If your business is looking for a large amount of cloud storage for backups, you’ll probably want to consider an IaaS provider rather than traditional cloud storage or an online backup service. Backblaze B2 (not to be confused with the regular Backblaze) is one such service. In this Backblaze B2 review, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of the service and see how it stacks up against others.
- Backblaze B2 is an easy-to-use IaaS storage provider that sacrifices features for accessibility.
- B2’s storage and download rates are incredibly competitive, with costs significantly lower than those of its major competitors.
- The service is held back by mediocre upload speeds and the fact that it only operates four data centers.
As you’ll see throughout this review, Backblaze B2 isn’t exactly what you’d consider a feature-rich service. It covers all the basics related to file backup and restoration through its web interface and command-line tool (more on those in the next section), but that’s pretty much it. That said, it’s very easy to use Backblaze B2 and it’s also incredibly cheap.
If Backblaze B2 seems a bit light on features to you, you can check out our list of the best IaaS providers, as well as our review of Microsoft Azure, which is our top pick. If you’d like to see another IaaS alternative with low storage costs, head over to our Wasabi review instead. Finally, if you’re in the market for personal online backup, you’ll want to read our regular Backblaze review.
11/04/2021 Facts checked
Updated information, conducted new performance tests and replaced images.
Yes. Although it suffers from poor upload speeds, Backblaze B2 is a reliable IaaS provider.
Although this is impossible to know for sure without looking at Backblaze’s books, the fact that the service only operates four data centers presumably saves it a lot of money, which in turn allows it to offer cheap storage. In an interview with Wired, Backblaze vo-founder Gleb Budman also pointed out that Backblaze had to be cheap in order to survive and achieves this partially by limiting the amount of features when compared to other IaaS providers.
IDrive and Backblaze are both great options if you’re looking for traditional online backup instead of an IaaS provider. Which is better depends on your needs: IDrive lets you back up as many devices as you want, whereas Backblaze provides unlimited backup storage for a single device.
Backblaze B2 Review: Alternatives
Backblaze B2 Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to use & set up
- Long list of supported integrations
- Fast downloads
- Disappointing upload speed
- Only 4 data centers in 2 countries
- Lacks features compared to other services
By their very nature, IaaS solutions generally aren’t packed with features. This is even more true for Backblaze B2 than for other competitors in the space, as its focus on usability and low prices precludes certain advanced features that bigger providers like Amazon S3, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure can deliver.
Still, there’s some built-in functionality relating to storage buckets that’s worth mentioning. When you enter your bucket overview in the Backblaze web app, there are a few things that you can adjust without resorting to the command tool or a third-party client.
First is the versioning policy, which dictates how long a previous version of a changed file should be retained on the servers. You can choose between keeping all versions indefinitely, keeping only the last version or keeping prior versions for a specified number of days.
You can also create custom lifecycle policies for individual files and folders, specifying how much time should pass before a file version is hidden and removed.
You can also suggest the CORS (Cross-Origins Resource Sharing) settings. This lets Backblaze share files and resources with other pieces of software through HTTP addresses. By default this is disabled completely, but you can change this to allow CORS with any HTTP origin, only HTTPS origins or only allow it from specific addresses.
Finally there’s the object-lock setting. This has to be enabled bucket-wide when you first set up your bucket, but once that’s done you can use this setting to specify files or folders that should remain immutable, which means they cannot be changed.
Pricing is the most obvious thing separating IaaS storage from regular cloud storage. Rather than paying a set fee for a fixed amount of storage, you instead pay as you go for what you actually end up using.
Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage Rates
Backblaze B2 charges different rates for different types of transactions. You get 10GB of storage for free, but once you exceed that you’ll be charged $0.005 per 1GB per month. Uploading your data is free, but downloads are billed at $0.01 per 1GB after your first gigabyte each day.
|Per Month:||Per Year:|
|Storage||$0.005 per 1GB||$0.06 per 1GB|
|Download||$0.01 per 1GB||$0.12 per 1GB|
Both the storage and download costs are much lower than they are with other major IaaS providers. Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure all cost between three and four times more, which makes Backblaze B2 one of the best IaaS storage solutions for companies on a budget.
