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Backblaze Personal Review

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PROS / The subscription comes with unlimited storage.

CONS / The restore performance was poor.

 VERDICT / Backblaze is a great option for any family with a lot of data to protect on a single shared Mac because you get unlimited storage. However, the overall performance was poor, and the overall value is below average.

At just $5 a month for unlimited storage for one computer, Backblaze is an online backup service that offers excellent value, at least for an individual. However, if your family has multiple computers, the relative value decreases with each computer you want to protect. As a cloud backup app, the overall performance was underwhelming. The encryption bit levels aren't as high as the best online backup services, but you are given the option to customize your encryption key, which ensures your data remains private.

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To find the best cloud backup services, we closely evaluated the subscription costs per computer for five PCs, three PCs and one PC to represent the relative value for a large family, small family and an individual. To evaluate the performance, we tested the desktop app's backup and restore speed by finding the average rate through multiple tests. Finally, we closely evaluated the ease of use for the two major phases of the backup and restore process from the perspective of a novice user.

In our backup performance tests, Backblaze received an A-, though the speed was inconsistent. The average speed was gathered from multiple tests run at various times of the day, including late at night when network bandwidth is expected to be at its optimal speed. In some of the backup sets, the speed was below average, but it posted enough extremely fast backup speeds to compensate for the slow tests. The average speed suggests it would take less than seven days to complete a 1-TB backup set.

The performance of the file restoration was poor, receiving a D in our tests. A significant part of the reason for this low grade is the extra steps involved in the restore process. To restore files, Backblaze's desktop app redirects you to the web portal, where you choose the files you want to restore. Once selected, you have to wait for an email that informs you the files are ready. In many cases, this process took over 20 minutes. Once you receive the email, you're redirected back to the web portal to download a ZIP file. We calculated this entire process into the overall speed, which is why it's one of the slowest-performing apps in our comparison.

Since the restore process is so complicated, it's not surprising that Backblaze received a D- for Ease of Use for the restore phase. The backup phase received a B. The backup grade is high because you can initiate a backup in one click. However, Backblaze insists on backing up every folder and file on your computer and doesn't give you the option to pick and choose the files you want to back up. This is great if you're starting off with relatively little data on your computer. But if you have a lot of data, you may only want to back up the files that really matter to you. Backblaze doesn't give you the option. You can exclude files from the backup, but this is an advanced feature that a novice user shouldn't be expected to figure out.

Backblaze provides good security despite the low 128-bit AES encryption. Most services encrypt data at the 256-bit level, which is considered to be military-grade encryption. However, on a positive note, the encryption occurs before the files are uploaded, and you have the option of maintaining the encryption key, which ensures the files remain private. Maintaining a private encryption key comes with some risk though, as losing the key means you can't view the files. The service can't reset it like they can with a login password.

Summary

Backblaze is an online backup service with unlimited storage, but the unlimited storage pertains to only one PC. As such, the value is excellent if you're an individual with one computer to protect, but if you're family with multiple computers, the value decreases in comparison to other cloud backup services. The desktop app performed well with the backup speed but was very slow with the restore process. In addition, the process to restore data is overly complicated.

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