or between B2 and any other IaaS service, you’ve landed in the right corner of the internet. In this Backblaze B2 review, we’ll examine the ins and outs of one of the most affordable and easiest to use cloud infrastructure options available.
We’ll cover Backblaze B2 pricing, maybe its biggest selling point, and talk about at what cost that affordability comes, including a limited server network. We’ll also look at the user experience, including the Backblaze B2 client and API, and cover Backblaze B2 encryption and other aspects of security.
If you’re looking for a complete overview of the cloud IaaS market, including where B2 slots among the top services, our best cloud IaaS review is the guide you’re looking for.
For third-party clients to pair with B2, we also have a review of the best file-transfer clients covering simple tools, in addition to reviews for more sophisticated services, such as CloudBerry Backup and Storage Made Easy.
Backblaze B2 Review: Alternatives
Backblaze B2 Strengths & Weaknesses
- Cheap storage rates
- Low-cost egress
- Easy to use
- Only one data center
- No at-rest encryption
- Slower than S3
When subscribing to Backblaze B2, there’s only one storage type to choose from and the rates are fixed. For comparison, Amazon S3 has four storage types and rates vary by region, which can lead to confusion and unexpected bills at the end of the month (read our Amazon S3 review).
B2 has fewer costs to parse, an advantage when you factor in that it’s also cheaper than any Amazon plan, including Amazon Glacier. Only the budget-friendly Wasabi costs less among IaaS providers. Then again, Wasabi has a minimum storage charge of 1TB, whether you use that much, while B2 lets you store as little, or as much, data as needed (read our Wasabi review).
B2 fees are split between storage and usage. For those looking for a simpler approach to online backup, the company offers an unlimited online backup service for $5 per month. You can read about it in our Backblaze review and Backblaze pricing guide.
Backblaze B2 Storage Rates
The first 10GB of B2 cloud storage are free. Storage after that costs half a penny per gigabyte per month, roughly a quarter the cost of Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
Backblaze doesn’t provide any discounts for those who store terabytes of data, but at that rate, which works out to $5 per terabyte each month, that’s not a problem.
Backblaze B2 Usage Rates
Backblaze charges for both egress and API calls. Egress refers to file downloads, and carries a rate of 1 dollar cent for every gigabyte downloaded each month. While Wasabi doesn’t charge for egress at all, Backblaze’s rate is still one-tenth the egress rate charged by Microsoft and Google.
We’re not particularly interested in API call charges for this review, since we’re focused on B2 as a repository for file hosting, rather than building customer-facing apps. Briefly, those charges are split into three classes, A, B and C. Class A transactions are free, while classes B and C accrue charges after you pass 2,500 transactions.
Class B calls are charged four-tenths of a cent per 10,000 transactions and class A calls are charged the same amount, but per 1,000 transactions. For details on what calls are classified as what, you’ll want to check Backblaze’s transaction price list.
The biggest reason to consider Backblaze B2 alternatives, even ones that cost quite a bit more, is that the B2 server network is limited to one data center. That facility is located in Sacramento, California.
B2 works best for people in the United States because of that, while those in other parts of the world may want to consider other options. Even those in the U.S. might run into issues with network congestion and server bottlenecks that could affect speed.
You can test your connection speed and check latency when connecting to the B2 network using Backblaze’s speed test tool. For latency, the tool measures ping and jitter.
Ease of Use
The Backblaze UX matches the simplicity of its cost structure. As with all cloud infrastructure services, before you start storing files in the cloud, you’ll need to create buckets. Buckets, sometimes called containers, work like top-level directories. They help keep your online content organized.
You can create up to 100 buckets per account and they can store as much data as you need and any type of file. There’s a maximum file size, but, at 10TB, it shouldn’t cause any problems.
Create a bucket by logging into the B2 interface and clicking the “bucket” link on the left-hand side. In the buckets window, you can view any buckets you’ve already created and set up new ones by clicking the “create a bucket” button.
When you create a bucket, you’ll be asked to give it a unique name and set it to public or private.
The difference between the two is that shareable URLs generated for files in public buckets can be accessed by anyone, while those in private buckets require an authentication token for access. You can generate this token through the website.
