All posts by Nicole Perry

The File Cabinet of Doom

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

We all have that one overflowing file cabinet or possibly a closet we’ve been jamming full of files we think may be important to keep, whether because we might need them one day or they include too much personal information.

This year, with the income tax deadline extended to July 15th, I decided to try to sort through all the files I’ve put aside that I felt were important. I keep the current information I need for filing my taxes near me but the older documents I just throw in a box in my basement. With more time at home this year, I’ve realized that a lot has been “saved” over the years. Nonetheless, keeping the old records might come in handy if I need to produce them to file a claim for a tax refund, if someone steals any of my information, or if a creditor or an insurance company asks for specific records from longer than a few years ago.

After going through the process of sorting my old files and documents, I found that other people around me—family members or friends—also have a lot of important documents they want to digitize and back up, and might not know how to start. I want to help make that process a bit easier for other people and provide some peace of mind that all of your important documents stay safe and easy to access for years to come.

It’s important to note that not all of these files may be tax-related. You may be reading this post because you want to jump start documenting your family history or have old schoolwork that you want to save, and you came to this post to find a quick solution on how to save these paper documents on your computer. The information here can relate to many situations, so read on to learn more!

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Start

This is a great time to go through your documents and decide what’s worth keeping and what you should shred. The IRS recommends that you save your tax documents for three years and sometimes up to seven years depending on what kind of document it is.

Since 1997, the IRS will accept electronic records as long as they are legible and readable. Having your tax documents in a digital format allows you to get more organized with the way you keep them. When scanning your documents you’ll want to pay attention to what you are naming your files and the state that they are in. Make sure the new digital files are set up in a way that when you search later, you can easily find the information you’re looking for.

Getting the Paper Documents to Your Device

When picking a way to digitize the documents it’s all about what kind of device you feel most comfortable with using. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it at all, you can hire a professional to do it for you. Read on to learn more about both of these options.

Desktop Scanners

This is one of the most common methods of scanning. Whether you have a printer with a scanning function or a device only used for document scanning, this will get your documents on to your computer one scan at a time. There are many different kinds of scanners for different use cases so we recommend comparing reviews of scanners to think about the features that best fit your needs.

Using a desktop scanner will take you a while depending on the size of documents you need to scan but it is a good option for a long term project if you prefer to organize your files on your own.

Third-Party Apps for Your Phone

This option will speed up the scanning process a little more compared to using a scanner. These apps like Evernote Scannable or CamScanner will use your phone’s camera to scan printed documents, receipts, family reunion pictures, birth certificates, and more. Some may even have a function that will analyze the type of document and sort it into a folder for you. That means that all of your photo scans are saved in one folder, while scanned documents go in another. Depending on the third-party app that you chose, it could also have connections to sync services, like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Also, depending on the phone that you have, there may be first party apps available as well, like PhotoScan by Google. If you’re using an Apple device, iOS 11 includes a scanning feature built-in to the Notes app, while iOS 13 supports a scan and sync feature in the Files app.

Document Scanning Services

If you have a very large (closet size) amount of documents to save, then you may not feel comfortable doing it all by yourself. This is when a professional can help you with your project. You can send all your files to a company near you that offers document scanning services. They will work with you to digitize all your important documents and even sort them into folders (and possibly subfolders) to keep your paper documents organized and easy to find on your device. They also give you the option to shred documents you no longer need. This option will off-load the stress that may come with going through your big box of document doom.

One thing to note: These services are great for things like photos, but be aware that you will send them your personal, private, or confidential information, and that they will have access to that data.

Now Your Files Are Digital. What’s Next?

Now that you’ve had your documents digitized on to your computer or a hard drive, it’s important to make sure you protect that data from computer damage (spilled coffee can wreak havoc), viruses, and ransomware by backing up your device.

If you’re using a third-party app to scan and sync your tax documents, you’ll want to be sure you’re also backing them up. Using a sync service, like Google Drive or Dropbox, doesn’t guarantee that your data stays protected. (We go into the details of the differences between sync and backup in this post.) These things may sound very similar but the important difference is that a sync service lets you access the same files across devices, whereas a backup service saves a copy of the most recent version of your data on your computer to another location. More simply: Sync doesn’t protect your data from accidents or disasters.

If you are new to backing up your data, it’s good to make sure you have three copies of your data, the original and at least two backups: one local, on your desktop or on a hard drive, and one in the cloud. Having backups of your newly digitized data ensures that you will always have your important tax information whenever you may need it. We call this the 3-2-1 backup strategy, and you can read more about what it means, here.

It’s important to actively back up your old tax records (or any records) in case you may need to produce them one day. Digitizing and organizing your documents now will help if that situation ever occurs.

Do you have any tips on backing up paper documents that we didn’t mention above? Share them in the comments below!

The post The File Cabinet of Doom appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

How to Download and Backup Your Google Drive

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

a woman thinking about how to download and backup her Google Drive

When I first started using Google Drive I saved everything there. Class projects, presentations for work, notes from meetings, resumes, recipes, and family mailing lists. You name it—all of my files lived in my Google Drive because of how easy it was to access and share them there.

However, the longer I used Google Drive, the more I used it while juggling different accounts (school, personal, and work). So, inevitably, I lost track of where some of my favorite files were located. But then I faced a real challenge: My university announced they would soon be deleting my year’s academic Google Accounts. I realized, as I considered this change, that a lot of important files and emails were on that account that I absolutely needed.

Whether controlled by work, school, or your housemate, Google Accounts are not permanent. Depending on the type of account you have, or who controls it, you may suddenly only have limited access to the account; you might lose your passwords and not have access to the means to reset them; the domain might lapse and get picked up by someone else; or, at the extreme end, your account could be hacked.

So whether you want/need to leave your Google Account for a new service, or you just want to save a copy of all your Google data to a second source, you need to understand how one retrieves and backs up content from a cloud sync service. We’ve outlined some simple steps for you to achieve that, here.

How to Download from Google Drive

Log in to the Google Account you would like to copy your data from.

