All posts by Roderick Bauer

Wrap-Up of NAB 2019 in Las Vegas

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/wrap-up-of-nab-2019-in-las-vegas/

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 https://www.backblaze.com/blog/3-2-1-backup-best-practices-using-the-cloud/

Archive 3-2-1

Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional photographer or videographer, employing a 3-2-1 backup strategy for your valuable photos and videos is critical. A good backup strategy can protect you from accidental or incidental data loss and make sure your working or archived files are available when you need them.

Most photographers and videographers are aware of the necessity to back up their data, but like a lot of things that are good for us, like eating kale and exercising regularly, putting good habits into practice can be challenging. Maybe you’re currently using the cloud as part of your backup or archive strategy, or perhaps you’re still juggling hard disk drives between your workstations, a storage closet, and an offsite location.

If you’re not yet using the cloud, or are still getting familiar with the cloud for data backup and archiving, I’d like to go over some ways in which the cloud can make managing your data easier and provide you with a number of benefits you might not currently enjoy.

Let’s first do a quick review of 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 copy that is offsite.

A Typical 3-2-1 Scenario

Let’s use landscape.cr2 as an example file for this scenario. Landscape.cr2 lives on your primary computer. That’s one copy of the data file. You also have an external hard drive or Network-Attached Storage (NAS) 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 landscape.cr2 to your external drive(s). That’s a second copy on a different device or medium. In addition to that external hard drive, you also have an online backup solution that makes another copy of your data. The backup program continuously scans your computer and uploads your data to a data center (aka the cloud). Landscape.cr2 is included in this upload, and that becomes the third copy of your data.

Why Two Onsite Copies and One Offsite Copy?

Whichever kind of computer you are using, an onsite backup is a simple way of having quick access to your data should anything happen to your computer. If your laptop or desktop’s hard drive crashes, and you have been regularly backing up to an external hard drive or NAS, you can quickly get the majority of your data back (or use the external drive on another computer while yours gets fixed or replaced). If you use an automatic backup program, the exposure for data loss is fairly minimal.

Synology NAS and cloud backup symbol

Having an onsite backup is a great start, but having an offsite backup is a key component to completing a backup strategy. Onsite backups are easy to set up, but unfortunately having a backup near the device that it’s backing up (for example, having a desktop PC or Mac and an external hard drive on the same desk), means that both of those copies of your data are susceptible to loss in case of fire, theft, water damage, or other unforeseen occurrences.

Backblaze data center

Most often, if the two devices you have as your local copies are close together, they’ll both be affected if the unfortunate should happen. 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. Even the United States Government recommends this approach. In a 2012 paper for US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team), Carnegie Mellon recommended the 3-2-1 method in their publication titled: Data Backup Options.

The Cloud as Part of 3-2-1

a storage vault in the middle of a cloud

The cloud can make fulfilling the 3-2-1 strategy much easier. And, with recent advances in technology and cost 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, office, and even when traveling to remote locations. For example, the summit of Mt. Everest now has mobile network service.

Competitive costCompetition in cloud storage has made for competitive pricing and a range of services. The cloud is more affordable than ever.

Advantages of Adding the Cloud to 3-2-1

If you’re already using 3-2-1, then you’ve made a great start in 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.

Convenience
The two offsite copies 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. It’s not so easy for others, who have to transport or ship disks to other locations to fulfill the diverse location requirement. The cloud handles this without any extra effort.

Durability
Cloud data centers are designed to protect data against outages, service interruptions, hardware failures, and natural disasters. Backblaze claims 99.999999999% (11 9s) annual durability for its customers’ data.

Sharing & Collaboration
Having data in the cloud can make sharing much easier. Users can control who has access and to what data. Backblaze Backup and 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 with second shooters on a project or relaying final deliverables to a client.

Data Ingest/Seeding
As digital resolutions increase, media files grow larger and larger. Forty-five megapixel images and 8K digital videos can quickly fill up any storage media and put demands on the time and bandwidth required to transfer data. Some cloud services provide seeding services that enable physical transfer of data directly to the cloud. An example is the Backblaze B2 Fireball, which is a 70 TB hard disk array with 1 GB connectivity that enables the customer to load and ship data securely to Backblaze’s data centers.

Challenges of the Cloud

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

Data center racks

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 definitely faster and can even be more economical compared to other data transfer options.
  • Be patient. Once you get your initial files uploaded or seeded to the cloud, it becomes much easier to upload incremental updates. In the near-future we will see 5G mobile networks and higher broadband speeds that will make data transfers even faster.

Are you Using the Cloud to Best Advantage?

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

Many photographers and videographers are using a backup or even a sync solution for their data when archiving is the approach that better suits their needs. Briefly, 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 that 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 at some time in the future.
  • Media that has value to your business for possible future sales.

Making the Most of the Cloud

If you’re following a 3-2-1 backup strategy that includes the cloud, you’ll be ahead of 90% of your peers. The cloud is becoming more useful and more economical every day. When you add the security of the cloud, collaboration with clients and peers, and proven durability to that list, the cloud is an unbeatable choice for upping your game in data backup and archiving.

You can read more posts in this series written in conjunction with Lensrentals.com on photography and videography.

•  •  •

Note: This post originally appeared on Lensrentals.com on September 18, 2018.

The post 3-2-1 Backup Best Practices Using the Cloud appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

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

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/google-is-shutting-down-save-your-content-by-march-31/

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.

The post Google+ is Shutting Down: Save Your Content By March 31 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Backing Up Isn’t Hard to Do (for Musicians)

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backing-up-isnt-hard-to-do-for-musicians/

Home recording studio

You no doubt heard the news this month about the huge data loss at Myspace, which announced that users’ audio files — along with any photos and videos — that were uploaded to Myspace more than three years ago, “may no longer be available on or from Myspace.” That’s estimated to be as many as 53 million songs from 14 million artists that were lost. The reason given was a botched server migration, but it could have been anything. Data can be lost due to accidental deletion, hardware or software failure, or because a service is terminated by a company that decides it no longer fits their business goals.

Myspace: A Groundbreaking Online Social & Music Community

Ten to fifteen years ago, Myspace fulfilled the promise of an online musical community where up and coming bands and musicians could share their art, interact with their fans, and promote their concerts. Many musicians made a lot of music that ended up on Myspace, and some of them even became superstars, or at least, well-known names such as Arctic Monkeys, Attack! Attack!, Black Veil Brides, and Panic! at the Disco.

Today, Myspace is just a shadow of its former social media presence, but at one time it claimed nearly one billion registered users and the biggest library in digital music. Now, much of that music is gone. Artists who thought that their music would exist indefinitely on Myspace have had to deal with the realization that putting recordings — or any kind of data — in a cloud streaming service doesn’t guarantee that it is safe. Cloud-based sites like Myspace, SoundCloud, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google, or any other site that is not specifically a backup or archive site can’t be relied upon (nor do they claim the intention) to keep your data safe and available indefinitely.

A Personal Story of Music and Myspace

by Ahin Thomas, VP of Marketing, Backblaze

Recently, I was sharing the story of the first good song I had written with a colleague and sent her the link to the song on Myspace. When she went to listen to the song, the page was there but we both found out that the song was no longer available on Myspace.

Myspace missing song
Song missing on Myspace

That’s the problem with data loss. You don’t know that it’s lost until it’s gone. And, at that point, it’s simply too late.

The song was called By The Way. The inspiration for the song came when I was waiting for a restaurant table and saw a picture frame in a store window with a photo of this adorable little kid. “Twinkle, twinkle in your eyes, are you an angel in disguise?” was written on the picture frame. Cute kid, great line. I fiddled with it for awhile and managed to twist it into a nice little pop song.

Writing By The Way was the first time I felt like a real songwriter. It also taught me that being open and willing to share with others can change your life. The song itself is decent, but the lessons and memories are priceless. It’s the sort of thing I want to be able to share with my daughter. She’s only 15 months old now, but I figured maybe she might someday tell stories about how her dad wrote songs that people recorded, and how he played his songs for her when she was little. So that’s what the song meant to me.

Child

I was lucky. I had backed up the song, which means that I still have the song to play for my daughter (photo above). If I hadn’t backed up the song, well, I wouldn’t be able to.

I think of the many artists who are way more talented than I am, but not as lucky as I was to be able to preserve the music that means so much to me and my family. To them, I send my heartfelt condolences for the hours and memories lost due to the flip of a wrong switch. To everyone else, remind one friend today to get backed up. They’ll never forget you for it.

If you’re interested, here is my song By The Way, performed by Sehr Thadhani and her wonderful band.

Nothing Holds a Memory (Like a Song)*

Just about all of us are music fans and consumers, and we have music files that we keep on local computers, mobile devices, and in the cloud. Even if you’ve switched to a streaming music service such as Spotify, Google, Pandora, Apple, or Amazon, it’s likely you still have music files on your computers and devices that you’d like to preserve.

If you keep only one copy of a music file, you greatly increase the chances that the file will be lost.

Back Up the Music

We can hope that most of the garage bands, aspiring, and successful artists who uploaded music to Myspace had other copies, but if past incidents have taught us anything, we can expect that for many this is a permanent loss of their music files. Whether on an attached or local disk, mobile device, or in the cloud, one copy of a file is susceptible to loss. As we’ve often said, the only reliable protection against data loss is to keep multiple copies in more than one location, also known as the 3-2-1 backup strategy. Having more than one copy (of your tracks, your rough and final mixes, your vocals, your masters, your sessions), and ideally three in at least two different geographical locations, can go a long way in ensuring your music won’t be lost.

The only reliable protection against data loss is to keep multiple copies in more than one location.

Depending on the amount of recording data you have and how you work, a good backup service can automatically back up your recording data and ensure it against loss. If you wish to archive recordings for future use or reference, an object cloud storage service will store your data in a secure data center and provide greater flexibility and long term storage at reasonable cost.

For a good overview of backup options for recording musicians, there’s a great article written by producer, recording engineer, instructor, and composer Glenn Lorbecki, called The Music Producer’s Guide to Backing Up Data. Glenn is also a Backblaze customer, so he knows backup and cloud storage. You can read about Glenn on his website at Glennsound.com.

Backblaze has many musicians and recording professionals among our users. The entire Austin City Limits music archives are in our B2 Cloud Storage. Kontent Core is a music licensing platform where labels and artists can showcase their creative work. Other customers are solo musicians, bands, recording engineers, studios, and music publishers.

Preserve Your Memories and Your Songs with Backblaze

Backblaze offers flexible and affordable backup and cloud storage for music, digital recordings, and data of any kind. Your content is stored with a data durability of 99.999999999 (11 nines), and covered by an SLA. If you’d like to learn more about Backblaze’s Computer Backup or B2 Cloud Storage, we invite you to read more on our website.

•  •  •

*Nothing Holds a Memory (Like a Song)Jason Cassidy, American country singer and songwriter.

The post Backing Up Isn’t Hard to Do (for Musicians) appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Welcome to Our New Blog

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/welcome-to-our-new-blog/

screenshot of the new Backblaze blog homepage

As we recently teased, we’ve been working on a new blog design and now it’s here. We invite you to kick the tires, take it for a spin, do a few donuts, and tell us what you think.

