The gift giving-est time of year is almost here and at Backblaze, we’re always on the lookout for cool gizmos and gadgets to get our friends and family. (Or if we’re honest, ones that we’ve been eyeing ourselves but just can’t bring ourselves to buy.)
Since this year has been so…unique, I polled my team members and asked what tools and toys they’ve been using or would love to receive. This year’s crop of gift ideas runs the gamut from egg cookers to firepits, but since we’re all spending more time at home, it’s no wonder that cooking gadgets, games, and smart home accessories were top of mind. Let’s dive in!
You have a ton of gadgets already, but what if you could cook things…instantly. Or, near instantly. I personally have been eyeing one of these for months, but need to use my slow cooker a few more times before finally expediting the process!
Stay active! If you have a backyard or reasonable downstairs neighbors we recommend the DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball or Smart Basketball! These Smart Balls link to your smartphone and give you telemetry into how you’re progressing in developing your skills.
Stuck at home with your significant other and are bored playing War? Enjoy the prospect of outsmarting and besting your partner in a board game? Duel is designed specifically for two players. Have at ‘em!
Smart plugs are a great way to turn on the lights in your house when you walk through the door and don’t like looking at pitch darkness. These tie in to your existing smart home devices, or use the app to control your plugs!
Now that winter is upon us (at least here in the U.S.), treat yourself to an electric mattress pad and stay toasty and cozy no matter what’s going on outside. This one’s also compatible with your smart home and plugs!
After working out you might feel a little sore. Massage guns are all the rage right now and they do a heck of a job getting all of your knots loosened up. The myriad of attachments will help you get into all your nooks and crannies!
Buy local! If you have a favorite local shop, be sure to show them some love this holiday season! If you want to support some from around the country, here’s a great spice shop in Oakland, California—and their gift boxes are the cutest.
And, of course… Backblaze. You know it. You love it. You can gift it!
We wish you a healthy, happy, and hopeful new year! Maybe this list helped you on your gifting journey, or maybe it just added more items to your own wish list. What are you looking forward to gifting and receiving this year? Let us know in the comments below!
Needless to say, 2020 has been a challenging, unpredictable year for everyone. All of us faced trials that we had never expected a year ago. In spite of the adversity, or possibly simply to ward it off, our team decided to dig for a couple of silver linings from this past year. We understand that times are still tough, but we wanted to take a moment this Thanksgiving season to show thanks for some of the unexpected positives that have come out of quarantine.
So we reached out to the team to see what goodness they’ve taken from what has felt like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year (hat tip to Judith Viorst), and we got some excellent responses that we’ve digested for you here.
Many of our team members have exchanged their morning commute for a workout. Jeremy, our Senior Director of Product Marketing, has run far more track and trail miles, more often and more quickly over time. He even set a 5K personal record time!
Yev, our Director of Marketing, has also been on the workout grind. He said, “I’ve lost weight and gotten more healthy! During the first day of shelter-in-place, I started doing yoga and a small calisthenic workout, and have kept that streak going throughout the pandemic. I’ve also started to walk four to five miles per day to get me to the 10K step mark, and have started to eat more vegetables. Gross! But also, great!”
It’s a Full House
No matter the family size you have, before the pandemic, many of us were a little bit busy and hard to catch up with. But, shelter-in-place gave us the opportunity (and sometimes the necessity) to slow down and reconnect with family and friends over Zoom happy hours and holiday celebrations.
Those family members who were long distance and couldn’t make it to all the holidays finally got to join in and see everyone on the screen. College friends who kept pushing out that weekend getaway together found a way to play virtual games and share silly memories with each other.
One common response that people gave about this shelter-in-place time is that “It’s time we won’t ever get to spend together like this again.” Although our new work from home coworkers took up a lot of the Wi-Fi bandwidth, we wouldn’t trade that time we spent at home with family, friends, and kids for anything else.
Furry Friends to the Rescue
Let’s admit it, animals truly love their owners unconditionally (even cats, in their own special way) and that makes leaving them behind in a house all day tough. Some days it’s hard when your animal accidentally falls asleep on your toes and you just don’t have the heart to move them when it’s time to leave for work. The pandemic has made that conundrum a tad easier.
During shelter-in-place, having an animal nearby during tough times made life a lot easier to deal with. The potential for impending bad news each day made a cuddly dog or an energetic hamster an important part of the survival kit for each day for many of us.
And for the animals, this time at home was a blessing. They didn’t know why they had been given it but it was pretty cool that it was happening. They didn’t need to know about social distancing, or what the right face mask to wear is, or how to disinfect their groceries—animals just saw this time as extra time with their owners. They couldn’t believe they were around… and around… and still there… and “OMG they are still there.”
Seeing the world through their eyes of “more play time” really made shelter-in-place a little less tough.
Cozy Pants Rule
With work from home, employees have embraced clothing that makes them feel more comfortable. Judith, our Recruiting Coordinator, said, “During shelter-in-place I’ve completely given up wearing jeans, and other restricting (yet, fashionable) items. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I am so happy with my decision. Goodbye, jeans! See you never.”
Cheers to a lifetime of no more jeans!
Although we miss being able to binge our favorite podcasts in the car, we do not miss sitting in car-to-car traffic. One of the top responses we found from our coworkers about silver linings during shelter-in-place is “Getting back two hours of my day that I used to spend commuting!”
If you sit in two hours of traffic a week for an average of 10 hours a week—that amounts to nearly 20 days in a year that we get back. And to top it off, driving to go anywhere at 5 p.m. is less stressful when you don’t have to worry about rush hour traffic.
Some “Me” Time
Even though the pandemic has led to fewer social interactions, some of our employees have been enjoying that alone time. They have a lot more freedom to do what they want; for example, some of our employees love that they can now listen to music while working without wearing headphones.
Another silver lining for some of our coworkers is that they no longer have to attend social events, which has been a real stress inducer for them in the past. We still have virtual social events for our extroverted employees, but this time in quarantine has given our introverted employees a bit of a breather.
Share Your Silver Lining!
We’ve watched the world find new ways to bring each other together in a year where it felt like we could never be close again. Out of adversity we found new ways to connect, be creative, care for others, and also make a lot of new food (Like sourdough, who doesn’t love a good homemade sourdough loaf?).
We hope that you can find a silver lining in your 2020, too. Whether it be big, or small, or something in between. Also, thank you to Nicole Perry for help with writing this post!
We’d love for you to join us and find your own silver lining at Backblaze. We’re hiring, so apply today! We wish you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving!
Catblaze. It started as an April Fools’ joke four years ago, but it stuck around as part of our website ever since. A few intrepid website perusers even found their way to the page and signed up for our backup service there. To be clear: There’s no actual difference between the two products except the landing page. If you bought Backblaze on Catblaze, it’s Backblaze. You received the same great service as everyone else, just with a nice cat-themed wrapper. Got it? Great!
It’s been a while since we’ve done anything with Catblaze though, and so I got to thinking… If the page is still functional, how can we make use of it again? Well, why not redirect some traffic there and see how it affects conversions?! A lot of people love cats, maybe that love could be translated to loving backing up, too?
So, that’s exactly what we did! A few weeks ago, for one day, we diverted some traffic from backblaze.com/cloud-backup.html to backblaze.com/catblaze.html to see how they performed against each other. Did anyone even notice? And if they did, did they sign up anyway? Read on to find out! The results may shock you! And other clickbait hyperbole!
Why are we doing this? Well, along with everyone else who has had to shift to remote office-ing during the pandemic, we’ve been working hard to maintain high spirits and morale here at Backblaze. While we made a lot of changes to help our team be as productive as possible while working remotely, we thought, why not get a little silly, engage in a little charitable fundraising, and also buoy the spirits of our community at large: You!
