All posts by Roderick Bauer

Digital Nomad: Sysadmin Elliott

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

map of the US with Elliott, digital nomad and Backblaze Sysadmin

The Digital Nomads Series

In this blog series, we explore how you can master the nomadic life — whether for a long weekend, an extended working vacation, or maybe even the rest of your career. We profile professionals we’ve met who are stretching the boundaries of what (and where) an office can be, and glean lessons along the way to help you to follow in their footsteps. In our first post in the series, we provided practical tips for working on the road. In this edition, we profile our very own Elliott Sims, Senior Sysadmin, who successfully completes his work for Backblaze while he and his wife and dog travel the country.

How does a Backblaze Senior Systems Administrator manage to look after Backblaze’s network and computer systems while working remotely? He does it by planning ahead to ensure a solid connection to our network at every destination and having multiple options to make sure he’s never without a connection.

As a Senior Sysadmin, Elliott is responsible for doing whatever it takes to keep Backblaze’s services up and running. That ranges from network and Ansible (an IT automation tool) configuration to working with engineering to triage problems or design future systems. Elliott describes his job as a mixture of fixing what’s broken and ensuring that things are less likely to break in the future.

Elliott Sims, Backblaze Senior Sysadmin and Digital Nomad
Elliott Sims, Backblaze Senior Sysadmin and Digital Nomad

Tenacious planning comes naturally to Elliott. It’s why he’s in his position: he enjoys technical challenges that might deter others, like fixing systems that fail in complicated and hard-to-track-down ways. Previous to Backblaze, Elliott worked for EDS/HP as a systems administrator and later for Facebook as a site reliability engineer and operations engineer. He made the move to Backblaze after he decided he wanted to work with a smaller team. The idea of working for a company that offered a useful service to people outside of the Silicon Valley bubble, where many companies only offer services to one another, was especially appealing.

Elliott and his wife, Robin, got the travel bug during their month-long honeymoon. They didn’t like dealing with unfamiliar hotel rooms and beds and the many places that don’t accept dogs (there was no way they were leaving Stitch behind), so they made the decision to bring their home with them on their travels. In July 2018, they purchased a 19′ Escape trailer RV.

Elliott admits that his choice of vehicles reflects his operations mentality: He wants to stay many steps ahead of what can go wrong in any situation. The Escape travel trailer is solidly built out of two pieces of molded fiberglass, which presents fewer seams where water could leak in. It also is equipped with lithium batteries that last longer and charge faster than other options, which is essential for someone who is using the RV as a mobile office.

Escape 19 RV
Escape 19 RV (stock photo)

Shortly after acquiring the Escape, Elliott and Robin made a commitment to live one year on the road. After six months, they realized that a year would not be long enough. Just one month in Washington, D.C. was clearly insufficient for them to get the know the area as well as they wanted. They changed their plans and resolved to stay on the road indefinitely.

How a Sysadmin Works Remotely

While most companies might not like the idea of a Senior Sysadmin working away from the office, Backblaze didn’t blink. And why would we? Through good planning, Elliott is rarely out of touch with the crew back in San Mateo and in our data centers, and at least once a quarter he visits us in San Mateo along with the rest of the remote Backblaze team. The rest of the time he’s on his own and makes it work despite the varying quality and availability of broadband he encounters on his travels.

Elliott’s Setup

Planning ahead means that Elliott knows what kind of broadband to expect at his next destination. It needs to be reliable and fast, as he’ll be working from that location for a number of days.

His first choice for a reliable broadband connection is Wi-Fi, but that’s not always available or sufficiently fast, so he has backup options that include multiple cellular plans and devices. When Wi-Fi doesn’t work for him, he can turn to one of his cellular routers or even tether his computer to his phone.


For Wi-Fi, Elliott uses a directional antenna on his Ubiquiti router to reach access points. He has learned that most of the time the limiting factor isn’t the range to the access point but the backhaul from the WiFi access point to the internet — frequently it just can’t handle the bandwidth required. He explains that public Wi-Fi in urban areas typically has a better backhaul, but unfortunately places like restaurants and cafes often block VPN and SSH, which makes using it for work difficult.


When he started out, Elliott had cellular plans with both AT&T and Verizon through resellers. But after a couple of weeks, the AT&T plan suddenly stopped working and Elliott couldn’t reach the reseller for help. His other plan on Verizon worked OK, but at the same time as AT&T quit on him, Verizon dropped from 4G down to 3G and stayed there. Unfortunately, 3G is being replaced with 4G in many areas, so that limited this options. To add insult to injury, it turned out that the Verizon plan was tied to a specific router, which Elliott had left at home in favor of a dual-SIM unit he was using. Topping it all off was the fact that all of this happened in the middle of nowhere along US-50 in Nevada.

There weren’t any local retail options Elliott could turn to for a fix. He made do for a time with the fair-to-poor RV park Wi-Fi and tethering his laptop to his phone, but cellular gets expensive and Wi-Fi goes downhill fast around 5 p.m. when all the RVers fire up their favorite movie streaming service. Elliott made the decision to turn to the only carrier he knew of with a viable and unlimited plan at that particular moment, T-Mobile. When he reached the next town he signed up for T-Mobile and added that SIM in the router.

Failure is Not an Option — Plan C

As we said earlier, Elliott’s job at Backblaze is making sure that essential data center systems are always working, no matter what. So, we can expect that just Wi-Fi and multiple cellular plans wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Elliott. That’s why he also has a Plan C in his connectivity toolbox. This plan involves tethering his laptop to his phone. It works, but is expensive at $10/GB and doesn’t have the coverage of Verizon or AT&T.

Plan C takes advantage of Google Fi, a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that can switch between cellular and Wi-Fi services depending on what’s available, even including less known cell service providers like Commnet, which Elliott encountered while visiting the Grand Canyon.

When he doesn’t have Wi-Fi and can’t make a cellular connection from his dual-SIM cellular router, Elliott can tether his laptop to his phone and use one of the carriers that aren’t Verizon or AT&T. Elliott says he hasn’t fallen back to tethering much due to the high cost, but he’s glad it’s there if everything else fails.

Elliott’s Mobile Office Setup

  • MacBook Pro laptop issued by Backblaze
  • Backup/emergency laptop in storage in the RV
  • Wired Apple keyboard
  • Logitech MX Ergo trackball
  • External USB3 monitor
  • Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M2 wireless access point with directional Wi-Fi antenna
  • Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini cellular router
  • MoFi Network MOFI4500 router
Pepwave Max main router
Pepwave Max main router on ceiling of RV
MoFi second router on table
MoFi Network second router on RV table


Security and Backup

Living on the road can increase the risk of loss through accident or theft, so Elliott follows strict practices for keeping both his personal and business data safe. Unfortunately, RVs are made of lightweight materials and there’s little one can do to keep a determined thief out. Unlike a house, it’s possible for someone to just hitch the entire thing up and drive away with it. Consequently, Elliott has to rely primarily on digital security. His laptop is secured with full disk encryption using Apple’s FileVault. All communication he does for work is over VPN, SSL, or SSH, which ensures end-to-end encryption.

Being a Backblaze employee, Elliott is on top of keeping everything on his laptop backed up to the Backblaze cloud — especially important with all the uncertainties of traveling. He makes heavy use of both Backblaze Computer Backup and B2 Cloud Storage for securing work and his and Robin’s personal files while on the road.

Work Desk

Elliott also has to make the most of limited space in his 19′ RV. The ergonomics of the dinette table were a problem early on, but Elliott settled on using an Apple keyboard he could prop in his lap and a trackball that fits better on the table instead of his usual mouse. A cushion brings the trackball up to a comfortable height. Elliott has an external USB3 monitor, but the limited table space available makes it impractical to use regularly.

Elliott's dinette workspace in the RV
Elliott’s dinette workspace with laptop, keyboard, trackball, and MoFi Network router


Elliott’s power setup for the RV is extensive — no surprise. He has solar panels on the RV roof, a charger/inverter, lithium batteries, and monitoring systems for the solar systems and the interior temperature.

These systems aren’t just to enable remote computing and living comfort. They want to be able to leave Stitch in the RV for a couple of hours while they shop or go to a movie and not have to worry about the heat. They also want to have the option to camp out in a friend’s driveway for a few days and run everything off a normal 15A outlet (which their inverter/charger’s hybrid mode is great for). The setup also comes in handy when Elliott has to spend the day working from a rest stop with no plugins, or on occasions when the RV campground’s electrical systems strain to keep up with air conditioners running in unusually hot weather.

The two 180W solar panels are the maximum that Elliott could fit on the roof of their small, 19′ trailer. He says that solar tech has improved since then, and he could bump the panels up to 2x200W, but much more than that would be challenging. It’s plenty of power most of the time according to Elliott, but on high-power-usage days or during overcast winter days, it’s not quite enough. He says he’d probably double it if he could.

The 5x100Ah lithium iron phosphate batteries were chosen because they are significantly more power-dense than lead-acids, and basically it was the only way he could cram enough energy capacity into the small space that was available. They’re pretty expensive, though. In theory, the much longer cycle life should make up for it over time, Elliott believes.

Elliott likes his Victron MultiPlus inverter/charger. It’s a high-power true sine wave inverter and high-current charger in one, but the current limiting and hybrid modes are where it really stands out. He can tell it to limit the amount of power it’s pulling from the power hookup by not charging the batteries, or even set it to pull supplemental power from the batteries when needed. This lets him do things like run a long extension cord to a shared 15A outlet and pull only 9A max while still running an air conditioner. Elliott says that will eat into the battery charge a little on really hot days, but usually the A/C cycles off enough that it can keep pace or close to it. The solar setup also helps a little bit in those situations.

Elliott’s battery monitor and solar controller are also from Victron, and he can keep an eye on them from his phone via Bluetooth with their app.

Elliott rigged a nice little system to monitor the temperature for when Stitch is left in the RV. It’s a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a small temperature sensor that’s hardwired in with a 12V->5V converter and reports data to Amazon Cloudwatch via the hardwired mobile router. He has graphing set up on a free Grafana account. The total monthly cost? — $0. He was hoping to also report data from the Victron gear via Bluetooth, but it turns out that although Victron uses standardized protocols for the wired stuff, their Bluetooth communication is proprietary.

Elliott’s Power Setup

  • 2x180W solar panels
  • 5x100Ah lithium iron phosphate batteries
  • Victron MultiPlus 12/3000/120 inverter/charger
  • Victron battery monitor
  • Victron solar controller
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W DIY temperature monitor
Electrical systems in RV
Electrical systems in RV
Lithium iron phosphate batteries (500Ah)
Lithium iron phosphate batteries (500Ah)


The Adventure Continues

So far, Ariel, Robin, and Stitch have traveled about 8,600 miles and visited 22 U.S. states. Along the way, they’ve especially enjoyed Washington, D.C., the Rockies, and Tahoe. While in Phoenix, they made a stop in the parking lot of Backblaze’s data center, where Elliott was able to work for a while in the data center office, which let him spread out a little bit from the RV’s dining table.

Skidaway Island, Georgia
Skidaway Island, Georgia
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona


After traveling back and forth across the country, Robin and Elliott decided that the 19′ Escape trailer is just not big enough, so they’re planning to upgrade to a 25′ Bigfoot trailer. That will give them not just more interior room, but a separate shower instead of a shower/toilet combination they currently have to endure. They’ll also gain the ability to walk around the bed, and the trailer will have bigger water and waste tanks. The bigger tanks will provide more flexibility for where they stay as they won’t have to find tank dump facilities as frequently.

Elliott, Robin, and Stitch's travels mapped across the US
Elliott, Robin, and Stitch’s travels in their Escape RV Since 2018

The traveling trio are currently in California, not that far from Backblaze’s main office in San Mateo. They won’t stay put for long, however. Future travel plans include heading for the Denver area to visit Robin’s family. Robin will continue to handle a lot of the long haul driving, while Elliott gets the urban driving duties. They definitely want to see more of the Washington, D.C. area, and plan to visit Banff in the Canadian province of Alberta, and maybe Mexico sometime in the future.

Wherever they are, they’ll always be in close touch with Backblaze and we’re glad of that, because we depend on Elliott’s skills in keeping our systems running smoothly 24/7.

Traveling companion Stitch
Traveling companion Stitch

We’d Love to Hear Your Digital Nomad Stories

If you consider yourself a digital nomad and have an interesting story about using Backblaze Cloud Backup or B2 Cloud Storage from the road (or wherever), we’d love to hear about it, and perhaps feature your story on the blog. Tell us what you’ve been doing on the road at

You can view all the posts in this series on the Digital Nomads page in our Blog Archives.

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Practical Tips to Help Digital Nomads Stay Connected

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

computer and cell phone on a boat

The open road has always held an allure of adventure and rebellion. Whether perched on an Indian or Harley-Davidson motorcycle, laid back in an old Chevy truck or a VW van, or sailing a sloop downwind to French Polynesia, who hasn’t daydreamed about breaking away from the daily slog?

Escaping the rat race used to mean separating from traditional employment as well as communication with the rest of the world. There were few jobs, other than those based on special skills and alternative lifestyles, that allowed for a road warrior lifestyle lived far from a business office or a city.

The New Era of Digital Nomads

That’s all changed. With the abundance of internet broadband available through Wi-Fi or cellular connections, most of the populated world can now travel almost anywhere and have access to family, clients, banking, shopping, cloud data, and the other digital services required just to get by in today’s society.

Programming, writing, photography, videography, and piece-work consulting are all naturally suited to a new, peripatetic lifestyle, and many in those fields are models of what a working nomad can do away from traditional work environments. But technologies like 5G and X Reality (XR) are opening the door to intricate tasks that in the past could only be performed in person. Procedures as demanding as remote surgery are now possible using telepresence technology. Who knows what skills and jobs will be able to done from thousands (or even millions of miles) away in the future? After all, today the Mars Rover can be driven by an operator in Pasadena, California.