Our goals for the new design were pretty simple:

  1. Present a friendlier user interface
  2. Make it easier for the reader to find content related to what they’re reading
  3. Introduce the reader to content they might not know we wrote about
  4. Make everything work faster

Specifically, here’s what’s changed:

  • OverallFaster, easier to navigate, more content to discover
    • Faster to load
    • Highly responsive for mobile visitors
    • Worldwide Cloudflare caching
    • Three-column grid layout
    • Smooth scroll back to top of page
  • New Home Page layoutA better introduction to the blog
    • New banner for desktop visitors
    • Featured post(s) at the top of the page
  • Category PagesMore information on categories
    • Optional featured post from that category at the top of the page
    • Category description at the top of the page
  • Tag PagesMore information on tags
    • Tag description is at the top of the page
  • Author PagesWho is the author?
    • Author bio is at top
    • Author’s past posts
  • Post PagesMore information about the content you’re reading
    • Wider post text area
    • New sidebar highlights posts related to the post being read
    • Option to include other content & events related to the current post
    • Option to print post, if desired
  • Archives PageA new way to discover content
    • Discover posts by:
      • Date
      • Category
      • Tag
      • Search
      • Byline

Our new blog is faster and more flexible so that we can change or add capabilities as we need them. We already have a new more items we’re planning to implement over the coming months.

Please tell us what you think of the new design and if you have any other enhancements you’d like to see.

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Our Blog Redesign — Coming Soon!

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/our-blog-redesign-coming-soon/

Our new blog is coming.

Software and user experience design (UX) that stands still never moves ahead, and that goes for our 11 year-old blog.

Backblaze’s blog launched in 2008 with a short post by our founder, Gleb Budman, about how a billion PCs are at risk of losing data. Since that first blog post, Backblaze has published 800 more posts. Last year we had over 2.6 million pageviews from an audience that continues to grow month over month.

The blog was updated in 2014 with a responsive design to serve our increasing number of mobile-based readers, new categories, a new commenting system (Disqus), and the ability to sign up for a blog email list. We also improved our site search function in 2017.

We’ve been feeling for a while that the blog is overdue for more improvements. We want to expose more of the content we’ve created to more readers and help readers find what interests them from among those hundreds of posts. Searching for content can work, but readers have to know or guess a search term to find out if we’ve written on that topic. That’s not good.

As the blog gets more and more posts, the challenge is to help readers find all the content on the blog that they might be interested in. Most of our readers come to the blog through organic search, but many are returning readers who are checking on what’s new, or perhaps they learned of a post that interests them through one of our newsletters. Another option is that a reader signed up for our blog mailing list (see the top of this page) and received an email about a post that sounds interesting.

For the next iteration of our blog, we wanted to expose more of the content we’ve created to more readers, help them find related content they might be interested in, and just make it much easier to navigate our site and find topics of interest.

These Are the Goals for Our Blog Update

  • Present a friendlier user interface
  • Make it easier for the reader to find content related to what they’re reading
  • Introduce the reader to content they might not know we wrote about
  • Make everything work faster

We hope the new design fulfills these goals, and we invite you — once the new design has launched — to tell us how we did. We made the design much more flexible so if it turns out that something doesn’t work as well as we hoped, or we get great suggestions from our readers, we can easily change the blog to incorporate those ideas.

We’re putting the finishing touches on the new design, so it won’t be long until it’s live. After it’s launched, we’ll write more about what we changed, and why.

We’re looking forward to showing the latest version of our blog to our readers. Stay tuned!

The post Our Blog Redesign — Coming Soon! appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Wanted: Senior Director of Product Marketing

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/wanted-senior-director-of-product-marketing/

We're hiring

That tweet, along with hundreds of other positive comments, came in the day we announced a price increase. We’re proud (and humbled) to have such strong relationships with our customers that they root for our success.

We’re looking for a Product Marketing leader who understands and loves focusing on the customer.

About Backblaze

Backblaze provides cloud storage that’s astonishingly easy to use and low cost. Our customers use our services so they can pursue dreams like curing cancer (genome mapping is data intensive), archiving the work of some of the greatest artists on the planet (learn more about how Austin City Limits uses B2), or simply sleeping well at night (anyone that’s spilled a cup of coffee on a laptop knows the relief that comes with complete, secure backups. We are entrusted with over 750 PBs of data from customers in more than 150 countries. From a storage standpoint, our platform is on the scale of Dropbox & Facebook. We exited 2018 with a strong growth rate, with a cash flow positive (read — our customer acquisition efforts are profitable). We’ve done all this with just $3M of funding.

How? Our team is maniacally focused on understanding customer needs and then providing solutions. More than half of our business comes from self-service customers — they get started without needing to talk to us.

How Marketing at Backblaze Works

  • We think of Product Marketing as verticalized business owners. Our product marketers are expected to be athletes that can define and marshall our resources towards clear objectives. We are looking for someone that will lead the team — both as a manager and a contributor.
  • Acquisition via content marketing. We’ll have ~3M visitors to the blog this year that come to read compelling, if a little wonky, content on how things actually work. Our secret is writing about customer problems and solutions.
  • Conversion of website traffic. That means working cross-functionally to continually remove friction from the user experience — website flows and content that directly helps customers solve problems.
  • Sales enablement for a growing team. Increasingly, we have customers that want/need to engage with Sales. That is great, and, Marketing needs to provide our Sales team with the tools to succeed.
  • Collaboration with technology partners. B2 is integrated into leading hardware and software solutions. Because of our brand reputation and marketing reach, many partners integrate B2 because they want to run joint campaigns to promote our solutions. Once and integration is validated, Product Marketing owns the relationship with the partner.
  • Provide insights and feedback. We are a collaborative organization — our product marketers are key voices in representing our customers.

The Role: Senior Director of Product Marketing

Reporting directly to the VP of Marketing, you will lead a growing team of product marketers.

The Right Fit for our Sr. Director of Product Marketing

  • Loves being a marketer. Backblaze spans a variety of customer segments including Consumer, SMBs, and Developers. We’re looking for someone that enjoys serving multiple segments.
    • Capable of leading all of Product Marketing, not just one vertical.
  • Possesses the right amount of experience. 10+ years of product/solutions marketing within technical infrastructure, at least 3 years in storage or cloud. Experience with eCommerce/self-service SaaS preferred.
    • Foundation in place to succeed from day one.
  • Demonstrates passion for talent development. You’ll be leading a talented team and you must ensure that Backblaze remains a place that people enjoy working.
    • Has led and grown successful teams.
  • Obsesses over the story. Whether creating a new webpage or writing up a case study, we strive to create stories that engage. We are looking for someone that is a polished writer and talented editor.
    • Superior communication skills combined with the necessary technical proficiency to tell cloud storage stories.
  • Builds enough process. You build clear processes/guidelines/documents that are necessary to communicate and scale an organization, but know that if there’s a 100 page manual, we’re probably making things too hard.
    • Articulates a considered approach to trying something new and, when successful, scaling to a repeatable process for others.
  • Blends analysis with instinct. Marketers should own the data wherever possible. However, particularly in hypergrowth settings, there are times we just need to take a bet and be willing to fail.
    • A track record of driving quantified results.

Some of Our More Popular Perks

Backblaze offers an unlimited vacation policy, fully stocked kitchens, twice a week catered breakfast and lunch, superior coffee, and a generous skills training policy to continue your professional development. Our dog friendly office in San Mateo is easily accessible from CalTrain, 280, and 101.

If this all sounds like you:

  • Send an email to jobscontact@backblaze.com with the position in the subject line.
  • Tell us a bit about your work history.
  • Include your resume.
  • Share an example of talent development, either from your past or something you found notable. Why did it stick out to you? How have you applied it to your work? (less than 500 words)

Backblaze is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Five Best Practices to Securely Preserve Your Video, Photo, and Other Data

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/five-best-practices-to-securely-preserve-your-video-photo-and-other-data/

computer and camera overlooking a lake

Whether you’re working with video, photo, audio, or other data, preserving the security of your data has to be at the top of your priority list. Data security might sound like a challenging proposition, but by following just a handful of guidelines it becomes a straightforward and easily accomplished task.

We’d like to share what we consider best practices for maintaining the safety of your data. For both seasoned pros and those just getting started with digital media, these best practices are important to implement and revisit regularly. We believe that by following these practices — independently of which specific data storage software, service, or device you use — you will ensure that all your media and other data are kept secure to the greatest extent possible.

The Five Best Practices to Keep Your Digital Media Safe

1 — Keep Multiple Copies of Your Media Files

Everyone by now is likely familiar with the 3-2-1 strategy for maintaining multiple copies of your data (video, photos, digital asset management catalogs, etc.). Following a 3-2-1 strategy simply means that you should always have at least three copies of your active data, two of which are local, and at least one that is in another location.

a tech standing looking at a pod full of hard drives in a data center
Choose a reliable storage provider

Mind you, this is for active data, that is, files and other data that you are currently working on and want to have backed up in case of accident, theft, or hardware failure. Once you’re finished working with your data, you should consider archiving your data, which we’ve also written about on our blog.

2 — Use Trustworthy Vendors

There are times when you can legitimately cut corners to save money, and there are times when you shouldn’t. When it comes to your digital media and services, you want to go with the best. That means using topnotch memory sticks, HDD and SSD drives, software, and cloud services.

For hardware devices and software, it’s always helpful to read reviews or talk with others using the devices to find out how well they work. For hard drive reliability, our Drive Stats blog posts can be informative and are a unique source of information in the data storage industry.

For cloud storage, you want a vendor with a strong track record of reliability and cost stability. You don’t want to use a cloud service or other SaaS vendor that has a history of making it difficult or expensive to access or download your data from their service. A topnotch service vendor will be transparent in their business practices, inform you when there are any outages in their service or maintenance windows, and try as hard as possible to make things right if problems occur.

3 — Always Use Encryption (The Strongest Available)

Encrypting your data provides a number of benefits. It protects your data no matter where it is stored, and also when it is being moved — potentially the most vulnerable exposure your data will have.

Encrypted data can’t be altered or corrupted without the changes being detected, which provides another advantage. Encryption also enables you to meet requirements for privacy and security compliance and to keep up with changing rules and regulations.

Encryption comes in different flavors. You should always select the strongest encryption available, and make sure that any passwords or multi-factor authentication you use are strong and unique for each application.

4 — Automate Whenever Possible

Don’t rely on your memory or personal discipline alone to remember to regularly back up your data. While we always start with the best of intentions, we are busy and we often let things slide (much like resolving to exercise regularly). It’s better to have a regular schedule that you commit to, and best if the backups happen automatically. Many backup and archive apps let you specify when backups, incremental backups, or snapshots occur. You usually can set how many copies of your data to keep, and whether backups are triggered by the date and time or when data changes.

Automating your backups and archives means that you won’t forget to back up and results in a greater likelihood that your data will not only be recoverable after an accident or hardware failure, but up to date. You’ll be glad for the reduced stress and worry in your life, as well.