On average, people have two email accounts, so it is important to make sure you are logged in to the correct Google Account before you start this process. Once signed in, you will want to go to Google Drive itself: From there, click on the top right corner of the page where your account profile image is located and a drop-down menu (like the one pictured below) will appear.

screenshot of Manage your Google Account

Select “Manage your Google Account” and you will be led to a new page where you will have four different options to choose from. Select the section labeled “Privacy & personalization.” This is where you will see what data, activity, and preferences your Google Account has associated with it. From here you want to select “Manage your data & personalization” which will bring you to the page where you can download your data.

Once you get to the new page, scroll down to the section labeled “Download or delete your data” and select “download your data.” This will lead you to a new website named Google Takeout. Here, you can export a copy of the content in your Google Account to keep on a local storage source. A reminder before we go forward: this is going to download your data, but it does not delete it from your Google Account.

Select the data you want to download.

Google Takeout select data screenshot

On this page, you can select to download an archive of your Google Drive and also your Chrome bookmarks, transactions from various Google services, locations stored in Google Maps, Google Drive contents, and other Google-related products you may use.

When most people think about downloading the data they store in Google Drive, they’re thinking about the documents, photos, and other larger files they work with, but as Google Takeout makes clear: You have a lot more data stored with Google outside of Drive.

Here’s why you might choose to export everything: to have a copy of bookmarked websites, to have a copy of emails that may contain files you’ve lost over time, or to have a copy of important voicemails from loved ones in Google’s Voice product that you want to keep forever. Also, when you download all of your data it is a good reminder of what information Google has on you.

Decide how you would like your files to be delivered.

Once you have decided what parts of your Google data you would like to download, you will have to pick what file type you would like it sent as, the frequency you would like this action to happen (example: if you would like your data to be downloaded every six months this is where you can set that to happen), and the destination you would like your data to be sent to.

Google Takeout delivery method screenshot

When picking a destination for where your data will be sent once you download it, you can choose from having the files emailed to you or sent to a sync service (if you use one) like Dropbox or OneDrive.

Depending on the size of your data, Google may send you multiple emails with different sizes of files. You can choose to have these files sent as a .zip file or a .tgz (tar) file. The main difference between the two options is that a .zip file compresses every file independently in the archive, but a .tgz file compresses the archive as a whole.

What to do once you have your data in your inbox.

An email will appear in a few minutes, hours, or a couple of days (depending on the size of data you are downloading), informing you that your Google data is ready to download. Once you have this email in your inbox, you have a week to download the data. Click the “download your files” button in the email and—presto—you will have a .zip file or a .tgz file (depending on what type of file you picked) on your computer with your Google data.

Your Google data is ready to download

Backing Up Your Google Drive

You now have your data with all of your important work out of the Google cloud and on to your operating system. What’s next? Protecting your newly downloaded Google data with a good cloud backup strategy should be the next thing you do.

Make sure to have at least two backups: one local, on your desktop or on a hard drive, and one in the cloud. (The word “cloud” may be confusing since you just had your data in a sync cloud service but we’ve found a simple way to define sync vs. backup.) Having two (or three) backups of your newly downloaded data ensures that you will never lose those projects you spent hours working on.

Do you have any techniques on how you download your data from Google Drive or other Google products? Share them in the comments section below!

The post How to Download and Backup Your Google Drive appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

A Beginner’s Guide to External Hard Drives

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

A hand holding hard drives up.

At the beginning of this month, I received a frantic phone call from a long time friend who teaches ninth grade English. She had just been given the news that she would have to start teaching from home. Her school district gave out Zoom accounts and external hard drives to some of the teachers in order to have them transfer their lesson plans from their school computers to the personal devices they have at home, and sent them on their way.

My friend never had to use an external hard drive before since she saved everything to the computer she used at work or on to a Google Drive account. She was nervous about using it incorrectly, breaking it, or even just finding it on her computer.

This is a reality for thousands of teachers and employees who are being asked to learn new skills at home without the aid of onsite IT help. If you’re one of many folks who are suddenly asking “what is this thing?” and “how will it be helpful to me?” and “I hope I don’t break it”—all while trying to schedule online lesson plans, big meetings, or just trying to continue your connection with your students—you’re not alone! Lots of folks are dealing with this, and we’re here to help with a guide for setting up and protecting your new hard drive.

When you first start using an external hard drive, you might be annoyed by the need to learn something new, or you may simply ignore it. But we love hard drives (obviously) and will include some information below regarding the benefits they can bring to your table: extra space on your computer for new files and applications, portability, and more!

A Guide to Setting Up Your First External Hard Drive

During this COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves in situations where we are handed external hard drives to keep our files safe. We hope these tips will help you understand how to best utilize your external hard drive and protect your data.

Getting Started

While it might seem like a no brainer, the first step for setting up your hard drive is to plug it into your computer. An external hard drive typically has one or two cords, usually one for the computer which transfers the data, and another that may also go into your computer or an electric plug to power the hard drive. Small, external, portable hard drives usually need only one cable for both data and power.

Know What’s On Your External Hard Drive

Store only what’s needed. External hard drives are simple: you plug them in, they appear on your computer, and you can simply click and drag your files onto them to copy the files onto the hard drive. But it’s important to monitor what’s on your external hard drive. You can do this by periodically checking your drive to make sure your files are up to date and still needed.

To find where a connected external drive is located on your Mac, try opening Finder. You can do this either by clicking the default Finder icon at the bottom left end of your Dock, or by pressing Command + Space bar, and searching in Finder, or by pressing Shift + Command + C. Once Finder is open, you should see your drives listed either immediately or in the left-hand navigation column under “Locations.” From here, you can click on specific drives to view their contents.

For a Windows computer, you may see variations depending on the version of Windows you are using. In general, you will find your drives listed in File Explorer by clicking on Computer or This PC in the left-hand navigation bar. If you are unsure on how to open File Explorer, try looking for it in your Start Menu. You can also try clicking on your desktop and pressing Windows Key + E together. Once you have located the drives, you should be able to click on specific drives to view their contents.