With a lot of people spending more time at home, animal adoption in urban areas increasing, and “Tiger King” being so popular on Netflix, I spent some time chatting with a friend of mine who works for the Humane Society of the United States, and asked if there were any shelters that were looking for aid. He told me that the Peninsula Humane Society—the same branch that the models for the original “Catblaze Cats” came from—could use some donations. So, as part of this experiment, we’ll be contributing to them in honor of the kittens that helped make this experiment possible!
Wow, who would have known that diverting 50% of our hard-earned traffic to an April Fools’ landing page was an interesting idea? The results may or may not surprise you, but here’s the bottom line: Sending traffic to catblaze.com resulted in a decrease in trial conversions (folks coming to our site and creating a trial account) by 15%. Which, admittedly, is better than some of us had guessed!
Let’s dive into more of those numbers, shall we? (Assuming we’re comparing Catblaze to our regular Backblaze Computer Backup landing page.)
Days of experiment: One.
Traffic diverted: 50%.
Percent change in conversion rate from visit to trial: 15% reduction.
Percent change in conversion rate from visit to purchase (skip trial): 41% reduction.
69.96% (A palindrome!) of people were less likely to purchase directly from Catblaze—that’s how many fewer folks went to the “buy” page next.
Percent change in bounce rate: 15% improvement.
Percent change in visits going to the home page from Catblaze: 118%.
Tweets asking us what is going on: Zero.
Support tickets asking us, “Why the cats?”: Zero.
Donation to the Peninsula Humane Society: $2,000.
While we probably shouldn’t update our onboarding messaging to include a picture of our Catblaze friends, it may be worth going a bit more kitten-friendly in future illustrations and designs for our website. The fact that there was a 15% improvement in bounce rate (and 20% reduction in exit rate) meant that people were sticking around and looking at that awesome cat content, or they were very confused. The cat content was at best amusing, but at worst confusing (which is usually not what you want your customers to be feeling), and you can see that was the case because we saw the number of people going back to our homepage increase by 118%. So, while we kept people on our website, their confusion was visible in how they navigated our website.
Perhaps the most entertaining thing is that no one asked about the Catblaze website. We received no Tweets or support tickets asking us why everything was cat-themed on our website. Based on our daily traffic, and the seemingly minor reasons that people write in with support tickets, I would have sworn up and down that I’d be on social media answering questions all day—though, if I responded to folks asking about it, that may have affected the experiment—so, it’s great that it went unnoticed.
Will we be doing this again? I doubt it. The Finance department is already sending me eye roll emojis, but it was definitely an interesting experiment and taught me one important lesson: While people definitely noticed the cats, they certainly didn’t seem to mind them.
It’s easy to get used to “all you can eat” data plans—and one of the biggest justifications to use G Suite until now was that users could store as much as they wanted. But when we have unlimited data, we tend to forget about how much our content is growing until someone tells us our unlimited data plan is now… limited?
So it was a bit of a shock for lots of G Suite users to learn that they now only get 2TB per user for their $12 per user per month plan.
G Suite users have to upgrade to the Enterprise class of service to retain unlimited storage. It’s unclear how much that costs because their pricing chart refers you to a sales representative if you want to get a quote. But as is true in restaurants: If you need to ask, it’s probably more expensive than you’d care to know.
If you’ve been using G Suite for long, and especially if you work with large data sets or rich media, you’re probably using more than 2TB per user. You’re going to need a plan to not only reduce your storage footprint on Google, but also safely store the content you’re forced to move while making it available and useful for your users. What do you do?
Side Note: Backblaze has proudly offered unlimited backup plans at a fixed price for close to 14 years, and we’ll continue to do so. This article focuses on solutions for teams using G Suite for collaboration. If you just need a solid backup, check out our guide on backing up your G Suite data. If you’re looking for an incredible cloud storage offering, read on to learn about Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.
Take Control of Your Shared User Content
Good question. You can make the largest reduction quickly by shifting videos, image libraries, and data sets out of Google Drive and into Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage!
Backblaze B2, of course, is our easy-to-use cloud storage that stores everything you want to protect at only $5/TB per month, and it makes everything you store there immediately available to you, the instant you need it.
With your Backblaze B2 account set up, it’s time to start pruning files in Google Drive and preparing them for transfer!
Step One: Take an Inventory of What You Have in Google Drive
Back in Google Drive, organize your efforts by file size. In other words, move the biggest stuff first. The simplest way to uncover large files is to use a not so obvious search feature to organize by file type: ZIP archives, videos, and photos will almost surely be filling the most space. To select files by type, click the tiny triangle at the right of the search field to reveal a file type dropdown.
Advanced Tips: If you’re reasonably proficient and have a ton of shared files to dig through, there are a few handy tools you can use to tackle this step.
Cyberduck: In Cyberduck, for example, you can add a new Bookmark for Google Drive, and follow the wizard to authenticate to G Suite. Now you can browse Team Drives, Shared Documents, and My Drive contents easily, identify the largest files, or simply move all of this content to local storage, then into your Backblaze B2 account.
Rclone:Rclone offers another way to mount and copy all of this content off of Google Drive as well, though that path is only recommended for more advanced users. You can then start moving the largest files, or even copy your entire Google Drive folder of content with rclone.
Step Two: Migrate Your Data to Backblaze B2
Now it’s time to carry out your plan: Download from G Suite, copy to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage Buckets, and organize your data! Once your files are safely downloaded, and uploaded to your Backblaze B2 account, they’re safe to remove from Google Drive.
Step Three: Give Your Users Remote-friendly, yet Managed Storage
If you’re a solo operator, you should be all set. But if you’re working with a team, you’re going to want to take one more step to help out your users. The best way to present storage to your team is a solution that is both accessible for remote workers, yet also easily administered by you.
For Small Teams (3-20 Users): In Backblaze B2, you can define your users into workgroups, create Buckets of storage for them, and issue app keys for users that correspond to those Buckets—all from your account management page. Users can apply those app keys to a number of tools to make their storage available on their laptops, such as Cyberduck, Mountain Duck, or ExpanDrive.
For Larger Teams (21-Infinity): You can present fully managed storage to your users that offers the same experience as corporate, shared NAS storage with a pairing of LucidLink and Backblaze B2. This approach can be set up quickly, and tie into your company’s directory services for provisioning without having to buy and set up your own hardware NAS systems.
We hope you’ll join us—we look forward to protecting your content and helping you serve your users!
When it comes to your data, sometimes you just need to roll back time. Fortunately, with Extended Version History now available, Backblaze can save old and deleted files for up to 30 days, one year, or even forever—depending on the option you choose—so that you can access old versions of your files and restore files that you’ve previously deleted over a longer stretch of time.
Restoring a file just prior to that big “oops” moment or salvaging a deleted file you didn’t think you’d need again is a great feeling, but it’s a little hard to describe in the abstract. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that there are plenty of things other than data that we wish had retain/restore capabilities. Here are the top 10 things in real life that we wish had Extended Version History! We hope they help convey why Extended Version History could be valuable for you.
Where Extended Version History Would Be Great in Real Life
We’ll admit it—during shelter-in-place—more than a few of us have given ourselves poorly-advised, unskilled haircuts at home. It usually starts out well, your new hair actually looks pretty good, and you start feeling confident!
“This isn’t so hard,” you think, “so maybe I’ll just go a LITTLE shorter.” And then disaster strikes.
You’ve gone too short and your hair is ruined. What we wouldn’t give for the ability to restore back to the moment just before that last snip!
To take it a step further, with Forever Extended Version History, you could even go back to that one perfect haircut from a few years ago that your stylist has somehow never been able to recreate. Great hair for life!
