Backblaze has more name recognition than any other service in the cloud backup business, and if you’ve heard an ad in a podcast or YouTube video in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard the name many times over. Although Backblaze features a streamlined service with unlimited storage, the question remains, does it live up to the hype? Keep reading this Backblaze review to find out.
- Backblaze is an online backup service that offers unlimited storage for a low price.
- While it’s easy to use, Backblaze is somewhat inflexible due to its lack of advanced features and customization options.
- Although Backblaze is a secure online backup solution, its implementation of zero-knowledge encryption is flawed.
Clearly, Backblaze prioritizes simplifying the backup process over packing its service full of features and settings for you to manually control. Although this does result in a service that’s easy to set up and get going, it also leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of features and control. On top of this, more advanced features, like disk image backup and mobile backup, are entirely absent.
In this review, we’ll give you a detailed rundown of what Backblaze does well and where it falls short. If a simple setup, unlimited storage and reasonable prices are important criteria for you, then keep reading. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to fiddle with settings, head over to our list of the best online backup services for a look at some Backblaze alternatives.
New images, added Backblaze 8.0 changes to review.
Backblaze Video Review
If you’re looking for a streamlined backup experience and unlimited cloud storage, then yes, Backblaze is good. However, if you’d rather have more manual control over your backup, then Backblaze is not ideal.
Backblaze archives deleted files and previous versions of files for 30 days. However, you can pay to raise the time limit to a year or forever. Backblaze keeps unlimited file versions, but only for that period.
Backblaze features decent security, but with a major caveat. Because file recovery requires you to share your encryption key with the company, it cannot truly have private encryption.
Because it offers an unlimited amount of storage, Backblaze users will only take up the space that they need. For example, if Backblaze had a 1TB storage plan, it would have to reserve 1TB of storage for every single user, even if they only store, say, 200GB of data. This helps cut down on server costs and lets Backblaze charge pennies for its unlimited cloud backup service.
Top Alternatives for Backblaze
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Unlimited backup
- Simple, streamlined user interface
- Reasonable prices
- Sharing functionality
- Decent security & privacy
- GDPR compliant
- Lack of features
- Limited devices
- Flawed private encryption
- Sparse information about backup
- No image-based backup
- No mobile backup
As mentioned in our introduction, Backblaze does not place a heavy emphasis on features. Opting instead for an automated and streamlined experience, Backblaze focuses on backing up your computer with minimal effort required on your part. This might be attractive to some users, but it does leave the desktop client feeling remarkably sparse.
Thus, things like image-based, server and hybrid backups are all missing, and you can’t backup mobile devices, either. If these things are important to you, check out our IDrive review, as all these features come with that service.
By default, Backblaze only keeps previous versions of files for a maximum of 30 days. This is in stark contrast to most online backup services like SpiderOak One (read our SpiderOak One review), which lets you recover deleted and altered files with no expiration date. Thankfully, you can extend that period to a year (for $2 per month) or forever (for a fixed per-gigabyte price).
Advanced Online Backup Features
Another nifty inclusion is the ability to inherit backup states from previous computers. If you’ve switched devices, this means you can backup your new computer without Backblaze wasting time and resources reuploading files you’ve already backed up.
Finally, and somewhat strangely, Backblaze’s web client gives you the option for locating your computer in the event of loss or theft. This is an unusual feature for an online backup service but is welcome nonetheless.
In order to use the feature, you need to have the web client’s “mapping” setting turned on and hope that whoever has your device connects to the internet without first doing a complete wipe of your drives.
If you’re handling large files, you don’t have to worry about any file size limitations because there aren’t any. This is great for video producers that handle a lot of 4K video files and frequently deal with large backups.
Backblaze Unlimited Backup for Businesses
Backblaze for business is pretty much the same product as the one intended for personal use, with a couple of additional features packed in. The first is the ability to create multiple users under the same main account. These users can be organized into groups and have their access rights and settings controlled by an admin.
However, you still have to purchase an additional license for each user. The business version also opens for server and NAS backups, but you have to use the Backblaze B2 cloud storage, which means you don’t get to put these backups on your unlimited storage.
It’s a similar situation if you want to use the regular version of Backblaze on multiple computers. You have to buy another license for each computer, but you can still manage all of your backups from one Backblaze account.