5 — Be Mindful of Security in Your Workflow

Nobody wants to worry about security all the time, but if it’s ignored, sooner or later that inattention will catch up with you. The best way to both increase the security of your data and reduce stress in your life is to have a plan and implement it.

At its simplest, the concept of security mindfulness means that you should be conscious of how you handle your data during all stages of your workflow. Being mindful shouldn’t require you to overthink, stress or worry, but just to be aware of the possible outcomes of your decisions about how you’re handling your data.

If you follow the first four practices in this list, then this fifth concept should flow naturally from them. You’ve taken the right steps to a long term plan for maintaining your data securely.

Data Security Can Be Both Simple and Effective

The best security practices are the ones that are easy to follow consistently. If you pay attention to the five best practices we’ve outlined here, then you’re well on your way to secure data and peace of mind.

•  •  •

Note:  This post originally appeared on Lensrentals.com on September 18, 2018.

The post Five Best Practices to Securely Preserve Your Video, Photo, and Other Data appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

How Reliable are SSDs?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-reliable-are-ssds/

an exploded view of a Samsung Solid State Drive

What’s not to love about solid state drives (SSDs)? They are faster than conventional hard disk drives (HDDs), more compact, have no moving parts, are immune to magnetic fields, and can withstand more shocks and vibration than conventional magnetic platter disks. And, they are becoming available in larger and larger capacities while their cost comes down.

If you’ve upgraded an older computer with an SSD, you no doubt instantly saw the benefits. Your computer booted in less time, your applications loaded faster, and even when you ran out of memory, and apps and data had to be swapped to disk, it felt like everything was much snappier.

We’re now seeing SSDs with capacities that used to be reserved for HDDs and at prices that no longer make our eyes water. 500 GB SSDs are now affordable (under $100), and 1 TB drives are reasonably priced ($100 to $150). Even 2 TB SSDs fall into a budget range for putting together a good performance desktop system ($300 to $400).

We’ve written a number of times on this blog about SSDs, and considered the best uses for SSDs compared to HDDs. We’ve also written about the future of SSDs and how we use them in our data centers and whether we plan on using more in the future.

Reliability

In this post we’re going to consider the issue of SSD reliability. For all their merits, can SSDs be trusted with your data and will they last as long or longer than if you were using an HDD instead? You might have read that SSDs are limited to a finite number of reads and writes before they fail. What’s that all about?

The bottom line question is: do SSD drives fail? Of course they do, as do all drives eventually. The important questions we really need to be asking are 1) do they fail faster than HDDs, and 2) how long can we reasonably expect them to last?

Backing Up Is Great To Do

Of course, as a data storage and backup company, you know what we’re going to say right off. We always recommend that no matter which storage medium you use, you should always have a backup copy of your data. Even if the disk is reliable and in good condition, it won’t do you any good if your computer is stolen, consumed by a flood, or lost in a fire or other act of nature. You might have heard that water damage is the most common computer accident, and few computer components can survive a thorough soaking, especially when powered.

SSD Reliability Factors to Consider

Generally, SSDs are more durable than HDDs in extreme and harsh environments because they don’t have moving parts such as actuator arms. SSDs can withstand accidental drops and other shocks, vibration, extreme temperatures, and magnetic fields better than HDDs. Add to that their small size and lower power consumption, and you can understand why they’re a great fit for laptop computers and mobile applications.

First, let’s cover the basics. Almost all types of today’s SSDs use NAND flash memory. NAND isn’t an acronym like a lot of computer terms. Instead, it’s a name that’s derived from its logic gate called “NOT AND.”

SSD part diagram including Cache, Controller, and NAND Flash Memory

The term following NAND, flash, refers to a non-volatile solid state memory that retains data even when the power source is removed. NAND storage has specific properties that affect how long it will last. When data is written to a NAND cell (also known as programming), the data must be erased before new data can be written to that same cell. NAND is programed and erased by applying a voltage to send electrons through an insulator. The location of those electrons (and their quantity) determine when current will flow between a source and a sink (called a voltage threshold), determining the data stored in that cell (the 1s and 0s). When writing and erasing NAND, it sends the electrons through the insulator and back, and the insulator starts to wear — the exact number of these cycles in each individual cell varies by NAND design. Eventually, the insulator wears to the point where it may have difficulty keeping the electrons in their correct (programmed) location, which makes it increasingly more difficult to determine if the electrons are where they should be, or if they have migrated on their own.

This means that flash type memory cells can only be programmed and erased a limited number of times. This is measured in P/E cycles, which stands for programmed and erased.

P/E cycles are an important measurement of SSD reliability, but there are other factors that are important to consider, as well. These are P/E cycles, TBW (terabytes written), and MTBF (mean time between failures).

The SSD manufacturer will have these specifications available for their products and they can help you understand how long your drive can be expected to last and whether a particular drive is suited to your application.

P/E cycles — A solid-state-storage program-erase cycle is a sequence of events in which data is written to solid-state NAND flash memory cell, then erased, and then rewritten. How many P/E cycles a SSD can endure varies with the technology used, somewhere between 500 to 100,000 P/E cycles.

TBW — Terabytes written is the total amount of data that can be written into an SSD before it is likely to fail. For example, here are the TBW warranties for the popular Samsung 860 EVO SSD: 150 TBW for 250 GB model, 300 TBW for 500 GB model, 600 TBW for 1 TB model, 1,200 TBW for 2 TB model and 2,400 TBW for 4 TB model. Note: these models are warrantied for 5 years or TBW, whichever comes first.

MTBF — MTBF (mean time between failures) is a measure of how reliable a hardware product or component is over its expected lifetime. For most components, the measure is typically in thousands or even tens of thousands of hours between failures. For example, a hard disk drive may have a mean time between failures of 300,000 hours, while an SSD might have 1.5 million hours.

This doesn’t mean that your SSD will last that many hours, what it means is, given a sample set of that model of SSD, errors will occur at a certain rate. A 1.2 million hour MTBF means that if the drive is used at an average of 8 hours a day, a sample size of 1,000 SSDs would be expected to have one failure every 150 days, or about twice a year.

SSD Types

There are a number of different types of SSD, and advancements to the technology continue at a brisk pace. Generally, SSDs are based on four different NAND cell technologies:

  • SLC (Single Level Cell) — one bit per cell
  • When one bit is stored (SLC), it’s not necessary to keep close tabs on electron locations, so a few electrons migrating isn’t much of a concern. Because only a 1 or a 0 is being stored, it’s necessary only to accurately determine if voltage flows or not.

  • MLC (Multi-Level Cell) — two bits per cell
  • MLC stores two bits per cell, so more precision is needed (determining voltage threshold is more complex). It’s necessary to distinguish among 00, 01, 10 or 11. Migrating electrons have more of an impact, so the insulator cannot be worn as much as with SLC.

  • TLC (Triple Level Cell) — three bits per cell
  • This trend continues with TLC where three bits are stored: 001, 010, 100, …110 and 111. Migrating electrons have more effect than in MLC, which further reduces tolerable insulator wear.

  • QLC (Quad Level Cell) — four bits per cell
  • QLC stores four bits (16 possible combinations of 1s and 0s). With QLC, migrating electrons have the most significant effect. Tolerable insulator wear is further reduced.

    QLC is a good fit for read-centric workloads because NAND cells are worn negligibly when reading data versus worn more when writing data (programming and erasing). When writing and rewriting a lot of data, the insulator wears more quickly. If a NAND cell can tolerate that wear, it is well suited to read/write mixed accesses. The less wear-tolerable NAND cells are, the better they are suited for read-centric workloads and applications.

Each subsequent technology for NAND allows it to store an extra bit. The fewer bits per NAND cell, the faster, more reliable, and more energy efficient the technology is — and also, more expensive. A SLC SSD would technically be the most reliable SSD as it can endure more writes, while a QLC is the least reliable. If you’re selecting an SSD for an application where it will be written more than read, than the selection of NAND cell technology could be a significant factor in your decision. If your application is general computer use, it likely will matter less to you.

How Reliability Factors Affect Your Choice of SSD

How important these factors are to you depends on how the SSD is used. The right question to ask is how a drive will perform in your application. There are different performance and reliability criteria depending on whether the SSD will be used in a home desktop computer, a data center, or an exploration vehicle on Mars.

Manufacturers sometimes specify the type of application workload for which an SSD is designed, such as write-intensive, read-intensive or mixed-use. Some vendors allow the customer to select the optimal level of endurance and capacity for a particular SSD. For instance, an enterprise user with a high-transaction database might opt for a higher number of drive writes at the expense of capacity. Or a user operating a database that does infrequent writes might choose a lower drive writes number and a higher capacity.

Signs of SSD Failure

SSDs will eventually fail, but there usually are advance warnings of when that’s going to happen. You’ve likely encountered the dreaded clicking sound that emanates from a dying HDD. As an SSD has no moving parts, so we won’t get an audible warning that an SSD is about to fail us. You should be paying attention for a number of indicators that your SSD is nearing its end of life, and take action by replacing that drive with a new one.

1) Errors Involving Bad Blocks

Much like bad sectors on HDDs, there are bad blocks on SSDs. This is typically a scenario where the computer attempts to read or save a file, but it takes an unusually long time and ends in failure, so the system eventually gives up with an error message.

2) Files Cannot Be Read or Written

There are two ways in which a bad block can affect your files, 1) the system detects the bad block while writing data to the drive, and thus refuses to write data, and 2), the system detects the bad block after the data has been written, and thus refuses to read that data.

3) The File System Needs Repair
Getting an error message on your screen can happen simply because the computer was not shut down properly, but it also could be a sign of an SSD developing bad blocks or other problems.

4) Crashing During Boot
A crash during the computer boot is a sign that your drive could be developing a problem. You should make sure you have a current backup of all your data before it gets worse and the drive fails completely.

5) The Drive Becomes Read-Only
Your drive might refuse to write any more data to disk and can only read data. Fortunately, you can still get your data off the disk.

SSDs Generally Will Last As Long As You Need Them To

Let’s go back to the two questions we asked above.

Q: Do SSDs fail faster than HDDs?

A: That depends on the technology of the drives and how they’re used. HDDs are better suited for some applications and SSDs for others. SSDs can be expected to last as long or longer than HDDs in most general applications.

and

Q: How long can we reasonably expect an SSD to last?

A: An SSD should last as long as its manufacturer expects it to last (e.g. five years), provided that the use of the drive is not excessive for the technology it employs (e.g. using a QLC in an application with a high number of writes). Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that how you’re using the SSD matches its best use.

SSDs are a different breed of animal than a HDD and they have their strengths and weaknesses relative to other storage media. The good news is that their strengths — speed, durability, size, power consumption, etc. — are backed by pretty good overall reliability.

SSD users are far more likely to replace their storage drive because they’re ready to upgrade to a newer technology, higher capacity, or faster drive, than having to replace the drive due to a short lifespan. Under normal use we can expect an SSD to last years. If you replace your computer every three years, as most users do, then you probably needn’t worry about whether your SSD will outlast your computer. What’s important is whether the SSD will be sufficiently reliable that you won’t lose your data.

As we saw above, if you’re paying attention to your system, you will be given ample warning of an impending drive failure, and you can replace the drive before the data is not readable.

