A Change of Heart: Backblaze is indeed the best backup after all

Almost a year ago I posted Online Backups: Why Switch From Backblaze to Crashplan, a posting about my plan to switch online backup service providers from Backblaze to Crashplan.  It wasn’t an indictment of Backblaze; it was simply a comparison of the two providers, arguing that on balance Crashplan was a better proposition for me.  True, I had experienced some issues with Backblaze’s streamlined approach to backup, but these problems were more a misalignment between my expectations and Backblaze’s very clearly stated objective to make backups simple.  As in my earlier posting, I am not trying to do an in depth analysis of Backblaze or a comparison between online backup services.  I am only trying to explain why I have concluded that Backblaze is probably the only backup service worth considering today.

This last summer everything changed when Crashplan cancelled it’s unlimited service for Home users.  It was a shock, to be sure.  The only conclusion I could draw was that Crashplan could not be profitable in competing with the likes of Backblaze.  It is this conclusion, along with one other recent event, that made me realize that Backblaze is the only backup service for me.

It’s not that Backblaze’s backup is the best.  There are other backup systems that are faster and/or more sophisticated.  And it’s not that Backblaze’s backup is the cheapest.  Though it is the cheapest unlimited backup service out there, it’s not cheapest by much.  For example, Crashplan had recommended that its users migrate to Carbonite, a service that, at $60/year, is only $10 more than Backblaze.  It’s that, as a company, Backblaze is one of the most open technology companies out there.  And it seems to be genuinely interested in ensuring, not only that its customers are properly backed up, but that they are also able to restore their data at crunch time.

So why is Backblaze such a good company?  I have already alluded to its transparency, something which is becoming very important in the online backup space.  Backblaze has always shown how it builds its backup systems using pods and vaults.  Early in its life it even published the hardware specs for its backup pod.  It has also shown how much it costs to build its backup systems, presumably in order to allay any fears that its low prices were unsustainable.  In my opinion, this strategy has worked well.  Crashplan may have closed its doors, but there are no signs that Backblaze will.  And we have many of the numbers to prove that from Backblaze itself.  This transparency has also given its customers confidence that Backblaze is reasonably competent.  It’s difficult to disseminate so much internal information about yourself without giving outsiders a glimpse into your soul.  And so far Backblaze’s soul looks pretty darn good.

Yet, despite all the good things I had to say about Backblaze, I didn’t post my change of heart this past summer after Crashplan closed its doors.  So what is it recently that made me take the time to affirm my support of Backblaze?  It was a an e-mail I received from the company this week.  I use two-factor authentication for all the services I use and Backblaze is no exception.  I received an e-mail warning me that, although I was using two-factor authentication, I had not created backup keys or enabled SMS fallbackup in case I lost my two-factor device.  I was surprised when I received the e-mail.  First, I was shocked that backup keys or SMS fallbackup settings were available.  (In my own defense, I do not believe they were available when I enabled two-factor authentication.)  But, more importantly, I was shocked that Backblaze would have had the forethought to warn its customers about the possible pitfalls of a single point of failure like two-factor authentication.  The e-mail made very clear that if I lost my two-factor device, I would be unable to recover my backed up data.  Perhaps Backblaze had sent out the e-mail because some customers had lost their backups as a result of a similar oversight.  Perhaps backup keys and SMS fallback settings were added because of those same customers.  It doesn’t matter.  Backblaze recognized a shortcoming in their customers’ configurations and decided to advise them.

Wow.  It really doesn’t get better than this.  And that’s why I now think Backblaze is the best online backup company out there bar none.  And that’s why I have expanded my backups to also use their B2 service.  And that’s why I’m sticking with them.

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