Backblaze Features Overview
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : 30 days
- : No
- : AES 256-bit
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : No
- : 15
Backblaze’s pricing structure is as simple as it gets, and the prices are reasonable compared to other online backup services.
Is Backblaze’s Backup Service Really Unlimited?
Yes, Backblaze is really unlimited, at least in terms of backup storage. It lets you backup an unlimited amount of data, regardless of how large your files are. No matter how much of your personal data you backup, you’ll never hit the Backblaze storage limit — it just doesn’t exist. However, you can’t keep unlimited backups because of the 30-day versioning limit.
A Backblaze unlimited backup plan is cheap, too, with a monthly subscription providing unlimited storage for just $6 per month. You can save some money by signing up for a full year or two years, in which case, the service will run you $60 per year or $110 for two.
Backblaze Pricing for Multiple Devices
Although the plan offers unlimited backup, the same isn’t true for devices. Each plan can only backup a single computer. So, if you have multiple computers, you might be better off with a different backup provider rather than purchasing multiple Backblaze licenses.
That said, if you only need to backup a single computer, then the cost of Backblaze is reasonable, with only Carbonite being able to match it while still providing unlimited storage. If you’d like to see how they stack up against each other, check out our Backblaze vs Carbonite comparison.
Because you can pay per month, you can easily test out Backblaze without committing too much money. Furthermore, the company also offers a 15-day free trial unlimited backup plan is cheap if you’re on the fence.
Ease of Use
The upshot to Backblaze’s lack of features is that it’s incredibly easy to set up and get going, as long as you’re happy to let the client pick what gets backed up using the default settings. However, if all you need is a basic backup solution for your files, then using Backblaze is a breeze.
Backblaze Windows & Mac Desktop Client
Although the Backblaze interface certainly won’t win any awards for aesthetics, its control panel is functional and simple, resulting in a clean user experience without much room for confusion. The 8.0 update supposedly gave the client a face-lift, but this seems to have been mostly for the Mac client as on Windows we can’t really notice any significant changes in appearance.
Most of the action happens in the Backblaze control panel. This is where you can see the progress of your backup as well as the button for initiating one. Everything else is in the “settings” menu, which is split into eight tabs: settings, performance, schedule, exclusions, security, files scheduled for backup, reports and issues.
The “settings” menu is where your main backup settings live, such as which drives to backup and inheriting backup states. In the various tabs, there are options for bandwidth throttling, scheduling backups (continuous, once a day or manual), a list of files to be backed up, a brief explainer on Backblaze’s security measures, as well as the options to set a private password and set backup exclusions.
Backup Exclusions: Less Isn’t Always More
Setting backup exclusions is a bit of a pain, though. You have to choose which folders to exclude manually, and you can’t select multiple folders. This means you have to painstakingly navigate to each folder you want to exclude. Thankfully, you can also set exclusions by file type, and some file types are excluded automatically, such as certain system files.
The biggest issue is the lack of information Backblaze gives you about your backup. Although you can see what file is currently uploading, you do not know the speed of your upload, how far along the current file is or an estimated completion time. If you’re the kind of person who likes to know exactly what’s happening at any given time, then using Backblaze can be somewhat frustrating.
By default, Backblaze scans your hard drives when the computer boots up. To force a new scan without rebooting, you have to hold down the “ALT” key and click the “restore options” button. This isn’t explained anywhere in the app, so unless you’re an expert on cloud backup services (like we are), you might never learn that you can do a manual scan.
Backblaze Website and Mobile App
The Backblaze web client is quite basic. After logging in to your account, you get an overview of your devices and files, as well as a menu for restoring your cloud backup. It’s worth noting that the web interface is the only place you can restore your data; you can’t restore your files from the desktop app.
You can also access a list of your previous restore actions and the files that you’ve shared with others. Furthermore, you can adjust your account settings, such as your contact information and two-factor authentication. Finally, the web client also gives you access to the “find my computer” feature, which we covered earlier in this article.
The Backblaze mobile app is similarly basic. It’s available for both Android and iOS and essentially only exists to provide an overview of your backed-up data. You can look through your backed-up devices and share and download files, but that’s pretty much it.
File Backup & Restoration
Backblaze’s cloud backup is as straightforward as it gets. Keeping in line with the general philosophy of the company, you’re not given too much control over the process other than setting up exclusions and changing the options for throttling and multithreading.
