Don of the Day

Don of the Day

Adventures in software development with Xamarin and the Web

Software developer, building things with code in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.



BackBlaze Review - True Story

Don FitzsimmonsDon Fitzsimmons

This BackBlaze review is not merely an academic exercise, it’s not a content marketing review. This is my actual experience with a failed hard drive containing a terabyte of data, including all of my photos (and client photos). The hard drive in question took a dirt-nap late in the night (it just started clicking). Did BackBlaze deliver? Here’s how it all went down.

photo courtesy of Justin Martyphoto courtesy of Justin Marty

I’m a software developer by trade, but I’m also a photographer. Now, I don’t use the “P” word when referring to my photography skills, but, people do pay me to take pictures (for those of you in the hinterlands, P is for Professional). Anyway, the point is, I have a lot of images and many of them are very important. These photos are of my children, of my client’s children, of weddings and events. These are unique moments that cannot be reproduced.

Because my files are much more than data on a disk, I make sure to backup to an external hard drive and I (almost) always have all of my files on 2 physical devices. But, what if my house burns to the ground? What if a tornado, hurricane, tsunami or an earthquake hits my area (oh, wait, I live in Arizona and we don’t have any of those)? You get the point. Murphy and his law will visit your hard drive at some point.

I knew I needed offsite backups of my treasured data and decided to try out BackBlaze. Yes, there are several other “cloud” backup services out there, but for whatever reason, I ended up using BackBlaze. Oh, wait, BackBlaze is dirt cheap, ($5 per month) that’s what persuaded me.

You can’t beat it for the money, but there was always this concern in the deep recess of my mind that it’s not proven until I truly need to recover data and I just went with the cheapest service I could find. That was a potentially fatal decision (for my data, not my life) only to be realized at the worst possible time and that time came unexpectedly. Murphy always enters unexpectedly.

backblaze review - control panel

For months, the BackBlaze application quietly ran behind the scenes on my computer. Occasionally I would take a peek to make sure it was doing its job and everything looked good. I configured the BackBlaze client application to include my external hard drive (don’t forget to do this because it’s not automatic). Sure enough, after a few weeks, on a very fast internet connection, all of my files (1TB) uploaded safely into the bosom of the “cloud”.

Then, about 5 months later, I sat down to my computer and fired up Lightroom to edit some images from a client portrait shoot and I heard that dreaded sound: Click, Click, Click, Click….WTF? My hard drive, my 4 year old Seagate gave up the ghost. My heart sank. I knew what it meant. This meant that I would now have to rely on BackBlaze to get my data back. Shit!

backblaze review - restore screenWith BackBlaze, you have 3 options to get your files back home. You can download the files (for free), you can get a flash drive sent to you via FedEx (if they fit) or, you can get an external USB drive sent to you via FedEx. The latter 2 options are faster, but they cost money and might not work depending on how much data you are trying to recover. I decided to purchase a new hard drive and restore my files by downloading them. This took more time then I expected, but, upon reflection, there’s really no way to do it any more efficiently.

To restore my files by downloading them, I had to select a sub-set of my files. Then, BackBlaze would zip those files and after a long wait, they informed me via email that my files were ready to download. I had to download a giant .zip file and extract it. This process sucks (I did it about 10 times). It’s slow. It’s very manual and requires some technical knowledge. But, it works! It worked for me. After about a week of choosing files, waiting for them to be zipped, downloading them and then un-zipping them, I had all of my data back. It worked!

After restoring all of my files, I verified that they existed just as they did before and sure enough, success. BackBlaze delivered. I’m sold and I’ll keep using this service because it works. BackBlaze did what they said they would do and where I come from, that’s called integrity.I recommend BackBlaze, so much so that I was compelled to write this review and I think you should at least try them out.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for BackBlaze (because their service saved my ass and I believe in them), which means, if you click any of the links on this page and decide to purchase the service, I get a tiny piece of the pie.


Software developer, building things with code in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.