Delete Duplicates

Another important thing to remember when reviewing the files on your external hard drive is to delete duplicates. Occasionally we will create a copy of a project or create a final edit of a video and have multiple saved versions of the same file. Deleting the duplicates you do not need can help your drive run faster and free up space for more files. You can manually check your files for duplications or use an application that will find and delete duplicate files on your drive.

Learn How to Clean Your Drive

To keep an external hard drive clean you must clean both the hard drive itself as well as the area around the actual computer. Most important is to keep your drive and surrounding areas free of dust. Keeping the airflow in your device free of dust or other debris makes it less likely to overheat. If you’ve already run your hard drive in a dusty environment, compressed air is the best cleaning tool for remedying your situation.

To know where to blow the compressed air you should look for the fan vent, check where the USB ports are, and find other spots on the external hard drive that could collect dust over time.

Finally, it’s important to keep the area around your external hard drive uncluttered to allow for maximum airflow. Be sure to move anything around your drive that may be blocking its airflow like books, papers, etc.

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

3-2-1 Backup

While storing information in the cloud has become second nature to most, there’s still nothing like having everything saved on a physical device. A 3-2-1 backup strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are located locally but on different types of media (like an external hard drive), and at least one copy that is offsite. So, if you have your files on your computer and your hard drive (which you should store separately from your computer when not in use), you need one other copy stored separately from your house. That’s where the cloud comes in.

There are numerous cloud backup services that will service your computer and your attached drives. We’re partial to our own, of course, and, with Backblaze’s Yearly and Forever Version History features, you can back up your external hard drive easily without having to worry about plugging it in every 30 days.

Keep Your Operating System Up to Date

Your operating system (OS) is the interface of the computer that your external hard drive connects to. We have all hit “remind me later” on an update dialog from our computer at some point in our lives, but updating your OS will ensure that your computer is secure, that your system can run better, and that hard drives are able to properly connect to your files. Updating your OS can vary depending on what kind of computer you have. The best place to look for how to update your OS is in your system’s preferences.

Depending on the age of your computer, however, you should reach out to your local IT person before updating. Some older computers are not able to run, or run very poorly on newer systems.

Prepare for a Drive Failure

Don’t wait until it’s too late. The average hard drive manufacturer’s warranty is only three to five years, and budget hard drives can be even less. This number does not take into consideration physical damage, make or model, or conditions that they are stored in.

When using an external hard drive, you have to prepare for the day that it fails. There are several different ways you can monitor your external hard drive’s health. When it’s near its end, you’ll see or hear the signs like strange clicking or screeching noises, slower performance, and encountering lots of errors when trying to open folders on the drive. You can manually check the status of your drives on your computer.

For a Windows computer, you’ll use a simple command prompt that will tell your computer where to look and what to check. Just right-click the Start menu on your computer, select Run, and type “cmd” or type “cmd” into the search bar. In the Command Prompt window that opens, copy and paste “wmic diskdrive get model,status” without the quotation marks and hit enter. This command will run and it will return “Pred Fail” if your drive is not performing, or “OK” if the drive is performing well.

For a Mac computer, you can monitor the status of your external hard drive by opening Disk Utility by going to Applications and then Utilities. Next, you will click on the drive you would like to test to see how it’s performing. Once you click the drive you would like to check on in the top right corner, click on First Aid. If your drive is performing well, you’ll be able to scroll until you find where it says the volume appears to be OK. If it is not performing well, this process will automatically notify you of any problems like file corruption, an external device not working properly, or that your computer won’t start up. Disk Utility will not detect or repair all problems that a disk may have, but it can give you a general picture.

There are tools or apps you can download to monitor your external hard drive’s health on a Mac using S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) diagnostics. One tool that does a good job is an app called DriveDx, which costs $20 (but you can test it out with a free trial first). DriveDx will help you continuously monitor your drive with a menu bar item that you can pull down and check the status of your drive.

In Conclusion…

Starting out with an external hard drive is exactly like starting out with any piece of technology you might own. The more you educate yourself on the ins and outs of taking care of it, the better it will run for you, hopefully. But if something bad were to happen, you should always have a backup plan (we suggest Backblaze, but you probably already know that) to protect your new piece of equipment.

Are you a hard drive expert? Are there any tips you would like to share with beginners? Be sure to share them in the comments below.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to External Hard Drives appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Saving Your Uncle’s Data: How To Back Up a Social Media Profile

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Helping Your Relative Back Up Their Social Media

Over the holidays, I was doing what every 20-something does with their family over break… teaching them the ins and outs of Facebook! “How do I comment on a post?” or, “Where do I share my status?” are the usual questions, but this time my uncle asked me something that I didn’t have a clear answer for: “How do I download the photos I’ve posted on Facebook?”

A little backstory: My uncle has spent every family reunion taking tons of pictures of our extended relations and then sharing everything on Facebook. As we were talking, I realized—with a little horror—that Facebook was the only place he kept copies of his photos. Forget backups, he didn’t even have the originals on his home computer. He just wanted copies saved on his personal device so that he could share the photos with the non-Facebook-using members in our family, but I wanted to ensure that our cherished history wasn’t locked up on Facebook or lost forever.

It’s increasingly common to realize that you’re missing photos that you know are only on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. But it seems like most of us—myself included, until just recently—are unsure of how to retrieve and save these images without spending days copying each picture to our camera roll. So to help my uncle, and my family, (and hopefully you!) I went on a search for an easier answer to downloading albums from Facebook.

What I found was a very easy way to not only extract photos but also to download all of your personal data from Facebook. So whether you are doing this because you wish to leave the social media world behind but don’t want to lose your memories, or you would just like to keep a copy of everything you post, here’s a guide for how you can extract your data from Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—and a little encouragement to ensure it’s all backed up once you’re done.

How To Download Your Facebook Data

Facebook has a tool that lets you download all your data—including those “wall” posts you made on friend’s profiles, the chat messages to old colleagues trying to reconnect, the “About You” information you wrote in the late 2000s you may have forgotten was there (or at least, that you may want to forget), and, of course, the photos.

