My neighbor down the street switched from a Dell notebook running Windows to a new MacBook and asked about my backup plan. His eyes began to glaze over as I went through the steps of Time Machine, SuperDuper! clones, Arq and Amazon S3, and iCloud.
What he wanted was what all of us want. A simple, straightforward, no-brainer way to backup our files– documents, photos, movies, music, settings, everything– so it is safe and secure yet always available. Sadly, that beast does not exist but there is one way to help avoid a catastrophe.
Out Of Sight
From my unofficial and unscientific analysis of Mac users I know or meet, the basic Mac backup routine is iCloud settings and nothing else. Not Time Machine. Not a Carbon Copy Cloner clone. Nothing. For those Mac users who do backup their Macs, I see Time Machine on an external disk drive, sometimes a clone, but seldom an online backup unless it’s Photos to iCloud.
Stuff happens, folks. Theft, storm damage, earthquakes, tsunami waves, fire, accidents, dead disk drives. You name it, it’s happened, and it will happen again soon. For Mac users I know or meet who backup using Time Machine or an external disk clone, I ask them about the above list and how they can save their files before a true catastrophe hits.
That’s where online backups come in to play and there are many; from iCloud to Arq and Amazon, to others, including BackBlaze. While I prefer Arq and Amazon, Backblaze can be attractive to Mac users and far less geeky to setup and restore.
The essence of Backblaze is simplicity, Download the Backblaze installer for Mac (or Windows) and setup an account. You get 15 days of free backup to try the service. The initial installation may take a few minutes. The app itself resides in System Preferences. That’s where you can change settings. Some folders on your Mac will not be backed up so make sure to check the Exclusions list.
Once you get started, simply select the Mac disk drive you want to be backed up online. I keep photos in Photos backed up to iCloud, but I have a large number of video files for iMove and I want those backed up online, too. Backblaze warns that the full backup may take a few days (dependent upon your Mac and internet upload speed).
What you get with the basic personal plan is exactly what most of us who don’t want to dink around with various apps or settings truly need.
- Automatic or scheduled backups
- Unlimited data
- Unlimited file size
- Unlimited speed
- Encrypted files with key
- Multiple version restore
- Backup status notifications
- Easy restore
That’s what you get. If you have a massive amount of files that could day weeks to backup over the internet, Backblaze has an option to use a USB drive to backup. There’s also a built-in option to locate your Mac if it’s missing or stolen (the Backblaze app phones home regardless of where it is).
From a price standpoint, Backblaze is competitive with Amazon S3, iCloud, and other online services. $5 per month for unlimited storage (or, $50 per year). That’s a bit more than what I spend on iCloud– $2.99 for 200GB for all my photos in Photos– but I use iCloud, too, because it backs up Mac settings which makes a restore much easier.
So, why do I use iCloud, Arq and Amazon S3, and Backblaze? That’s in addition to a few extra external disk drives connected to our Macs.
Trust no one.
All it would take is a fire, theft, or earthquake and our Macs and those external disks would be toast. And, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that backup and restores sometimes fail. And, yes, there is a chance all of them could fail at the same time.
That’s a chance I’m willing to take a few bucks a month.