Remember that weekend when I almost lost my camera twice in two days? For approximately 30 seconds when I realised my camera was not on the back of the buggy anymore, I thought I would never breathe again. It still comes into my thoughts: What would I have done if I HAD lost my camera for good? I didn’t have insurance, I definitely didn’t have the money to buy a replacement. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Slowly and surely, I would have saved every penny and bought a new camera eventually. Money can do that.

What money couldn’t possibly buy back is the photos I’d taken that day. Images of a trip to the very building where Sam and I first met, and Arlo’s first visit to Brighton Pier. That would be the real loss, the loss I would feel for much longer than the loss of a piece of equipment and a nice lens.

It could have been so much worse. The whole experience brought to the forefront fears that are always lurking in the back of my mind. What if I were to lose all the images on my computer? What if we get burgled? What if my hard drive fails? No amount of money can bring back those memories.

Too many times, I’ve thought God that would be my worst nightmare. But I never do anything about it. I assume it won’t happen. After the camera incident I decided not to take any more risks and I finally did something about it.

Enter Backblaze, the automated backup system. For £2.50 per month (or $3.96), Backblaze will mirror your hard drives and back everything up to cloud storage. When you add new files to your computer, or move/delete files, Backblaze automatically registers the changes and updates your backup. It will also backup external drives if you want it to. It runs in the background, you don’t have to remember open the program or click ‘start’ in order for the backup to work. You don’t ever have to remember anything. In other words, it’s perfect for me.

Some other things you might like to know about Backblaze:

It’s not the only automated backup service on offer, I looked into quite a few. But at £2.50 per month for unlimited storage, it’s so very affordable and was the cheapest option I could find.

The initial backup will take some time. Mine took just over a week (approx 9 hrs a day for 8 days) to backup 80GB worth of files. Initially, it was going to take a lot longer, then I realised I could go into the settings and select folders that I didn’t want to backup. So, I deselected my 100GB music folder (Sam has most of the same stuff on his computer so I wouldn’t be too gutted to lose that).

The program runs in the background at all times. You can open the control panel to check how your updates are going. I’m not a big fan of programs that run in the background. I’m often running Lightroom and Photoshop at the same time, and could really do without anything else hogging my computer memory. I have 4GB of RAM on Windows 7 (my processor and the rest of my computer is six years old). Running Backblaze with Photoshop, Lightroom and Itunes or Spotify was a bit too much and slowed things down considerably. However, with only one of these programs open, or for regular browsing/blogging use, I did not notice Backblaze slowing things down at all. If it is proving too much of a memory hog, you can pause the backup and let it run at a less busy time, like overnight. After the initial massive backup was completed, Backblaze only runs for about 15 minutes a day, updating new files and file changes, and so doesn’t interfere with my work or computer memory at all.

In the event that you do need to retrieve your backup from Backblaze, you are given a few options. 1. Download your stuff directly from the server as a zip file that Backblaze puts together. 2. Pay $99 and Backkblaze will send you up to 28GB of files on a flash drive. 3. Pay $189 and they will send you a USB drive containing your whole backup, the folder structure exactly as it is on your computer. Judging by the speed of the initial backup, I imagine that it would take a very long time to download everything, so I am prepared to pay out for option 3 if needs be. I assume that you get to keep the drive they send, so that offsets some of the cost a bit – drives are always useful to have. Plus, as £2.50 a month is about all I can afford to pay right now, if the worst does happen, I figure I will be glad that I at least have the option to pay $189 to get everything back. If I hadn’t signed up to the service in the first place, I would have no option. Sam thinks the cost to retrieve files on a drive is a bit of a rip-off, I think it’s a decent price to pay when you take into account the very low monthly cost. Funnily enough, now we have tried the service, he is no longer complaining. In fact, he has been asking me to back up his computer too.

Backblaze is not the type of service that lets you access your files from anywhere. It’s purely a backup service and you would only retrieve your files in the event that your drive had been corrupted or stolen. My preference would be a service that does both, but of course you pay more. (Notably, Dropbox have just increased their 50GB £6 per month service to 100GB – but it only uploads what’s in the Dropbox folder so you have to remember to put files in that folder, and doesn’t have the option to mirror your whole drive like Backblaze. But if I had more money and less files to backup I might consider that option as it would be nice to be able to access my files from any computer).

In all honesty, I love it. It’s a cheap, hassle-free solution that allows me to breathe easy. I think cloud storage/backups are the most fool-proof method currently on offer. Perhaps in the future there will be a new method which is even better, but this is it at the moment.  Before Backblaze, I was backing up to an external drive and to Sam’s computer (and still am actually, when I remember, because why not?). But I know if we were to get burgled, the likelihood is that they would take the external drive along with the computer. It doesn’t matter that they know the drive isn’t worth much, or that it might have important files on it. Burglars are not conscientious like that. And what about a housefire? Everything would be damaged. Cloud storage is the safest and easiest option.

How about you? Do you have a good system in place for file backups? Do you panic about losing all your photos? What do you think about automated backup services? I’m very interested to hear how you manage your file backups.
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Full disclosure: After signing up to the free trial, Backblaze kindly offered a discount on their service in exchange for a blog review. I had already decided to go with them before their offer, mainly because the monthly cost is so low, and because I was happy with the backup program after trailing it (anyone can do the trial, I recommend giving it a go to see if it’s right for you).

Even fuller disclosure: If you do happen to sign up by using the link from this post, I will get a (very) small financial reward from Backblaze. I honestly don’t care about this part, I wrote the review purely to let people know about the service, but obviously if 100 people decided to sign up after this post that would be pretty nice too. Just wanted to be completely transparent. Whilst I do think automated backups are a great thing and something everyone should do, I didn’t write this post in order to gain from it and I hope you will find it a completely honest review of the good and not so good parts of the service.

(If you DO decide to get Backblaze and what to do it through my link, you don’t have to worry about finding this post again. As long as you’ve clicked through to the Backblaze site from here in the last 30 days, your cookies will remember my link.)

5 comments

  1. Oh my gosh you legend, I have been racking my brain on how best to back up my growing collection of photos! I don’t trust external harddrives after one died on me after being dropped, and CDs or USB sticks seem to open to being destroyed or stolen…. this is perfect and so affordable! Awesome!

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