Backblaze B2 API Transactions
Besides paying for storage and downloads, you’ll also be charged for calls to Backblaze’s API. These calls (or “transactions,” as Backblaze calls them) are split into three groups.
|Class A Transactions||Free|
|Class B Transactions||$0.004 per 10,000|
|Class C Transactions||$0.004 per 1,000|
Class A Transactions are free and this category mostly centers around uploading, updating and deleting files or buckets. Downloading a file through the API is a Class B Transaction. You get 2,500 free each day, after which they cost $0.004 per 10,000 calls.
The final category — Class C — consists of more advanced functionality such as copying files, authorizing users, retrieving a list of all files and creating and updating entire buckets. Like with the previous category, the first 2,500 transactions are free, but after that you’ll have to pay $0.004 per 1,000.
Backblaze B2 Data by Mail
Finally, if you need to transfer a lot of data or your connection is slow, you can physically ship your files to and from Backblaze’s servers.
|Up to 96TB upload||$550|
|Up to 256GB download||$99|
|Up to 8TB download||$189|
For uploads, this means asking Backblaze to send you a device known as “Backblaze B2 Fireball.” This is essentially an external hard drive with an ethernet port that provides you with 96TB of storage and ordering one will cost you $550.
Once you receive it, you upload your data to the device and send it back. Since the ethernet port supports 10 Gbps transfers, it’ll easily outpace most internet connections, even if you factor in shipping time.
Downloading your files via mail is luckily a lot cheaper. If your data is smaller than 256GB, you can get a flash drive in the mail for $99. If you need more capacity than that, then you can opt for the 8TB external hard drive for $189.
Server Network & Speed
One of the key advantages of IaaS providers over traditional cloud storage or online backup is increased speed and performance.
Unlike the other big players in this space (like Google, Microsoft or Amazon), Backblaze B2 only has four data centers — three in the western United States (California and Arizona) and one in Amsterdam. That means that if you’re located outside of North America or Europe, you should expect somewhat slower transfer speeds than you would get with services that have a more extensive server network.
Online Backup & Recovery Speed Test
Since Backblaze B2 doesn’t really have its own backup client, we’ve decided to perform our tests using CloudBerry backup, which is one of the best (and cheapest) ways to manage IaaS storage like B2’s or competitors Microsoft Azure or Amazon S3 (read our Amazon S3 Review)
We performed our test by uploading and downloading a 5GB folder twice and averaging the results. The folder contains various file formats including 4K video and images, and the test was performed on a Windows 365 cloud computer hosted in Ireland with a 100 Mbps upload and download speed.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
As you can see, these results are okay, although not particularly impressive. Given our connection speed, we’d expect both transfers to take a bit less than seven minutes. The download didn’t take much longer than that, but the upload took almost three times as long.
Ease of Use
Usability is an area where Backblaze B2 shines. Compared to most IaaS providers, setting up your storage is incredibly straightforward, but this is partially due to B2’s relative lack of features.
Getting Started With Backblaze B2
After you’ve created your account, the first thing you’ll want to do is create a storage bucket. This acts as a collection of files and folders and is the level where you set most of your backup settings such as encryption, access rules and visibility.
Once your bucket is ready, your next step depends on how you want to interact with your B2 cloud storage. There are three options for backing up and restoring your files with Backblaze B2. You can do so through the web application, API calls via the command tool and finally third-party clients that support the service.
Backblaze B2 Web Application
Uploading and downloading files with the web interface is simple. All you have to do is log in to your account, click on the “upload & download” button on one of your buckets, then select the files you want to upload or download. You can also use this interface to delete data, make new folders and create a snapshot of files.
The web application is also where you’ll go to adjust account settings such as billing options and two-factor authentication. There’s also a section on reports that shows you a basic breakdown of your storage use, downloads and transactions over time.
Finally, there’s a section on data caps that shows your usage in the current billing period as well as how close you are to any storage, download or transaction caps you’ve set for yourself.