Combine these new technologies with people’s imagination and creativity, and we can expect the number of people who live and work on the road to explode in coming years.

Our Series on Digital Nomads

In this blog series we’ll explore how you can master the nomadic life — whether for a long weekend, an extended working vacation, or maybe even the rest of your career. We’ll profile some professionals we’ve met who are stretching the boundaries of what (and where) an office can be, and glean lessons along the way to help you to follow in their footsteps.

We’ll be concentrating on those nomads whose needs include heavy data usage, such as videographers and other media and entertainment producers, IT professionals, and anyone else who needs the internet for more than just checking their email and social media and uploading photos from their travels.

Tell Us Your Story of Staying Connected on the Road

If you have a story you’d like to tell about working from the road (or water, air, or wherever you might be), or useful tips about how you make that lifestyle work, we’d love to hear from you. See our invitation at the bottom of this post for how to contact us.

Practical Tips for Digital Nomads

Before we launch into profiles, we’d like to offer a quick selection of tips for any of you considering this lifestyle for yourself. These are just the basics, and we hope you’ll offer your own suggestions in the comments. We’ll update this post with your ideas.

Staying Connected on the Road or Water

Internet connectivity is of course near the top of the list of required utilities for digital nomads. Just four years ago, Backblaze’s CEO Gleb Budman wrote a post about working on the road and gave some tips for how to do it. Many of Gleb’s recommendations are evergreen, but given how far the technology has progressed in four years, we should review the essentials for how to stay connected.

Tip #1 — Plan Ahead to Have the Services You Need

Planning ahead is probably our most important tip. While there are usually plenty of ways to stay connected en route, you’re going to want to be certain to find a reliable connection at your next stop, and you should know in advance where you’re likely to find it. Take advantage of books, articles, and online guides that direct you to the best places to find Wi-Fi and good cellular service.

Coffee shops, libraries, and restaurants can be good bets for connecting, but the bandwidth is likely to be limited and not usable for large uploads. They sometimes don’t allow VPNs and block anything other than web browsing. Paid internet cafes usually provide better bandwidth at a price. If you use the Wi-Fi guides we mention in this post, you’ll be prepared to go directly to the location best suited to your needs.

Planning Tips:

Tip #2 — Have Multiple Ways to Stay Connected

Next on our tip list is being sure you have a varied toolbox of tech options and service plans that will give you flexibility and increase your chances of finding a spot to connect no matter where you are. You can’t rely on just one cellular plan or a weak Wi-Fi transceiver and the small antenna in your phone to ensure connectivity.

Wi-Fi Tips:

  • Use network gear that can handle multiple networks and/or devices. You’ll increase your chances of making a connection to a Wi-Fi access point if you have a router or network device that brings more power to the game and can ensure that your device can reach a distant Wi-Fi antenna.
    • You can use a home router just about anywhere, but consider a device like those from Ubiquiti, Cisco Meraki, or Mikrotik that are a step above home consumer devices and give you more ways to handle multiple networks and distant access points.
    • Even better in many cases than more power is using a directional antenna to connect with a Wi-Fi access point. Omni-directional antennas work like a lamp, communicating in all directions from the device. Directional antennas work like a flashlight, concentrating their power in the direction you need it to go. The higher the gain of the directional antenna, the narrower the working angle and the longer the range. They’re great if you know exactly where the access point is and you can point your directional antenna right at it from your vehicle or your boat. Here’s an introductory video on using directional antennas.Omni directional antenna vs directional antenna for Wi-Fi

Cellular Tips:

  • Have multiple cellular carrier options through plans, devices, or SIM cards (the smart card inside a mobile phone carrying an identification number unique to the owner) to be certain to have coverage wherever you are.
    • If you have an unlocked, GSM, quad band mobile phone, you can use varied SIM cards from different providers, which is especially valuable when you are out of the country. You can take advantage of any affordable local data plans, make local phone calls, and locals can even call you. SIM cards are available in most countries around the world. You can find them at convenience stores, post offices, and often at grocery stores. Be sure to ask for a local SIM card with data (some SIM cards are for calls only).
  • Consider a solution like Google Fi that can connect to multiple carriers and switch between cellular and Wi-Fi services depending on what’s available where you are. Google Fi is now available for both Android and Apple smart devices.
  • 5G is already available in some areas of the U.S. and the world, and it is already having a big effect on the number and kinds of work that can be done remotely, especially when combined with XR (the combination of extended, augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies). You should include 5G in your connectivity planning. We will add more tips in the future.

Tip #3 — Protect Your Data On the Road

Backing up is important for everyone, but it’s especially important to keep files safe when traveling. The possibilities of theft, accidents, and loss all increase while traveling.

Backup Tips:

  • Make backup copies of all your valuable files. This can be done with a USB thumbdrive, external drive, or even a NAS in your vehicle or boat. Copy your most recent photos, memos, and other files off your smartphone, camera, or other device to your laptop or external drive that is in turn backed up locally or to the cloud.
  • Keep a backup copy in the cloud. If you use an automatic backup product, such as from Backblaze, anytime you’re connected to the internet, your files will be copied to the cloud for safekeeping. Storing that copy away from your vehicle or boat adds an excellent layer of protection in cases of catastrophic loss.
  • Schedule strategically. A popular approach when dealing with limited bandwidth in some locations is to schedule the automatic backup to the cloud during the night while you’re somewhere with connectivity. You’ll start each day knowing that the previous days’ files have been safely backed up to the cloud.
  • Set up your backup before you head out on the road. Whether it’s on a local drive or in the cloud, you want to be sure your data will be safe before you expose yourself and your work to the rigors of the road.

Data Security Tips:

  • Change your password. Before you take off on your travels, change the passwords on the accounts you plan to use. Don’t use the same password on different accounts or reuse a password you’ve used previously. Password managers, such as BitWarden, 1Password, or LastPass make handling your passwords easy.
  • Encrypt your data. Your data is vulnerable, and a small computer, hard drive, or USB drive is easily stolen. Encrypt your drives using an OS or third-party utility. If you use a cloud service, you can encrypt the data so it’s protected during transmission and in the cloud.
  • Maintain a security wall. You’ll be using a lot of unfamiliar Wi-Fi connections, so be sure to use a connection that is private and secure.
    • Turn off automatic connection to open Wi-Fi networks.
    • Don’t use the web to access your bank, financial institutions, or other important sites if you’re not 100% confident in the security of your internet connection.
    • If you do access a financial, shopping, or other high risk site, make sure your connection is protected with Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is indicated with a lock icon and the HTTPS prefix in the URL. When you browse over HTTPS, people on the same Wi-Fi network as you can’t snoop on the data that travels between you and the server of the website you’re connecting to. Sites that ask for payment or confidential information should use SSL. If they don’t, stay away.
      HTTPS indicates SSL Secure Socket Layer
    • Turn off sharing on your devices to prevent anyone obtaining access to your device.
    • Set up a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your connection. A VPN routes your traffic through a secure network even on public Wi-Fi, giving you all the protection of your private network while still having the freedom of public Wi-Fi. Here are some tips for choosing a VPN.

Tip #4 — Connect with the Experts

There is a lot of collective knowledge on the internet for how to work and stay connected on the road. They’ve been there and you can benefit from their experiences.

Learning Tips:

  • Follow #vanlife on Twitter, Reddit (also vandwellers), Instagram, and other social media channels.
    Van nomads
  • For those on the water, #boatlife is the hashtag to follow. YouTube has thousands of videos made by people who are living in vehicles or aboard sail, engine, and human-powered boats. These videos have a lot of great and practical information and can help you learn from others’ experiences doing what you want to do. Some search terms to try on YouTube are vanlife, boatlife, digital nomad, and sailing.working on a computer on a boat

There’s a lot of good information from fellow nomads and journalists following the movement both online and in print. Here are a few to follow:

Pioneers on the New Mobile Digital Frontier

In future posts, we’ll write about people who are making it work living as digital nomads. If you have an interesting story about using Backblaze backup or cloud storage from the road (or air, or water), we’d love to hear about it, and perhaps feature your story on the blog.

Send Us Your Digital Nomad Stories and Tips

Tell us your story at We also welcome suggestions at our email address or in the comments to this post.

The post Practical Tips to Help Digital Nomads Stay Connected appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Remember to Back Up Before You Upgrade to New macOS and iOS!

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

macOS Catalina

New versions of Apple’s operating systems are coming to your iOS devices and Mac. iOS 13 for iPhones and iPads will be available today, September 19, and macOS 10.15, aka Catalina, will be available in October for Macintosh computers. If you’re planning to upgrade your Mac or iOS devices with Apple’s newest software, you should make it a point to back up before you install these new versions.

We first heard about these new releases this past June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which gathers thousands of Apple developers each year from around the world. It’s a yearly ritual: Apple introduces new versions of both the Mac and iOS operating systems and then they’re tested by developers and the public throughout the summer and released to everyone in the fall.

Remember to Back up Early and Often

Changing your Mac or iPhone’s operating system isn’t like installing a new version of an app, even though Apple has tried to make it a relatively simple process. Operating system software is essential software for these devices, and how it works has a cascading effect on all the other apps and services you depend on.

Backblaze wants you to keep all your data safe and secure. If you’re not currently backing up, it’s easy to get started using our 3-2-1 Backup Strategy. The idea behind the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy is that there should be three copies of your data: the main one you use, a local backup copy, and a remote copy, stored at a secure offsite data center like one of Backblaze’s (we just launched a data center in the European Union, as well. The 3-2-1 practice has served us and thousands of our customers very well over the years, so we recommend it unabashedly. Also check out our Mac Backup Guide.

Our advice is to make sure to back up all of your systems before installing operating system software, even final released software. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry, especially where the safety and security of your data are concerned.

The post Remember to Back Up Before You Upgrade to New macOS and iOS! appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Heard Around Backblaze — August 2019

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Backblaze coffee cup

Here’s the August installment of what we’re talking about at lunchtime, discussing over Slack, debating in the hallways, and paying attention to at Backblaze.

How Big Are Your Gene Pockets?

DNA storage
Microsoft and UW demonstrate the first fully-automated DNA data storage and retrieval system. Photo: Microsoft

This article about DNA data storage, DNA Data Storage Is About To Go Viral, got a lot of attention around our office. It’s hard not to take notice of statements like the following:

“Think of compressing all the information on the accessible Internet into a shoebox. With DNA data storage, that’s possible.”

Just one gram of DNA can store 215 petabytes, or 215 million gigabytes, of data. The interdisciplinary Microsoft and University of Washington team working on this technology believes that it’s conceivable that we will see DNA storage as a form of archival for the general public within the decade.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments in this area of research.

Should Ransomware Attack Victims Pay the Ransoms?


Unfortunately, there continues to be a lot of news about ransomware attacks, from security consulting firms paying the ransom in an attempt to recover their clients’ data, or, as in this case, the decision to fire an IT director after a ransomware attack. Lake City, Florida paid the $460,000 Bitcoin ransom following a hacking attack this summer, which resulted in the IT director responsible for the decision losing his job.

Generally, experts and law enforcement agencies don’t recommend paying ransoms in a ransomware attack. The concern is that doing so will encourage more attacks and paying doesn’t guarantee that the hackers will supply the information necessary to decrypt the ransomed data. In some cases, it just encourages the hackers to come back and ask for more money after the initial ransom payment is made.

Big O Gaming Rig Combines PS4, Xbox, Nintendo, and PC In One Chassis

Big O gaming rig

Origin PC is celebrating its 10th anniversary with an even crazier version of its mega gaming rig, Big O 2.0. Unlike its predecessor, Big O, that cost $17,000 fully specced, the Big O 2.0 is a “one of a kind” build by Origin to showcase what it can do and therefore, isn’t meant for sale.

That didn’t stop many Backblaze employees from daydreaming of putting this baby through its paces.

Must-have Mac Apps and Utilities

MacBook Pro

This is a great list of essential applications for the Mac by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet. We’re pleased that Backblaze Computer Backup is included, as well.

“While Time Machine is good for carrying out local backups, it’s also a good idea to have an up-to-date offsite backup, and I’ve found that Backblaze offers the best combination of value, storage space, and performance.”

— Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Willkommen Backhaus!

Backhaus in San Mateo

The last thing those of us trying to diet needed was a world-class German bakery opening near our office. We are happy, though, that Anne Moser decided to move from Germany to California and eventually open her amazing bakery, Backhaus, in San Mateo. Her breads and pastries are irresistible.

Anne further tempted Backblaze employees by telling us we can take a shortcut to the bakery through Backhaus’s patio back gate, which is right next door to our office. @BackhausBread

Mr. Burns
Have a story of backup or recovery you think people would like to hear, or an idea for a topic you’d like us to write about on the blog?
Send your ideas to

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What’s the Diff: Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

The sheer number of cloud services on the market today can be bewildering. If you’re just starting out with the cloud, it helps to have answers to some basic questions.

Should you use private cloud storage? Public cloud storage? Pick the cheapest option and call it a day? That’s tempting, but knowing the difference can help you make a more informed decision.

In this post, we’ll dig into the pros and cons of a private cloud versus a public cloud, explain how a hybrid cloud strategy works, and help you decide which is right for you.

The First Question: What Exactly Is the Cloud?

Before you can understand the difference between a private cloud and a public cloud, we should take a step back and define what the cloud is in the first place.

Put simply, the cloud is a collection of purpose-built servers. These servers can perform one or more services (storage, compute, database, email, web, etc.) and can exist anywhere as long as they’re accessible to whomever needs to use them.

The next important question to ask is whether the servers are in a private cloud or a public cloud. This distinction was historically tied to where the servers are located, but more precisely, it reflects who uses the servers and how they use them.

What Is a Private Cloud?