It’s good to understand how the different SSD technologies affect their reliability, and whether it’s worth it to spend extra money for SLC over MLC or QLC. However, unless you’re using an SSD in a specialized application with more writes than reads as we described above, just selecting a good quality SSD from a reputable manufacturer should be enough to make you feel confident that your SSD will have a useful life span.

Keep an eye out for any signs of failure or bad sectors, and, of course, be sure to have a solid backup plan no matter what type of drive you’re using.

The post How Reliable are SSDs? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

B2 on Your Desktop — Cloud Storage Made Easy

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/cloud-storage-made-easy/

B2 on your Desktop

People have lots of different ways that they work with files in B2 Cloud Storage, and there’s a wide range of integrations for different platforms and different uses.

Sometimes, though, being able to use B2 as if it were just another drive on your desktop is the easiest way to go. The applications we’ll be covering in this post make working with B2 as easy as dragging and dropping files from a file manager on your computer directly to B2, or from B2 to your computer. In other cases, you can drag files from a file manager to the application, or between panes inside the application. There’s something for every platform, too, whether you’re on Windows, Macintosh, or Linux. Some of these tools are even free.

Let’s take a look at the applications that make working with B2 a piece of cake! (Or, as easy as pie.)

Use B2 As a Drive on the Desktop

Our first group of applications let you use B2 as if it were a local drive on your computer. The files on B2 are available for you from (depending on platform) File Explorer on Windows, the Finder on Mac, or the File Manager on Linux (as well as the command-line). Some of the applications are free and some require purchase (marked with $).

Most of these apps are simple for anyone to set up. If you are a more advanced user, and comfortable working with the command-line in your OS’s terminal, there are a number of free command-line tools for mounting B2 as a drive, including restic, Rclone, and HashBackup. See their docs for how to mount restic, Rclone, or HashBackup as a drive. We previously wrote about using restic with B2 in our Knowledge Base.

When would dragging and dropping files on the desktop be useful? If you just need to move one or a few files, this could be the fastest way to do that. You can load the application when you need to transfer files, or have it start with your computer so your B2 files and buckets are always just a click away. If you keep archived documents or media in B2 and often need to browse to find a file, this makes that much faster. You can even use shortcuts, search, and other tools you have available for your desktop to find and manage files on B2.

We’ve grouped the applications by platform that let you use B2 as a drive.

Some Screenshots Showing Applications That Let You Use B2 as a Drive

screenshot of Mountain Duck interface for saving to B2 Cloud Storage

Mountain Duck

screenshot of B2 mounted on the desktop with Mountain Duck

B2 mounted on the desktop with Mountain Duck

screenshot of ExpanDrive saving to B2 cloud storage

ExpanDrive

Cloudmounter

Cloudmounter

screenshot of Cloudmounter with B2 open in Mac Finder

Cloudmounter with B2 open in Mac Finder

Use B2 From a Desktop Application

These applications allow you to use B2 from within the application, and also often work with the local OS’s file manager for drag and drop. They support not just B2, but other cloud and sync services, plus FTP, SFTP, Webdav, SSH, SMB, and other protocols for networking and transferring files.

All of the applications below require purchase, but they have demo periods when you can try them out before you decide you’re ready to purchase.

Screenshots of Using B2 From Desktop Applications

Filezilla Pro

Filezilla Pro browsing photos on B2

screenshot of Transmit with B2 files

Transmit with B2 files

screenshot of Cyberduck transmitting files to B2

Cyberduck

screenshot of odrive cloud storage integration

odrive

SmartFTP

SmartFTP

The Cloud on Your Desktop

We hope these applications make you think of B2 as easy and always available on your desktop whenever you need to move files to or from cloud storage. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, right?

If you’ve used any of these applications, or others we didn’t mention in this post, please tell us in the comments how they worked for you.

The post B2 on Your Desktop — Cloud Storage Made Easy appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Save Data Directly to B2 With Backblaze Cloud Backup 6.0

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/save-data-directly-to-cloud-storage/

Save Restores to B2 screenshot

Customers have often told us that they’d love a way to save data directly from their Backblaze Computer Backup account to B2 Cloud Storage. Some want to freeze a set of records in time, others want to preserve the state of a directory or system as it existed at a specific moment. Still others simply want to remove data from their local drive but have the assurance that it is safely stored in the cloud.

We listened to these requests and are happy to say that we’ve added this capability in our just released 6.0 update of Backblaze Computer Backup. Users can now select B2 Cloud Storage as a destination to save Snapshots from their backup account during the restore process.

This capability lets customers do a number of new things, like keep a copy of their old computer’s data even when migrating to a new one, save a collection of files (e.g. last year’s emails, a completed work project, your novel draft, tax returns) in the cloud as an archive, or free up space on a hard drive by moving data to a Snapshot in B2 and then deleting the original copy. Just like files in Computer Backup, the B2 Snapshot can be downloaded over the internet or delivered anywhere on a USB flash or hard drive.

No More Connecting Your External Drives Every 30 Days

This new feature can particularly benefit users who have been using Computer Backup to back up data from multiple external drives. Often, these external drives are not always connected to their computers, and to maintain the backups they have been required to connect these drives at least once every 30 days so that they’re active and therefore maintained in their backup — a task they tell us they’d rather avoid.

Now, with the ability to save a restore to B2, these customers can take a Snapshot of the data already backed up from these drives and save it to a B2 account. They can save as many Snapshots as they wish, thereby saving the state of the drive as it existed in one moment for as long as they wish to retain it.

Snapshots are stored at economical B2 rates: $0.005 gigabyte/month and $0.01 gigabyte for downloads. Customers get an instant cost estimate when a Snapshot is prepared from Backblaze Backup to B2.

What is B2 Cloud Storage?

B2 is Backblaze’s low cost and high performance cloud storage. It can be used to store data for as short or as long a period as you require. The data in B2 is retrievable without delay from anywhere at any time.

B2 is different from Backblaze Computer Backup in that B2 can be used to store whatever data you want and you have complete control of how long it is retained. Our Computer Backup service offers unlimited backup of the data on your Mac or Windows computer using the Backblaze client software. B2, in contrast, can be accessed through the account dashboard or used with any of a number of applications chosen by the user, or accessed through various programming interfaces or from a computer’s command line. For more on pricing, see our pricing page and calculator for B2.

How Does Saving a Restore to B2 Work?

Files in your Computer Backup can be zipped and archived to a Snapshot that is stored in B2 Cloud Storage. These selected files will be safe in B2 until the Snapshot is removed by the user, even if the files have been deleted from the computer and the backup.

screenshot of the View/Restore Files options

Creating a Restore Snapshot in Backup account

The user gets an instant estimate of the cost to store the Snapshot in B2.

Name this Snapshot screenshot

Preparing Snapshot from Computer Backup account

The user receives a notice when the Snapshot is created and stored.

Your B2 Snapshot is Ready!

Notice that Snapshot has been created

An unlimited number of restores can be saved and retained as B2 Snapshots for any length of time desired.The user’s account dashboard shows all the Snapshots that have been created, and gives options to download or remove the Snapshot. A Snapshot can be downloaded directly from B2 to a user’s computer or shipped to customers on a USB flash or hard drive. And, when returned within 30 days, the cost of the flash or hard drive is completely refundable, just like with regular restores.

screenshot of user B2 Snapshots

User account page showing status of Snapshots in B2

Let Us Know How You’re Using Snapshots

We hope you’ll try out this new capability and let us know how you’re using it.

For more tips on saving data to B2 Snapshots, read our help article, Saving Files to B2 from Computer Backup, or sign up for our free webinar on Backblaze Backup v6.0 on January 30, 2019, at 11am PST.

The post Save Data Directly to B2 With Backblaze Cloud Backup 6.0 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Best of the Blog 2018

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/best-of-the-blog-2018/

Best of the Blog 2018
2018 was a great year for Backblaze. We hope it was a great year for you, too. We’d like to start off the year with a look back at what we believe are the top blog posts of 2018.

We had outstanding posts in our Entrepreneurship series by our CEO Gleb Budman and others. We discussed the costs and use of LTO vs the cloud in a number of posts. We wrote again about ransomware, which unfortunately is still with us and will be covered along with other data security topics in the coming year. We increased the number of posts aimed at developers. Our What’s the Diff series of posts introduced technical terms and topics that might be new to some readers. We also launched a Power Tips series, which we hope will provide useful information to both our Cloud Backup and B2 users. We also had guest posts from Archiware, Lensrentals, and others, and a series about Veeam. Finally, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are showing up in more and more posts and we expect that trend to continue. And, Backblaze wouldn’t be Backblaze without a little bit of our signature humor.

Please let us know if we’ve left out something you think should be included. We’d also like your comments on which topics you enjoyed, and what type of blog posts you’d like to see more of (or less of) in 2019.

We are looking forward to a busy and productive 2019!

The Best from the Backblaze Blog in 2018

January 3

12 B2 Power Tips for New Users

February 1

Backblaze Hard Drive Stats for 2017

February 22

Ode to ‘Locate My Computer’

March 9

Backblaze Cuts B2 Download Price In Half

April 3

Backblaze Announces B2 Compute Partnerships

April 10

Cloud Empire: Meet the Rebel Alliance

April 19

Confused About the Hybrid Cloud? You’re Not Alone

May 3

The Helium Factor and Hard Drive Failure Rates

May 29

Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD

July 17

Backblaze Durability is 99.999999999% — And Why It Doesn’t Matter

July 26

Five Tips For Creating a Predictable Cloud Storage Budget

August 2

What’s the Diff: Backup vs Archive

September 26

Backblaze and Cloudflare Partner to Provide Free Data Transfer

October 2

Backing Up for Small Business

October 9

iconik and Backblaze — The Cloud Production Solution You’ve Always Wanted

November 13

Making Lemonade: The Importance of Social Media and Community

December 4

LTO Versus Cloud Storage Costs — the Math Revealed

December 13

Bootstrapping to $30 Million ARR

December 18

2018 in the Rear View Mirror

Thanks again for reading our blog in 2018!

The post Best of the Blog 2018 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

What’s the Diff: NAS vs SAN

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/whats-the-diff-nas-vs-san/

What's the Diff? Network Attachd Storage (NAS) vs Storage Area Network (SAN)

Both network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN) were developed to solve the problem of making stored data available to a lot of users at once. Each of them provides dedicated storage for a group of users, but they couldn’t be more different in their approach to achieving their mission.

A NAS is a single storage device that serves files over Ethernet and is relatively inexpensive and easy to set up, while a SAN is a tightly coupled network of multiple devices that work with block-based data and is more expensive and complex to set up and manage. From a user perspective, the biggest difference between NAS and SAN is that NAS devices look like volumes on a file server and use protocols like NFS and SMB/CIFS, while SAN-connected disks appear to the user as local drives.

We provide an overview of the differences between NAS and SAN below. We’ll also briefly cover solutions that combine NAS and SAN and offer many of the advanced benefits of SAN without its high cost.

Basic Definitions — What is NAS?