Backblaze performs backups using a block-level algorithm, which means you won’t waste time or resources reuploading entire files but rather just the parts that have changed.
Explaining the Backblaze Backup Process
As mentioned in the “ease of use” section above, Backblaze automatically chooses what files on your computer to backup. By default, this is basically everything, barring system files and certain file types that are usually very large, such as ISOs.
If you do want to exercise some control over the backup process, doing so is fairly tedious. Excluding file types is simple enough — simply type the file extension in the text box located in the “exclusions” tab of the settings — but excluding folders is more of a pain. You can do so in the same tab, but the client only allows you to choose one folder at a time.
Backup Scheduling and Speed Throttling
For your backup plan, you can choose between continuous, scheduled or manual backups. The scheduled backup can only occur once a day, which is a bit limited. To perform a manual backup, you simply need to click the “backup now” button on the main page of the client.
By default, Backblaze will automatically handle throttling and threading. If you don’t like this, you have the option of manually setting how many threads the application should use for the upload and whether or not to throttle the speed on slow connections to save bandwidth for other software and devices.
Since the update to version 8.0, Backblaze supports a whopping 100 simultaneous threads, which practically guarantees that the client will be able to use every ounce of network speed you have at your disposal. The service also got a CPU performance boost in this update, and it shows, as even with 100 threads going we noticed very little impact on our system performance.
Missing Backup Features
Backblaze makes creating a cloud backup of your files a breeze, as long as they’re on your computer. Most other devices — including NAS drives, mobile devices and servers — are not supported by Backblaze. There’s no way to perform a hybrid backup, either, which is a mix between backing up your data locally and on the cloud.
You also can’t create a clone of your drive, which would allow you to replicate your system on a new device. If these features are important to you, we recommend checking out IDrive, as it includes everything we just listed and more (read our IDrive vs Backblaze comparison).
Although you can backup external drives, you need to do so at least once every 30 days to avoid Backblaze deleting the files. To avoid this happening accidentally, Backblaze sends you a warning after 14, 21 and 28 days to remind you to reconnect the external drive and run a backup. In a similar vein, you can also get Backblaze to notify you when seven days have passed without a backup.
Restoring Your Backblaze Cloud Backup
Instead of restoring through the desktop client, Backblaze requires you to log in to its online platform for file restoration. This presents some serious security and privacy implications, which we will cover later in this article, and feels a bit clunky.
If downloading your data directly through the browser doesn’t appeal to you, you can also install the “Backblaze downloader,” which is a standalone application that lets you download the restored files you prepared in the web client. This is probably the least user-friendly part of Backblaze, as the downloader is incredibly sluggish and frequently crashes, especially when you opt to use multiple threads for your download.
The default restore option is to download a ZIP file containing your data. If your backup is large, you can also opt to have it physically shipped to you. This can take the form of either a USB flash drive — if your backup doesn’t exceed 256GB — or an external hard drive with a capacity of up to 8TB.
Speed is an incredibly important criterion when selecting a cloud backup service, especially when uploading a large amount of data, which is common at least for the initial backup. For this speed test, we uploaded a 1GB folder over a connection with a download speed of roughly 40 Mbps and an upload speed of between 10 and 15 Mbps.
Considering these speeds, we expected the upload to take somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes and the download to take around three minutes. The test was performed in Mexico while connected to Backblaze’s U.S. data center.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
As you can probably tell, these results are excellent. The upload speed in particular maxed out at our actual network speed, which isn’t something you see all that often. The addition of being able to run an upload on up to 100 separate threads has clearly made a huge impact here, and even with the thread count set to max, it didn’t seem to noticeably encumber our machine.
The downloads are a bit more of a mixed bag. Although the result isn’t bad per se, it’s still quite a bit higher than what we expected. This probably has a lot to do with Backblaze’s sluggish downloader, which seems to have gotten none of the new performance upgrades that the main client has.
All that said, upload speed is the more important statistic for backups, as you’ll likely have to upload data far more often than you need to download it.
Backblaze features pretty good security, both in terms of its network and physical data centers. However, encryption is not as good as it could be, especially considering its implementation of private keys is seriously flawed.
When backing up your data with Backblaze, it secures your files using AES 128-bit encryption both at rest and in transit. When your files are transferred to the cloud, SSL is used to ensure it remains private.