If the servers are owned by and dedicated to only one organization (referred to as the user or tenant), they are in a private cloud. A private cloud can be built on-premises on hardware that you own and maintain at your location or hosted by a third party at a data center. The key defining factor is that the servers are not open to other users. The owner is responsible for the management and maintenance of the servers and planning for future capacity and performance to meet organizational needs. This planning usually involves long lead times to provision additional hardware and services (electricity, broadband, cooling, etc.) to meet the future demand.

What Is a Public Cloud?

In a public cloud, the servers are shared between multiple, unrelated tenants. A public cloud is off-site (or off-premises). Public clouds are typically owned by a vendor who sells access to servers that are co-located with many servers providing services to many users. Users contract with the vendor for the services they need. The user isn’t responsible for capital expenses (CapEx), and customers only have to pay for the resources they use as a recurring operating expense (OpEx) (see also, the difference between CapEx vs. OpEx). If their needs change, they can add or remove capacity quickly and easily by requesting changes from the vendor who reserves additional resources to meet demand from its clients.

Comparing Private Cloud to Public Cloud

To better understand private clouds and public clouds, let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each offering. By the way, there is no reason for this to be an either/or decision. In their 2021 State of the Cloud Survey, Flexera found that 78% of respondents use a hybrid cloud approach, meaning they use both public and private clouds (more on that later).

Private Cloud Storage Advantages and Disadvantages

Like any kind of technology, there are pros and cons to using a private cloud. For industries with highly specialized needs like government and defense, using a private cloud can deliver a higher level of security and service. For companies outside these industries, using a private cloud may still make sense if you have data-intensive customers in highly security-conscious fields.

Advantages of a Private Cloud

  • Security. Private clouds offer a high level of security as organizations can physically secure their servers and access data through private networks.
  • Low latency. Data stored in an on-premises private cloud can be served quickly since resources are located closer to users, avoiding latency (i.e., delays in data transfer).

Disadvantages of a Private Cloud

  • Limited scalability. You may have to accept scalability limitations. Increasing the capacity of a private cloud in a short amount of time may not be possible.
  • Cost. Private cloud services typically have higher up-front costs than public cloud services.

Public Cloud Storage Advantages and Disadvantages

There are pros and cons to using a public cloud just as there are to using private cloud storage. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages can help you decide if a public cloud is right for you.

Public Cloud Storage Advantages

  • Monthly payments. In contrast to building a data center, a public cloud storage service can offer a low monthly cost instead of a significant up-front expense.
  • Fast setup. Further, most public cloud services are designed to be easy to start, though there are exceptions.
  • Incentives. Public cloud providers are able to offer incentives like free trials and free tiers that make their service more appealing to users.
  • Scalability and speed. Public cloud services offer significant scale and speed because they can spread the cost of their infrastructure across many customers.

Public Cloud Storage Disadvantages

  • Latency. Fractions of a second may not matter to most organizations, but in some industries, even small amounts of latency in sending or retrieving data to and from the cloud can cause performance problems.
  • Security limitations. Some companies, like defense contractors and banks, may require a higher level of security protection. Satisfying these security requirements is easier with a private cloud. Outside of a few industries with special requirements, public cloud service is often a good option.

Differences: Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud

Private Cloud Public Cloud
Single tenant Multiple tenants
On-premises or off-premises Off-premises
Capital cost to set up and maintain No capital cost
High IT overhead Low IT overhead
Fully customizable Limited customizations
Fully private network Shared network
Risk of under utilization Scalable with demand

Which Cloud Is Right For You?

If you’re a big company or organization with special computing needs, you know whether you need to keep your data in a private data center. For businesses in certain industries, for example, government or medical, the decision to host in a private or public cloud will be determined by regulation. These requirements could mandate the use of a private cloud, but there are more and more specialized off-premises clouds with the necessary security and management to support regulated industries.

A public cloud is the cloud of choice for those whose needs don’t yet include building a dedicated data center, or who like the flexibility, scalability, and cost of public cloud offerings. If the organization has a global reach, it also provides an easy way to connect with customers in diverse locations with minimal effort.

The growing number of vendors and variety of public cloud services indicate that the trend is definitely in favor of using a public cloud when possible. Even big customers are increasingly using a public cloud due to its undeniable advantages in rapid scaling, flexibility, and cost savings.

Enter: The Hybrid Cloud

Choosing a private or public cloud is not your only option—you can also use a hybrid cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud refers to the presence of multiple deployment types (public or private) with some form of integration or orchestration between them. An organization might choose the hybrid cloud to have the ability to rapidly expand its storage or computing when necessary for planned or unplanned spikes in demand, such as those that occur during holiday seasons for a retailer, or during a service outage at the primary data center.

There are several use cases where a hybrid cloud makes sense.

  1. To maximize disaster recovery speed. For companies that value speed and reliability, a hybrid cloud is a good choice for storing backups and using them in a disaster recovery scenario. Specifically, the approach here is to have a “warm disaster recovery” service on standby in the event of a disaster and then switch over to it when needed.
  2. To meet regulatory requirements. Some regulations require you to store data within a specific geographic footprint. A hybrid cloud is one way to meet these requirements.
  3. For data-heavy workloads. A hybrid cloud model also suits companies or departments that work with high volumes of large files like media and entertainment. They can take advantage of high-speed, on-premises infrastructure to get fast access to large media files and store data that doesn’t need to be accessed as frequently—archives and backups, for example—with a scalable, low-cost public cloud provider.

For more guidance on the hybrid cloud, including how the hybrid cloud is different from a multi-cloud approach (in short: using two public clouds in combination), see our post: “What’s the Diff: Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-cloud.”

Choose the Best Cloud Model for Your Needs

For most businesses and organizations, the important factors in selecting a cloud will be cost, accessibility, reliability, and scalability. Whether a private or public cloud, or some combination, offers the best solution for your needs will depend on your type of business, regulations, budget, and future plans. The good news is that there are a wide variety of choices to meet just about any use case or budget.

We’d love to hear your approach to choosing cloud storage services. What is your preferred use case for a private cloud vs. a public cloud? Let us know in the comments.

The post What’s the Diff: Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Creating Great Content Marketing

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

In Cinema | Coming Soon: Content Marketing

Once the hot new marketing strategy, content marketing has lost some of its luster. If you follow marketing newsletters and blogs, you’ve likely even seen the claim that content marketing is dead. Some say it’s no longer effective because consumers are oversaturated with content. Others feel that much of content marketing is too broad a strategy and it’s more effective to target those who can directly affect the behavior of others using influencer marketing. Still others think that the hoopla over content marketing is over and money is better spent on keyword purchases, social media, SEO, and other techniques to direct customers into the top of the marketing funnel.

Backblaze has had its own journey of discovery in figuring out which kind of marketing would help it grow from a small backup and cloud storage business to a serious competitor to Amazon, Google, and Microsoft and other storage and cloud companies. Backblaze’s story provides a useful example of how a company came to content marketing after rejecting or not finding success using a number of other marketing approaches. Content marketing worked for Backblaze in large part due to the culture of the company, which will reinforce our argument a little bit later that content marketing is a lot about your company culture. But first things first: what exactly is content marketing?

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of creating, publishing, and sharing content with the goal of building the reputation and visibility of your brand.

The goal of content marketing is to get customers to come to you by providing them with something they need or enjoy. Once you have their attention, you can promote (overtly or covertly) whatever it is you wish to sell to them.

Conceptually, content marketing is similar to running a movie theatre. The movie gets people into the theatre where they can be sold soft drinks, popcorn, Mike & Ikes and Raisinets, which is how theatre owners make most of their money, not from ticket sales. Now you know why movie theatre snacks and drinks are so expensive; they have to cover the cost of the loss leader, the movie itself, as well as give the owner some profit.

Movie theatre concession stand
The movie gets the audience in the theater, but the theater owner’s profit comes from the popcorn.
Movie theatre snack concession. Image from Wikipedia.

The Growth of Content Marketing

Marketing in recent years has increasingly become a game of metrics. Marketers today have access to a wealth of data about customer and marketing behavior and an ever growing number of apps and tools to quantify and interpret that data. We have all this data because marketing has become largely an online game and it’s fairly easy to collect behavioral data when users interact with websites, emails, webinars, videos, and podcasts. Metrics existed before for conventional mail campaigns and the like, and focus groups provided some confirmation of what marketers guessed was true, but it was generally a matter of manually counting heads, responses, and sales. Now that we’re online, just adding snippets of code to websites, apps, and emails can provide a wealth of information about consumers’ behavior. Conversion, funnel, nurturing, and keyword ranking are in the daily lexicon of marketers who look to numbers to demystify consumer behavior and justify the funding of their programs.

A trend contrary to marketing metrics grew in importance alongside the metrics binge and that trend is modern content marketing. While modern content marketing takes advantage of the immediacy and delivery vehicles of the internet, content marketing itself is as old as any marketing technique. It isn’t close to being the world’s oldest profession, but it does go back to the first attempts by humans to lure consumers to products and services with a better or more polished pitch than the next guy.

Benjamin Franklin used his annual Poor Richard’s Almanack as early as 1732 to promote his printing business and made sure readers knew where his printing shop was located. Farming equipment manufacturer John Deere put out the first issue of The Furrow in 1895. Today it has a circulation of 1.5 million in 40 countries and 12 different languages.

Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac from 1739
Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac from 1739
Ben’s conversion pitch -- The location of his printing office “near the Market”
Ben’s conversion pitch — The location of his printing office “near the Market”

John Deere's The Furrow, started in 1895
John Deere’s The Furrow, started in 1895

One might argue that long before these examples, stained glass windows in medieval cathedrals were another example of content marketing. They presented stories that entertained and educated and were an enticement to bring people to services.

Much later, the arrival of the internet and the web, and along with them, fast and easy content creation and easy consumer targeting, fueled the rapid growth of content marketing. We now have many more types of media beyond print suitable for content marketing, including social media, blogs, video, photos, podcasts and the like, which enabled content marketing to gain even more power and importance.

What’s the Problem With So Much Content Marketing?

If content marketing is so great, why are we hearing so many statements about content marketing being dead? My view is that content marketing isn’t any more dead now than in was in Benjamin Franklin’s time, and people aren’t going to stop buying popcorn at movie theaters. The problem is that there is so much content marketing that doesn’t reach its potential because it is empty and meaningless.

Unfortunately, too many people who are running content marketing programs have the same mindset as the people running poor metrics marketing programs. They look at what’s worked in the past for themselves or others and assume that repeating an earlier campaign will be as successful as the original. The approach that’s deadly for content marketing is to think that since a little is good, more must be better, and more of the very same thing.

When content marketing isn’t working, it’s usually not the marketing vehicle that’s to blame, it’s the content itself. Hollywood produces some great and creative content that gets people into theaters, but it also produces a lot of formulaic, repetitive garbage that falls flat. If a content marketing campaign is just following a formula and counting on repeating a past success, no amount of obscure performance metric optimization is going to make the content itself any better. That applies just as much to marketing technology products as it does to marketing Hollywood movies.

When content marketing isn’t working, it’s usually not the marketing vehicle that’s to blame, it’s the content itself.

The screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride) once famously said, “In Hollywood, no one knows anything.” He meant that no matter how much experience a producer or studio might have, it’s hard to predict what’s going to resonate with an audience because what always resonates is what is fresh and authentic, which are the hardest qualities to judge in any content and eludes simple formulas. Movie remakes sometimes work, but more often they fail to capture something that audiences responded to in the original: a fresh concept, great performances by engaged actors, an inspired director, and a great script. Just reproducing the elements in a previous success doesn’t guarantee success. The experience in the new version has to capture the magic in the original that appealed to the audience.

The Dissatisfaction With So Much Content

A lot of content just dangles an attractive hook to entice content consumers to click, and that’s all it does. Anyone can post a cute animal video or a suggestive or revealing photo, but it doesn’t do anything to help your audience understand who you are or help solve their problems.

Unfortunately for media consumers, clickbait works in simply getting users to click, which is the reason it hasn’t disappeared. As long as people click on the enticing image, celebrity reference, or promised secret revelation, we’ll have to suffer with clickbait. Even worse, clickbait is often used to tip the scales of value from the reader, where it belongs, to the publisher. Many viral tests, quizzes and celebrity slideshows plant advertising cookies that benefit the publisher by increasing the cost and perceived value of advertising on their site, leaving the consumer feeling that they’ve been used, which of course is exactly what has happened.

Another, and I think more important reason that content marketing isn’t succeeding for many is not that it’s not interesting or even useful, but that the content isn’t connected in a meaningful way with the content publisher. Just posting memes, how-tos, thought pieces, and stories unrelated to who you are as a business, or not reflecting who your employees are and the values you hold as a company, doesn’t do anything to connect your visitors to you. Empty content is like empty calories in junk food; it doesn’t nourish and strengthen the relationship you should be building with your audience.

Is SEO the Enemy?

SEO is not the enemy, but focusing on only some superficial SEO tactics above other approaches is not going to create a long term bond with your visitors. Keyword stuffing and optimization can damage the user experience if the user feels manipulated. Google might still bring people to your content as a result of these techniques, but it’s a hollow relationship that has no staying power. When you create quality content that your audience will like and will recommend to others, you produce backlinks and social signals what will improve your search rankings, which is the way to win in SEO.

Despite all the supposed secret formulas and tricks to get high search engine ranking, the real secret is that Google loves quality content and will reward it, so that’s the smart SEO strategy to follow.

What is Good Content Marketing?

Similar to coming up with an idea for the next movie blockbuster to get people into theaters, content marketing is about creating good and useful content that entertains, educates, creates interest, or is useful in some way. It works best when it is the kind of content that people want to share with others. The viral effect will compound the audience you earn. That’s why content marketing has really taken off in the age of social media. Word-of-mouth and good write-ups have always propelled good content, but they are nothing compared to the effect viral online sharing can have on a good blog post, video, photograph, meme or other content.