A NAS is a computer connected to a network that provides file-based data storage services to other devices on the network. The primary strength of NAS is how simple it is to set up and deploy. NAS volumes appear to the user as network mounted volume. The files to be served are typically contained on one or more storage drives, often arranged into logical, redundant storage containers or RAID. The device itself is a network node, much like computers and other TCP/IP devices, all of which maintain their own IP address and can effectively communicate with other networked devices. Although a NAS is usually not designed to be a general-purpose server, NAS vendors and third parties are increasingly offering other software to provide server-like functionality on a NAS.

NAS devices offer an easy way for multiple users in diverse locations to access data, which is valuable when uses are collaborating on projects or sharing information. NAS provides good access controls and security to support collaboration, while also enabling someone who is not an IT professional to administer and manage access to the data. It also offers good fundamental data security through the use of redundant data structures — often RAID — and automatic backup services to local devices and to the cloud.

Benefits of NAS

A NAS is frequently the next step up for a home office or small business that is using DAS (direct attached storage). The move up to NAS results from the desire to share files locally and remotely, having files available 24/7, data redundancy, the ability to replace and upgrade hard drives in the system, and and the availability of other services such as automatic backup.

Summary of NAS Benefits

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • 24/7 and remote data availability
  • Good expandability
  • Redundant storage architecture
  • Automatic backups to other devices and cloud
  • Flexibility

Network attached Storage (NAS)

Synology NAS

NAS with eight drive bays for 3.5″ disk drives

Limitations of NAS

The weaknesses of a NAS are related to scale and performance. As more users need access, the server might not be able to keep up and could require the addition of more server horsepower. The other weakness is related to the nature of Ethernet itself. By design, Ethernet transfers data from one place to another via packets, dividing the source into a number of segments and sending them along to their destination. Any of those packets could be delayed, or sent out of order, and might not be available to the user until all of the packets arrive and are put back in order.

Any latency (slow or retried connections) is usually not noticed by users for small files, but can be a major problem in demanding environments such as video production, where files are extremely large and latency of more than a few milliseconds can disrupt production steps such as rendering.

Basic Definitions — What is SAN?

A SAN is a way to provide users shared access to consolidated, block level data storage, even allowing multiple clients to access files at the same time with very high performance. A SAN enhances the accessibility of storage devices such as disk arrays and tape libraries by making them appear to users as if they were external hard drives on their local system. By providing a separate storage-based network for block data access over high-speed Fibre Channel, and avoiding the limitations of TCP/IP protocols and local area network congestion, a SAN provides the highest access speed available for media and mission critical stored data.

Storage area network (SAN)

SAN connecting yellow storage devices with orange servers via purple Fibre Channel switches

SAN connecting yellow storage devices with orange servers via purple Fibre Channel switches

Benefits of SAN

Because it’s considerably more complex and expensive than NAS, SAN is typically used by large corporations and requires administration by an IT staff. For some applications, such as video editing, it’s especially desirable due to its high speed and low latency. Video editing requires fair and prioritized bandwidth usage across the network, which is an advantage of SAN.

A primary strength of a SAN is that all of the file access negotiation happens over Ethernet while the files are served via extremely high speed Fibre Channel, which translates to very snappy performance on the client workstations, even for very large files. For this reason SAN is widely used today in collaborative video editing environments.

Summary of SAN Benefits

  • Extremely fast data access
  • Dedicated network for storage relieves stress on LAN
  • Highly expandable
  • OS level (block level) access to files
  • High quality-of-service for demanding applications such as video editing

Limitations of SAN

The challenge of SAN can be summed up in its cost and administration requirements — having to dedicate and maintain both a separate Ethernet network for metadata file requests and implement a Fibre Channel network can be a considerable investment. That being said, SANs are really the only way to provide very fast data access for a large number of users that also can scale to supporting hundreds of users at the same time.

What’s the Diff: NAS vs SAN

NASSAN
Typically used in homes and small to medium sized businesses.Typically used in professional and enterprise environments.
Less expensiveMore expensive
Easier to manageRequires more administration
Data accessed as if it were a network-attached drive (files)Servers access data as if it were a local hard drive (blocks)
Speed dependent on local TCP/IP usually Ethernet network, typically 100 megabits to one gigabit per second. Generally slower throughput and higher latency due to slower file system layer.High speed using Fibre Channel, 2 gigabits to 128 gigabits per second. Some SANs use iSCSI as a less expensive but slower alternative to Fibre Channel.
I/O protocols: NFS, SMB/CIFS, HTTPSCSI, iSCSI, FCoE
Lower-end not highly scalable; high-end NAS scale to petabytes using clusters or scale-out nodesNetwork architecture enables admins to scale both performance and capacity as needed
Does not work with virtualizationWorks with virtualization
Requires no architectural changesRequires architectural changes
Entry level systems often have a single point of failure, e.g. power supplyFault tolerant network with redundant functionality
Susceptible to network bottlenecksNot affected by network traffic bottlenecks. Simultaneous access to cache, benefiting applications such as video editing.
File backups and snapshots economical and schedulable.Block backups and mirrors require more storage.

NAS/SAN Convergence

The benefits of SAN are motivating some vendors to offer SAN-like products at lower cost chiefly by avoiding the high expense of Fibre Channel networking. This has resulted in a partial convergence of NAS and SAN approaches to network storage at a lower cost than purely SAN.

One example is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), which supports block level transfers over standard LAN at speeds of 10GB/sec+. For smaller deployments, iSCSI is even less expensive, allowing SCSI commands to be sent inside of IP packets on a LAN. Both of these approaches avoid expensive Fibre Channel completely, resulting in slower, but less expensive ways to get the block level access and other benefits of a SAN.

Are You Using NAS, SAN, or Both?

If you are using NAS or SAN, we’d love to hear from you about what you’re using and how you’re using them. Also, please feel free to suggest other topics for this series.

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

Ever Wish You Had a Backup Brain? The Mars Rover Has One

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/mars-rover-backup-brain/

Mars Curiosity Rover at JPL in Pasadena

Have you ever had one of those days when even a second cup of coffee can’t jump-start your thinking and you just wished you had another brain you could switch to? If you’re the Mars Curiosity Rover, you do.

A recent glitch in its main computer required the Curiosity Rover team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to switch to another computer in the rover while they worked to resolve problems with its main computer. The problem started around September 15 with the rover “failing to store science and some key engineering data,” according to NASA. The rover continued to send limited engineering data stored in short-term memory when it connected to a relay orbiter — it was otherwise healthy and receiving commands. But whatever was preventing Curiosity from storing science data in long-term memory was also preventing the storage of the rover’s event records, a journal of all its actions that engineers need in order to make a diagnosis. The computer swap allowed data and event records to be stored on the Curiosity‘s other computer, improving the rover’s operations and helping the engineers diagnose the problem.

Tweet from Mars Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity on October 3, 2018

Two Brains Are Better Than One

Like most spacecraft, NASA outfits its spacecraft with twin computers for redundancy in case any problems arise with its main computer. Curiosity‘s paired computers are called Side-A and Side-B. The rover began its stay on Mars in August of 2012 using Side-A but switched to Side-B in February of 2013 when a problem developed in the computer’s flash memory that caused the computer to continuously reboot in a loop. Engineers working from 33.9 million miles away on earth were eventually able to get the Side-A computer back in working order. That’s the computer Curiosity switched back to this past October while engineers continued to investigate the memory errors in the Side-B machine.

Curiosity continues to operate using its Side-A computer. According to Steven Lee, Curiosity‘s deputy project manager at JPL, “At this point, we’re confident we’ll be getting back to full operations, but it’s too early to say how soon. It’s certainly possible to run the mission on the Side-A computer if we really need to, but our plan is to switch back to Side-B as soon as we can fix the problem to utilize its larger memory size.”

Tweet from @MarsCuriosity on October 17, 2018

The computer problems haven’t prevented Curiosity from continuing to pursue its mission objectives, which include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration.

Inside the Curiosity’s Brains

Even though Curiosity‘s computers are specialized for space use, the circuit board and operating system will be familiar to many. The CPU is a RAD750, a version of the IBM PowerPC 750, which was used in many computers from Apple, including the original iMac. The datasheet for the RAD750 states that the processor, “is the best space microprocessor available today by any selection criterion — performance, cost, availability, or flight heritage.”

RAD750 radiation-hardened PowerPC space microprocessor

RAD750 radiation-hardened PowerPC space microprocessor

On-board memory includes 256MB of DRAM and 2 GB of Flash Memory (~8 times as much as Rovers Spirit or Opportunity), both with error detection and correction and 256kB of EEPROM. The microprocessor operates at up to 200 megahertz speed, 10 times the speed of earlier microprocessors in rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

Two British Aerospace RAD750 single board computers as used aboard the Curiosity rover

Two British Aerospace RAD750 single board computers as used aboard the Curiosity rover

For Curiosity‘s software, NASA stuck to proven solutions, selecting the VxWorks operating system. VxWorks, developed by Wind River Systems, is a real-time operating system used in a huge number of embedded systems. The previous Mars rovers (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft all use VxWorks. VxWorks also powers many earth-bound device and vehicles, including BMW’s iDrive, the Apache Longbow helicopter, and the Apple Airport Extreme and Linksys WRT54G routers.

Shortly after landing on Mars, on August 8, 2012, NASA Mission Control began upgrading the rover’s dual computers by deleting the entry-descent-landing software, then uploading and installing the surface operation software. The switchover to the new software was completed by August 15.

Note: some of the software developed for the rovers is available from NASA on GitHub.

The Right Stuff for Space Exploration

It might sound like these units resemble what we use everyday at home or in offices, but they are designed to withstand the harsh environments that will be encountered by satellites and space exploration vehicles. The RAD750 can withstand temperatures of between -55 and 70C and radiation levels up to 1000 gray (a gray is defined as the absorption of one joule of radiation energy per kilogram of matter). Safely protected within Curiosity, the temperature and radiation should remain well below these levels.

The units are priced differently than their cousins on earth, too — in 2002, the RAD750 microprocessor was listed at $200,000, which is quite a bit more than the PowerPC used at the time in iMacs, which sold in quantity for about $520 each. The high price of the RAD750 is mainly due to radiation hardening revisions to the PowerPC 750 architecture, manufacturing costs, stringent quality control requirements, and extended testing of each processor chip produced.

Each of the pair of rover computers is inside a module called The Rover Compute Element (RCE). The RCEs are protected from exposure in the middle of the rover body.

Curiosity Rover Compute Elements (highlighted)

Curiosity Rover Compute Elements (highlighted)

Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Beyond

The Mars Rover family, clockwise from bottom left: Sojourner (1997), Spirit/Opportunity (2004), Curiosity (2012)

The Mars Rover family, clockwise from bottom left: Sojourner (1997), Spirit/Opportunity (2004), Curiosity (2012)

Curiosity has had a long sojourn on Mars since landing on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012, and follows the success of earlier Mars explorers Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity. Despite starting out with only a two-year mission, the durability of Curiosity prompted NASA in December 2012 to extend Curiosity‘s mission indefinitely.

Curiosity‘s design will serve as the basis for the planned  Mars 2020 rover, which is scheduled to launch in July/August of 2020. The new rover will have a few upgrades, however, including more sophisticated hardware and new instruments to conduct geological assessments of the rover’s landing site, which will determine the potential habitability of the environment and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life.