Re-reading can be wonderful, but nothing compares to the thrill of reading an incredible book for the first time. Short of losing your memory, there’s no way to get that feeling back—but with Forever Version History, you could shift back to before your first read. Meet the characters all over again, follow every plot twist, and experience every page-turning moment again like new!
That second pint of ice cream seemed like such a good idea at the time. But now that you’ve finished off that mint-chocolatey goodness, your stomach is feeling… less than pleased. What if you could restore yourself to a single-pint state, while retaining the memories of that delicious second helping? We’d be on board, and just think of the endless “tasting” opportunities!
Avocados are delicious, especially when you catch them at the perfect level of ripeness. Unfortunately, that level usually seems to be about a three-hour window between “rock hard” and “completely mushy.” If only Extended Avocado History existed—then you could avoid the sinking feeling of cutting into one and realizing you were too early or too late. Someone contact the Avocado Board!
We heard a few of you have taken up baking during the shelter-in-place orders. And by “heard,” we mean we’ve looked for yeast at the grocery store for months and it’s never in stock. We hope you enjoy your sourdough starter!
But whether you’re making cookies, pies, or sourdough, there’s nothing worse than smelling that burning odor and realizing you’ve just wasted time and a good portion of your ingredients on an inedible product.
Wouldn’t it be great to rewind back to just before smoke started billowing from your oven, saving you from having to throw out your charred baked goods and start over? We think so. (With our standard 30 Day Version History, you can at least recover old recipes you’ve saved over.)
Ah, coffee. Delicious, caffeinated, and a crucial part of most morning routines. Until you spill it down the front of your brand-new shirt or across your laptop keyboard, and suddenly everything is terrible. Your shirt is ruined, your laptop is making funny noises, and now you have no coffee.
Being able to restore back to a pre-spill moment would save your clothing, your technology—and your morning. Backblaze has a lot of experience with helping people after spills…
Some people have green thumbs. Some seem to be death incarnate for our little vegetal compatriots. And there truly is no worse feeling than doing your absolute best and watching your newest plant friend slowly die, again.
Did you water too much? Did you not water enough? Did you leave it in direct sunlight or shade? By the time you figure it out, it’s usually too late. But if One Year Plant Version History was real, you could find the issue and revert back to when your plant was healthy—and this time, do it right. And just think about your never-ending cherry tomato yields!
A seven-mile hike sounded like such a good idea at the time. But now you’re four miles down the trail, and you’re ready to be done. Too bad you’ve still got three more miles, and turning around would just make the trip back even longer!
Being able to restore back to an earlier point on the trail—maybe a mile or two—would let you cut your hike short and head back to the start, giving you the fun hiking experience without the pain of those last few miles. Sign us up.
The first date has been going so well. Conversation has been easy, the chemistry is there, and you feel like a second date is imminent. Then you make one comment, and you know as soon as it starts exiting your mouth that it’s coming out wrong.
You backpedal, you explain, you apologize—but the damage is done, and that first impression is ruined. The chance to rethink or rephrase would be everything in this moment, and Dating Version History would let you skip back a moment and save your potential future relationship. Also great for business meetings (ask that question that you’re a bit nervous to ask, get the answer, then go back in time and nod knowingly to yourself)!
It’s coming up on mid-afternoon, and you’re starting to feel a lull. Perfect time for a power nap, so you’ll awake refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. Except instead, you slept for four hours, and now you’re groggy and your sleep schedule is a mess. Sleeping through alarms happens to the best of us, but it can easily turn an energizing nap into a sleepy evening. The dream fix? Using Nap Version History to get back to that perfect 90-minute nap time, wake up, and finish off your day strong!
Okay, sure, we get it—this is all a tad unrealistic. But there’s one area of life where your keenest regrets CAN be corrected with a quick visit to our restore page: your backup! So check out our version history page and explore your options for gaining greater peace of mind! And if you’re an existing customer, you can upgrade easily right here.
If you ever used Amazon Drive for storing files or photos, it’s a good time to think about how to transition your content to a new platform—especially if you had been backing up your Synology NAS system!
Today, Amazon customers notified Amazon Drive and Amazon Photo customers that beginning November 1st, only Amazon’s proprietary web and mobile apps will be able to access your files.
This means, for example, that Synology users who had relied on Synology Cloud Sync or HyperBackup to back up their systems to Amazon Drive will have their access shut off via those tools.
Getting Back on Track
If you’re still using Amazon Drive to store general files, and Amazon Photos to store photos, you might be wondering how to protect that content with a tool that you prefer before the November 1st deadline hits.
1. Recover Your Content
Your first task will be to recover all of your content from Amazon Drive. Via their website, download the Amazon Photos app. Install, and select “Download” to download all of your Amazon Drive content locally. To download photos stored in Amazon, you may find it helpful to click “Home,” then “Photos Backed Up” will take you to a webpage that lets you download photos directly, say, by year.
2. Welcome to Your New Platform
With your content stored locally, we invite you to try Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage for unlimited storage for all of your files and photos at a better price than Amazon Drive.
Sign up for your Backblaze B2 account first. Your first 10GB of storage every month is free, and beyond that is only $5 per terabyte of storage per month, vs. Amazon’s $6.99 for a terabyte of storage.
3. Choose the Tool That Fits How You Work
Best of all, with Backblaze B2 you have a choice of over 60 solutions to connect to your new account!
If you prefer graphical tools that help present your cloud storage as files and folders, Cyberduck is a great choice, and Mountain Duck will even mount your Backblaze B2 account as drives on your Mac or Windows system.
You can browse our guides for all integration tools here.
For more information about using rclone, join our webinar, “Tapping the Power of Cloud Copy & Sync with Rclone” on September 17th. Rclone’s creator, Nick Craig-Wood, will explain how to use its simple command line interface to:
Optimize your copy/sync in line with best practices
Mirror storage for security without adding complexity
Transfer data reliably despite limited bandwidth and/or intermittent connection
Whichever tool you choose, getting it set up is as simple as visiting your Backblaze B2 Account Page, generating an Application Key, entering the Application Key ID and Application Key in your new tool’s configuration settings.
4. Protect, and Access Your Content Freely
With your tool of choice configured, it’s time to move your local content to your new Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.
We hope you’ll join us—we look forward to protecting your files and photos!
This year, a lot changed about the way we interact socially, and especially at work. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we moved the majority of our employees to working from home in early March. Since then, we realized that maintaining and continuing to build the team during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders would be essential, and it would take extraordinary additional effort and planning.
Our leadership, HR team, and our “Fun Committee” have all invested in trying to maintain team spirit and culture (Fun Committee is a group dedicated to planning exciting events for the team). They planned online events and virtual hangouts in place of the in-person social gatherings we would normally have, and they asked questions to get people talking to each other more often online. Some things worked to get people to interact and see each other more often, while other things failed to get any response.
Now, as some businesses look to return to their offices, social distancing will still have an impact on gathering together for team building events like an after-work happy hour or a chat in the lunchroom. But with the possibility of additional quarantines in the future, we’re looking to the opportunity of virtual spaces to lift our team spirit. And we’re sure we’re not the only business looking for ways to build our sense of community while socially distant. So, we want to share what has worked and what hasn’t for team building during this strange moment in our history.
Switching Out In-Person Events for Video Calls
Early on, we realized that with shelter-in-place orders shutting down other businesses and ways for people to gather socially, working from home would mean that many people would probably struggle to feel connected to each other on a regular basis. That, and the fact that in the absence of a lunchroom or our office’s communal kitchens, employees no longer had a way to socialize with each other if they so desired. Nothing can replace the ability to connect with someone in person, but we decided to try using technology to our advantage while remaining socially distanced.