How do you create this great content? We’re going to cover three steps that will take you from ho-hum content marketing to good and possibly even great content marketing. If you follow these three steps, you’ll be ahead of 90 percent of the businesses out there that are trying to crack the how-to of content marketing.

First — Start with Why You Do What You Do

Simon Sinek in his book, Start with Why, and in his presentations, especially his TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, argues that people don’t base their purchasing decisions primarily on what a company does, but on why they do it. This might be hard to envision for some products, like toothpaste or laundry detergent, but I think it does apply to every purchase we make, even if in some cases it’s to a small degree. For some things it’s much more apparent. People identify with iOS or Android, Ford or Chevy, Ducati or Suzuki, based on much more than practical considerations of price, effectiveness, and other qualities. People want to use products and services that bolster their image of who they are, or who they want to be. Some companies are great at using this desire (Apple, BMW, Nike, Sephora, Ikea, Whole Foods, REI) and have a distinct identity that is the foundation for every message they put out.

Golden Circle: Why? How? What?
From Simon Sinek, Start With Why

To communicate the why of your products and services, you can’t just put out generic content that works for anyone. You have to produce content that shows specifically who you are. The best content marketing is cultural. The content you deliver tells your audience what kind of company you are, what your values are, who are the people in the company, and why they work there and do the things they do. That means you must be authentic and transparent. That takes courage, and isn’t easy, which is why so few companies are good at it. It takes vision, leadership, and a constant reminder from company leaders of what you’re doing and why it matters.

Unfortunately, this is hard to maintain as companies grow. The organizations that have grown dramatically and yet successfully maintained the core company values have either had a charismatic leader who represented and reiterated the company’s values at every opportunity (Apple), or have built them into every communication, event, and presentation by the company, no matter who is delivering them (Salesforce).

If your company isn’t good at this, don’t despair. These skills can be learned, so if your company needs to get better at understanding and communicating the why of who they are, there’s still hope that with some effort, it can still happen.

Second — Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

You not only need to understand yourself and your company and present yourself authentically, you have to really understand your customer — really, really understand your customer. That takes time, research, and empathy to walk a mile in their shoes. You need to visit your customers, spend a day fielding support calls or working customer service, go places, do things, and ask questions that you’ve never asked. Are they well off with cash to burn, or do they count every penny? Do they live for themselves, their parents, their children, their community, their church, their livelihood? How could your company help them solve their problems or make their lives better?

The best marketers have imagination and empathy. They, like novelists, playwrights, and poets, are able to imagine what it would be like to live like someone else. Some marketing organizations formalize this function by having one person who is assigned to represent the customers and always advocate for their interests. This can help prevent falling into the mindset of thinking of the customer only as a source of revenue or problems that have to be solved.

One common marketing technique is to create a persona or personas that represent your ideal customer(s). What is their age, sex, occupation? What are their interests, fears, etc.? This can help make sure that the customer is never just an unknown face or potential revenue source, but instead is a real person whom you need to be close to and understand as deeply as possible.

Once you’ve made the commitment to understand your customers, you’re ready to help solve their problems.

Third — Focus on Solving Your Customers’ Problems

Once you have your authentic voice down and you really know who your customer is and how they think, the third thing you need to do is focus on providing useful content. Useful content for your customers is content that solves a real problem they have. What’s causing them pain or what’s impeding them doing what they need or want to do? The customer may or may not know they have this pain. You might be creating a new need or desire for them by telling a story about how their life will be if they only had this thing, service, or experience. Help them dream of being on a riverboat in Europe, enjoying the pool in their backyard on a summer’s day, or showing off a new mobile phone to their friends at work.

By speaking to the needs of your customers, you’re helping them solve problems, but also forging a bond of trust and usefulness that will go forward in your relationship with them.

Mastering Blogging for Content Marketing

There are many ways to create and deliver content that is authentic and serves a need. Podcasts, Vlogs, events, publications, words, pictures, music, and videos all can be effective delivery vehicles for quality content. Let’s focus on one vehicle that can return exceptional results when done right, and that is blogging, which has worked well for Backblaze.

Backblaze didn’t just create a blog that then turned into an overnight success. Backblaze tried a number of marketing approaches that didn’t perform as the company hoped. The company wrote about these efforts on its blog, which is a major reason why the blog became a marketing success — it showed that the company was willing to talk about both its successes and its failures. You can read about some of these marketing adventures at As Seen on Ellen and How to Save Marketing Money by Being Nice. Forbes wrote about Backblaze’s marketing history in an article in 2013, One Startup Tried Every Marketing Ploy From ‘Ellen’ To Twitter: Here’s What Worked.

Blendtec on the Ellen Show

Backblaze on the Ellen Show

Backblaze billboard on Highway 101 in Silicon Valley, 2011

Backblaze billboard on Highway 101 in Silicon Valley

Backblaze decided early on that it would be as transparent as possible in its business practices. That meant that if there were no good reason not to release information, the company should release it, and the blog became the place where the company made that information public. Backblaze’s CEO Gleb Budman wrote about this commitment to transparency, and the results from it, in a blog post in 2017, The Decision on Transparency. An early example of this transparency is a 2010 post in which Backblaze analyzed why a proposed acquisition of the company failed, Backblaze online backup almost acquired — Breaking down the breakup. Companies rarely write about acquisitions that fall through.

Backblaze’s blog really took off in 2015 when the company decided to publish the statistics it had collected on the failure rate of hard drives in its data centers, Reliability Data Set For 41,000 Hard Drives Now Open Source. While many cloud companies routinely collected this kind of data, including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, none had ever made it public. It turned out that readers were tremendously hungry for data on how hard drives performed, and Backblaze’s blog readership subsequently increased by hundreds of thousands of readers. Readers analyzed the drive failure data and debated which drives were the best for their own purposes. This was despite Backblaze’s disclaimer that how Backblaze used hard drives in its data centers didn’t really reflect how the drives would perform in other applications, including homes and businesses. Customers didn’t care. They were starved for the information and waited anxiously for the release of each new Drive Stats post.

It Turns Out That Blogging with Authenticity and Transparency is Rewarded

As Gilmore and Pine wrote in their book, Authenticity, “People increasingly see the world in terms of real and fake, and want to buy something real from someone genuine, not a fake from some phony.” How do you convince your customers that you’re real and genuine? The simple answer is to communicate honestly about who you are, which means sometimes telling them about your failures and mistakes and owning up to less than stellar performances by yourself or your company. Consider lifting the veil occasionally to reveal who you are. If you put the customer first, that shouldn’t be too hard even when you fall short. If your intentions are good, being transparent will almost always be rewarded with forgiveness and greater trust and loyalty from your customers.

Many companies created blogs thinking they had to because everyone else was and they started posting articles by their executives and product marketers going on about how great their products were. Then they were surprised when they got little traffic. These people didn’t get the message about how content should be used to help customers with their problems and build a relationship with them through authenticity and transparency.

If you have a blog, you could use that as a place to write about how you do business, the lessons you’ve learned, and yes, even the mistakes you’ve made. Don’t assume that all your company information needs to be protected. If at all possible, write about the tough issues and why you made the decisions you did. Your customers will respond because they don’t see that kind of frankness elsewhere and because they appreciate understanding the kind of company they’re paying for the product or service.

Your Blog Isn’t One Audience of Thousands or Millions, But Many Audiences of One

Don’t be afraid to write to a specific audience or group on your blog. You might have multiple audiences, but you might have specialized ones, as well. When you’re writing to an audience with specialized vocabulary or acronyms, don’t be afraid to use them. Other readers will recognize that the post is not for them and skip over it, or they’ll use it as an entry to a new area that interests them. If you try to make all your posts suitable for a homogeneous reader, you’ll end up with many readers leaving because you’re not speaking directly to them using their language.

If the piece is aimed at a novice or general audience, definitely take the time to explain unfamiliar concepts and spell out abbreviations and acronyms that might not be familiar to the reader. However, if the piece is aimed at a professional audience, you should avoid doing that because the reader might think that the post isn’t aimed at professionals and they could dismiss the post and the blog thinking it’s not suitable for them.

Strive to match the content, vocabulary, graphics, technical argot, and level of reading to the intended market segment. The goal is to make each reader feel that the piece was written specifically for him or her.

Taking Just OK Content Marketing and Making It Great

Authenticity, honesty, frankness, and sincerity are all qualities that to some degree or other are present in the best content. Unfortunately, marketers have the reputation for producing content that’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. Comedian George Burns could have been parodying a modern marketing course when he wrote, “To be a fine actor, you’ve got to be honest. And if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

There’s a reason that the recommendation to be authentic sounds like advice you’d get from your mom or dad about how to behave on your first date. We all learn sooner or later that if someone doesn’t like you for who you are, there’s no amount of faking being someone else that will make them like you for more than just a little while.

Be yourself, say something that really means something to you, and tell a story that connects with your audience and gives them some value. Those intangibles are hard to measure in metrics, but, when done well, might earn you an honest response, some respect, and perhaps a repeat visit.

The post Creating Great Content Marketing appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Reading, Writing, and Backing Up — Are You Ready to Go Back to School?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

It's That Time of the Year

Dear students,

We’re very sorry to interrupt your time enjoying the beach, pool, and other fun outdoor and urban places.

We’ve got some important advice you need to hear so that you can be responsible students when you go back to school this fall.

Now that all the students have stopped listening and likely it’s just us now, I’d like to address the parents of students who are starting or about to return to school in the fall.

You’re likely spending a large amount of money on your children’s education. That money is well spent as it will help your child succeed and be good adults and citizens in the future. We’d like to help by highlighting something you can do to protect your investment, and that is to ensure the safety of your students’ data.

Where did summer go?

Our Lives Are Digital Now — Students’ Especially

We don’t have to tell you how everything in our lives has become digital. That’s true as well of schools and universities. Students now take notes, write papers, read, communicate, and record everything on digital devices.

You don’t want data damage or loss to happen to the important school or university files and records your child (and possible future U.S. president) has on his or her digital device.

Think about it.

  • Has your child ever forgotten a digital device in a vehicle, restaurant, or friend’s house?

We thought so.

  • How about water damage?

Yes, us too.

  • Did you ever figure out what that substance was clogging the laptop keyboard?

We’ve learned that parenting is full of unanswered questions, as well.

Maybe your student is ahead of the game and already has a plan for backing up their data while at school. That’s great, and a good sign that your student will succeed in life and maybe even solve some of the many challenges we’re leaving to their generation.

Parents Can Help

If not, you can be an exceptional parent by giving your student the gift of automatic and unlimited backup. Before they start school, you can install Backblaze Computer Backup on their Windows or Mac computer. It takes just a couple of minutes. Once that’s done, every time they’re connected to the internet all their important data will be automatically backed up to the cloud.

If anything happens to the computer, that file is safe and ready to be restored. It also could prevent that late night frantic call asking you to somehow magically find their lost data. Who needs that?

Let’s Hear From the Students Themselves

You don’t have to take our word for it. We asked two bona fide high school students who interned at Backblaze this summer for the advice they’d give to their fellow students.


My friends do not normally back up their data other than a few of them putting their important school work on Microsoft’s OneDrive.

With college essays, applications, important school projects and documents, there is little I am willing to lose.

I will be backing up my data when I get home for sure. Next year I will ensure that all of my data is backed up in two places.


After spending a week at Backblaze, I realized how important it is to keep your data safe.

Always save multiple copies of your data. Accidents happen and data gets lost, but it is much easier to recover if there is another copy saved somewhere reliable. Backblaze helps with this by keeping a regularly updated copy of your files in one of their secure data centers.

When backing up data, use programs that make sense and are easy to follow. Stress runs high when files are lost. Having a program like Backblaze that is simple and has live support certainly makes the recovery process more enjoyable.

Relax! The pressures of performing well at school are high. Knowing your files are safe and secure can take a little bit of the weight off your shoulders during such a stressful time.

I definitely plan on using Backblaze in the future and I think all students should.

We couldn’t have said it better. Having a solid backup plan is a great idea for both parents and students. We suggest using Backblaze Personal Backup, but the important thing is to have a backup plan for your data and act on it no matter what solution you’re using.

Learning to Back Up is a Good Life Lesson

Students have a lot to think about these days, and with all the responsibilities and new challenges they’re going to face in school, it’s easy for them to forget some of the basics. We hope this light reminder will be just enough to set them on the right backup track.

Have a great school year everyone!

P.S. If you know a student or the parent of a student going to school in the fall, why not share this post with them? You can use the Email or other sharing buttons to the left or at the bottom of this post.

The post Reading, Writing, and Backing Up — Are You Ready to Go Back to School? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

More From Our Annual Survey: Choosing the Best Cloud for Backing Up

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

plugging a cord into the cloud

Which cloud is best for backing up?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked at Backblaze, and we’ve addressed it many times on this blog, on our website, and at trade shows and conferences.

There are many uses for the cloud, and many services that provide storage drives, sync, backup, and sharing. It’s hard for computer users to know which service is best for which use.

Every spring for the past twelve years we’ve commissioned an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll to help us understand if and how computer users are backing up. We’ve asked the same question, “How often do you backup all the data on your computer?” every year. We just published the results of the latest poll, which showed that more surveyed computer owners are backing up in 2019 than when we conducted our first poll in 2008. We’re heartened that more people are protecting their valuable files, photos, financial records, and personal documents.

This year we decided to ask a second question that would help us understand how the cloud compares to other backup destinations, such as external drives and NAS, and which cloud services are being used for backing up.

This was the question we asked:

What is the primary method you use to backup all of the data on your computer?