You can turn public buckets into private buckets later, or vice-versa, from the B2 dashboard by clicking on “bucket settings” for the container you want to alter. There’s also a settings option for “lifecycles,” which determines how many versions of each file are kept.
To integrate third-party applications with B2, you’ll need to retrieve your account ID and create an application-interface key. The use of API keys is commonplace among IaaS providers, letting you establish secure connections.
There are different third-party tools you can connect to B2 to upload and retrieve files. Popular picks include CloudBerry Backup, Storage Made Easy and Cyberduck. You can also create a network drive on your computer using software such as Mountain Duck.
By clicking on the “browse files” tab on the left-hand side, you can create folders and upload files to your buckets from the B2 interface. The interface supports drag-and-drop, so you can add multiple files at once, which is a feature you won’t find with Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure or Amazon S3.
You can also download files and create file snapshots to preserve them in their present state for recovery.
The B2 dashboard has useful information to help manage your account, including the size of buckets and how many files are in them. There’s a “reports” tab with higher-level account information, such as total gigabytes stored and downloaded.
One of the more convenient features of B2 is that you can set alerts and dollar-value caps for your account. This will help you make sure you don’t rack up a big bill by accident.
Backblaze provides a nicely-designed UX that ranks among the best in the cloud IaaS market. Because of that, it’s a great choice for owners of small and medium businesses who want to avoid implementation obstacles and big bills.
All files uploaded to Backblaze B2 are stored across multiple drives and servers. That way, should one drive fail, there are additional copies of your files elsewhere. B2 achieves five nines uptime.
Backblaze has a whitepaper detailing its data center security, if you want to dive into the details. Some highlights include 24/7 security, key card access, biometric scanners, mantraps and video surveillance.
Backblaze B2 Encryption
Backblaze B2 encryption includes in-transit, but not at-rest protection. In-transit encryption uses SSL to thwart man-in-the-middle and similar cyber attacks. That’s great, but we expect the lack of at-rest encryption will be a pain point for some.
Backblaze reasons that it doesn’t encrypt files server-side because that would interfere with some use cases, such as serving files. That excuse is as paper-thin as they come. Many other IaaS providers, including fellow budget-friendly pick Wasabi, encrypt data at-rest.
If you intend to use B2 and want to stay safe, you’re going to want to encrypt your data before uploading it to the cloud. One of the easiest ways to do that is to use a third-party client that has a private encryption option. For example, if you use CloudBerry Backup to upload files to B2, you can opt to scramble them using the Advanced Encryption Standard protocol first.
Backblaze B2 Two-Factor Authentication
The Backblaze website supports two-factor authentication. Turn this feature on and you’ll be asked for an additional security code sent by text message when logging in from unfamiliar machines. The advantage is that if your password is cracked or stolen, whoever acquired it won’t be able to log in to your service without that code.
Backblaze maintains a support website where you can find articles related to B2 cloud storage. The site is searchable and divided into categories to help you find relevant articles faster.
B2 provides customers with free support that includes direct help by email. Add your credit card details to your B2 account and you can expect email turn around times under one business day. Without your credit card added, responses may take up to two business days.
If you need more responsive support, you can upgrade to one of two paid support plans. The first costs $150 a month and reduces response times to two business hours. The second costs $400 a month and adds a 24/7 support hotline.
While we hate to see companies charge for support, that’s the norm when it comes to IaaS providers. Most don’t even provide free email support, so we can, at least, give Backblaze props there.
Up until Wasabi came on the scene in 2017, there was no question that Backblaze B2 was the best budget cloud IaaS provider available. The fact that Wasabi has two data centers to one for Backblaze, and costs less, too, has diminished our view of B2. That said, there’s still plenty to like.
No storage minimums and a half-cent per gigabyte storage rate means great value for home and business users. While we’d like to see Backblaze drop its egress fee completely, the rate is low enough that it shouldn’t lead to big bills, especially if you take advantage of B2’s cap-limit feature.
Best of all, B2 is easy to use and supported by a wide range of third-party apps, from Cyberduck to CloudBerry Backup. For U.S.-based users, it’s worth getting a free 10GB account to see if the file-transfer speeds meet your needs.
Chime in on whether you think Backblaze B2 makes sense as an IaaS service in the comments below, and thanks for reading.