Back in December, online backup company Backblaze launched a private beta of its service for Mac users. Like its Windows counterpart, the Backblaze subscription service is $5 US a month (or $50 US a year) for unlimited backup space. Today, the company is officially launching its service for Mac users, along with an updated client, better support for external drives and enhanced recovery options.
Configuration and setup
Just like in the beta, Backblaze remains extremely easy to set-up and use. You just install the program (by default it will run in the background, though you can change this), enter in your e-mail address and password, and it will start backing up your files. The default setting has Backblaze running any time it finds an available internet connection. The backup process is constant and Backblaze stores multiple versions of a file for 30 days (so if you are frequently changing a document or spreadsheet, 30 days worth of revisions are saved to Backblaze).
If you want to remove Backblaze, the company has made the uninstall process easier and more intuitive. There is now an uninstaller built into the install DMG image, just double-click on Uninstall (right next to the install option) and you can take Backblaze off your system. If you trash the DMG, just download it again off the Backblaze web site for easy removal.
Backblaze won't backup your Applications (thought it WILL backup stuff in your User/Library folder, so many of your application settings will remain backed up), but it will backup your photos, movies, audio files as well as things like your iPhoto or Aperture database, various documents, and more. By default, .ISO, *.exe and *.DMG files are excluded from the backup file type list, but you can remove most of those extensions (*.ISO cannot be removed) if you want to backup that information.
The maximum single file size is still 4 GB, but keep in mind this doesn't mean your iPhoto or Aperture databases won't be safe. Those databases are actually just folders with lots of smaller individual files, that's fine. If you have individual files over 4 GB in size, those won't be backed up with Backblaze. You'll need to split the files into smaller segments or make alternate arrangements.
What's new and improved
I talked to Backblaze CEO Gleb Budman last week about what is new and improved in the official launch of Backblaze for the Mac. It's really clear, especially comparing the beta version of the client to the new official release, that the company really took the feedback from its Mac users to heart.
The biggest improvement in the service is the ability to backup from external drives. Gleb remarked, "Mac users love their external hard drives." This is very, very true. In the beta version of the client, you could backup from an external drive, but the interface was clunky and unintuitive.
Now, backing up from an external drive is as simple as checking a check box. Check what drives you want to backup and when that drive is connected, it will be monitored and backed up to your account. If it isn't connected, the Backblaze still remembers that drive and when you do plug it in again, data backup will resume. One note: Time Machine drives cannot be backed up to Backblaze (that would be backing up your backup drive, in addition to all your data, which is just overly redundant for a service like this). Additionally, your Boot Camp drives can't be backed up with Backblaze either. You'll want to use Backblaze for Windows while in Boot Camp or look at an alternate method of preserving that data.
One of my favorite features of Backblaze, from the beta, was the various data recovery options. Not only can you download all your data off of the Backblaze servers, you can also order your data on DVD or on a USB hard drive. During the beta, an external 160 GB USB hard drive with all of your data was $190. Now, that external drive is 500 GB in size. So if the unthinkable happens and your laptop is stolen or has a complete and total data meltdown, you can get a 500 GB external drive with all of your data sent overnight via FedEx to your door. That's the sort of ingenuity I like in an online backup service.
Five months later, I'm still really impressed with the Backblaze service. Online backups aren't going to be the ideal solution for every user -- if you have lots and lots of EXTREMELY large files or you are with an ISP that severely limits your bandwidth, having your own redundant solutions might be a better bet. But for most users -- having an online backup, even in conjunction with something like Time Machine, is a really good idea.
Backblaze is easy to use, effective at backing up your data and well designed for Mac users. The service is available now.