On the Facebook site, after you’ve logged in, navigate to “Settings,” or go to After you’re there, click on “Your Facebook Information” in the column on the left. This is the page where you can view, download, or delete your data at any time. To download your information, click the “Download Your Information” button. This will open the following screen:

Facebook Information Download Page

On this page, you can select the types of information you would like to download and the date ranges you want. You can also select from 24 different categories in which Facebook collects your data. This ranges from your posts, to the advertisements you’ve interacted with, to your likes/reactions, your search history, and more. This is where you can click “Photos and Videos” if you would like to extract just those files from your Facebook.

After selecting what you would like to download from your Facebook account, you will need to select the file format you would like to receive the data in. They give you the option to choose between HTML and JSON formats. HTML is the more user-friendly option for those who are not very tech-savvy as it makes your data easy to read. JSON is a little more technical, but it is helpful if you would like to take your data and move it to a different web browser.

Facebook will let you know when your copy is complete, so you can download the file to your preferred device. It’s as simple as that! My uncle had all of his wonderful photos from our family reunions within minutes. Depending on how much content you’ve posted to Facebook it might take more or less time for the file to be prepared.

Please note, this option does not remove your current photos and videos from Facebook, it will only give you a copy of the files. To delete these items you will have to return to “Settings.” Once there, go to “Your Facebook Information” again, and click on “Deactivation and Deletion” to learn more about your options.

How To Download Your Instagram Data

Although most users interact with Instagram through its mobile app, you’ll need to log into your account in a web browser to download your data. Once you are logged in on, navigate to your profile page (click on the little “person” icon in the upper righthand corner) and then click on the “gear” icon next to the “Edit Profile” button and select “Privacy and Security.”

Instagram Privacy and Security Page

Once on the privacy and security page, you should scroll down to “Data Download,” and click “Request Download.” On this page, (pictured above) you can request a copy of what you have shared on Instagram. All you need to do is enter the email you would like your data sent to, then enter your account’s password, and up to 48 hours later you will receive a file including all of your profile information, photos, videos, archived Instagram Stories (those posted after December 2017), your post captions, and direct messages.

How To Download Your Twitter Data

Comparable to the Instagram process, you will need to log in to your Twitter account on a web browser to start the process of downloading your data. After logging in, start by clicking on the “More” section in the navigation bar. From there, a new navigation bar will appear. You should select the “Settings and Privacy” tab to progress.

Under the “Account” section, you will find an area labeled “Data and Permissions.” Here, you can select “Your Twitter Data” and it will lead you to a new page where you will be able to download your data.

Twitter Data Settings Page

Twitter will ask you if you would like to request an archive of your Twitter data or Periscope data. (Periscope is a live video streaming app for Android and iOS that you can use to “go live” on Twitter.) Once you select if you would like to download your data from Twitter, Periscope, or both, then you can click the button labeled “Request Archive.” You’ll get a notification with a link when your archive is ready to be downloaded. At that time, you will receive a ZIP file from Twitter with what they believe is most relevant and useful to you. This will include your direct messages, Twitter moments, profile media, and media you used in your tweets like gifs, photos, and videos.

You’ve Downloaded Your Social Media Data—Now What?

If you are looking up how to download your photos and videos from social media sites like my uncle and I did this winter break, then you must be doing this for a reason, and that reason could be that you don’t want to lose these memories. Protecting your newly downloaded Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter data with a good backup strategy should be the next thing on your list.

Make sure to have at least two backups: One local, on your desktop or on a hard drive (it’s best to have both!), and one in the cloud. Having two (or 3) backups of your data from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ensures that you will never lose those pictures you shared, funny tweets you created, and all the creative captions you use for your posts. For more on how to keep your newly downloaded social media data safe, read our Backblaze Computer Backup Guide.

Are there any other social media sites that we missed that you would like to know how to download your data from their site? Share them in the comments below!

The post Saving Your Uncle’s Data: How To Back Up a Social Media Profile appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

6 New Year’s Resolutions to Protect Your Data

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

New Year's Data Resolutions

“New Year, New Me”—or so we like to think around this time. When the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, it feels like a fresh start to achieve something great in the next 366 days you’ve been given (Happy Leap Year!). Whether it’s working out, eating healthy, or going on vacation more often, most everyone’s made a list and aimed to fulfill it at some point in their lives.

This year, we propose keeping your data in mind when considering any new year’s resolutions. Your data is filled with important memories from years past, treasured pictures, essential documents, and personal projects that you do not want to lose. With ransomware affecting increasing numbers of people, there are more reasons than ever before to write “protecting my data” on the top of your list for 2020.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a selection of best practices to get you started. Whether you do one of these or all, you will be taking great steps to protect your data!

Set Up Two Factor Authentication for Your Accounts

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) provides an extra layer of protection against being hacked by adding a second step to verify users. 2FA notifies you whenever someone tries to log in to your account and will not give them access until you enter the second identification code. You can choose from many different delivery options to receive the code, like an SMS text, voicemail, or using an application like Google Authenticator (we recommend the latter as it’s the most secure).

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

Have a 3, 2, 1 Backup Plan

A 3-2-1 backup strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are located locally but on different types of media (like an external hard drive), and at least one copy that is offsite. You can store your data offsite with Backblaze’s personal backup or B2 cloud storage options. This will protect you from accidental data loss as a result of natural disasters, malware, or plain old personal error.

Practice Restoring Your Data

We all dread it: a catastrophic drive failure or computer crash. At that moment, you are going to be stressed out and on edge. Preparing ahead of time for the disaster by practicing restores will keep you calm and confident during the crisis. Backblaze has 3 different options for when you need to restore your data: downloading a zip file, ordering a USB drive, or ordering a hard drive. You can also download individual files either at home, or on the go using Backblaze Mobile Apps. Knowing how the restore process works means that should disaster strike, you’ll be cool, calm, and collected.