1 Cloud backup (e.g., Backblaze, Carbonite, iDrive)
2 Cloud drive (e.g., Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive)
3 Cloud sync (e.g., Dropbox, iCloud)
4 External hard drive (e.g., Time Machine, Windows Backup and Restore)
5 Network Attached Storage (NAS) (e.g., QNAP, Synology)
6 Other
7 Not sure

Where Computer Users are Backing Up

More than half of those who have ever backed up all the data on their computer (58 percent) indicated that they are using the cloud as one of the primary methods to back up all of the data on their computer. Nearly two in five (38 percent) use an external hard drive, and just 5 percent use network attached storage (NAS). (The total is greater than 100 percent because respondents were able to select multiple destinations.)

Backup Destinations
(Among Those Who Have Ever Backed Up All Data on Their Computer)

2019 survey backing up destinations
Among Those Who Have Ever Backed Up All Data On Computer — Primary Method Used

What Type of Cloud is Being Used?

The survey results tell us that the cloud has become a popular destination for backing up data.
Among those who have ever backed up all data on their computer, the following indicated what type of cloud service they used:

  • 38 percent are using cloud drive (such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive)
  • 21 percent are using cloud sync (such as Dropbox or Apple iCloud)
  • 11 percent are using cloud backup (such as Backblaze Computer Backup)

Cloud Destinations
(Among Those Who Have Ever Backed Up All Data on Their Computer)

2019 survey cloud destinations

Choosing the Best Cloud for Backups

Backblaze customers or regular readers of this blog will immediately recognize the issue in these responses. There’s a big difference in what type of cloud service you select for cloud backup. Both cloud drive and cloud sync services can store data in the cloud, but they’re not the same as having a real backup. We’ve written about these differences in our blog post, What’s the Diff: Sync vs Backup vs Storage, and in our guide, Online Storage vs. Online Backup.

Put simply, those who use cloud drive or cloud sync are missing the benefits of real cloud backup. These benefits can include automatic backup of all data on your computer, not being limited to just special folders or directories that can be backed up, going back to earlier versions of files, and not having files lost when syncing, such as when a shared folder gets deleted by someone else.

Cloud backup is specifically designed to protect your files, while the purpose of cloud drives and sync is to make it easy to access your files from different computers and share them when desired. While there is overlap in what these services offer and how they can be used, obtaining the best results requires selecting the right cloud service for your needs. If your goal is to back up your files, you want the service to seamlessly protect your files and make sure they’re available when and if you need to restore them due to data loss on your computer.

As users have more time and experience with their selected cloud service(s), it will be interesting in future polls to discover how happy they are with the various services and how well their needs are being met. We plan to cover this topic in our future polls.

•  •  •

Survey Method
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Backblaze from June 6-10, 2019 among 2,010 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,858 own a computer and 1,484 have ever backed up all data on their computer. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Backblaze.

The post More From Our Annual Survey: Choosing the Best Cloud for Backing Up appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

More People Than Ever Backing Up According to Our Survey

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

computer with line chart on a desk with a man and woman standing near it

For the past twelve years we’ve conducted an annual poll asking people the simple question, “How often do you backup all the data on your computer?” and published the results here on the blog. In 2009 we decided to make this an annual event and declared June to be Backup Awareness Month.

How We Are Doing

The good news from this year’s poll is that more computer owners than we’ve ever surveyed (four out of five) have backed up all the data on their computer. That’s up 4 percent from last year and up 15 percent from our first poll in 2008.

The fact that 20 percent of those who own a computer have never backed up all the data on the computer is still alarming, however, as they are vulnerable to losing important documents, photos, and other files. We still have work to do to reach all those people to convince them how easy and economical it is to protect their data through regular backups.

The trend is positive however, as according to the poll, most people back up more frequently now (whether yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily) than they did in 2008.

Computer Backup Frequency 2008-2019 Chart
Top line in chart shows decrease from 35 percent in 2008 to 20 percent in 2019 for those who responded,
“I’ve never backed up all the data on my computer.”

Key Takeaways From Our Latest Poll

  • Four in five Americans who own a computer (80 percent) have ever backed up all the data on their computer, which is up from roughly three-quarters (76 percent) in 2018.
  • 9 percent who own a computer back up their computer once a day or more often.
  • Among those who have ever backed up all data on their computer, nearly three in five (58 percent) use the cloud as the primary method to back up all of the data on their computer, 38 percent use an external hard drive, and just 5 percent use network-attached storage (NAS).

Backing up survey charts for 2008 and 2019

Here’s a detailed look at the numbers from our surveys in 2008 through 2019.

Backing up survey table 2008-2019

How We Can Improve

Every year after the poll we sift through the poll data to see what conclusions we can draw from the results. Our pollster gives us demographics about the subjects surveyed, such as the region of the U.S. where they live, level of education, income, and whether they own a computer or not (kinda important, we think, for this poll).

What stood out for us is that more people in 2019 backed up more frequently than in 2008, and we wondered why.

Backing Up Frequency 2008 vs 2019

There are a lot of things that get in the way of backing up: managing a household, job(s), taking care of children, travel, and social activities. The fact that more people are backing up more often tells us that they have found a way to make backing up easier and a part of their regular lives.

Our Backing Up Action Plan

The best way to succeed at a task that’s sometimes neglected is to make it so easy that it gets done. Fortunately, computers are good at automation and backing up can be configured to happen quietly and automatically in the background.

We believe that the reason more people are successful at backing up is that they have discovered automated backup solutions such as Backblaze Personal Backup.

Backblaze Personal Backup can be installed on a Mac or PC and in less than a couple of minutes will be on the job continuously backing up your data. In many situations, the default settings are fine so there’s nothing else to do.

If more people used solutions like Backblaze Personal Backup and automate their backups, the poll results will continue to improve, but more importantly, people will be less likely to lose their valuable photos, messages, financial records, and other important files and documents.

It will be interesting to see whether the poll results next year show even more people backing up. We hope so.

How You Can Help!

You can help improve the results for next year’s survey. If you’re already a Backblaze customer, you can let your friends and family know that backing up is important and can even refer them to Backblaze using our Refer-a-Friend program. If you’re not a Backblaze customer, consider signing up for a trial, and help us ensure that no one ever loses data again.

•  •  •

Survey Method
These surveys were conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Backblaze among U.S. adults ages 18+ who own a computer in June 6-10, 2019 (n=1,858), June 5-7, 2018 (n=1,871), May 19-23, 2017 (n=1,954), May 13-17, 2016 (n=1,920), May 15-19, 2015 (n=2,009), June 2-4, 2014 (n=1,991), June 13–17, 2013 (n=1,952), May 31–June 4, 2012 (n=2,176), June 28–30, 2011 (n=2,209), June 3–7, 2010 (n=2,051), May 13–14, 2009 (n=2,154), and May 27–29, 2008 (n=2,723). These online surveys were not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Backblaze.

The post More People Than Ever Backing Up According to Our Survey appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

12 Power Tips for Backing Up Business Data

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

This post has been updated since it was originally published in 2019.

If you’ve made your way to this post, you already know the importance of backing up your business data, but are you taking full advantage of the power of backups across your organization? In this post, we share some blazingly useful tips to help you power up your backups.

Some of the tips apply to Backblaze Business Backup for workstations and some to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. As a refresher, Backblaze Business Backup for workstations helps you easily deploy and manage backups for employee devices with a lightweight client installed on employee machines, and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage is scalable, affordable cloud storage that can be used to store backups, archive content, and provide an off-site repository for Veeam and/or local devices like NAS.

12 Power Tips for Business Users of Backblaze Business Backup and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage

Backblaze logo

1. Manage All Users of Backblaze Business Backup or Backblaze B2

Backblaze Groups can be used for both Backblaze Business Backup and Backblaze B2 to manage accounts and users. See the status of all accounts and produce reports using the admin console.

Backblaze logo

2. Streamline VM Backups

Backblaze B2 integrates with Veeam, MSP360 (formerly CloudBerry Lab), and Veritas Backup Exec, among others, to back up enterprise-level VMs with no interruptions to your workflow.

Backblaze logo

3. Manage Your Server Backups With Backblaze B2

Back up your server in minutes with our streamlined joint solution with MSP360 for one or multiple servers. Or, use Veeam or any of our other backup and archive integrations to protect your data from disaster.

Backblaze logo

4. Protect Your NAS Data Using Built-in Applications and Backblaze B2

Backblaze B2 is integrated with the leading tools and devices for NAS backup. Native integrations from Synology, QNAP, TrueNAS, and more ensure that setups are simple and backups are automated.

Backblaze logo

5. Mass Deploy Backblaze Remotely to Many Computers

Companies, organizations, schools, non-profits, and others can use the MSI installer, Jamf, Munki, and other tools to deploy Backblaze Business Backup for workstations remotely across all their computers without any end user interaction.

Backblaze logo

6. Get Free Egress Between Backblaze B2 and Many Compute and CDN Partners

Spin up compute applications with high speed and no egress charges using our partners Vultr, Equinix Metal, Packet, and Server Central. Backblaze offers free egress from Backblaze B2 to content delivery partners like Cloudflare, Fastly, and, speeding up access to your data worldwide.

Backblaze logo

7. Protect Data From Ransomware With Object Lock

Object Lock is a powerful backup protection tool that prevents a file from being altered or deleted until a given date. Using Object Lock to protect your data means no one—not cybercriminals, not ransomware viruses, not even the person who set the lock—can edit or delete files.

Backblaze logo

8. Get Your Data Into the Cloud Fast

With Universal Data Migration from Backblaze, you can move large data sets (>10TB) from virtually any source—other public clouds, servers, NAS, SAN, LTO/tape, and cloud drives—to Backblaze B2 at no cost.

Backblaze logo

9. Move to Backblaze B2 With Virtually No Code Changes

If you already use the S3 API protocol, you can move your data to Backblaze B2 with virtually no code changes, no workflow changes, and no downtime using the Backblaze S3 Compatible API.

Backblaze logo

10. Copy Data and Bring It Closer to End Users With Backblaze Cloud Replication

Backblaze Cloud Replication allows customers to automatically store to different locations—across regions, across accounts, or in different buckets within the same account. Customers can replicate data for security and compliance, bring it closer to end users for faster access, and replicate between development environments.

Backblaze logo

11. Restore For Free via Web or USB Hard Drive

Admins can restore data from endpoints using the web-based admin console. USB hard drives can be shipped worldwide to facilitate the management of a remote workforce.

Backblaze logo

12. Use Single Sign-on (SSO) and Two Factor Verification for Enhanced Security

Single sign-on (Google and Microsoft) improves security and the speed of signing into your Backblaze account for authorized users. With Backblaze Business Backup, all data is automatically encrypted client-side prior to upload, protected during transfer, and stored encrypted in our secure data centers. Adding two-factor verification augments account safety with another layer of security.

Want to Learn More About Backblaze Business Backup and Backblaze B2?

You can find more information on Backblaze B2 and Backblaze Business Backup (including a free trial) on our website, and more tips about backing up in our Help pages.

The post 12 Power Tips for Backing Up Business Data appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

What’s the Diff: Durability vs Availability

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

What's the Diff: Durability vs Availability

When shopping for a cloud storage provider, customers should ask a few key questions of potential storage providers. In addition to inquiring about storage cost, data center location, and features and capabilities of the service, they’re going to want to know the numbers for two key metrics for measuring cloud storage performance: durability and availability.

We’ve discussed cloud storage costs and data center features in other posts. In this post we’re going to cover the basics about durability and availability.

What is Cloud Durability?

Think of durability as a measurement of how healthy and resilient your data is. You want your data to be as intact and pristine on the day you retrieve it as it was on the day you stored it.

There are a number of ways that data can lose its integrity.

1. Data loss

Data loss can happen through human accident, natural or manmade disaster, or even malicious action out of your control. Whether you store data in your home, office, or with a cloud provider, that data needs to be protected as much as possible from any event that could damage or destroy it. If your data is on a computer, external drive, or NAS in a home or office, you obviously want to keep the computing equipment away from water sources and other environmental hazards. You also have to consider the likelihood of fire, theft, and accidental deletion.

Data center managers go to great lengths to protect data under their care. That care starts with locating a facility in as safe a geographical location as possible, having secure facilities with controlled access, and monitoring and maintaining the storage infrastructure (chassis, drives, cables, power, cooling, etc.)

2. Data corruption

Data on traditional spinning hard drive systems can degrade with time, have errors introduced during copying, or become corrupted in any number of ways. File and operating systems and utilities have ways to double check that data is handled correctly during common file and data handling operations, but corruption can sneak into a system if it isn’t monitored closely or if the storage system doesn’t specifically check for such errors such as is common with systems with ECC (Error Correcting Code) RAM. Object storage systems will commonly monitor for any changes in the data, and often will automatically repair or provide warnings when data has been changed.

How is Durability Measured?

Object storage providers express data durability as an annual percentage in nines, as in two nines before the decimal point and as many nines as warranted after the decimal point. For example, eleven nines of durability is expressed as 99.999999999%.

Of the major vendors, Azure claims 12 nines and even 16 nines durability for some services, while Amazon S3, Google Cloud Platform and Backblaze offer 11 nines, or 99.999999999% annual durability.

4x3 rows of 9s

What this means is that those services are promising that your data will remain intact while it is under their care, and no more than 0.000000001 percent of your data will be lost in a year (in the case of eleven nines annual durability).

How is Durability Maintained?

Generally, there are two ways to maintain data durability. The first approach is to use software algorithms and metadata such as checksums to detect corruption of the data. If corruption is found, the data can be healed using the stored information. Examples of these approaches are erasure coding and Reed-Solomon coding.

Another tried and true method to ensure data integrity is to simply store multiple copies of the data in multiple locations. This is known as redundancy. This approach allows data to survive the loss or corruption of data in one or even multiple locations through accident, war, theft, or any manner of natural disaster or alien invasion. All that’s required is that at least one copy of the data remains intact. The odds for data survival increase with the number of copies stored, with multiple locations an important multiplying factor. If multiple copies (and locations) are lost, well, that means we’re all in a lot of trouble and perhaps there might be other things to think about than the data you have stored.