Although AES 256-bit encryption would be ideal, AES 128-bit should still be sufficient for the majority of users. If you want to learn more about the difference, check out our description of encryption.
Backblaze’s Flawed Private Encryption Key Handling
Zero-knowledge encryption is not enabled by default, requiring users to set this up manually. Regardless, there is a fundamental flaw — at least from a security standpoint — in how Backblaze implements it. The only way you can perform a file restore is via the web client. This means you have to provide Backblaze with your private encryption key in order to recover your data.
Although Backblaze claims that the key is flushed from its systems the moment it has been used, this still leaves the door wide open for things like man-in-the-middle attacks if your network or Backblaze’s servers become compromised.
Besides this significant caveat, Backblaze’s security is top-notch. Namely, you can enable two-factor authentication to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to access your account. Additionally, the physical data centers themselves are secured against unauthorized access using biometric security and against natural disasters, such as fire or earthquakes.
Much like with security, Backblaze offers decent privacy hampered by its flawed implementation of zero-knowledge encryption, as well as the location of its data centers. As mentioned in the previous section, the way Backblaze handles its restore process means that you are required to give up your private key if you want to restore files.
We won’t waste your time by repeating why this can have disastrous results, but suffice it to say that it’s just as damaging to privacy as it is to security. It also means Backblaze is not a true zero-knowledge service.
What Privacy Laws Does Backblaze Follow?
Furthermore, most of Backblaze’s data centers are located in the U.S., a country infamous for its poor online privacy laws and willingness to circumvent what protections there are in the form of programs like PRISM or laws like the Patriot Act.
Moreover, the existence of the Five Eyes spy network means that if U.S. authorities intercept your data, they could share it with other countries, as well.
That said, you do have the option of tying your account to Backblaze’s data center in Amsterdam. However, this isn’t exactly ideal, either, given that the Netherlands is the most wiretapped country in Europe (which you can read more about in our guide to the best VPN for the Netherlands).
The choice to change your region is incredibly easy to miss, as it’s an optional field at the very bottom corner of the signup form when you first create your account. If you don’t pick a region, it will default to the U.S. West Coast, and there’s no way of changing this later without creating a new account.
The Fine Print
Backblaze collects some data, as most online backup services do. This data is mostly confined to the information you provide it with, such as your email address and billing information. Backblaze will never share or sell the data it collects to anyone unless it’s a trusted partner involved in providing the service or to comply with a law or regulation.
Certain details about your device, such as your operating system and usage statistics, are also collected but stripped of personal identifiers. This data is for internal development and analysis, which again is pretty standard across the cloud backup industry.
These caveats are standard for cloud storage and online backup services, so Backblaze is no outlier in this regard. When it comes to that data, it consists of your email address and password as well as your billing information.
Backblaze is GDPR compliant and adheres to the EU/Swiss Privacy Shield for international data transfers but is not HIPAA compliant. Thus, if you need to backup any confidential medical records, look to other backup services, such as IDrive or SpiderOak One.
Backblaze provides several options to help you solve any problems you have with the service. With a helpful and responsive customer support department, as well as extensive self-help resources, there’s not much we can complain about in this category.
Although there is no phone support, you can contact Backblaze for assistance by either submitting an email request or using the live chat function. The chat is open Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
To test the responsiveness of its support, we sent an email request and received a response within a day, which is really as much as you could ask for, as there’s a chat option if you require immediate support.
The Backblaze FAQ page is also excellent, providing you with solutions to a whole host of the most common issues with the service, all neatly organized into searchable categories.
That concludes our review of Backblaze. Without a doubt, it’s a strong cloud backup contender, although Backblaze sacrifices features for a more streamlined experience. This makes it an excellent choice for those who simply want to use Backblaze to run regular backups on their system without having to worry too much about the details.
However, its focus on providing a simple experience hurts Backblaze in the way of features, as many common backup options are not included.
Similarly, Backblaze can be frustrating at times due to the low level of control over the backup process and how little information you get about its progress. If these things bother you, make sure to find a Backblaze alternative.
What did you think of our review of Backblaze? Do you agree that it’s a good online backup service for those looking for a simple and streamlined yet unlimited backup plan? Or do you prefer a service that offers more control, backup for more than one computer and better private encryption? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.