How to Restore Lost Files

Protect Your Passwords

Yes, we used the plural version of “password.” Reusing the same password for every account can cause all of them to be vulnerable. Malicious actors will take previously leaked account credentials and try them on different sites, hoping that they have been reused. And they’re often successful. You can use websites like Have I Been Pwned to keep an eye on whether your email addresses and the passwords associated with them have been compromised in the past. Going forward, we recommend using password managers like 1Password or DashLane to aid your use of multiple, different, complex passwords.

Anti-theft your device

Backblaze has a way to track your computer if it is lost or stolen. Our Locate My Computer feature has helped many of our customers out of sticky situations. By allowing users with this feature enabled to see a rough representation of where their computer was last located and the IP address associated with its last known transmission, we’ve helped them to find their beloved machines and recover them safely.

Report Any Suspicious (Phishing) Messages

We’ve all received too many spam calls, texts, and emails at this point. One of the ways we can stop them from happening is reporting unwanted and suspicious emails, texts, and voicemails to the correct sites. The Federal Trade Commission is a great resource to find where to report these attempts and prevent future incidents from happening.

These are some of the things we recommend you do this year to protect your accounts. Do you have a specific way that you protect your data? Let us know in the comments below!

The post 6 New Year’s Resolutions to Protect Your Data appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

The STEMs of Backblaze: How We Got Here

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math acronym (STEM) paired with graphic representations of each field and a photo of a young girl holding a statistics book.

November 8th marks the celebration of National STEM day, calling attention to the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in young peoples’ education. Without these programs encouraging young minds to enter STEM fields, we would be hard-pressed to find the Backblaze staffers of the future. As such, a day like this is something we have to celebrate here in our office.

Many of our teammates missed out on the educational initiatives around tech that exist today, but they did not let age, gender, or socioeconomic status stop them from reaching the top of their respective fields. So in honor of the day, we decided to share some of their STEM-related stories with an eye toward inspiring you. Whether they rouse you to dig into your own mid-career shift, or to encourage your kids to consider STEM, or to send an application our way, we hope these stories add to your understanding of how helpful STEM can be in any life.

The STEMs of Backblaze

From Crash Bandicoot to Front End Developer

Steven Peniche, Front End Developer at Backblaze
Steven Peniche, Front End Developer at Backblaze

Steven, a front end developer at Backblaze, started out as a bellman at the Greenwich Hotel in New York City, but his love for digital media—beginning with games like Naughty Dog’s work of art, “Crash Bandicoot”—encouraged him to sign up for a boot camp for web development called Bloc. After 6 months, Steven launched into the work force with one mission: To make the world a better place, one product at a time.

“That love for video games became a love for technology and software,” said Steven, reflecting on his early years in tech. “As I grew older, played more games, discovered the joys of dial-up internet and witnessed cable TV move into the high definition era, my interest for what powered all of these sources of entertainment peaked.”

Tina Cessna, Backblaze's VP of Engineering, holding a Storage Pod Vent
Tina Cessna, Backblaze VP of Engineering

Taking the Leap to Director of Engineering

Not everyone is as confident as Steven, though. Would you just walk into a coding bootcamp with no experience? Intimidation can be a big reason why someone shies away from working in a STEM related field. Our Vice President of Engineering, Tina, believes that you should not shy away from intimidation. She believes that embracing your jump into the unknown will help you find the fun in your field of work.

“Never think that you are not good enough or smart enough to learn anything,” said Tina, when asked what advice she would give to young engineers. “I feel like there is a misconception that engineering is boring or for geeks or whatever and that’s not true at all. And also, just because it is a male dominated industry doesn’t mean other women shouldn’t just go for it. It’s actually really fun once you start doing it. Essentially, just don’t let the intimidation get to you. Anyone can learn it.”

And she speaks from experience: Tina was the only woman in her Electronic and Computer Engineering classes at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, but now she’s running Backblaze’s engineering efforts. Without her, our engineering team would not run as smoothly and efficiently or have projects like extending your version history release on time!

A photo of Sona, Sales Operations Executive
Sona Patel, Backblaze Sales Operations and Enablement Manager

From Microbiology to Backblaze Sales Operations and Enablement Manager

Tina makes a good point that most people tend to miss: the difference between the impossible and something that just makes you uncomfortable. Sona, our Sales Operations and Enablement Manager, spent her undergrad years preparing to attend med school. But when it came around to applying for post-grad programs or applying for jobs, she realized that her biological sciences degree qualified her for a range of different positions beyond the medical field.

“Do something that makes you uncomfortable,” said Sona, reflecting on what she would tell her younger self when starting out. “Because if you fail you fail, but if you don’t fail you might be opening up a door to something that you didn’t even know you wanted to do.” Embracing her discomfort allowed Sona to explore other careers, like working as a microbiologist at Shasta Beverages, Inc. and, now, being our go-to person for implementing software to supercharge our sales efforts here at Backblaze.

Chris Bergeron, our Technical Operations Director
Chris Bergeron, Director of Technical Operations at Backblaze

Experimenting with Technical Operations

This is true for our Director of Technical Operations, Chris, who started as a system administrator after stepping away from the college path because he felt more comfortable with a hands-on learning experience. Chris had always tinkered with computers and software during his summer breaks from school so he felt confident that this field was the right place for him.

“Try things. Experiment. The sooner you get plugged into a social network of some kind in your field, like a group or a club or an open-source project, the sooner the world will open up for you,” said Chris. “Because the people you meet will come from all different walks of life you will see all the different things they do and some of them might be interesting and different than what you initially thought of doing.”

Whether it’s toying with computer motherboards like Chris did, stargazing, app building, or even setting up your shot in basketball, chances are that your hobbies have roots in STEM. The average person indulges in these related activities without even knowing it.

Amanda Beach, Senior Accountant at Backblaze
Amanda Beach, Senior Accountant at Backblaze

Art, Dance, and Programming Sequences

Amanda is our Senior Accountant and her father, Brian, is our Distinguished Engineer. When she was younger her hobbies were art, dance, and… learning about programming sequences.

