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Set-it-and-forget-it Backblaze really wants to back up your entire hard drive, although you can exclude anything you want. It automatically excludes applications, disk images, the operating system, and temporary files, both according to where they are located (nothing in the Applications or Library folders, for example) and what their file extension is (no .log, .iso, .exe, and others). You can’t include anything that Backblaze excludes by default, but you can expand the list of exclusions. Backblaze will never back up a file larger than 4000MB, but you can nudge that ceiling down.
Backblaze lives in your System Preferences, with a status/shortcut icon in the menubar. Its Settings window has a slider where you can throttle the backup speed, request a reminder if you haven’t backed up in a certain number of days, and view a log showing everything scheduled for backup, plus a list of recent activity. To restore, you log in online, where you can browse your backed-up files and request a ZIP file to download (you get an email when it’s ready), a DVD mailed to you (4.2GB max, and you’ll pay a whopping $99 for it, including overnight FedEx), or get your files on a USB hard drive (500GB max, $189, also including overnight FedEx). Four weeks worth of changes are included, and you just “roll back” the date in a drop-down menu to find older versions of files. Backblaze even dates the files in the browser, which is a huge help.
Backblaze defaults to backing up all your files, but you can exclude certain folders or file extensions here.
Files you delete from your Mac are deleted from Backblaze after 30 days. You can back up external drives (except for Time Machine drives), but as with Mozy, be sure to reattach the drive within 30 days of removal, or Backblaze will think you deleted the “missing” files and trash them from your backup. You can’t back up network volumes, although it did offer to back up our iDisk, since that appears on our Mac as a local volume and then is synced periodically to MobileMe’s servers. (Which is why we, naturally, declined to back up iDisk.)
Your data is kept safe on Backblaze by 128-bit AES encryption throughout its encoding, transfer, and storage, in a secure storage facility with biometric security, a raised floor on seismic pedestals, and other cool-sounding stuff. In the Settings you can opt to add a personal encryption key, but Backblaze doesn’t have a copy, so you can’t ever lose it, or no one will be able to recover your data.
After you choose a set of files to restore, Backblaze prepares a ZIP archive and emails you a link when it's ready to download.
We liked Backblaze’s thoroughness and the ability to restore our backed-up files to any computer. If you only want to back up a few folders, the interface is a little trickier than Carbonite’s (see facing page), since you need to exclude folders from the default set. Carbonite lets you start with an empty backup set and then add folders. And Backblaze won’t let you totally exclude your main Macintosh HD volume, so if you only want to back up your external drive and not your main one, you’re out of luck.
This review is part of a larger feature which compares five different online backup services.
Backblaze is affordable, attractive, and reliable. We especially appreciated its thorough documentation, down to a list of every file and process it puts on your machine and why.