The best approach is a combination of the above two approaches. Home data storage appliances such as NAS can provide the algorithmic protection through RAID and other technologies. If you store at least one copy of your data in a different location than your office or home than you’ve got redundancy covered, as well. The redundant location can be as simple as a USB or hard drive you regularly drop off in your old bedroom’s closet at mom’s house or a data center in another state that gets a daily backup from your office computer or network.

What is Availability?

If durability can be compared to how well your picnic basket contents survived the automobile trip to the beach, then you might get a good understanding of availability if you subsequently stand and watch that basket being carried out to sea by a wave. The chicken salad sandwich in the basket might be in great shape but you won’t be enjoying it.

Availability is how much time the storage provider guarantees that your data and services are available to you. This is usually documented as a percent of time per year, e.g. 99.9% (or three nines) means that your data will be available to you from the data center and you will be unable to access the data for no more than about ten minutes per week, or 8.77 hours per year. Data centers often plan downtime for maintenance, which is acceptable as long as you have no immediate need of the data during those maintenance windows.

What availability is suitable for your data depends, of course, on how you’re using it. If you’re running an e-commerce site, reservation service, or a site that requires real-time transactions, then availability can be expressed in real dollars for any unexpected downtime. If you are simply storing backups, or serving media for a website that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you probably can live with the service being unavailable on occasion.

There are of course no guarantees for connectivity issues that affect availability that are out of the control of the storage provider, such as internet outages, bad connections, or power losses affecting your connection to the storage provider.

Guarantees of Availability

Your cloud service provider should both publish and guarantee availability. Much like an insurance policy, the guarantee should be in terms that compensate you if the provider falls short of the guaranteed availability metrics. Naturally, the better the guarantee and the greater the availability, the more reliable and expensive the service will be.

Be sure to read the service level agreement (SLA) closely, to see how your vendor defines availability. A provider might define zero downtime if a single internet client can access even one service, while others might require that multiple internet service providers and countries can access all services to be defined as available.

Backblaze Durability and Availability

Backblaze offers 99.999999999 (eleven nines) annual durability and 99.9% availability for its cloud storage services.

The Bottom Line on Data Durability and Availability

The bottom line is that no number of nines can absolutely protect your data. Human error or acts of nature can always intercede to make the best plans to protect data go awry. The decision you should make is to decide how important the data is to you and whether you can afford to not have access to it temporarily or to lose it completely. That will guide what strategy or vendor you should use to protect that data.

Generally, having multiple copies of your data in different places, using reliable vendors for storage providers, and making sure that the infrastructure storing your data and your access to it will be supported (power, service payments, etc), will go a long way in ensuring that your data will continue to be stable and there when you need it.

The post What’s the Diff: Durability vs Availability appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Heard Around Backblaze

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Backblaze coffee cup

Like any tech company, all of us at Backblaze pay attention to the news and what’s happening in Silicon Valley and other tech communities. We comment on items posted to Slack, debate the latest items sent around via email, or discuss topics around lunchroom tables and in the snack rooms.

If you’re interested in what interests us, then take a look at some of the latest items that have been heard around Backblaze.

New Mac Pros Announced and Ready This Fall — But Will it Fit in Your Carry On?

We were excited to read the specs on the new Apple Mac Pro and some of us daydreamed about how fast it will compile or render, and what our favorite flight simulator will look like with 28 cores.

How would you use all that horsepower? And what’s with that $999 monitor stand?

Mac Pro

Legendary Ramen House to Land in Silicon Valley (next door to us!

Backblaze HQ is located in the heart of downtown San Mateo and in the middle of a vibrant restaurant scene, especially for world-class ramen. We were floored to hear that Taishoken Ramen will open its first US location just a few steps from our office.

Ramen dipping noodles anyone?

Let’s Be Careful Out There

Backblaze famously launched in 2007 because friends of the company couldn’t find a backup solution that worked for them. Well after 12 years, and more than 750PB of customer data stored, we still love and work our tails off to keep it the best service for you.

Still, we’re floored when people take the time to let us know what the service means to them. Jeff Meyer, @soundman1024, was in the path of a tornado in the Midwest recently and what did he do?

Grabbed the important papers and a change of clothes…and didn’t bother with hard drives because Backblaze has my back(ups)!

Glad you’re safe @soundman1024!

Tableau Purchased by Salesforce

We use Salesforce at Backblaze for CRM and Tableau for business intelligence and analytics and wondered how the acquisition of Tableau by Salesforce will affect how we use the software. Will Tableau continue to work with other CRM software vendors and how will Salesforce’s “No Software” cloud-only approach affect on-site installations of Tableau?

We’ll be watching closely.

Salesforce Tableau

Japan’s Office Chair Grand Prix

Backblaze employees saw this story on Japan’s grand prix with office chairs and someone suggested that Backblaze should host a similar competition in San Francisco.

Are they kidding? With SF’s hills?

Giant 4MB Disk Platter on Reddit

A recent Reddit post got a lot of interest here and elsewhere, What a 4 megabyte harddrive looked like in 1965 (iPhone X for scale).

We wondered how many of these platters it would take to store all the data Backblaze has stored for its customers in our data centers.

The answer? Roughly 274,877,906,944 disks.

Giant 4MB drive platter on Reddit

Have a story of backup or recovery you think people would like to hear, or an idea for a topic you’d like us to write about on the blog?
Send your ideas to

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An Introduction to NAS for Photo & Video Production

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

NAS for Photo and Video Production

In this post:

  1. What is a NAS?
  2. NAS capabilities
  3. Three examples of common media workflows using a NAS
  4. Top five benefits of using NAS for photography and videography

The camera might be firmly entrenched at the top of the list of essential equipment for photographers and videographers, but a strong contender for next on the list has to be network-attached storage (NAS).

A big reason for the popularity of NAS is that it’s one device that can do so many things that are needed in a media management workflow. Most importantly, NAS systems offer storage larger than any single hard drive, let you centralize photo storage, protect your files with backups and data storage virtualization (e.g. RAID), allow you to access files from anywhere, integrate with many media editing apps, and securely share media with coworkers and clients. And that’s just the beginning of the wide range of capabilities of NAS. It’s not surprising that NAS has become a standard and powerful data management hub serving the media professional.

This post is an overview of how NAS can fit into the professional or serious amateur photo and video workflow and some of the benefits you can receive from adding a NAS.

Essential NAS Capabilities

Synology NAS
Synology NAS

Storage Flexibility

Firstly, NAS is a data storage device. It connects to your computer, office, and the internet, and supports loading and retrieving data from multiple computers in both local and remote locations.

The number of drives available for data storage is determined by how many bays the NAS has. As larger and faster disk drives become available, a NAS can be upgraded with larger drives to increase capacity, or multiple NAS can be used together. Solid-state drives (SSDs) can be used in a NAS for primary storage or as a cache to speed up data access.

Data Protection and Redundancy

NAS can be used for either primary or secondary local data storage. Whichever it is, it’s important to have an off-site backup of that data, as well, to provide redundancy in case of accident, or in the event of a hardware or software problem. That off-site backup can be drives stored in another location, or more commonly these days, the cloud. The most popular NAS systems typically offer built-in tools to automatically sync files on your NAS to offsite cloud storage, and many also have app stores with backup and many other types of applications, as well.

Data is typically stored on the NAS using some form of error checking and virtual storage system, typically RAID 5 or RAID 6, to keep your data available even if one of the internal hard drives fail. However, if NAS is the only backup you have, and a drive fails, it can take quite a while to recover that data from a RAID device, and the delay only gets longer as drives increase in size. Avoiding this delay is the motivation for many to keep a redundant copy in the cloud so that it’s possible to access the files immediately even before the RAID has completed its recovery.


If your primary data files are on an editing workstation, the NAS can be your local backup to make sure you keep your originals safe from accidental changes or loss. In some common editing workflows, the raw files are stored on the NAS and lower-resolution, smaller proxies are used for offline editing on the workstation — also called non-destructive or non-linear editing. Once edits are completed, the changes are written back to the NAS. Some applications, including Lightroom, maintain a catalog of files that is separate from the working files and is stored on the editing workstation. This catalog should be routinely backed up locally and remotely to protect it, as well.

The data on the NAS also can be protected with automated data backups or snapshots that protect data in case of loss, or to retrieve an earlier version of a file. A particularly effective plan is to schedule off-hours backups to the cloud to complete the off-site component of the recommended 3-2-1 backup strategy.

Automatic Backup Locally and to the Cloud

Data Accessibility and Sharing

Data can be loaded onto the NAS directly through a USB or SD card slot, if available, or through any device available via the local network or internet. Another possibility is to have a directory/folder on a local computer that automatically syncs any files dropped there to the NAS.

NAS to the cloud

Once on the NAS, files can be shared with coworkers, clients, family, and friends. The NAS can be accessed via the internet from anywhere, so you can easily share work in progress or final media presentations. Access can be configured by file, directory/folder, group, or by settings in the particular application you are using. NAS can be set up with a different user and permission structure than your computer(s), making it easy to grant access to particular folders, and keeping the security separate from however local computers are set up. With proper credentials, a wide range of mobile apps or a web browser can be used to access the data on the NAS.

Media Editing Integration

It’s common for those using applications such as Adobe Lightroom to keep the original media on the NAS and work on a proxy on the local computer. This speeds up the workflow and protects the original media files. Similarly, for video, some devices are fast enough to support NLE (non-linear editing), and therefore support using the NAS for source and production media but allow editing without changing the source files. Popular apps that support NLE include Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro X, and Avid Media Composer.

Flexibility and Apps

NAS from Synology, QNAP, FreeNAS/TrueNAS, Morro Bay, and others offer a wide range of apps that extend the functionality of the device. You can easily turn a NAS into a media server that streams audio and video content to TVs and other devices on your network. You can set up a NAS to automatically perform backups of your computers, or configure that NAS as a file server, a web server, or even a telephone system. Some home offices and small businesses have even completely replaced office servers with NAS.

Examples of Common Media Workflows Using a NAS

The following are three examples of how a NAS device can fit into a media production workflow.

Example One — A Home Studio

NAS is a great choice for a home studio that needs additional data storage, file sharing, cloud backup, and secure remote access. NAS is a better choice than using directly-attached storage because it can have separate security than local computers and is accessible both locally and via the internet even when individual workstations might be turned off or disconnected.

NAS can provide centralized backup using common backup apps, including Time Machine and ChronoSync on Mac, or Backup and Restore and File History on Windows.

To back up to the cloud, major NAS providers, including Synology, QNAP, Morro Data, and FreeNAS/TrueNAS include apps that can automatically back up NAS data to B2 or other destinations on the schedule of your choice.

Example Two — A Distributed Media Company with Remote Staff

The connectivity of NAS makes it an ideal hub for a distributed business. It provides a central location for files that can be reliably protected with RAID, backups, and access security, yet available to any authorized staff person no matter where they are located. Professional presentations are easy to do with a range of apps and integrations available for NAS. Clients can be given controlled access to review drafts and final proofs, as well.

Example Three — Using NAS with Photo/Video Editing Applications

Many media pros have turned to NAS for storing their ever-growing photos and video data files. Frequently, these users will optimize their workstation for the editing or cataloging application of their choice using fast central and graphics processors, SSD drives, and large amounts of RAM, and offload the data files to the NAS.

Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom

While Adobe Lightroom requires that its catalog be kept on a local or attached drive, the working files can be stored elsewhere. Some users have adopted the digital negative (DNG) for working files, which avoids having to manage sidecar (XMP) files. XMP files are stored alongside the RAW files and record edits for file formats that don’t support saving that information natively, such as proprietary camera RAW files, including CRW, CR2, NEF, ORF, and so on.

With the right software and hardware, NAS also can play well in a shared video editing environment, enabling centralized storage of data with controlled access, file security, and supporting other functions such as video transcoding.

Avid Media Composer
Avid Media Composer

Top 5 Benefits of Using NAS for Photography and Videography

To recap, here are the top five benefits of adding NAS to your media workflow.

  1. Flexible and expandable storage — fast, expandable and grows with your needs
  2. Data protection — provides local file redundancy as well as an automated backup gateway to the cloud
  3. Data accessibility and sharing — functions as a central media hub with internet connectivity and access control
  4. Integration with media editing tools — works with editing and cataloging apps for photo and video
  5. Flexibility and apps — NAS can perform many of the tasks once reserved for servers, with a wide range of apps to extend its capabilities

To learn more about what NAS can do for you, take a look at the posts on our blog on specific NAS devices from Synology, QNAP, FreeNAS/TrueNAS, and Morro Data, and about how to use NAS for photo and video storage. You’ll also find more information about how to connect NAS to the cloud. You can quickly find all posts on the NAS topic on our blog by following the NAS tag.

Morro Data CacheDrive
Morro Data CacheDrive

Do you have experience using NAS in a photo or video workflow? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

•  •  •

Note: This post originally appeared on on 10/25/18.

The post An Introduction to NAS for Photo & Video Production appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

These Aren’t Your Ordinary Data Centers

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Barcelona Supercomputing Center

Many of us would concede that buildings housing data centers are generally pretty ordinary places. They’re often drab and bunker-like with few or no windows, and located in office parks or in rural areas. You usually don’t see signs out front announcing what they are, and, if you’re not in information technology, you might be hard pressed to guess what goes on inside.

If you’re observant, you might notice cooling towers for air conditioning and signs of heavy electrical usage as clues to their purpose. For most people, though, data centers go by unnoticed and out of mind. Data center managers like it that way, because the data stored in and passing through these data centers is the life’s blood of business, research, finance, and our modern, digital-based lives.