“I feel like [doing math] came very naturally,” said Amanda. “I grew up in a very math-friendly household. My dad started teaching me algebra really early. They were excited about it so they both did software engineering and programming. They would, ‘just for fun,’ teach me programming problems and I would be asking them about matrices and things like that.”

Of course, we don’t all have brilliant engineers for parents, but that doesn’t mean that Amanda’s experience isn’t useful. STEM programming is all about giving young people exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math in ways they can relate to. With Amanda, that was programming problems. But school systems all over have adapted STEM programs to their curriculum to build enthusiasm for kids who like to tinker with robots or treat math problems like a competition. You can even bring it home for your own family. The trick is to find fun, science-related activities that help kids continue to expand their excitement for these fields.

It might seem hokey, but it can be fun. For instance, at Backblaze, we still do STEM style experiments, like the day we used bubbles and a fog machine to test the air flow in the office (as seen in the video below).

Do you have an interesting story of how you came to be in the STEM field of work? Or resources for how you passed your enthusiasm on? Share them in the comments below!

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Welcoming the Greenest Member of Support

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Our Newest Support Tech, KC3

Growing into the Role: A Tuberspective into the Greenest Member of Support

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the Tech Support crew, KC3. (To be clear, his name is KC, but we already have two Casey’s!)

This lil’ spud is a real go-getter. Although not yet answering tickets or eye deep in support chats, he brings a real spark of life to the team. Brought on by an existing Support Tech, Dan Mote, with a recommendation from one of our Physical Media Techs, JC Castaneda, we knew KC3 would dig right in and get dirty, working alongside everyone else.

KC3 on his first day
Day One: Fresh faced and rarin’ to go!

To be candid, he did have to be carried initially, but once he’d been with us a couple of weeks, he really set down roots. Since then, he has been invaluable to other teams as well!

KC3's first personnel review.
Internal discussion about personnel growth.

As is customary for all new hires, he had to do “The Questionnaire”!

Backblaze: What is your Backblaze title?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: How Prestigious. For entry-level? Wow. Where are you originally from?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Real strong roots there. Nice! What attracted you to Backblaze?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: We appreciate that. What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Lofty goals indeed. Where else have you worked?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Started at ground level, how industrious! Where did you go to school?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Ivy league, neat! What’s your dream job?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Such noble aspirations. Of what achievements are you most proud?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: That’s so sweet. Why do you like certain things?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: How insightful! Favorite place you’ve traveled?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: That’s fairly far afield, sounds fun. Favorite hobby?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: That’s a hot scene, I could see hopping from place to place. Favorite food?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Sorry, we won’t bring it up again. Star Trek or Star Wars?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Wise choice, considering the split in the office already. Coke or Pepsi?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: No, no, vodka is an acceptable answer. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Deep. We look forward to you applying that salt-of-the-earth wisdom to your tasks!

Although not a-peeling during his first few days, he has unequivocally grown over the last few weeks. So much so that he has even risen to a spudvisory role—keeping an even tone and demeanor, even when engaged in difficult conversations.

KC3's open door policy.

Thanks for joining the team, KC3. We look forward to you continually rising to the challenge, reaching higher and higher with your perfectly starched attire!

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Welcome Pavritha — Sales Engineer

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

In the last couple of years, we’ve released products that businesses of all sizes love: Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage and Backblaze for Business Computer Backup. Those businesses want to integrate Backblaze deeply into their infrastructure so in comes Pavritha, Sales Engineer! Let’s learn a little more about her, shall we?

What is your Backblaze Title?
Sales Engineer.

Where are you originally from?

What attracted you to Backblaze?
The exciting opportunity and the work culture.

What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
I will try to learn everything possible and focus a lot on my role.

Where else have you worked?
Yotascale Inc. worked for a year.

Where did you go to school?
California State University -East Bay.

What’s your dream job?
I would love to do travel journalism at some point in time.

Of what achievements are you most proud of?
Flying all the way from India to the US achieving my master’s degree and now to land in a job as a Solutions Engineer.

Favorite place you’ve traveled?

Favorite hobby?
Traveling and trying out different food.

Favorite food?
I am basically foodie so I enjoy food and if it has to specific then it will be Asian and Italian cuisine.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
So I am a person who likes to experiment a lot with food whenever I get a chance I will try out some new place or a new cuisine and I also love to recreate those dishes at home. One more thing which I am sort of good at is giving good choices when it comes to food based on what the occasion is also based on the food.

You’re in luck Pavritha! We just started a blog post series about how to become a digital nomad. Welcome aboard to the team!


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Welcome Griffin — Junior Buyer

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Backblaze is growing quickly and we need good folks to help keep this well-oiled machine well oiled. We also keep buying more and more stuff. We needed help! Enter Griffin to support our purchasing team. We’re glad to have him on board full time to help us with our very large piles of purchases! Let’s learn a bit more about Griffin, shall we?

Where are you originally from?

Belmont, CA.

What attracted you to Backblaze?

I immediately fell in love with the we’re all in this together team-driven feeling here. Everyone contributes to ensuring the success of all employees and the company as a whole.

What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?

I hope to learn how a company that believes in its product and trusts its employees grows and thrives in the ever-changing data management/security market.

Where else have you worked?

In the last few years I have worked at Oracle, CheckPoint, and Snowflake.

Where did you go to school?

UC Santa Cruz, graduating with a B.A. in Economics.

What’s your dream job?

I want to be a music producer. Figuring out how to fine-tune a song to perfection is my jam. Music is in the details, the pauses…  and accents. Some day I’ll be the next George Martin, Rick Rubin, or Timbaland. See you in the Top 40!

Of what achievements are you most proud of?

I am proud that I was able to graduate from college in only four years despite changing my major after three semesters.  I started as a physics major but transitioned to economics as I wanted to have a more usable and marketable skill set.

Why do you like certain things?

They bring me joy. If the music sounds good to you, it is good. If a movie was good for you, it is good. Find things you enjoy and enjoy them!

