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Backblaze Personal Review

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PROS / You get unlimited storage.

CONS / The restore speed and ease of use was very poor.

 VERDICT / If you have one computer and a lot of data, then Backblaze provides excellent value, but beyond that, the value for families with multiple computers and the overall performance was subpar.

Backblaze is an online data backup service that costs just $5 a month, or $50 a year, for unlimited storage, but only for one computer. This makes it one of the most valuable services for an individual. However, for a family with multiple PCs, the comparative value doesn't put it on a par with the best data backup services in our review. In addition, while the backup performance was good, the restore performance was very disappointing. And while the encryption levels aren't very high, the option to have a private encryption key is a nice feature that provides privacy.

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To determine each service's value, we calculated the annual cost per computer to backup 1TB of storage for a large family of five computers, a small family of three computers and an individual. Then we tested the services to evaluate the performance of the backup and restore features. We also assessed the ease of use from the viewpoint of a novice.

Backblaze received an A- in our backup speed tests, making it one of the fastest services. It recorded an average speed that suggests it could complete a 1-TB backup set in about a week. However, it's important to note that it was also very inconsistent. In some tests, the MB per minute was extremely fast and in others, the rate was very below average. Fortunately, the extremely fast tests made up for the slow ones.

The file-restoration speed received a D in our comparative tests. The most significant pitfall that led to this low grade is the restore process. Instead of restoring files directly from the app, it redirects you to the website. You choose the files you want to restore within the web portal. Once you initiate the restore, you have to wait for the service to email you when the files are ready to be downloaded. Once you receive the email, you're redirected to the website, where you have to log back in and download a ZIP file. In most of the tests we ran, it took over 20 minutes before we got to the point where we could actually download the file.

Due to the overly complicated restore process, Backblaze received a D- for Ease of Use during the restore phase. The process can be frustrating, even for an intermediate or expert user. The Ease of Use for the file-backup phase, however, received a B. This is due to the fact that you can back up your entire computer with one click. The reason it didn't receive a higher grade is because the app automatically backs up everything. It doesn't give you the option to pick and choose. Most people only care to back up files that are important to them, like photos, videos, music and some documents. You can exclude folders from the backup, but this is an advanced feature with a significant learning curve.

Backblaze utilizes a 128-bit AES encryption, which is the lowest encryption level in our review. Technically, services with higher encryption bits are more difficult to hack, but encryption is exceptionally difficult to hack at any level. However, you are given the option to customize the encryption key, which is a critical security feature if you're concerned with privacy, because it means that you're the only one who can decrypt the files. Maintaining a private encryption key comes with some risk though. If you forget the key, it can't be reset, which means you can't access the files.

Summary

Backblaze is an online data backup service with unlimited storage for one computer for $50 a year, which is why it's one of the most valuable services for an individual. However, compared to the best cloud data backup services, the value decreases when you have multiple computers. The app produced a great relative backup speed, but the restore speed and ease of use was poor.

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