This took the form of regularly-scheduled video “hangouts” listed on our company-wide calendar. These meetings are scheduled on different days, at varying times, to accommodate teams’ differing schedules and to ensure that employees can take advantage of their most productive times of day without sacrificing their opportunity to socialize. Backblaze employees who were hired and onboarded after the shelter-in-place orders began can meet other people outside of their teams. Also, employees who have been remote pre-COVID have more opportunities for social interaction with their on-site peers.
Throughout hosting different video hangouts, we learned that it best worked for calls to represent a specific social interaction that would happen in the office.
Enjoying a “Brewtiful Morning” Online
Back in the office, many of us enjoyed chatting with each other while brewing our morning coffee. The coffee debates are fierce—Death Wish Coffee, Peet’s, Henry’s House of Coffee—all have loyalists. Now that the majority of the company works from home, our Office Administrator, Judith, hosts a “Brewtiful Mornings” coffee break on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings that lasts for about half an hour.
Attendance is usually small, which might seem as if the events aren’t popular. Actually, our team says that the small group of people on a call allows them to connect more directly in conversation. As anyone can join the calls, the group changes and people are able to connect with someone new each day.
We also learned that keeping an event going that might only serve a few employees at a time still has great benefits, as some employees prefer to only interact with a few people at a time. While the low attendance at the event might have felt like a failure to bring our team together at first, we realized that it’s an accommodating space for our employees with different communication styles.
Brian’s Office Hours
Backblaze Co-founder and CTO, Brian, hosts weekly office hours on Wednesday afternoons, as do several other members of the Engineering team. However, while other Engineering office hours may cover more technical topics, Brian’s office hours cover a range of topics from why dogs aren’t allowed in our data centers to his opinions on building a business with venture capital vs. bootstrapping and the cutest cat videos ever seen on the internet.
The format ranges from a group discussion to an informational presentation from Brian, but his openness, transparency, and willingness to answer almost any question has made his office hours both educational and entertaining for the employees that attend.
When quarantine began, Judith implemented virtual yoga and meditation sessions, led by a local instructor, twice a week. Unfortunately, after about a month into quarantine, these sessions were canceled because of low attendance.
The main reason these sessions did not get much participation was because shelter-in-place had just begun at the time and people were still adjusting to their new lifestyles. Between kids and work, it was difficult at first for employees to adjust time for self-care into their schedules. It was also hard to accommodate remote employees’ schedules since they live in different timezones.
Because of this experience, we learned to give our employees some time to adjust to their new schedules before initiating classes or social events. It’s also important to check in with employees to learn more about how their self-care priorities might change over time and create events that they’d like to attend. Finally, we recommend having these classes at different times throughout the week in order to accommodate different schedules.
Keeping the Conversation Going on Slack
Another way we’ve looked to boost team spirit while away from the office is by facilitating ongoing conversations through different Slack channels. We have several Slack channels catering to different interests (cooking, gaming, exercising, you name it!) to help maintain team morale during shelter-in-place. Most channels were created by Judith, but any employee can create one if they’d like. Slack channels work great because people can participate when they have the extra time to do so without having to plan their entire day around an event.
At the start of working from home, employees were quick to share tips about home office setups and their reactions to the shift in their daily routines. Then as time went on, less people seemed to ask questions or spontaneously message the different social channels. Judith’s method of re-engaging everyone in conversation was to act as the main facilitator. She’s always posting something, whether it’s about the news or a reaction to what someone else posted. By being engaged, she encourages others to also get involved.
She also recommends knowing your audience—if your employees love to talk about current events, then it may be worth taking the time out of your mornings to read the news so that you can initiate interesting conversations.
Taking Advantage of Online Opportunities and Flexible Schedules
Since the start of shelter-in-place, our team created a bunch of new Slack channels to stay virtually connected. Although we can no longer casually run into coworkers at the water cooler and chat with them, we’ve shifted those conversations to a channel called #virtualwatercooler.
People don’t see each other throughout the day anymore so they don’t always know what’s new in their coworkers’ daily lives. That’s why Judith initiated a few ongoing trends to make it easier for people to update each other about their day. One of the fun versions of these updates is when employees share pictures of their “co-workers”—this can be their pet, their roommates, or their kids. While many of us wish for a pre-pandemic world, it’s provided us the opportunity to get to know our colleagues in different ways without being intrusive.
In a similar channel called #wfh-help, employees can talk directly about the changes that remote work has brought to their daily routine. They use this channel to share helpful resources like productivity tools and tips on working from home with kids. Everyone’s experience of working from home looks a bit different, but here they can ask advice for advice or connect with someone else who’s experiencing a similar situation.
Adjusting to a Virtual Community
Throughout shelter-in-place, some existing Slack channels had to modify their purpose because they were used to plan in-person team events (like game nights). Instead of going completely silent, employees found ways to invite new members and turn to online spaces for new possibilities.
Prior to shelter-in-place orders, a channel was used to schedule “Terraforming Mars” sessions after work. Nowadays, members can no longer play board games together in person like they used to, but that doesn’t stop them from playing together online.
Now, some employees play “Terraforming Mars” virtually on their computers after work. Others play “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and a few play “Stellaris.” One of our team members is an avid Twitch streamer, so group members use the Slack channel to notify when their co-worker is going live. Many employees from the channel join in on the fun and hang out virtually.
Dan, our Senior Support Technician and passionate gamer, recommends incorporating a diverse range of games into the mix. Our group at Backblaze plays easier short games like “Fluxx” to longer, more competitive games like “Terraforming Mars.” This helps gamers at all levels feel included.
Something we noticed that we’re sure many other organizations are also experiencing is that engagement through ongoing Slack channel conversations and regular video hangouts seems to drop over time. One explanation for this decrease in participation might be an overall sense of fatigue that comes with not being able to interact with people in person for an extended amount of time. While we can’t organize in-person events, we can try new things with our virtual hangouts to get people interested, again.
In addition to our regularly-scheduled digital “programming,” we have also hosted several one-off events, generated by staff ideas and usually hosted by Judith or our Events Marketing Coordinator, Caitlin. These events have featured special guests, or sometimes, our very own team members have shown off their talents. From singing and playing piano to hosting a baking master class, these events have been a great, low pressure way for team members to share the things they’re passionate about. These events also help to provide additional opportunities for employees to engage, and often also have welcomed family members, especially children!
Princess Storytime with Elsa
Thanks to Wish Upon a Star Princess Parties, we were able to invite Queen Elsa of Arendelle to host two special story time sessions with many of our employees’ families, telling the stories of “Frozen” and “Frozen 2.” Each session was about 30 minutes long and included story time, sing-alongs, and time for questions and answers with Elsa.
If you plan to do something like this for your employees, we strongly recommend encouraging parents to join with their kids to help facilitate muting/unmuting to ensure everyone gets a chance to hear and be heard. We heard from many parents after our first story time with Elsa that their kids loved the event, so we took character requests and are working on bringing in “Star Wars” characters, superheroes, and other Disney favorites for future story time sessions!
One week, a mysterious happy hour event appeared on the company calendar, promising a special “surprise guest.” Those who joined the meeting that day learned that the special guest was none other than Paco the llama, one of the animal ambassadors at Sweet Farm Sanctuary!
Sweet Farm is a local nonprofit that promotes sustainable farming and factory-farm animal rescue. After meeting Paco, we were taken on a virtual tour to meet other animals including cows, pigs, and sheep, and learned more about the farm’s operations and mission.
Several employees shared that they had previously visited Sweet Farm (One had attended a painting class at the farm and had painted a still-life of Paco the llama!), and others expressed interest in visiting once they were able to safely do so, again. Many farms and animal rescues are offering similar opportunities to have an animal “join” your company meeting; if you are interested in doing something like this, we encourage you to choose a local organization, if possible.