Favorite place you’ve traveled?

Barcelona. The food, the weather, the people. Perfect. I was only there for the final days of a trip, but I could have easily spent the entire time there.

Favorite hobby?

Making music or cooking. Both are artistic outlets to me, allowing me to showcase my style and tastes with others.

Favorite food?

Anything grilled or smoked.

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Trek. It is just the future we will live in soon.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. But, let’s not kid ourselves, water is the best beverage.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’m thrilled to be a part of this wonderful company and I can’t wait to see where we go together!

We are very excited you joined the team too, Griffin! And if we need help producing the next Backblaze song we will be sure to ask you first!

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Welcome, Lisa — Physical Media Technician

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

As Backblaze continues to grow, so does our physical media support team. Our latest physical media technician to join the team is Lisa. She will be helping to fulfill our customers’ needs when it comes to restores and hard drive returns. Let’s learn a little more about Lisa, shall we?

What is your Backblaze Title?
Physical Media Technician.

Where are you originally from?
Bred, born, and raised in San Jose, CA.

What attracted you to Backblaze?
A new, and exciting atmosphere, as well as a place I felt I could grow with.

What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
New skills, as well as what it’s like to work with such a blooming company.

Where else have you worked?
For the last nine years, I’ve worked for a small family (not my family) owned winery in Morgan Hill, called Morgan Hill Cellars.

What’s your dream job?
I dream to one day own a small cafe that sells sweets, cakes, and serves tea. Then I shall retire to my upstairs apartment, where I can sit and read beneath the warmth of my fat cat.

Of what achievements are you most proud of?
I was, and might still be a hot topic on Yelp on the winery’s (Morgan Hill Cellars) page. I also achieved the greatest honor of being referred to as “my favorite aunt.”

Why do you like certain things?
Well, to be honest, I often wonder about this question myself. What is it about a ticking clock that fills me with an unexplainable joy? Why do I find the color green so especially pleasing? Why does rain soaking into my hair, give me such an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling? Truly, what IS it about almonds that makes them so great!? Who are we to question the largest mysteries of the universe? We are merely but dandelion fluff upon a spoon, and as such we shall continue to float along in this world and enjoy all it has to offer us.

Favorite place you’ve traveled?
Scotland. There’s nothing like the fresh air of the great northern isle to make one feel calm and invigorated all at once.

Favorite hobby?
Kissing my cat’s head — she’d be so angry to hear I told you that. Maybe we’ll say crafting instead. Yes, crafting! I own far too much paper to be considered healthy.

Favorite food?

Star Trek or Star Wars?
To boldly go — and earl grey, hot.

Coke or Pepsi?

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I am a weaver of tales, a drinker of tea. I am an avid reader, as well as a passionate feeder of friends. By far I am full of flowery words, and lofty ideas, all mixed together with a fervent need to be useful. And above all, I am always, always happy to chat.

Lisa has the best book recommendations for anyone looking for a new, good read! Welcome to the Backblaze team, Lisa!

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Stranger in a Tech Land

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Silicon Valley Passport Stamp

I never considered myself to be extremely techy. My family and friends would occasionally come to me with computer problems that I could solve with the help of Google and FAQ pages, but I would not go much further than that.

When I came across Backblaze’s job posting for a marketing position, I applied mostly on a lark. My background looked similar to the job description, but I never expected to hear anything from them. When I received the email that I had gotten an interview with Backblaze, my initial thought was, how? Backblaze was the type of company I feared when first arriving in the Bay Area from Ohio. Worry began to bubble up in me about being in a room filled with people who were all smarter or more experienced than me. My family teased me that I would walk into my first day and it would be an episode of Punk’d.

Silicon Valley has a stigma for most everyone who isn’t located in the Bay Area. We assume it will be filled with competitive geniuses and be too expensive to survive. “You may be Ohio smart, but that’s a different kind of smart,” is something I have heard in actual conversations. And I, too, had similar thoughts as I considered trying to fit in at a startup.

Having watched the HBO show, Silicon Valley, my perspective of how my future coworkers would act could not have been more different from reality. The show portrays Silicon Valley workers as smug, arrogant, anti-social coders who are ready to backstab their coworkers on their way to the top of the industry. At Backblaze, I have found the opposite to be true: everyone has been supportive, fun to be around, and team-oriented.

Now that I live in Silicon Valley, rather than watching it, I have to say I let the intimidation get to me. One of my favorite quotes that helps me during times of high stress is by the Co-Founder of Lumi Labs, Marissa Mayer, in reference to how she’s succeeded in her career, “I always did something I was not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow.” That’s an important thing to remember when you are starting a new job, adventure, or experience: On the other side of the challenge, no matter how it goes, you’ll have grown. Here are some of the things that I have learned during my first few weeks of growth at Backblaze and living in the Bay Area. Hopefully, they’ll help you to try something you’re not ready for, too.

Nine Lessons Learned

Don’t be Thrown by Big Words

Write them down. Google is your best friend. There may be words, companies, software, acronyms, and a bunch of other things that come up in meetings that you have never heard before. Take notes. Research them and do research on how they apply to your company or work position. Most of the time it’s something you might have known about but didn’t know the correct word or phrase for.

No One Understands Your Thought Process

Show your work. Something that’s hard when it comes to talking to your boss or your team is that they cannot see inside your brain. Talk them through how you got to where you are with your thoughts and conclusions. There are plenty of times where I have had to remind myself to over-explain an idea or a thought so the people around me could understand and help.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Own up to your lack of knowledge. This one is tough because when you are new to a position you have the inclination to not lift the veil and reveal yourself as someone who does not know something. This could be something as big as not knowing how a core feature works or as small as not knowing how the coffee machine works. When you are new to a company you are never going to walk in and know exactly how everything works. At the moment you don’t understand something, admit it and most people you work with will help or at least point you in the direction of where and how to learn.