We don’t have to wait that long for another exciting Mars landing like we had with Curiosity, however. NASA InSight is scheduled to land on Mars in less than two weeks, on November 26, 2018. Following that, ExoMars and NASA Mars 2020 will head to Mars in 2020 to continue a search for evidence of existing and past life.

2018NASA InSightMission: InSight is a robotic explorer designed to study Mars’ crust, mantle, and core. InSight will land on Mars on November 26, 2018.NASA InSight
2020ESA ExoMars RoverMission: ExoMars, a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will search for evidence of life on Mars. NASA is providing critical elements for the astrobiology instrument on the rover.ESA ExoMars Rover
NASA 2020 RoverMission: Mars 2020 seeks to answer key questions about the potential for life on Mars. It will cache samples for possible future return to Earth.Mars 2020 Rover

Tweet from @NASAJPL on Nov 12 re InSight Mars landing on November 26, 2018

 

A Backup is a Good Idea on Both Earth and Mars

It turns out that having a backup doesn’t apply just to data or computing. Sometimes, a second brain can come in handy, too, especially when you’re on Mars.

Do you follow Curiosity‘s advice to always have redundant systems? Have you ever switched to using your Side-A brain? Would you like to go to Mars? (I would.) Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

Don’t forget to catch landing on Mars of InSight on Monday, November 26. We’ll be watching!

The post Ever Wish You Had a Backup Brain? The Mars Rover Has One appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Backblaze’s Custom Data Center PDU

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblazes-custom-data-center-pdu/

Backblaze PDU
When Jon needed to open a Backblaze Storage Pod for maintenance in our Phoenix data center, it wasn’t as straightforward as one might think. With a steel case, 60 hard drives, backplanes, a pair of power supplies and other components, each pod can weigh up to 150 pounds.

However, there was even a bigger challenge than the pod’s weight. A Storage Pod is divided into two main sections, the drive section and the processing section, each with separate access panels. To replace a drive, you need to open the access panel at the front, which requires sliding the Storage Pod out of the front of the cabinet. To replace a power supply or perhaps reseat a SATA card or cable, you’d prefer to slide the pod out the back of the cabinet because that gives you better access to the panel at the rear of the pod.

Backblaze's 6.0 Storage Pod with 60 drives

Backblaze’s 6.0 Storage Pod with 60 drives (front)

The problem was that doing that was difficult, if not impossible, with all the power cables that connected the pods to the power distribution unit (PDU) at the rear of the cabinet. That left Jon with only one choice: slide the pod out of the front of the cabinet even when he wanted to access the rear access panel, which took more time and often required two people.

Identifying the Problem — the PDU

As Backblaze’s Phoenix data center site manager, Jon realized that the job would be much easier if he could change one component, the PDU. The Phoenix data center used vertically-mounted power distribution units (PDUs) at the back of the cabinets that ran all the way from the top to the bottom of the cabinet. All the cables from the ten pods to the PDU blocked access to the back of the pods in the cabinet.

Vertically-mounted PDU blocking rear access to Storage Pods

Vertically-mounted PDU blocking rear access to Storage Pods

What’s a PDU?

A power distribution unit (PDU) is a device fitted with multiple outputs designed to distribute electric power to racks of computers and networking equipment located within a data center. Some PDUs have additional capabilities, including power filtering, intelligent load balancing, and remote monitoring and control by LAN or SNMP.

Data center IT managers remotely monitor PDU performance to ensure continual service, improve efficiency, and plan for growth.

Jon knew that the vertical PDU forced his team to spend more time than needed getting into the pods for service. If he could find a better option, everyone on the team would have more time to focus on other data center matters, like setting up more cabinets to fill with Storage Pods and customers’ data.

The Backblaze Storage Pods and Cabinets

Backblaze’s Storage Pod racks are standard full size data center cabinets that are 42 rack units (U or RU) high — a rack unit is 44.50 millimeters (1.75 inches). Equipment that fits into these racks is typically 1U, 2U, 3U, or 4U high. Backblaze’s Storage Pods are 4U high, so ten of them can fit into a single rack. With a small switch at the top occupying one of those rack units, that leaves just 1U of space.

If Jon could use that 1U of space in the cabinet for a horizontally-mounted PDU, he could get rid of the vertically-mounted PDU that was causing the access problem. The PDU had more power outlets than needed, anyway, as well as extra monitoring circuitry that wasn’t required for Zabbix, the software monitoring suite we use to track the health of all the components in our data centers.

The vertically-mounted PDU made it more complex and expensive than was necessary for the task — two factors that go against Backblaze’s philosophy of keeping things as simple and inexpensive as possible to keep costs low for our customers. (For a bit of history on this, see this post on how Backblaze got started.)

A Better PDU

Jon made a list of the requirements he wanted in a PDU that would fit Backblaze’s needs. It didn’t seem to him that it would be that hard to find one ready to drop into the cabinet.

Jon’s PDU Requirements

  • 1 rack unit high
  • 3-phase power
  • Horizontally mounted
  • Metering to remotely monitor circuit loads
  • 12 C13 power outlets
    • 10 outlets for Storage Pods
    • 1 outlet for small switch
    • 1 outlet for crash cart to service the pods

Finding a PDU that fit the list turned out to be harder than he expected. Jon searched to see if anyone made a 3-phase 1U horizontal mount PDU, and the only one he could find didn’t have the right type of power outlets (C13) or monitoring circuitry.

The only remaining option was to design a custom PDU. Jon remembered that he and Larry, Backblaze’s data center manager, had run into a PDU manufacturer, Geist, at an IT trade show in San Jose. Jon contacted our vendor, Mirapath, whom Jon had successfully worked with on other projects for Backblaze. Mirapath got the project rolling with Geist, worked out all the kinks, and were instrumental in bringing the project to completion.

The Custom PDU

The result is a custom PDU that fits Jon’s requirements. The PDU fits horizontally in the center-back of the cabinets and doesn’t block access from the back of the cabinet. It takes up only 1U of cabinet space, which allows Jon to put ten Storage Pods in each cabinet — five above the PDU in the center of the cabinet and five below. It has the correct type (C13) and number (12) of power outlets, which support the ten pods, one switch, and the crash cart. It also contains the power monitoring circuitry needed to collect data for Zabbix.

Custom PDUCustom PDU (back)Custom PDU display

Custom PDU

Custom PDU (back)

Custom PDU display

Guido, A Valued Member of Backblaze’s Operations Team

Guido, a valued member of Backblaze's operations team

Sometimes we do have to completely remove heavy pods from a cabinet, but a special member of the team helps with that challenge. Our server lift Guido has no trouble lifting and moving 150 pound Storage Pods and IT gear when needed.

Our server lift, Guido (on the right), helping Joe with the heavy lifting in our data center

Our server lift, Guido (on the right), helping Joe with the heavy lifting in our Phoenix data center

The custom PDU enables Jon and his team to access the Storage Pods from the back of the cabinet. Jon estimates that the new PDU enables him to complete a boot drive replacement in a Storage Pod in half the time it used to take with the previous PDU, and he doesn’t need the help of our server lift Guido for the job. That saved time adds up, especially when you need to replace boot drives in forty Storage Pods, as Jon did recently.

Custom PDU in a cabinet between two Storage Pods

Custom PDU in a cabinet between two Storage Pods

Storage Pod open at rear of cabinet

Storage Pod open at top

We Value Our Culture of Doing Things Differently

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re already familiar with Backblaze’s history. Backblaze’s founders started the company because they thought people should back up their computers and it could be done at $5 per month. The problem was that no storage system available at the time would enable a sustainable business at that price. They did what they had to do: designed and built their own solution. The Backblaze Storage Pods, vault architecture, and Reed-Solomon encoding enabled a globally scalable storage system. After eleven years, three data centers, and seven hundred petabytes of customer data, we’re still able to sustainably offer the most affordable storage available anywhere.

Continuing the Backblaze Tradition

Hardworking innovators like Jon and our operations team find new ways every day to make our operations more efficient. This allows us to continuously reduce our costs while driving our growing, global footprint.

Thanks Jon. Well done!

Jon with two Backblaze cabinets, each with 10 Storage Pods, one switch, and one custom PDU

Jon with two Backblaze cabinets, each with 10 Storage Pods, one switch, and one custom PDU


Editor’s Note:  Anyone interested in obtaining information about availability and pricing for the PDU described above can contact Mirapath.

The post Backblaze’s Custom Data Center PDU appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Stories of Camera and Data Catastrophes

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/stories-of-camera-and-data-catastrophes/

Salt water damaged camera

This is the third post in a series of post exchanges with our friends at Lensrentals.com, a popular online site for renting photography, videography, and lighting equipment. Seeing as how Halloween is just a few days away, we thought it appropriate to offer some scary tales of camera and data catastrophes. Enjoy.

Note: You can read all of Lensrentals’ posts on our blog. Find all of our posts on the Lensrentals blog.

— Editor

Stories of Camera and Data Catastrophes
by Zach Sutton, Editor-in-chief, Lensrentals.com

As one of the largest photo and video gear rental companies in the world, Lensrentals.com ships out thousands of pieces of gear each day. It would be impossible to expect that all of our gear would return to us in the same condition it was in when we rented it out. More often than not, the damage is the result of things being dropped, but now and then some pretty interesting things happen to the gear we rent out.

We have an incredible customer base, and when this kind of damage happens, they’re more than happy to pay the necessary repair fees. Stuff happens, mistakes are made, and we have a full-service repair center to keep the costs low. And while we have insurance policies for accidental damage such as drops, dings, and other accidents, it doesn’t cover neglect, which accounts for the stories we’re going to share with you below. Let’s take a look at some of our more exciting camera and data catastrophe stories.

Camera Data Catastrophes

Data catastrophes happen more often than anything else, but aren’t exactly the most exciting stories we’ve gotten over the years. The stories are usually similar. Someone rents a memory card or SSD from us, uses the card/SSD, then sends it back without pulling the footage off of it. When we receive gear back into our warehouse, we inspect and format all the media. If you realize your mistake and call or email us before that happens, we can usually put a hold on the media and ship it back to you to pull the data off of it. If we’ve already formatted the media, we will perform a recovery on the data using software such as TestDisk and PhotoRec, and let you know if we had any success. We then give you the option whether or not you want to rent the product again to have it shipped to you so you can pull the files.

The Salty Sony A7sII

A common issue we run into — and have addressed a number of times on our blog — is the dubious term “weather resistant.” This term is often used by equipment marketers and doesn’t give you the protection that people might assume by its name.

One example of that was last year, when we received a nonfunctioning Sony a7sII back from the California coast, and had to disassemble it to determine what was wrong. Upon opening the camera, it was quite apparent that it had been submerged in salt water. Water isn’t good for electronics, but the real killer is impurities, such as salt. Salt builds up on electronics, is a conductor of electricity, and will fry electronics in no time when power is applied. So, once we saw the salt corrosion, we knew that the camera was irreparable. Still, we disassembled it for no other reason than to provide evidence to others on what salt water can do to your electronics. You can read more about this and see the full break down in our post, About Getting Your Camera Wet… Teardown of a Salty Sony A7sII.