That’s why the exceptions to low-key and meh data centers are noteworthy. These unusual centers stand out for their design, their location, what the building was previously used for, or perhaps how they approach energy usage or cooling.

Let’s take a look at a handful of data centers that certainly are outside of the norm.

The Underwater Data Center

Microsoft’s rationale for putting a data center underwater makes sense. Most people live near water, they say, and their submersible data center is quick to deploy, and can take advantage of hydrokinetic energy for power and natural cooling.

Project Natick has produced an experimental, shipping-container-size prototype designed to process data workloads on the seafloor near Scotland’s Orkney Islands. It’s part of a years-long research effort to investigate manufacturing and operating environmentally sustainable, prepackaged datacenter units that can be ordered to size, rapidly deployed, and left to operate independently on the seafloor for years.

Microsoft's Project Natick
Microsoft’s Project Natick at the launch site in the city of Stromness on Orkney Island, Scotland on Sunday May 27, 2018. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)
Natick Brest
Microsoft’s Project Natick in Brest, France

The Supercomputing Center in a Former Catholic Church

One might be forgiven for mistaking Torre Girona for any normal church, but this deconsecrated 20th century church currently houses the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, home of the MareNostrum supercomputer. As part of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, this supercomputer (Latin for Our sea, the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea), is used for a range of research projects, from climate change to cancer research, biomedicine, weather forecasting, and fusion energy simulations.

Torre Girona. a former Catholic church in Barcelona
Torre Girona, a former Catholic church in Barcelona
The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, home of the MareNostrum supercomputer
The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, home of the MareNostrum supercomputer

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, home of the MareNostrum supercomputer

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, home of the MareNostrum supercomputer

The Under-a-Mountain Bond Supervillain Data Center

Most data centers don’t have the extreme protection or history of the The Bahnhof Data Center, which is located inside the ultra-secure former nuclear bunker Pionen, in Stockholm, Sweden. It is buried 100 feet below ground inside the White Mountains and secured behind 15.7 in. thick metal doors. It prides itself on its self-described Bond villain ambiance.

We previously wrote about this extraordinary data center in our post, The Challenges of Opening a Data Center — Part 1.

The Bahnhof Data Center under White Mountain in Stockholm, Sweden
The Bahnhof Data Center under White Mountain in Stockholm, Sweden

The Data Center That Can Survive a Class 5 Hurricane

Sometimes the location of the center comes first and the facility is hardened to withstand anticipated threats, such as Equinix’s NAP of the Americas data center in Miami, one of the largest single-building data centers on the planet (six stories and 750,000 square feet), which is built 32 feet above sea level and designed to withstand category five hurricane winds.

The MI1 facility provides access for the Caribbean, South and Central America to “to more than 148 countries worldwide,” and is the primary network exchange between Latin America and the U.S., according to Equinix. Any outage in this data center could potentially cripple businesses passing information between these locations.

The center was put to the test in 2017 when Hurricane Irma, a class 5 hurricane in the Caribbean, made landfall in Florida as a class 4 hurricane. The storm caused extensive damage in Miami-Dade County, but the Equinix center survived.

Equinix NAP of the Americas Data Center in Miami
Equinix NAP of the Americas Data Center in Miami

The Data Center Cooled by Glacier Water

Located on Norway’s west coast, the Lefdal Mine Datacenter is built 150 meters into a mountain in what was formerly an underground mine for excavating olivine, also known as the gemstone peridot, a green, high- density mineral used in steel production. The data center is powered exclusively by renewable energy produced locally, while being cooled by water from the second largest fjord in Norway, which is 565 meters deep and fed by the water from four glaciers. As it’s in a mine, the data center is located below sea level, eliminating the need for expensive high-capacity pumps to lift the fjord’s water to the cooling system’s heat exchangers, contributing to the center’s power efficiency.

The Lefdal Mine Data Center in Norway
The Lefdal Mine Datacenter in Norway

The World’s Largest Data Center

The Tahoe Reno 1 data center in The Citadel Campus in Northern Nevada, with 7.2 million square feet of data center space, is the world’s largest data center. It’s not only big, it’s powered by 100% renewable energy with up to 650 megawatts of power.

The Switch Core Campus in Nevada
The Switch Core Campus in Nevada
Tahoe Reno Switch Data Center
Tahoe Reno Switch Data Center

An Out of This World Data Center

If the cloud isn’t far enough above us to satisfy your data needs, Cloud Constellation Corporation plans to put your data into orbit. A constellation of eight low earth orbit satellites (LEO), called SpaceBelt, will offer up to five petabytes of space-based secure data storage and services and will use laser communication links between the satellites to transmit data between different locations on Earth.

CCC isn’t the only player talking about space-based data centers, but it is the only one so far with 100 million in funding to make their plan a reality.

Cloud Constellation's SpaceBelt
Cloud Constellation’s SpaceBelt

A Cloud Storage Company’s Modest Beginnings

OK, so our current data centers are not that unusual (with the possible exception of our now iconic Storage Pod design), but Backblaze wasn’t always the profitable and growing cloud services company that it is today. hen Backblaze was just getting started and was figuring out how to make data storage work while keeping costs as low as possible for our customers.There was a time when Backblaze was just getting started, and before we had almost an exabyte of customer data storage, that we were figuring out how to make data storage work while keeping costs as low as possible for our customers.

The photo below is not exactly a data center, but it is the first data storage structure used by Backblaze to develop its storage infrastructure before going live with customer data. It was on the patio behind the Palo Alto apartment that Backblaze used for its first office.

Shed used for very early (pre-customer) data storage testing
Shed used for very early (pre-customer) data storage testing

The photos below (front and back) are of the very first data center cabinet that Backblaze filled with customer data. This was in 2009 in San Francisco, and just before we moved to a data center in Oakland where there was room to grow. Note the storage pod at the top of the cabinet. Yes, it’s made out of wood. (You have to start somewhere.)

Backblaze's first data storage cabinet to hold customer data (2009) (front)
Backblaze’s first data storage cabinet to hold customer data (2009) (front)
Backblaze's first data storage cabinet to hold customer data (2009) (back)
Backblaze’s first data storage cabinet to hold customer data (2009) (back)

Do You Know of Other Unusual Data Centers?

Do you know of another data center that should be on this list? Please tell us in the comments.

The post These Aren’t Your Ordinary Data Centers appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Who We Are & What We Do

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Tina, Backblaze Director of Software Engineering

We recently celebrated our 12-year anniversary as a company (see our company timeline). We thought it’d be a great time to make a video showing who we are and what kind of company we’ve built.

In the video, we gave members of our team the opportunity to use their own words to describe what it’s like to work at Backblaze.

We’re still growing and we have openings in engineering, marketing, product management, devops, and operations. If, after viewing the video and reading over the job listings, you think there might be a fit for you, we’d love to have a conversation about joining the Backblaze family.

We hope you take a look at our video entitled, Who We Are & What We Do.

The post Who We Are & What We Do appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Connect Veeam to the B2 Cloud: Episode 4 — Using Morro Data CloudNAS

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Veeam backup to Backblaze B2 Episode 4 of Series

In the fourth post in our series on connecting Veeam with B2, we provide a guide on how to back up your VMs to Backblaze B2 using Veeam and Morro Data’s CloudNAS. In our previous posts, we covered how to connect Veeam to the B2 cloud using OpenDedupe, connect Veeam to the B2 cloud using Synology, and connect Veeam with B2 using StarWind VTL.

VM Backup to B2 Using Veeam Backup & Replication and Morro Data CloudNAS

We are glad to show how Veeam Backup & Replication can work with Morro Data CloudNAS to keep the more recent backups on premises for fast recovery while archiving all backups in B2 Cloud Storage. CloudNAS not only caches the more recent backup files, but also simplifies the management of B2 Cloud Storage with a network share or drive letter interface.

–Paul Tien, Founder & CEO, Morro Data

VM backup and recovery is a critical part of IT operations that supports business continuity. Traditionally, IT has deployed an array of purpose-built backup appliances and applications to protect against server, infrastructure, and security failures. As VMs continue to spread in production, development, and verification environments, the expanding VM backup repository has become a major challenge for system administrators.

Because the VM backup footprint is usually quite large, cloud storage is increasingly being deployed for VM backup. However, cloud storage does not achieve the same performance level as on-premises storage for recovery operation. For this reason, cloud storage has been used as tiered repository behind on-premises storage.

diagram of Veeam backing up to B2 using Cloudflare and Morro Data CloudNAS

In this best practice guide, VM Backup to B2 Using Veeam Backup & Replication and Morro Data CloudNAS, we will show how Veeam Backup & Replication can work with Morro Data CloudNAS to keep the most recent backups on premises for fast recovery while archiving all backups in the retention window in Backblaze B2 cloud storage. CloudNAS caching not only provides buffer for most recent backup files, but also simplifies the management of on-premises storage and cloud storage as an integral backup repository.

Tell Us How You’re Backing Up Your VMs

If you’re backing up VMs to B2 using one of the solutions we’ve written about in this series, we’d like to hear from you in the comments about how it’s going.

View all posts in the Veeam series.

The post Connect Veeam to the B2 Cloud: Episode 4 — Using Morro Data CloudNAS appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

How to Have Fun This Summer and Keep Your Data Safe, Too

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Man in hat taking goofy summer photos

If you’re like me, you can hardly wait for summer to be here. Summer is the time to get outdoors, go swimming, hang out with friends, and enjoy the weather. For many, it’s also a time for graduations, weddings, vacations, visiting family, and grilling in the backyard.

We’re likely to take more photos and go places we haven’t been before. And we take along all our portable gadgets, especially our cameras, phones, and digital music devices.

Unfortunately, being on the move means that the data on our digital devices is more susceptible to loss. We’re often not as careful backing up that data or even keeping track of the devices themselves. Perhaps you’ve had the sad experience of getting back home after a family reunion, company picnic, or vacation and discovering that your phone or camera didn’t make it all the way home with you.

With just a little planning and a few simple practices, you can be certain that your digital memories will last far beyond summer.

Keep All Those Summer Memories Safe

We don’t want you to miss out on all the great summer memories you’re going to create this year. Before summer is actually here, it’s good to review some tips to make sure that all those great memories you create will be with you for years to come.

Summer Data Backup Tips

Even if your devices are lost or stolen, you’ll be able to recover what was on them if you back them up during your trip. Don’t wait until you get home — do it regularly no matter where you are. It’s not hard to make sure your devices are backed up; you just need to take a few minutes to make a plan on how and when you’re going to back up your devices.

Have somewhere to put your backup data, either in the cloud or on a backup device that you can keep safe, give to someone else, or ship home

If You Have Access to Wi-Fi
  • If your devices are internet-ready, you can back them up to the cloud directly whenever you’re connected.
  • If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, you can back up your devices to a laptop computer and then back up that computer to the cloud.

Note: See Safety Tips for Using Wi-Fi on the Go, below.

If You Don’t Have Access to Wi-Fi

If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, you can back up your devices to a USB thumb drive and carry that with you. If you put it in luggage, put it in a piece of luggage different than where you carry your devices, or give it to a family member to put in their bag or luggage. To be extra safe, it’s easy and inexpensive to mail a thumb drive to yourself when you’re away from home. Some hotels will even do that for you.

Make Sure Your Devices Get Home With You

You want to be careful with your devices when you travel.

  • Use covers for your phone and cameras. It helps protects them from physical damage and also discourages robbers who are attracted to shiny things. In any case, don’t flash around your nice mobile phone or expensive digital camera. Keep them out of sight when you’re not using them.
  • Don’t leave any of your digital devices unprotected in an airport security line, at a hotel, on a cafe or restaurant table, beside the pool, or in a handbag on the floor or hanging from a chair.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be especially cautious of anyone getting close to you in a crowd.
  • It seems silly to say, but keep your devices away from all forms of liquid.
  • If available, you can use a hotel room or front desk safe to protect your devices when you’re not using them.

Water and Tech Don’t Mix

I love being near or in the water, but did you know that water damage is the most common cause of damage to digital devices? We should be more careful around water, but it’s easy for accidents to happen. And in the summer they tend to happen even more.

Mobile phone in pool

Safety Tips for Using Wi-Fi on the Go

Public Wi-Fi networks are notorious for being places where nefarious individuals snoop on other computers to steal passwords and account information. You can avoid that possibility by following some easy tips.

  • Before you travel, change the passwords on the accounts you plan to use. Change them again when you get home. Don’t use the same password on different accounts or reuse a password you’ve used previously. Password managers, such as 1Password, LastPass, or BitWarden, make handling your password easy.
  • Turn off sharing on your devices to prevent anyone obtaining access to your device.
  • Turn off automatic connection to open Wi-Fi networks.
  • Don’t use the web to access your bank, financial institutions, or other important sites if you’re not 100% confident in the security of your internet connection.
  • If you do access a financial, shopping, or other high risk site, make sure your connection is protected with Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is indicated with the HTTPS prefix in the URL. When you browse over HTTPS, people on the same Wi-Fi network as you can’t snoop on the data that travels between you and the server of the website you’re connecting to. Most sites that ask for payment or confidential information use SSL. If they don’t, stay away.
  • If you can, set up a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your connection. A VPN routes your traffic through a secure network even on public Wi-Fi, giving you all the protection of your private network while still having the freedom of public Wi-Fi. This is something you should look into and set up before you go on a trip. Here are some tips for choosing a VPN.

Share the Knowledge About Keeping Data Safe

You might be savvy about all the above, but undoubtedly you have family members or friends who aren’t as knowledgeable. Why not share this post with someone you know who might benefit from these tips? To email this post to a friend, just click on the email social sharing icon to the left or at the bottom of this post. Or, you can just send an email containing this post’s URL,

And be sure to have a great summer!

The post How to Have Fun This Summer and Keep Your Data Safe, Too appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Wrap-Up of NAB 2019 in Las Vegas

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Backblaze at NAB 2019 in Las Vegas

Backblaze just returned from exhibiting at NAB in Las Vegas, where, according to just about everyone, the cloud is a growing topic of interest.