B2 Command-Line Tool
For more advanced functionality, you’ll want to use the command tool instead. This gives you access to the API, which lets you delete, upload and download files. It also provides several administrative functions such as listing your files and folders, authorizing users and managing your encryption keys.
Using the tool is simple. All you need to do is download the executable file and run it in a command window such as cmd on Windows or the terminal on Linux. From here there are a bunch of different commands you can use, most of which we covered in the pricing section above.
Supported Cloud Backup Clients
Since there’s no desktop client or mobile app (though you can browse your buckets on the regular Backblaze mobile app), you’ll need to integrate Backblaze B2 with a separate service if you want to get away from the command tool. Luckily, you have a ton of options in this regard.
The list of supported online backup clients is far too long to go over in its entirety, but B2 highlights options like Cloudflare, MSP360, Synology and QNAP, all of which are popular options. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to manage your B2 storage, we recommend CloudBerry Backup (read our CloudBerry review), which is what we used for our tests.
Security & Privacy
Security and privacy are of paramount importance to any online backup service and that’s no less true for IaaS providers. In terms of physical data center security, Backblaze has a technical paper detailing all the steps it takes to keep servers (and thus, your files) safe from things like fires, break-ins and natural disasters.
We won’t get into the nitty-gritty here, but these measures include things like round-the-clock surveillance, biometric security, automated building monitoring and redundant power supply.
In terms of privacy, it’s all pretty standard stuff. Backblaze collects a small amount of information on its users, mostly non-identifiable details like file types and sizes, operating systems and timestamps.
Some personal information, like your IP address, is also collected, but Backblaze states that it only shares this with third parties such as vendor partners or when compelled by law enforcement. All this is pretty standard stuff for cloud storage, and especially IaaS.
Backblaze lets you enable encryption for your individual buckets. Unfortunately, it’s not private encryption, since Backblaze makes it clear that it creates, holds and manages the encryption key for you. This isn’t all that surprising, since this is exactly how encryption is handled with the regular version of Backblaze and very few IaaS providers offer private encryption by default anyway.
Luckily, you can get around this by using a third-party client that supports zero-knowledge encryption, such as CloudBerry or Duplicati (read our Duplicati review).
Besides this unsurprising snag, the encryption is solid. Your data is protected using industry-standard AES-256 at rest, and the TLS protocol protects your files from a man-in-the-middle attack while in transit.
Another standard security feature that Backblaze offers is two-factor authentication. You can choose between receiving an SMS directly from Backblaze or using a third-party 2FA application like Google Authenticator or Authy. You can also generate a backup code when you set it up to access your account even if you lose your 2FA-enabled device.
It’s an unfortunate reality that you often have to pay extra for decent customer support in the IaaS space. For example, Google Cloud (read our Google Cloud review) doesn’t provide any kind of free support unless it’s in relation to billing, with the cheapest technical support package costing as much as $29 per month.
Backblaze, on the other hand, at least lets you contact email support without having to pay extra. This option is available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST and you’re guaranteed a response within one business day. The other free offering is a relatively extensive set of articles and guides on the Backblaze knowledgebase, which should be enough to solve basic problems with the service.
Backblaze offers two packages if you need more advanced support. These are called “TERA” and “PETA” and cost a whopping $150 and $400 per month, respectively. TERA lowers the guaranteed response time for email queries to four business hours and also assigns two customer representatives with access to your buckets that you can contact for assistance.
If you really need a lot of support fast, there’s the PETA package. This lowers the email response time to two business hours and also gives you access to a 24/7 hotline and Slack channel.
That brings us to the end of our review. Just like the regular online backup version of Backblaze, B2 clearly follows a philosophy of “less is more.” Its feature set is limited, there are only two data center locations to choose from and upload speeds leave quite a bit to be desired. However, the upside of this is that the service is incredibly easy to use, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of other IaaS providers.
All in all, Backblaze B2 is an excellent choice if all you need is a basic IaaS solution that will let you store data at a very cheap rate. However, as you can see in our comparison with other services, it falls short in almost every other category.
What did you think of our review? Do you agree that B2 is a user- and budget-friendly option that values simplicity over functionality? Is there something you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.