Sony A7sII disassembled into partsSony A7sII salt water damage

The Color Run Cleanup

Color runs are 5K running events that happen all over the world. If you haven’t seen one, participants and spectators toss colorful powders throughout the run, so that by the time the runners reach the finish line, they’re covered head to toe in colorful powder. This event sounds like a lot of fun, and one would naturally want to take photos of the spectacle, but any camera gear used for the event will definitely require a deep cleaning.

Color run damage to camera lens

Color run damage to camera

We’ve asked our clients multiple times not to take our cameras to color runs, but each year we get another system back that is covered in pink, green, and blue dust. The dust used for these events is incredibly fine, making it easy to get into every nook and cranny within the camera body and lenses. This requires the gear to be completely disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled. We have two photos in this post of the results of a color run, but you can view more on the post we did about Color runs back in 2013, How to Ruin Your (or Our) Gear in 5 Minutes (Without Water).

The Eclipse That Killed Cameras

About a year ago, we had the incredible phenomenon here in the United States of a total solar eclipse. It was the first total solar eclipse to occur in the continental United States since 1979, hence a pretty exciting moment for all of us, but we braced ourselves for the damage it would do to cameras.

Eclipse camera lens damage

For weeks leading up to the event, we sent out fliers with our rentals that encouraged people to not only wear eye protection, but to protect their camera lenses with high-density ND filters. Despite that, in the days following the eclipse, we had gear coming back to us with aperture blades melted and holes burnt into sensors.

Eclipse camera damage

Eclipse camera shutter damage

As one would expect, it’s not a good idea to point your camera directly at the sun, especially for long periods of time. Most of the damage done from the eclipse was caused by people who had set up their camera and lens on a tripod pointing at the sun while waiting for the eclipse. This prolonged exposure causes a lot of heat to build up and will eventually start burning through apertures, shutters, sensors and anything else in its way. Not only do we recommend ND filters for the front of your lens, but also black cards to stop light from entering the camera until it’s go time for the total eclipse. You can read about the whole experience in our blog post on the topic, Rental Camera Gear Destroyed by the Solar Eclipse of 2017.

Damage from Burning Man

While we have countless stories of gear being destroyed, we figured it’d be best to just leave you with this one. Burning Man is an annual event that takes place in the deserts of Nevada. Touted as an art installation and experience, tens of thousands of people spend a few days living in the remote desert with fellow Burners to create and participate in a wide range of activities. And where there is a desert, there always are sand, dust, and dust storms.

Burning Man camera damage

Burning Man dust damage

One might think that sand is the biggest nuisance for camera gear at Burning Man, but it’s actually the fine dust that the wind picks up. One of the more interesting phenomena that happens during Burning Man are the dust storms. The dust storms occur with little warning, kicking up the fine dust buried within the sand that can quickly cause damage to your electronics, your skin, and your lungs. Because it is so fine, it is easily able to enter your cameras and lenses.

Burning Man damage to Nikon camera

While Burning Man doesn’t always totally destroy gear, it does result in a lot of cleaning and disassembling of gear after the event. This takes time and patience and costs the customer money. While there are stories of people who bring camera gear to Burning Man wrapped in nothing more than plastic and gaffer tape, we don’t recommend that for good gear. It’s best to just leave your camera at home, or buy an old camera for cheap to document the week. To see more of what can happen to gear at Burning Man, you can read our blog post on the topic, Please, Don’t Take Our Photography and Video Gear to Burning Man.

Those are just a few stories of some of the data and camera catastrophes that we’ve experienced over the years. We hope this serves as a warning to those who might be considering putting their gear through some of the experiences above and hopefully sway them against it. If you have some of your own stories on data or gear catastrophes, feel free to share them below in the comments.

— Zach Sutton, Editor-in-chief, Lensrentals.com

The post Stories of Camera and Data Catastrophes appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs Solid State Drive (SSD): What’s the Diff?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hdd-versus-ssd-whats-the-diff/

whats the diff? SSD vs. HDD

HDDs and SSDs have changed in the two years since Peter Cohen wrote the original version of this post on March 8 of 2016. We thought it was time for an update. We hope you enjoy it.

— Editor

In This Corner: The Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

The traditional spinning hard drive has been a standard for many generations of personal computers. Constantly improving technology has enabled hard drive makers to pack more storage capacity than ever, at a cost per gigabyte that still makes hard drives the best bang for the buck.

IBM RamacAs sophisticated as they’ve become, hard drives have been around since 1956. The ones back then were two feet across and could store only a few megabytes of information, but technology has improved to the point where you can cram 10 terabytes into something about the same size as a kitchen sponge.

Inside a hard drive is something that looks more than a bit like an old record player: There’s a platter, or stacked platters, which spin around a central axis — a spindle — typically at about 5,400 to 7,200 revolutions per minute. Some hard drives built for performance work faster.

Hard Drive exploded viewInformation is written to and read from the drive by changing the magnetic fields on those spinning platters using an armature called a read-write head. Visually, it looks a bit like the arm of a record player, but instead of being equipped with a needle that runs in a physical groove on the record, the read-write head hovers slightly above the physical surface of the disk.

The two most common form factors for hard drives are 2.5-inch, common for laptops, and 3.5-inch, common for desktop machines. The size is standardized, which makes for easier repair and replacement when things go wrong.

The vast majority of drives in use today connect through a standard interface called Serial ATA (or SATA). Specialized storage systems sometimes use Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), Fibre Channel, or other exotic interfaces designed for special purposes.

Hard Disk Drives Cost Advantage

Proven technology that’s been in use for decades makes hard disk drives cheap — much cheaper, per gigabyte than solid state drives. HDD storage can run as low as three cents per gigabyte. You don’t spend a lot but you get lots of space. HDD makers continue to improve storage capacity while keeping costs low, so HDDs remain the choice of anyone looking for a lot of storage without spending a lot of money.

The downside is that HDDs can be power-hungry, generate noise, produce heat, and don’t work nearly as fast as SSDs. Perhaps the biggest difference is that HDDs, with all their similarities to record players, are ultimately mechanical devices. Over time, mechanical devices will wear out. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

HDD technology isn’t standing still, and price per unit stored has decreased dramatically. As we said in our post, HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold? — Part 2, the cost per gigabyte for HDDs has decreased by two billion times in about 60 years.

HDD manufacturers have made dramatic advances in technology to keep storing more and more information on HD platters — referred to as areal density. As HDD manufacturers try to outdo each other, consumers have benefited from larger and larger drive sizes. One technique is to replace the air in drives with helium, which reduces reduces friction and supports greater areal density. Another technology that should be available soon uses heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). HAMR records magnetically using laser-thermal assistance that ultimately could lead to a 20 terabyte drive by 2019. See our post on HAMR by Seagate’s CTO Mark Re, What is HAMR and How Does It Enable the High-Capacity Needs of the Future?

The continued competition and race to put more and more storage in the same familiar 3.5” HDD form factor means that it will be a relatively small, very high capacity choice for storage for many years to come.

In the Opposite Corner: The Solid State Drive (SSD)

Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become much more common in recent years. They’re standard issue across Apple’s laptop line, for example the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air all come standard with SSDs. So does the Mac Pro.

Inside an SSDSolid state is industry shorthand for an integrated circuit, and that’s the key difference between an SSD and a HDD: there are no moving parts inside an SSD. Rather than using disks, motors and read/write heads, SSDs use flash memory instead — that is, computer chips that retain their information even when the power is turned off.

SSDs work in principle the same way the storage on your smartphone or tablet works. But the SSDs you find in today’s Macs and PCs work faster than the storage in your mobile device.

The mechanical nature of HDDs limits their overall performance. Hard drive makers work tirelessly to improve data transfer speeds and reduce latency and idle time, but there’s a finite amount they can do. SSDs provide a huge performance advantage over hard drives — they’re faster to start up, faster to shut down, and faster to transfer data.

A Range of SSD Form Factors

SSDs can be made smaller and use less power than hard drives. They also don’t make noise, and can be more reliable because they’re not mechanical. As a result, computers designed to use SSDs can be smaller, thinner, lighter and last much longer on a single battery charge than computers that use hard drives.

SSD Conversion KitMany SSD makers produce SSD mechanisms that are designed to be plug-and-play drop-in replacements for 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard disk drives because there are millions of existing computers (and many new computers still made with hard drives) that can benefit from the change. They’re equipped with the same SATA interface and power connector you might find on a hard drive.


Intel SSD DC P4500A wide range of SSD form factors are now available. Memory Sticks, once limited to 128MB maximum, now come in versions as large as 2 TB. They are used primarily in mobile devices where size and density are primary factor, such as cameras, phones, drones, and so forth. Other high density form factors are designed for data center applications, such as Intel’s 32 TB P4500. Resembling a standard 12-inch ruler, the Intel SSD DC P4500 has a 32 terabyte capacity. Stacking 64 extremely thin layers of 3D NAND, the P4500 is currently the world’s densest solid state drive. The price is not yet available, but given that the DC P4500 SSD requires only one-tenth the power and just one-twentieth the space of traditional hard disk storage, once the price comes out of the stratosphere you can be sure that there will be a market for it.

Nimbus ExaDrive 100TB SSDEarlier this year, Nimbus Data announced the ExaDrive D100 100TB SSD. This SSD by itself holds over twice as much data as Backblaze’s first Storage Pods. Nimbus Data has said that the drive will have pricing comparable to other business-grade SSDs “on a per terabyte basis.” That likely means a price in the tens of thousands of dollars.

SSD drive manufacturers also are chasing ways to store more data in ever smaller form factors and at greater speeds. The familiar SSD drive that looks like a 2.5” HDD drive is starting to become less common. Given the very high speeds that data can be read and copied to the memory chips inside SSDs, it’s natural that computer and storage designers want to take full advantage of that capability. Increasingly, storage is plugging directly into the computer’s system board, and in the process taking on new shapes.

Anand Lal Shimpi, anandtech.com -- http://www.anandtech.com/show/6293/ngff-ssds-putting-an-end-to-proprietary-ultrabook-ssd-form-factors

A size comparison of an mSATA SSD (left) and an M.2 2242 SSD (right)

Laptop makers adopted the mSATA, and then the M.2 standard, which can be as small as a few squares of chocolate but have the same capacity as any 2.5” SATA SSD.

Another interface technology called NvM Express or NVMe may start to move from servers in the data center to consumer laptops in the next few years. NVMe will push storage speeds in laptops and workstations even higher.

SSDs Fail Too

Just like hard drives, SSDs can wear out, though for different reasons. With hard drives, it’s often just the mechanical reality of a spinning motor that wears down over time. Although there are no moving parts inside an SSD, each memory bank has a finite life expectancy — a limit on the number of times it can be written to and read from before it stops working. Logic built into the drives tries to dynamically manage these operations to minimize problems and extend its life.

For practical purposes, most of us don’t need to worry about SSD longevity. An SSD you put in your computer today will likely outlast the computer. But it’s sobering to remember that even though SSDs are inherently more rugged than hard drives, they’re still prone to the same laws of entropy as everything else in the universe.