Virtual Events Bring Our Teams Together During Shelter-in-Place
Our virtual events and Slack channels have helped us tremendously in maintaining our culture during shelter-in-place. Working from home can be difficult, but as team members, we are there to support one another whether that’s through a quick coffee chat in the morning, a story time with Elsa to keep the kids busy, or fitness challenges to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’d love to hear more about some of the things your organization has done to build team spirit during shelter-in-place. Share some of the ways your team stays connected while working from home in the comments below.
Every year around this time, the marketing department gets together to plan a strategy for April Fools—we say “strategy” because we take it seriously. And every year, some questionable ideas inevitably arise (someone invariably brings up illogical data center locations and has to be shot down). Patrick’s wife has been going on about a Cloud-Enabled Pizza Delivery joke (thanks to Lebron James’s pizza exploits at “Blaze Pizza”—nice name by the way). We’ve kindly had to let her down as well.
But this year, obviously, is different. And, given that there’s already more than enough confusion going on in the news when it comes to COVID-19, we all agreed that it was not the best time to add any more by making you wonder, “Did they really replace their Fireball service with cats?” No, this isn’t the time for April Fools posts and shenanigans, but that doesn’t mean you, our faithful blog readers, can’t have a little fun at our expense.
We’re completely focused on ensuring that our services deliver for you all, and part of that effort involves keeping up morale across our team and among you, our community.
We hope you and yours are doing well, and in lieu of spending a lot of time creating something new to help folks chuckle, we wanted to share some of our April Fools posts from years past—which we hope will help you crack a smile in case you missed them.
One of the first things Andy did when he joined Backblaze was come up with an excuse to put on his Blues Brothers outfit and hum a few bars. He didn’t think this video was still online; we want to assure him that it is.
Following in Andy’s tradition, I sometimes like to vocalize, though, unless you follow Critical Role (a live streamed DnD campaign), the context of my song will likely be lost upon you. But how could I promote Andy’s singing without subjecting you to my own?
Sure, cat data storage writes itself, but how do you migrate cat storage? What if you have too many feline photos on your computer and need to upload them quickly? Why not send us a Furball to expedite that cloud storage!
Sometimes people think our service is too inexpensive. We welcome them to try Bling 2 Cloud Storage. It’s the same thing as Backblaze B2, but brings the pricing in line with our competition at four times our usual price—perfection!
I went for a run this weekend (while our area is under a shelter-in-place order, physical activity and outdoor time while maintaining social distancing have been, thankfully, deemed essential) and ran by sign-after-sign on the doors and windows of restaurants and other businesses and one in particular caught my attention:
I think this is where we are today: everyone trying to do the best they can, and trying to be together while apart. At Backblaze, we’ve started having “Brewtiful Mornings”—15 minutes on a video conference in the morning where everyone can jump in with their coffee or tea to just have a few minutes of togetherness.
As the world struggles with the COVID-19 outbreak, I wanted to take a moment to share what Backblaze is doing for our team and community, and for you: our customers.
Protecting Our Team and Community
On March 6th, we stopped all business travel, cancelled in-person events, and moved the majority of our workforce to working from home. Where job functions necessitate being in one of our physical environments, we have taken a number of precautions to reduce work to essential tasks and to ensure the safety of our people.
We’ve always worked in a partially remote/distributed fashion but our ability to move to an almost completely remote model and spending more time in our homes—which in many cases rightfully weren’t set up for productivity—while managing our business has been a real testament to the people we have at Backblaze, and I’m very proud of the whole team working through it.
Ensuring the Quality of Our Services to You
We’ve worked with our suppliers to ensure availability of equipment, made large pre-purchases, and reviewed all key aspects of team safety and our business. We built Backblaze as a sustainable business over the last 13 years, and while we’ve never seen anything quite like this, we continue to be ready to serve and scale with your needs, especially now.
Helpful Tips for Using Backblaze During This Time
As many of you are adjusting and working to maintain health and morale, you may have found yourself spending more time at home, and in some cases were asked to leave the office on short (or no) notice. You may no longer have access to your computers or external drives, have servers that are running out of space, or have other storage challenges. To you in that position, and I sincerely hope this comes across in the way intended, we’re here to help if you need it.
If you no longer have access to your backed up equipment: You can use Backblaze to access any files from a web browser or your iOS/Android device. You can download a single file, select multiple files or folders, or recover all your data.
If you need to share files with co-workers or friends and family: You can share files directly without having access to your computer.
If you are running out of space on your server: Managing physical servers on-site is challenging in the best circumstances and may be even more so now. Our solutions engineering team can help explore options with you. Please reach out to them here: firstname.lastname@example.org and they will try to help you find a solution.
Again, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our Support team. Also, our team, including myself, will be answering questions in the comment section below.
We want to do everything we can to make this situation just that little bit easier for those affected. We’re in the fortunate position to be able to keep all of our employees and contractors at full salary. We’re also trying to be a good corporate citizen by encouraging our workforce to be socially responsible in their social distancing practices, donating to the World Health Organization, and generally trying to find ways to contribute.
The next few months are going to be hard on most people, but we can get through this, together while apart.
We’re looking for someone who loves to go deep on making marketing technology actually work: process oriented campaign execution, implementing and interpreting actionable analytics, and—ultimately—blending all of the above together to understand and improve the customer journey. Most importantly, we’re looking for someone who is ready to achieve this alongside a team that shows genuine care for each other.
Backblaze is an extraordinary place to work. With a great reputation for service built over the last 13 years, we are entrusted with nearly an exabyte of customer data, placing us among the largest cloud storage providers on the planet. And we’ve built a significantly profitable business with a total of just $3M in outside investment, empowering us to set our own course and live by our own ideals. Our approach is guided by honesty, transparency, and a commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and coworkers. Importantly, we’ve created an environment that makes us both happy and proud enough to recruit our friends to the team.
And it’s working quite nicely! Our business lines have achieved sustainable, double-digit growth—with some approaching triple digits. And we’ve accomplished these results without running any significant paid acquisition programs. Our customers are happy, and so are our coworkers: In the most recent “Great Place to Work” survey, 99% of our team rated Backblaze as “a great place to work.”
But while there is a lot to celebrate in our past, there is almost as much opportunity ahead of us: Our marketing systems and processes are functional, but relatively basic. We seek a Director of Marketing Operations who can help build, operate, and evolve our approach to executing and understanding our marketing efforts.
More 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), archive the work of some of the greatest artists on the planet (learn more about how Austin City Limits uses B2), or simply sleep well at night (anyone that’s spilled a cup of coffee on a laptop knows the relief that comes with complete, secure backups).
How Marketing at Backblaze Works
Our business is almost entirely driven by inbound customer interest. We have a blog that will attract more than 3M visits this year, with zero paid audience acquisition. Our team creates compelling, if slightly wonky, content on how data storage actually works. Our secret is writing enlightening, useful stories about customer problems and the solutions they might employ to succeed. The result is a highly engaged readership that yields a significant number of new customers. Approximately half of our customer base is “self-serve” while the other half works with our sales team to help them get started.
We operate across multiple verticals and sell 2 different SaaS products. To do so, our Marketing team organizes around the following team concepts:
Product Marketing: For any given vertical, we have at least one Product Marketer acting as the General Manager for her business. The Product Marketers identify their customer personas and expected buyer journeys. They also define the go-to-market activities for their verticals.
Editorial: Helps refine and polish the messaging for internal and external audiences.
Design: Brings the messages to life.
Brand: When you have a question about how our audience will react to thing X, we have a good answer. In addition, the “Brand” team owns our social presence.