Living in Someone’s Backyard in an In-Law Suite is Normal

Look everywhere before choosing where to live. Moving to Silicon Valley while trying to establish a stable income sounds impossible, and indeed it is very hard. When talking to people before my move everyone would say, “ugh, the housing payments!” This was not encouraging to hear. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative ways to lower your housing costs. While living with roommates to drive housing costs down, I found a family that wanted to make a little extra money and had an unused in-law suite . While it’s not owning your own home or having a full-size apartment to yourself, it’s different and that can be fun! Plus, like with roommates, you never know what connections you will make.

Not Understanding the Software Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Get It

You have the experience, use it. I came to Backblaze with a very surface-level idea of coding, no idea about the different ways to back up my computer, and no knowledge of how the cloud actually works, but I did understand that it was important to have backups. Just because you don’t understand how something works initially doesn’t mean you don’t understand the value it has. You can use that understanding to pitch ideas and bring an outside perspective to the group.

Talk to People with Important Titles

They all have been in your shoes. The CEOs, presidents, directors, and managers of the world all have been in your position at one point. Now they hold those titles, so obviously they did something right. Get to know them and what they enjoy. They are human and they would love to share their wisdom with you, whether it’s about the company, their favorite food places nearby, or where they go to relax.

Don’t Let Things Slip

Follow up. If someone said they were going to show you something in a meeting or in the hallway, send them a note and see if you should schedule a chat. Have a question during an important meeting that you didn’t want to ask? Follow up! Someone mentioned they knew of a class that could teach something you wanted to learn? Make sure they send you a link! All work environments can feel busy but most people would rather you follow up with them rather than let them forget about something that might be important later on.

Soak In the Environment

Be a fly on the wall. Watch how the office operates and how people talk to each other. Get an idea of when people leave for lunch, when to put your headphones on, and what’s normal to wear around the office. Also, pay attention to who talks in meetings and what it is like to pitch an idea. Observing before fully immersing yourself helps you figure out where your experience fits in and how you can best contribute.

Know Yourself and Know Your Worth

You can figure it out. It may take time, patience, research, and understanding to stand confidently in a room full of experts in the field and pitch ideas. You’ve done it before. Maybe when you were little and asked your parents to take the training wheels off your bicycle? It took a few falls but you figured it out and you can do it again.

We hope that this was a little bit helpful or informative or at least entertaining to read! Have you ever joined a company in an industry you weren’t familiar with? What are some tips or hints that you wish you had known? Share them in the comments below!

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Welcome Kim — Senior Engineering Manager

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Joining to help manage our amazing, ever-growing team of engineers is Kim. Kim’s background with companies like Microsoft and makes her a great addition to the team. Let’s learn a little more about Kim, shall we?

What is your Backblaze title?
Senior engineering manager.

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Vietnam and came to the United States when I was 11 years old.

What attracted you to Backblaze?
I worked with Tina Cessna back in and she told me this is a great company to work for, surrounded by smart and friendly people.

What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
I expect to learn more about backup and restore business and technologies.

Where else have you worked?
I worked for for 7 years and prior to that at Microsoft for 10 years.

Where did you go to school?
I graduated from San Jose State University with a B.S in Business Accounting.

Of what achievements are you most proud of?
Having two beautiful kids.

Favorite place you’ve traveled?
I have too many places. To name a few: Italy, Croatia, and Japan.

Favorite hobby?

Favorite food?
Good food! I work for food.

Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars.

Coke or Pepsi?
Water and coffee.

In an office full of foodies, we feel like you will fit in great here at Backblaze Kim! Welcome aboard!

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Welcome Vincent — Business Development Representative

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

Backblaze business backup continues to grow and so does the department. Vincent has recently joined the team to help bring new clients to Backblaze! Let’s learn a little more about Vincent, shall we?

What is your Backblaze Title?
Business development representative

Where are you originally from?
Born and raised in San Jose, CA

What attracted you to Backblaze?
The solution, the culture of the company, and the great opportunity for growth with a company that is still growing.

What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
I expect to perfect my sales skills, become better at prospecting, and eventually move to a closing role. Beyond that; I would like to pursue a leadership role.

Where else have you worked?
I was previously a business development representative at Panzura, selling their Hybrid-Cloud NAS solution. Before that, I was a renewal specialist at Barracuda Networks renewing a wide range of networking solutions.

Why do you like certain things?
I like things that force me to be creative.

Favorite hobby?
I’ve been boxing for the past 8 years. I’m hoping to compete soon. My dad has been playing lead guitar in a band since his high school days, so naturally music has always been a part of my life. I’ve been producing music since 2005/2006: everything from hip-hop, R & B, to smooth jazz. I’ve been DJing for a number of years and am always looking for my next gig.

Favorite food?
Too many to name.

Star Trek or Star Wars?
Haven’t seen either. I know, I know. You can’t believe it.

Coke or Pepsi?

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Hard work. Dedication. Everyone wants to be successful; no one wants to put the work in.

Welcome to the team, Vincent! We may need your DJing skills at our next event!

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Welcome Mike — Senior Systems Administrator

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original

The data center keeps growing, with well over 500 petabytes of data under management, so we need more systems administrators to help us keep track of all the systems as our operation expands. Our latest systems administrator is Mike! Let’s learn a bit more about him, shall we?

What is your Backblaze title?
Sr. systems administrator.

Where are you originally from?
San Francisco.

What attracted you to Backblaze?
The culture of the company.

What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
Speed and reliability of the Backblaze products, and how to make beer.

Where else have you worked?
Yahoo, Google, Dialpad, GrandCentral, Standard & Poors, Care2.

Where did you go to school?
Mission College/San Jose State.

What’s your dream job?
To watch and report the daily surf forecast on the south side of Maui.

Of what achievements are you most proud of?
Being the best dad in the world.

Why do you like certain things?
If it makes me smile then I will like it.

Favorite place you’ve traveled?

Favorite hobby?

Favorite food?

Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars.

Coke or Pepsi?

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I don’t sleep.

Welcome to the Backblaze team, Mike! We are excited for you to learn about the speed and reliability of our products and how to make beer — both are very great skills to have working here!

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