Planning for the Future of Storage

If you’re still using a computer with a SATA hard drive, you can see a huge performance increase by switching to an SSD. What’s more, the cost of SSDs has dropped dramatically over the course of the past couple of years, so it’s less expensive than ever to do this sort of upgrade.

Whether you’re using a HDD or an SSD, a good backup plan is essential because eventually any drive will fail. You should have a local backup combined with secure cloud-based backup like Backblaze, which satisfies the 3-2-1 backup strategy. To help get started, make sure to check out our Backup Guide.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some insight about HDDs and SSDs. And as always, we encourage your questions and comments, so fire away!


Editor’s note:  You might enjoy reading more about the future of HDDs and SSDs in our two-part series, HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold?

The post Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs Solid State Drive (SSD): What’s the Diff? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Securely Managing Your Digital Media (SD, CF, SSD, and Beyond)

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/securely-managing-your-digital-media-sd-cf-ssd-and-beyond/

3 rows of 3 memory cards

This is the second in our post exchange series with our friends Zach Sutton and Ryan Hill at Lensrentals.com, who have an online site for renting photography, videography, and lighting equipment. You can read our post from last month on their blog, 3-2-1 Backup Best Practices using Cloud Archiving, and all posts on our blog in this series at Lensrentals post series.

— Editor

Managing digital media securely is crucial for all photographers and videographers. At Lensrentals.com, we take media security very seriously, with dozens of rented memory cards, hard drives, and other data devices returned to our facility every day. All of our media is inspected with each and every rental customer. Most of the cards returned to us in rental shipments are not properly reformatted and erased, so it’s part of our usual service to clear all the data from returned media to keep each client’s identity and digital property secure.

We’ve gotten pretty good at the routine of managing data and formatting storage devices for our clients while making sure our media has a long life and remains free from corruption. Before we get too involved in our process of securing digital media, we should first talk fundamentals.

The Difference Between Erasing and Reformatting Digital Media

When you insert a card in the camera, you’re likely given two options, either erase the card or format the card. There is an important distinction between the two. Erasing images from a card does just that — erases them. That’s it. It designates the area the prior data occupied on the card as available to write over and confirms to you that the data has been removed.

The term erase is a bit misleading here. The underlying data, the 1’s and 0’s that are recorded on the media, are still there. What really happens is that the drive’s address table is changed to show that the space the previous file occupied is available for new data.

This is the reason that simply erasing a file does not securely remove it. Data recovery software can be used to recover that old data as long as it hasn’t been overwritten with new data.

Formatting goes further. When you format a drive or memory card, all of the files are erased (even files you’re designated as “protected”) and also usually adds a file system. This is a more effective method for removing all the data on the drive since all the space previously divided up for specific files has a brand new structure unencumbered by whatever size files were previously stored. Be beware, however, that it’s possible to retrieve older data even after a format. Whether that can happen depends on the formatting method and whether new data has overwritten what was previously stored.

To make sure that the older data cannot be recovered, a secure erase goes further. Rather than simply designating the data that can be overwritten with new data, a secure erase writes a random selection of 1s and 0s to the disk to make sure the old data is no longer available. This takes longer and is more taxing on the card because data is being overwritten rather than simply removed.

Always Format a Card for the Camera You’re Going to Be Using

If you’ve ever tried to use the same memory card on cameras of different makes without formatting it, you may have seen problems with how the data files are displayed. Each camera system handles its file structure a little differently.

For this reason it’s advisable to format the card for the specific camera you’re using. If this is not done, there is a risk of corrupting data on the card.

Our Process For Securing Data

Our inspection process for recording media varies a little depending on what kind of card we’re inspecting. For standardized media like SD cards or compact flash cards, we simply use a card reader to format the card to exFAT. This is done in Disk Utility on the Apple Macbooks that we issue to each of our Video Technicians. We use exFAT specifically because it’s recognizable by just about every device. Since these cards are used in a wide variety of different cameras, recorders, and accessories, and we have no way of knowing at the point of inspection what device they’ll be used with, we have to choose a format that will allow any camera to recognize the card. While our customer may still have to format a card in a camera for file structure purposes, the card will at least always come formatted in a way that the camera can recognize.

Sony SxS media
For proprietary media — things like REDMAGs, SxS, and other cards that we know will only be used in a particular camera — we use cameras to do the formatting. While the exFAT system would technically work, a camera-specific erase and format process saves the customer a step and allows us to more regularly double-check the media ports on our cameras. In fact, we actually format these cards twice at inspection. First, the Technician erases the card to clear out any customer footage that may have been left on it. Next, they record a new clip to the card, around 30 seconds, just to make sure everything is working as it’s supposed to. Finally, they format the card again, erasing the test footage before sending it to the shelf where it awaits use by another customer.

REDMAG Red Mini-Mag You’ll notice that at no point in this process do we do a full secure erase. This is both to save time and to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the cards. About 75% of the media we get back from orders still has footage on it, so we don’t get the impression that many of our customers are overly concerned with keeping their footage private once they’re done shooting. However, if you are one of those 25% that may have a personal or professional interest in keeping your footage secure after shooting, we’d recommend that you securely erase the media before returning rented memory cards and drives. Or, if you’d rather we handle it, just send an email or note with your return order requesting that we perform a secure erase rather than simply formatting the cards, and we’ll be happy to oblige.

Managing your digital media securely can be easy if done right. Data management and backing up files, on the other hand, can be more involved and require more planning. If you have any questions on that topic, be sure to check out our recent blog post on proper data backup.

— Zach Sutton and Ryan Hill, lensrentals.com

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Mac and iOS Users: Remember to Back Up Before You Upgrade!

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/mac-and-ios-users-remember-to-back-up-before-you-upgrade/

macOS Mojave

New versions of Apple’s operating systems are coming to your iPhone and Mac in the next week! iOS 12 was released today, and macOS 10.14 “Mojave” is available a week from today on September 24. 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 anything new.

The new releases were announced in June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which gathers thousands of Apple developers from around the world each year. It’s a familiar annual processional: Apple introduces new versions of both the Mac and iOS operating systems. They’re tested by developers and the public throughout the summer.

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.

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 Backblaze. It’s 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 Mac and iOS Users: Remember to Back Up Before You Upgrade! appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

The Maltese MacBook

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/the-maltese-macbook/

Still from the 1941 John Huston film, The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet

Last year we decided to use Apple’s big fall announcement day to talk about backing up Windows computers. This year we’re continuing the tradition of writing something that runs a bit counter to all the hoopla with a tongue-in-cheek post in the style of hardboiled detective fiction entitled, “The Maltese MacBook,” with apologies to Dashiell Hammett.

— Editor

It was a Wednesday and it would have been just like any other Wednesday except Apple was making its big fall product announcements. Just my luck, I had to work in the San Francisco store, which meant that I was the genius who got to answer all the questions.

I had just finished helping a customer who claimed that Siri was sounding increasingly impatient answering his questions when I looked up and saw her walk in the door.

Her blonde hair was streaked with amethyst highlights and she was wearing a black leather tutu and polished kneehigh Victorian boots. Brightly colored tattoos of Asian characters ran up both of her forearms and her neck. Despite all that, she wouldn’t particularly stand out in San Francisco, but her cobalt-blue eyes held me and wouldn’t let me go. She rapidly reduced the distance between the door and where I stood behind the counter at the back of the store.

She plopped a Surface Pro computer on the counter in front of me.

“I lost my data,” she said.

I knew I’d seen her before, but I couldn’t place where.

“That’s a Windows computer,” I said.

She leaned over the counter towards me. Her eyes were even brighter and bluer close up.

“Tell me something I don’t know, genius,” she replied.

Then I remembered where I’d seen her. She was on Press: Here a while back talking about her new startup. She was head of software engineering for a Google spinoff. Angels all over the valley were fighting to throw money at her project. I had been sitting in my boxers eating cold pizza and watching her talk on TV about AI for Blockchain ML.

She was way out of my league.

“I was in Valletta on a business trip using my MacBook Pro,” she said. “I was reading Verlaine on the beach when a wave came in and soaked Reggie. ‘Reggie’ is my MacBook Pro. Before I knew it, it was all over.”

Her eyes misted up.

“You know that there isn’t an Apple store in Malta, don’t you?” she said.

“We have a reseller there,” I replied.

“But they aren’t geniuses, are they?” she countered.

“No, they’re not.” She had me there.

“I had no choice but to buy this Surface Pro at a Windows shop on Strait Street to get me through the conference. It’s OK, but it’s not Reggie. I came in today to get everything made right. You can do that for me, can’t you?”

I looked down at the Surface Pro. We weren’t supposed to work on other makes of computers. It was strictly forbidden in the Genius Training Student Workbook. Alarms were going off in my head telling me to be careful:  this dame meant nothing but trouble.

“Well?” she said.

I made the mistake of looking at her and lingering just a little too long. Her eyes were both shy and probing at the same time. I felt myself falling head over heels into their inky-blue depths.

I shook it off and gradually crawled back to consciousness. I told myself that if a customer’s computer needs help, it doesn’t make any difference what you think of the computer, or which brand it is. She’s your customer, and you’re supposed to do something about it. That’s the way it works. Damn the Genius Training Student Workbook.

“OK,” I said. “Let’s take care of this.”

I asked her whether she had files on the Surface Pro she needed to save. She told me that she used Backblaze Cloud Backup on both the new Surface Pro and her old MacBook Pro. My instincts had been right. This lady was smart.

“That will make it much easier,” I told her. “We’ll just download the backed up files for both your old Macbook Pro and your Surface Pro from Backblaze and put them on a new MacBook Pro. We’ll be done in just a few minutes. You know about Backblaze’s Inherit Backup State, right? It lets you move your account to a new computer, restore all your files from your backups to the computer, and start backing up again without having to upload all your files again to the cloud.

“What do you think?” she asked.

I assumed she meant that she already knew all about Inherit Backup State, so I went ahead and configured her new computer.

I was right. It took me just a little while to get her new MacBook Pro set up and the backed up files restored from the Backblaze cloud. Before I knew it, I was done.

“Thanks” she said. “You’ve saved my life.”

Saved her life? My head was spinning.

She turned to leave. I wanted to stop her before she left. I wanted to tell her about my ideas for an AI-based intelligent customer support agent. Maybe she’d be impressed. But she was already on her way towards the door.

I thought she was gone forever but she stopped just before the door. She flipped her hair back over her shoulder as she turned to look at me.

“You really are a genius.”

She smiled and walked out of the store and out of my life. My eyes lingered on the swinging door as she crossed the street and disappeared into the anonymous mass of humanity.

I thought to myself: she’ll be back. She’ll be back to get a charger, or a Thunderbolt to USB-C adaptor, or Magsafe to USB-C, or Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2, or USB-C to Lightning, or USB-A to USB-C, or DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort, or HDMI to DisplayPort, or vice versa.

Yes, she’ll be back.

I panicked. Maybe she’ll take the big fall for Windows and I’ll never see her again. What if that happened?

Then I realized I was just being a sap. Snap out of it! I’ll wait for her no matter what happens.

She deserves that.

The Maltese Falcon

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