Growth: Acts as both our CRO and SEO functions. We use Optimizely and have dedicated resources to help within Front End Engineering.
Marketing Ops: Owns our “stack,” processes, and analytics. Given content and strategy, enables elegant execution and provides actionable insights on results.
The Role: Director of Marketing Ops
Reporting directly to the VP of Marketing, you will build out our Marketing Ops function.
We think of Marketing Ops as having 5 key areas of ownership:
Marketing Technology (aka “the Marketing Stack”): Strategy, evaluation, implementation and operation of our marketing tools.
Today, the key pieces of our stack are Hubspot, Optimizely, BrightTalk, AdRoll, Google Adwords (brand terms), JustUno, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager.
Our company uses Tableau for visualization and Salesforce for Sales Ops.
Data: Create and implement the strategy for what our systems collect and how they are connected.
Team Alignment: Collaborate with team leads to establish processes and training for long-term success.
Campaign Management: Enable our various go-to-market activities by creating processes that are both predictable and scalable; establish clear priorities for Front End Engineering to ensure quality launches.
Insights: Analytics and analysis of all aspects of funnel with the goal of providing actionable intelligence for the other Marketing teams.
The Roadmap for Marketing Ops
As mentioned at the start of this post, our Marketing Operations are evolving. We believe there is a clear roadmap ahead of us, but one that will take a couple years to execute well. Here are some milestones that we’re looking forward to:
Grow understanding of the existing funnels. In your first 12 months, the majority of the work will be collaborating with the VP of Marketing, the Business Intelligence team, and the Sales Operations team to create a quantifiable understanding of our funnels. We have the right pieces in place and a company willing to invest in making them work together, but we need to solidify our fundamental systems.
Optimize existing funnels. Once we refine the understanding of our business drivers, we should create and execute against deliberate tests to identify new opportunities for growth.
Example: Once we have insights on what types of content are leading to what types of customers, provide that intelligence to the Product Marketers & Editorial team so they can create more of the desired content. They will create the incremental content, you will be responsible for measuring the results of the experiment.
Identify new growth initiatives (aka: find the rocket fuel). Understand the existing business, prove we understand it by optimizing it, and then start working on new streams of demand generation.
Tailor systems and tools to the most effective growth initiatives. Today, we have all the pieces for a functional marketing stack. Let’s get everything working, prove out areas for growth, and then invest in more specialized tools/operations for the areas of growth we want to pursue.
The Right Fit for our Director of Marketing Operations
We take a lot of pride in the culture we’ve built and are looking for team members that are a good fit. For a better understanding of who we are, check out this About Us video. Beyond “cultural fit,” for this specific role, we’re looking for an experienced operator that has a customer-journey-focused understanding of marketing. Here are the role-specific characteristics we’ll be looking for:
Possess the right amount of experience. You’ve probably been doing Marketing Operations in some form or another for 6-10 years. We don’t need someone with a specific degree or certification. We do need someone that will come in and take control of the existing systems and immediately start moving us forward on the envisioned roadmap.
Expertise in at least one of the major Marketing Automation systems is required, with a strong preference for Hubspot experience and/or mastery.
Skilled at figuring how the puzzle pieces fit together. Different tools in different configurations do different things. We need someone that can work with the larger Marketing team to understand what we’re trying to achieve, design a stack and processes for achieving those outcomes, and then implement and execute with precision.
Ability to work cross-functionally. The role of Marketing Ops engages with a variety of teams across our company. Beyond the Marketing team, our ideal candidate excels in interactions with:
Front End Engineering: Determine the prioritization of what gets worked on when as well as be the “business owner” for questions they might have.
Business Intelligence: Collaborate with the BI team to get answers from non-marketing systems, facilitate their requests for access into the marketing systems.
Sales Operations: Work with our Sales Ops teams to ensure precision in lead management, seamless systemic handoff, and generally find solutions to challenges as they arise.
Executive Team: Provide distilled, big picture takeaways on what’s happening because of your granular understanding of the little things.
Knows Demand Gen Mechanics for SaaS. Our ideal candidate is focused on generating incremental revenue and understands how to activate/optimize the different stages of the customer journey to achieve that goal.
Some of Our More Popular Perks
Backblaze offers an unlimited vacation policy; generous health/dental/vision/childcare benefits; fully stocked kitchens, twice a week catered breakfast and lunch, and superior coffee; and a generous skills training policy to continue your professional development. Our office in San Mateo is easily accessible from CalTrain, 280, and 101.
If This Sounds Interesting To You
We’d love to learn more about you! Please email us at email@example.com with your resume. All applications are reviewed by our team. If we think there might be a good fit, our recruiting lead, Michele, will schedule time to chat, answer any questions you might have, and outline our process.
Gift giving time is rapidly approaching and we at Backblaze are always interested to see what cool new things we can give our loved ones. This year we’ve rounded up a ton of games, watches, and streaming devices. Whether you’re planning for countless family gatherings over the coming months, or are just participating in the Reddit Gift exchange—these are sure to delight!
HDD Watch (A blast from the past…) This was in our 2014 holiday gift guide, but we wanted to revisit it because it’s left the crowd-funding space and is now readily available for purchase. We love this watch for obvious reasons.
Garmin Venu We have a lot of athletes at the Backblaze office and this watch is becoming a favorite of theirs. If you want smart-watch capabilities, but with a fitness-first approach, this is a great watch to get started with. It’s ambidextrous, so both iOS and Android users can enjoy it.
Apple Watch 5 It’s hard to mention watches without talking about the Apple Watch 5. The latest version of the Apple Watch is feature-rich and the go-to for Apple fans. It’s faster, it has more storage space, but the most revolutionary improvement from this version? It actually functions as a watch with the new always-on display. Crazy.
Fossil Hybrid This is the watch for everyone out there who misses their Pebble. I had each iteration of the Pebble and this looks like something that could have been the “next step”—but with analog watch hands. The cool thing is, they move away when you’re reading messages, which is pretty slick!
Aero Plant If you don’t have a backyard but want to flex your green thumb, this is a great way to start your own indoor garden. This is perfect for folks in dense urban areas (like the Bay) with tiny apartments!
Scooter Luggage Do you travel a lot? Need to zip through airports quickly? This luggage-scooter combo has you covered. We can’t speak for the quality, but the idea of watching someone zip along on their luggage makes us giggle.
Scooting too much work? Ride it! If you can’t be bothered to scoot yourself forward, you can even get a riding piece of luggage. Granted this is still being crowd-funded so your mileage may vary, but this luggage can also follow you around like a well-known bassinet in a popular Disney+ show!
Smarten Up Your TV
Chromecast Ultra The Chromecast Ultra is a great way to get 4K content from your phone, tablet, or computer onto your TV. All you need is the Chrome browser and this dongle, and you’re good to go. A side-benefit of this is that you can have party guests queue up their own favorite music. Though, that might be a downside as well…
Roku Ultra 4K A great benefit of the Roku is that you can plug your headphones (3.5mm) into the remote and watch TV all night long without bothering your partner.
Fire Stick 4K This is the easiest way to bring Smart TV capabilities with you when you’re on the go. A few years ago when I traveled more often, I would toss one of these into my suitcase to make hotel-room viewing less of a drag.
Board Games (bored games) Tip: Go to your local game store for these!
Terraforming Mars The Backblaze folks play this game at least once a week in the office. It’s one of the better designed games we’ve had a chance to play in recent memory—we highly recommend it! Don’t miss the expansions offered, they add a lot to the game. We highly recommend playing with the Prelude and Colonies expansions!