“Cloud is becoming a central interest and more people are warming up to it,” according to Backblaze Director of Marketing, Yev Pusin. “Things have changed since last year. There’s definitely more interest in how the cloud fits into creative workflows.”

NAB 2019
Skip and Yev of Backblaze talk to a booth visitor

Skip Levens, Director of Product Marketing for Backblaze, observed that the show this year is “rightly focusing on the storyteller, and that NAB has evolved from its strong broadcast roots to serve storytellers of every kind on every new kind of platform and medium, which are all available to see at the show.”

NAB 2019
Backblaze’s busy booth at NAB

Skip also observed that Backblaze is ready to be the cloud storage of choice for creative professionals. “Behind the scenes we’ve been updating our infrastructure and technology to better serve our customers who have more and more very high resolution production content that’s above 4K, HDR workflows, internet-routed video, and cloud-backed content libraries for extremely agile content production. Combine Backblaze’s low cost with 11 9’s of durability and instant availability of your data and content, and you have an unbeatable combination to give creative professionals what they need today.”

NAB 2019
Nathan, Victoria, Troy, Nilay, Janet, and Terry of Backblaze answered lots of questions from visitors to the show
NAB 2019
Ahin and Andrew of Backblaze

Backblaze CEO Gleb Budman also felt that the crowd this year was more interested in the cloud. “Overall, it felt like people understood how useful the cloud can be. They’re tired of using tape, and they’re facing the challenge of handling the huge volumes of data being generated by 8K cameras.”

“It was great to talk to our customers at the show. Some just came by to say, ‘I love you guys and read your blog posts.’ Others want to better understand how to use B2.”

It wasn’t all cloud talk and HD video at the show. Our booth staff noted a lot of attendees wearing cowboy hats, likely because the Academy of Country Music Awards (CMA) show was held at the MGM Grand the Sunday when NAB opened. Backblaze didn’t disappoint with the booth giveaways, either. We gave away 1,000 Backblaze nerd pens and 1,200 bags of pink cloud candy just on the first day. If that doesn’t show growing interest in the cloud, we don’t know what does!

NAB 2019 iconik demo
Booth visitors get a demo of how to use iconik and B2 to manage media assets.
NAB 2019
B2 built out of Backblaze Storage Pods with display of some of the B2 workflow partners.

Blog Series for NAB

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that our creative workflow experts at Backblaze wrote a series of posts on creative media workflows. Don’t miss them!

Video From NAB Show 2019 Dailies — Ortana Media Group & Backblaze

James Gibson, founder & CEO of Ortana, talks with Backblaze VP of Marketing Ahin Thomas about why B2 Cloud Storage and the Cubix MAM & Orchestration platform together make a great solution.

Were You at NAB?

If you were at NAB this year, we hope you stopped by the Backblaze booth to say hello. We’d like to hear what you saw at the show that was interesting or exciting. Please let us know in the comments.

The post Wrap-Up of NAB 2019 in Las Vegas appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

3-2-1 Backup Best Practices Using the Cloud

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

This post originally appeared on on September 18, 2018 and was published on the Backblaze Blog in April 2019. Since then, we have updated this post with the latest information on the cloud and backup best practices.

Most business owners know that backing up their data is a standard best practice, but like a lot of things that are good for us, like getting your teeth cleaned or eating kale, putting best practices into actual practice can sometimes be a challenge.

If you are currently juggling hard disk drives between workstations and an off-site location or you’re using network-attached storage (NAS) to store company files, you may want to consider adding the cloud to your backup approach to make those backup best practices easier to actually practice.

The industry standard is the 3-2-1 backup strategy. When it first appeared, the preferred technology included rotational tape, recordable media (CDs, DVDs, and SD cards), and external hard drives. While these options are still in use, the cloud has changed everyone’s backup strategy. And, much like making time for your regular dental checkups, in the long run, you’ll be so happy you made time to set up your backup strategy.

In this post, we’ll go over several ways in which the cloud makes managing your data easier and provides you with a number of benefits. Similar to how regular dental cleanings benefit your overall health and keep you from losing teeth, reviewing your backup strategy keeps you from losing your data.

First, let’s do a quick review of the 3-2-1 backup strategy.

The 3-2-1 Backup Strategy

A 3-2-1 strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different media, and at least one off-site copy (in the cloud).

The Cloud 3-2-1 Scenario

Let’s use YetAnotherSpreadsheet.xlsx as an example file for our 3-2-1 backup scenario including cloud storage.

3: There are three copies of the YetAnotherSpreadsheet.xlsx. The first one lives on your primary computer. That’s one copy of the data file.

2: You store a second copy of YetAnotherSpreadsheet.xlsx on an external hard drive or NAS device that you use for backing up your computer.

Your backup program runs on a regular schedule or whenever a file is added to your system and backs up YetAnotherSpreadsheet.xlsx to your external drive(s). That covers the “two different media” requirement for 3-2-1.

1: One copy of YetAnotherSpreadsheet.xlsx is in another physical location than copy number one.

Adding the cloud to this scenario, you’d back up to that external hard drive and an online backup solution. The backup program continuously scans your computer and uploads your data to a data center (aka the cloud). YetAnotherSpreadsheet.xlsx is uploaded and becomes the third copy of your data.

Why Two On-site Copies and One Off-site Copy?

Hardware failures can grind productivity to a halt. No matter what type of computer you use, having an on-site copy is a simple way of having quick access. The added assurance of access to an off-site copy makes the 3-2-1 backup strategy the golden standard still used today. Even the United States government recommends this approach—check out this publication from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. There are two main benefits to having two on-site copies and one off-site copy.

Benefit 1: Mitigate Data and Time Loss

If your laptop or desktop’s hard drive crashes, backing up to an external hard drive or local NAS should give you peace of mind. You can quickly recover data or connect the device to another computer while the broken machine gets fixed or replaced. However, if you also use an automatic cloud backup program, the exposure to data loss is fairly minimal, and the recovery of individual files can be instantaneous.

Benefit 2: Reduce the Risk of a Total Loss

Having an on-site backup is a great start, but having an off-site backup is a key component to completing the 3-2-1 backup strategy. On-site backups are easy to set up. Unfortunately, a backup near the device it’s backing up (for example, having a desktop PC or Mac and an external hard drive on the same desk) means that your data is susceptible to total data loss in the case of fire, theft, water damage, or other unforeseen occurrences.

A continuously updated copy of your data that’s not in the same physical location as the other two is paramount in protecting your files. Backing up to the cloud covers the one copy off-site instantly.

Evolving Backup Strategies: 3-2-1-1-0 and

The 3-2-1 backup strategy was developed by photographers and meant to protect valuable film assets from damage (e.g., airport X-ray machines), corruption (e.g., failure during processing) or destruction (e.g., negatives lost in a fire).

Today, the cloud enables us to access copies easily or recover damaged data, but cloud backups alone do not protect your files from cyber attacks like ransomware that encrypt files and make them inaccessible. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting backups in addition to production data, so any data stores connected to your network could be vulnerable, including cloud backups. Fortunately, there are some emerging backup strategies and powerful tools like Object Lock that make it that much harder for cybercriminals to get their hands on your backups.

In response to network security concerns, two new backup strategies—3-2-1-1-0 and 4-3-2—amend the standard for greater security.

The 3-2-1-1-0 strategy adds the following criteria:

  • Three copies.
  • Two media types.
  • One copy off-site.
  • One copy is offline. (If one copy is stored in the cloud, it’s immutable or impossible to modify.)
  • Zero-error backups.

The 4-3-2 backup strategy stands for the following:

  • Four copies.
  • Three locations: One storage option must be immutable and unchanged for its entire existence.
  • Two separate networks to isolate one copy from harm if the production network is compromised.

If you still aren’t sure which backup strategy is right for your business, check out our explainer on the difference between 3-2-1, 3-2-1-1-0, and 4-3-1.

The Cloud as Part of Your Backup Strategy

The cloud has made fulfilling the 3-2-1 strategy easier. And, with recent advances in technology and good old-fashioned competition, the cloud brings other advantages:

Broadband Speed and Coverage: Broadband bandwidth has increased and is more widely available, while the reach of cellular data service has made many remote locations accessible. It’s possible to upload data to the cloud from home, the office, and even when traveling to remote locations. For example, at base camp on Mt. Everest, you can get mobile network service.

Competitive Cloud Storage Packages: There are a lot of cloud storage offers out there. Household hardware brands like Hewlett Packard and Dell even include cloud storage with their hardware as a package deal. As companies who know cloud storage explore how to improve cloud storage for faster upload and access times, customers will reap the benefits.

Advantages of Adding the Cloud to Your Backup Strategy

If you’re already using 3-2-1, you’ve made a great start keeping your data safe. If you’re not yet using the cloud as part of your backup strategy, then you might consider the following advantages of adding it to your data security plans.


The off-site copy of your data required by 3-2-1 can be anywhere that’s geographically separated from your primary location. That can be convenient for some, such as for a photographer friend who takes a backup hard disk to leave at his mother’s house during their regular Sunday dinner. Still, it’s not so easy for others, such as enterprises with time-consuming backups of large data files or backups daily or multiple times a day. The cloud can handle high volume and frequency backups and provide more convenient access to recovery files than with hard drive storage or retrieval by car ride.


Cloud data centers are designed to protect data against outages, service interruptions, hardware failures, and natural disasters. Backblaze Vault’s durability was calculated at 11 nines. What that means for you is there is a higher likelihood of an asteroid colliding with earth in a million years than the chance of Backblaze losing one file.

Sharing & Collaboration

Having data in the cloud can make sharing much easier. Users can control who has access and to what data. Backblaze Computer Backup and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage support sharing links that can be sent to anyone who needs permanent or temporary access to stored data. This is ideal if you’re working across global teams on a project or relaying final deliverables to a client.

Data Ingest/Seeding

Some cloud services provide seeding services that enable the physical transfer of data directly to the cloud. An example is the Backblaze Fireball, which is a 70TB hard disk array with 1GB connectivity that enables the customer to load and ship data securely to Backblaze’s data centers. Customers can also use Backblaze Universal Data Migration to move more than 10GB to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage from virtually anywhere—another cloud, a NAS device, tape/LTO systems, or a cloud drive like OneDrive or Dropbox—all for free.

Cloud Replication: A Tool for Evolved Cloud Backups

Cloud Replication (now in private beta) accomplishes the core principles of redundancy (the “4” in 4-3-2) and geographic separation (the “2” in 4-3-2) in all three backup strategies by storing files in many regions (geographic separation) or by storing multiples copies in one region (redundancy) on the Backblaze Storage Cloud.

By dispersing data across regions in the cloud, you bring the data closer to where the work is, which increases access. Also, Cloud Replication can designate the same data for working, testing, or staging without breaking a sweat. Redundancy protects your data while meeting compliance regulations such as GDPR.

Challenges of the Cloud

For some, there are real challenges to using the cloud for backing up or archiving data, especially when you have a lot of data. As services expand and new technologies are adopted, transfer speeds will continue to increase and should help overcome that hurdle.

In the meantime, here are some tips for meeting these challenges:

  • Schedule your data uploads for off-hours when the network load is light and the transfers won’t impede other data traffic.
  • Leverage multi-threaded uploads to improve transfer speed.
  • Take advantage of data ingest options to seed data to the cloud. It’s faster and even more economical than other data transfer options.
  • Be patient. Once you get your initial files uploaded or seeded to the cloud, it becomes easier to upload incremental updates.

Are you Using the Cloud to Your Best Advantage?

Backups are great for your active projects, but how do you handle your archives? We wrote about the difference between backing up and archiving, and knowing the difference will improve your data management strategy.

Many small and medium-sized businesses use a backup or even a sync solution for their data when archiving is the approach that better suits their needs. A data backup is for recovery from hardware failure or recent data corruption or loss, and an archive is for space management and long-term retention. If you’re using a data backup or sync service to store data you wish to keep permanently or long-term, you’re trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

What’s the Best Use for Backup?

  • Working files currently being edited or in a live project.
  • Documents, correspondence, application settings, and other transient system information.

What’s the Best Use for Archive?

  • Finished projects for which you wish to retain all or just the primary data files used.
  • Photos and videos that you might use again.
  • Media that is invaluable to your business.

Making the Most of the Cloud

If you’re following a 3-2-1, 3-2-1-1-0, or 4-3-2 backup strategy that includes the cloud, you have the most secure practice for backing up important files. You know that the cloud can add security, boost data durability, increase collaboration across teams and clients, and reduce costs for your business. Adding Universal Data Migration, Cloud Replication, and multi-threaded uploads to your backup strategy in the cloud make it even easier to put best practices to work for you.

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Google+ is Shutting Down: Save Your Content By March 31

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original

Farewell Google+

If you’re a user of Google+, the internet-based social network, you recently received a notice that the service is shutting down on April 2. If you have any content on Google+ that you’d like to save, you need to get it out by Sunday, March 31.

If the already have copies of that content, you’re OK, but if any of that content exists only on Google+, you’ll want to make sure you retrieve it prior to the deadline

No other Google products (such as Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive, YouTube) are affected. Any photos and videos already backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

A Reminder to Keep Your Data Safe and Secure

This action by Google, as well as the recent Myspace content deletion accident, are good reminders that you never want to be in the situation where the only copy of your data is in one place if that one place isn’t expressly designed for long-term secure archiving. Any data you have that you value — whether on your local computer, on an external disk, on backup media, or in the cloud — shouldn’t exist only in one place.

If you Have Data in Google+, Here’s How To Retrieve It

How to download your data.

Google dialog to download your data
Google dialog to download your data

More Information from Google on Google+ Closure

For more information, see the full Google+ shutdown FAQ.

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