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I Suck at Nurturing Hardrives / My Review of BackBlaze

I haven’t posted in a bit…that means I got a job right!?

Well, I did get some freelance work with a Toronto studio but now that’s wrapped up.

Actually what happened was my hard drive went and died, and I had to do a massive restore. Luckily I am smart and keep both a local backup and an offsite backup using the service BackBlaze. It’s a good idea to have both, not just one. I know plenty of people who say it’s just fine and dandy to back up using external drives and they need not to waste time on nothing more. Well, you’re wrong, and probably homeless. What if someone breaks in and steals your machine as well as your backup drive? What if there’s a fire? What if there’s a flood? What if some rats get into your ceiling and bump some pipes and the bathtub upstairs drains right into your office? What if your stanky neighbor decides to drain his pool to your side of the property and all the water leaks into your window and everything gets ruined?

Plenty of scenarios. The same way, using an offside automated service like BackBlaze has it’s drawbacks as well. The biggest drawback being the amount of time it takes to restore your data. You see, I had about 1.5tb’s worth of stuff kept offsite with BackBlaze. I would keep my current projects from the last year and my photography stash backed up locally, but the rest of my old work was sitting over there wherever BackBlaze’s servers were a sitting. They’re across this country, across another country, in some building, behind whatever speed caps along the way. Simply doing an online restore of 1.5tb’s would have taken a LONG time since the downloads were going around 950kbs/s. I didn’t have time for that. Nor do I have the home internet option to support 1.5tb’s of downloading.

Luckily, BackBlaze has options for restoring specific files and folders, as well as other options for restoring to a thumb drive or up to a 3tb hard drive and having it shipped to you. The latter is what I choose. They say they will restore up to 3tb to a hard drive and send it, but they wont send everyone a 3tv hard drive. It’s relative to your amount of data. So if you have 850gb of data, they’ll ship you a 1tb drive. Since I had like 1.47tb they managed to fit everything on a 1.5tb drive. I wish I have 400mb’s more data, because then I would’ve been shipped the 2tb hard drive! No matter the size of your hard drive the cost ends up being the same. $180 USD shipping (not import fees) included.

I began the restore as soon as my hard drive went kaput on Monday, and it took around 7 days for the hard drive I ordered to be shipped. Unfortunately they use FedEx, who typically are horrible to deal with. They tried coming 3 times to my home, at different times during the day, despite me requesting (and them confirming) delivery after 1pm. In the end, I had to drive 45 minutes to go to one of their stations to pick it up. They wouldn’t send the package to the holding center that’s 5km away, I had to drive 45 minutes…and then pay them $38 in duties. So, why did I pay for shipping again? Regardless I finally got the hard drive on the following Thursday. That was 10 days after I requested from BackBlaze. That’s not a bad turnaround at all. Like I said, I keep local backups of all my current work so this was really just a bunch of old finished renders, portfolio pieces, demo reel stuff, and 20 years of digitized family videos.

Anyways, the package was put together nicely and the hard drive was well protected. Though I do wish there were some extra padding in the box so it wasn’t sliding around.2014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (2) Opening it up…2014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (4)And voila! Cute little sticker. I’m glad it was a 2.5 inch hard drive as well, I needed one of these for after.2014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (5)It came with one of these fancy powered USB 3.0 cables. Nice!2014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (11)You can actually use a standard micro USB cable for the hard drive if you’d like, but then it’d only be USB 2.02014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (12)If you’re using a standard micro usb cable it would just go into the port on the left there2014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (9)Here’s some extra details on the hard drive. Its a Toshiba Canvio HDTC615XK3B1. It retails for about $89 on sale. There were some scratches on the enclosure, which made me feel like this drive wasn’t new like they promised…2014_02_21_BackBlaze_Package (6)

So I plugged it in, everything was there and worked great. I’ve heard some people report that they had issues with various versions of files but for me, I can confirm there was no issue. Their support said automatically the latest version of every file is sent unless otherwise requested.

The total cost after import fees and currency conversion came to $253 Canadian dollars. Quite a bit more than the $180, but at least I get to keep the 1.5tb hard drive they sent (it actually does fit into the Playstation 4 out of the enclosure). Here’s a video I did showing how to take apart the hard drive enclosure, since there’s no screws.

So in the end would I recommend BackBlaze? Yes! I have tried Carbonite and Mozy and compared to the others I prefer BackBlaze’s lack of restriction on upload caps. I have a nice steady 10mb/s upload and for the most part I get close to that. I’m still using it to back up my machine again, and wouldn’t hesitate (even with the price) if my drive failed again.