Dune We haven’t had a chance to dive into this game as frequently as we’d like, but we have it in the office and it’s on standby for when we’re done Terraforming Mars. Early indicators are that it’s a very well designed game and we are excited to dive deeper into it. The spice must flow!
Dutch Blitz Family trips are made better by having a deck of cards or an easily transportable card game in your suitcase. Dutch Blitz is easy to learn and fun to play, though it does require some lightning quick reflexes from time to time!
Firefly Fluxx Fluxx is a game that’s been around for a while, and we have both Math Fluxx and Firefly Fluxx in the office, both of which we enjoy playing from time to time. The rules are simple, but ever-changing, which makes for some dynamic game-play that can range from 5 to 25 minutes!
Monopoly Deal Similar to Dutch Blitz, this is a great card game to bring with you when you’re traveling. It’s simple, has the same elements of Monopoly that you know and love, but only takes about 20 minutes instead of the table-flipping 4-hour Monopoly marathons that you grew up with.
Dungeons and Dragons We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention D&D! It’s never too early to start or teach your children how to play. D&D is having a bit of a resurgence and it’s an incredible way to teach creativity, problem solving, math, and interpersonal skills. If you’re just starting out and the thought of creating your own adventure is too daunting, check out Dungeon Masters Guild for some smaller modules that you can use to dip your toes in! If you do buy the handbooks, we recommend showing your local game store some love and purchasing it there!
For That One Friend
What do you get the person who has everything? The ability to make their own stuff! The Prusa Mini should keep them occupied for a while—and might result in them making some gifts for you as a thanks!
And, of course… Backblaze You know it. You love it. Now gift it!
We hope that some of these ideas spark a little joy or creativity in your gift buying this season. We wish you the best! What are you most looking forward to your loved ones (or enemies?) unwrapping this year?
November 8th marks the celebration of National STEM day, calling attention to the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in young peoples’ education. Without these programs encouraging young minds to enter STEM fields, we would be hard-pressed to find the Backblaze staffers of the future. As such, a day like this is something we have to celebrate here in our office.
Many of our teammates missed out on the educational initiatives around tech that exist today, but they did not let age, gender, or socioeconomic status stop them from reaching the top of their respective fields. So in honor of the day, we decided to share some of their STEM-related stories with an eye toward inspiring you. Whether they rouse you to dig into your own mid-career shift, or to encourage your kids to consider STEM, or to send an application our way, we hope these stories add to your understanding of how helpful STEM can be in any life.
The STEMs of Backblaze
From Crash Bandicoot to Front End Developer
Steven, a front end developer at Backblaze, started out as a bellman at the Greenwich Hotel in New York City, but his love for digital media—beginning with games like Naughty Dog’s work of art, “Crash Bandicoot”—encouraged him to sign up for a boot camp for web development called Bloc. After 6 months, Steven launched into the work force with one mission: To make the world a better place, one product at a time.
“That love for video games became a love for technology and software,” said Steven, reflecting on his early years in tech. “As I grew older, played more games, discovered the joys of dial-up internet and witnessed cable TV move into the high definition era, my interest for what powered all of these sources of entertainment peaked.”
Taking the Leap to Director of Engineering
Not everyone is as confident as Steven, though. Would you just walk into a coding bootcamp with no experience? Intimidation can be a big reason why someone shies away from working in a STEM related field. Our Vice President of Engineering, Tina, believes that you should not shy away from intimidation. She believes that embracing your jump into the unknown will help you find the fun in your field of work.
“Never think that you are not good enough or smart enough to learn anything,” said Tina, when asked what advice she would give to young engineers. “I feel like there is a misconception that engineering is boring or for geeks or whatever and that’s not true at all. And also, just because it is a male dominated industry doesn’t mean other women shouldn’t just go for it. It’s actually really fun once you start doing it. Essentially, just don’t let the intimidation get to you. Anyone can learn it.”
And she speaks from experience: Tina was the only woman in her Electronic and Computer Engineering classes at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, but now she’s running Backblaze’s engineering efforts. Without her, our engineering team would not run as smoothly and efficiently or have projects like extending your version history release on time!
From Microbiology to Backblaze Sales Operations and Enablement Manager
Tina makes a good point that most people tend to miss: the difference between the impossible and something that just makes you uncomfortable. Sona, our Sales Operations and Enablement Manager, spent her undergrad years preparing to attend med school. But when it came around to applying for post-grad programs or applying for jobs, she realized that her biological sciences degree qualified her for a range of different positions beyond the medical field.
“Do something that makes you uncomfortable,” said Sona, reflecting on what she would tell her younger self when starting out. “Because if you fail you fail, but if you don’t fail you might be opening up a door to something that you didn’t even know you wanted to do.” Embracing her discomfort allowed Sona to explore other careers, like working as a microbiologist at Shasta Beverages, Inc. and, now, being our go-to person for implementing software to supercharge our sales efforts here at Backblaze.
Experimenting with Technical Operations
This is true for our Director of Technical Operations, Chris, who started as a system administrator after stepping away from the college path because he felt more comfortable with a hands-on learning experience. Chris had always tinkered with computers and software during his summer breaks from school so he felt confident that this field was the right place for him.
“Try things. Experiment. The sooner you get plugged into a social network of some kind in your field, like a group or a club or an open-source project, the sooner the world will open up for you,” said Chris. “Because the people you meet will come from all different walks of life you will see all the different things they do and some of them might be interesting and different than what you initially thought of doing.”
Whether it’s toying with computer motherboards like Chris did, stargazing, app building, or even setting up your shot in basketball, chances are that your hobbies have roots in STEM. The average person indulges in these related activities without even knowing it.
Art, Dance, and Programming Sequences
Amanda is our Senior Accountant and her father, Brian, is our Distinguished Engineer. When she was younger her hobbies were art, dance, and… learning about programming sequences.
“I feel like [doing math] came very naturally,” said Amanda. “I grew up in a very math-friendly household. My dad started teaching me algebra really early. They were excited about it so they both did software engineering and programming. They would, ‘just for fun,’ teach me programming problems and I would be asking them about matrices and things like that.”
Of course, we don’t all have brilliant engineers for parents, but that doesn’t mean that Amanda’s experience isn’t useful. STEM programming is all about giving young people exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math in ways they can relate to. With Amanda, that was programming problems. But school systems all over have adapted STEM programs to their curriculum to build enthusiasm for kids who like to tinker with robots or treat math problems like a competition. You can even bring it home for your own family. The trick is to find fun, science-related activities that help kids continue to expand their excitement for these fields.
It might seem hokey, but it can be fun. For instance, at Backblaze, we still do STEM style experiments, like the day we used bubbles and a fog machine to test the air flow in the office (as seen in the video below).
Do you have an interesting story of how you came to be in the STEM field of work? Or resources for how you passed your enthusiasm on? Share them in the comments below!
Growing into the Role: A Tuberspective into the Greenest Member of Support
We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the Tech Support crew, KC3. (To be clear, his name is KC, but we already have two Casey’s!)
This lil’ spud is a real go-getter. Although not yet answering tickets or eye deep in support chats, he brings a real spark of life to the team. Brought on by an existing Support Tech, Dan Mote, with a recommendation from one of our Physical Media Techs, JC Castaneda, we knew KC3 would dig right in and get dirty, working alongside everyone else.
To be candid, he did have to be carried initially, but once he’d been with us a couple of weeks, he really set down roots. Since then, he has been invaluable to other teams as well!
As is customary for all new hires, he had to do “The Questionnaire”!
Backblaze: What is your Backblaze title?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: How Prestigious. For entry-level? Wow. Where are you originally from?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Real strong roots there. Nice! What attracted you to Backblaze?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: We appreciate that. What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Lofty goals indeed. Where else have you worked?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Started at ground level, how industrious! Where did you go to school?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Ivy league, neat! What’s your dream job?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Such noble aspirations. Of what achievements are you most proud?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: That’s so sweet. Why do you like certain things?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: How insightful! Favorite place you’ve traveled?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: That’s fairly far afield, sounds fun. Favorite hobby?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: That’s a hot scene, I could see hopping from place to place. Favorite food?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Sorry, we won’t bring it up again. Star Trek or Star Wars?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Wise choice, considering the split in the office already. Coke or Pepsi?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: No, no, vodka is an acceptable answer. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
KC3: “ . . . ”
B: Deep. We look forward to you applying that salt-of-the-earth wisdom to your tasks!
Although not a-peeling during his first few days, he has unequivocally grown over the last few weeks. So much so that he has even risen to a spudvisory role—keeping an even tone and demeanor, even when engaged in difficult conversations.
Thanks for joining the team, KC3. We look forward to you continually rising to the challenge, reaching higher and higher with your perfectly starched attire!
In the last couple of years, we’ve released products that businesses of all sizes love: Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage and Backblaze for Business Computer Backup. Those businesses want to integrate Backblaze deeply into their infrastructure so in comes Pavritha, Sales Engineer! Let’s learn a little more about her, shall we?
What is your Backblaze Title? Sales Engineer.
Where are you originally from? India.
What attracted you to Backblaze? The exciting opportunity and the work culture.
What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze? I will try to learn everything possible and focus a lot on my role.
Where else have you worked? Yotascale Inc. worked for a year.
Where did you go to school? California State University -East Bay.
What’s your dream job? I would love to do travel journalism at some point in time.
Of what achievements are you most proud of? Flying all the way from India to the US achieving my master’s degree and now to land in a job as a Solutions Engineer.
Favorite place you’ve traveled? Florida.
Favorite hobby? Traveling and trying out different food.
Favorite food? I am basically foodie so I enjoy food and if it has to specific then it will be Asian and Italian cuisine.
Anything else you’d like to tell us? So I am a person who likes to experiment a lot with food whenever I get a chance I will try out some new place or a new cuisine and I also love to recreate those dishes at home. One more thing which I am sort of good at is giving good choices when it comes to food based on what the occasion is also based on the food.
You’re in luck Pavritha! We just started a blog post series about how to become a digital nomad. Welcome aboard to the team!
In order to increase system-wide performance, we’ve undertaken a journey to upgrade some of our core infrastructure. We are scheduling maintenance between 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, October 21st, and likely during the same time period on Monday, October 28th.
Creating Backup restores and B2 Cloud Storage Snapshots
Starting to download newly created restores (restores already downloading should continue)
Uploading to Computer Backup (Personal and Business) will pause (data will continue to be scanned and uploads will resume automatically after the maintenance)
Accessing and downloading data via the Backblaze Mobile Apps
B2 Cloud Storage users may not be able to upload files or authorize accounts (if upload authorization was already given, those uploads will continue)
B2 Cloud Storage users may not be able to create, delete, or update buckets during the maintenance window
Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage will continue to serve files. Not all Backblaze customers will be affected during the following maintenance window, but if you are experiencing issues, you are likely in the subset of users affected.
All Backblaze services are expected to resume once maintenance is complete.
We will be updating this post with information as we go through the system maintenance, as well as updating our Twitter feed for more information.
Backblaze is growing quickly and we need good folks to help keep this well-oiled machine well oiled. We also keep buying more and more stuff. We needed help! Enter Griffin to support our purchasing team. We’re glad to have him on board full time to help us with our very large piles of purchases! Let’s learn a bit more about Griffin, shall we?
Where are you originally from?
What attracted you to Backblaze?
I immediately fell in love with the we’re all in this together team-driven feeling here. Everyone contributes to ensuring the success of all employees and the company as a whole.
What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
I hope to learn how a company that believes in its product and trusts its employees grows and thrives in the ever-changing data management/security market.
Where else have you worked?
In the last few years I have worked at Oracle, CheckPoint, and Snowflake.
Where did you go to school?
UC Santa Cruz, graduating with a B.A. in Economics.
What’s your dream job?
I want to be a music producer. Figuring out how to fine-tune a song to perfection is my jam. Music is in the details, the pauses… and accents. Some day I’ll be the next George Martin, Rick Rubin, or Timbaland. See you in the Top 40!
Of what achievements are you most proud of?
I am proud that I was able to graduate from college in only four years despite changing my major after three semesters. I started as a physics major but transitioned to economics as I wanted to have a more usable and marketable skill set.
Why do you like certain things?
They bring me joy. If the music sounds good to you, it is good. If a movie was good for you, it is good. Find things you enjoy and enjoy them!
Favorite place you’ve traveled?
Barcelona. The food, the weather, the people. Perfect. I was only there for the final days of a trip, but I could have easily spent the entire time there.
Making music or cooking. Both are artistic outlets to me, allowing me to showcase my style and tastes with others.
Anything grilled or smoked.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek. It is just the future we will live in soon.
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke. But, let’s not kid ourselves, water is the best beverage.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I’m thrilled to be a part of this wonderful company and I can’t wait to see where we go together!
We are very excited you joined the team too, Griffin! And if we need help producing the next Backblaze song we will be sure to ask you first!
Start spreading the news, we’re leaving next week. We’re going to be a part of it, NAB New York!
Did you know that NAB Show — the premiere technology expo for media & entertainment held every year in Las Vegas — also offers a fall show in New York City? They do. And yes, we’ll be there. We couldn’t turn down an event in the media capital of the nation, if not the world.
New York City is home to the Big Four broadcast networks, and is a global center for newspaper, book, and magazine publishing, the music industry, independent filmmaking, and online media. That makes New York a great place to visit existing customers and to meet new ones.
New York Customers That Backblaze
A number of New York-based creative agencies are B2 customers, including Baron & Baron, the agency that’s the driving force behind some of the world’s most celebrated luxury fashion and beauty brands. Our creative director and co-founder, Casey, got a big kick out of laying out their case study. It’s not every day that he gets to work with eye-catching imagery from the likes of Coach, Dior, and Armani. But that’s just one agency of many long-term B2 customers based in New York City. That’s not surprising since seven of the top eight global advertising agencies are headquartered in NYC. (Cue the theme music to Mad Men.)
New York City is also ground central for the growing number of online media companies, from online-only news outlets like Huffpost, Business Insider, Vox, and Vice, to digital-first brands and online instructional sites like B2 customer Panna Cooking. Being digital natives, it’s no surprise that online media companies have been quick to adopt cloud storage.
Finally, one-third of all American independent films are produced in New York City. (Don’t tell Hollywood!) At NAB New York we will be debuting a new case study for a documentary filmmaker whose craft has him riding the waves all over the world. Watching his films, you can almost feel the spray on your face and the waves beneath your feet.
Visit Backblaze at NAB New York
If you’ll be in New York on October 16-17, please stop by our booth #N756 at the Javits Center. We’ll be celebrating 10 years of our Backblaze Storage Pod, so we’ll have our latest pod in our booth for you to get up close and personal with one of Silicon Valley’s first open source hardware projects. If you want to spend more time exploring how B2 could fit into your workflow, our calendars are open for you to schedule an appointment and we’ll have a special gift waiting for you.
Our distributor PVT will also offer live demos across the aisle in their booth #N757, showing B2 in action with integrated workflow applications from Archiware and iconik. You can also visit other integrated application partners at their own booths, including CatDV #N660, EditShare #N345, Facilis #N136, FileCatalyst #N159, GB Labs #N359, and GrayMeta #N1120.
Finally, if you don’t have a pass to the show, register using our code NY9776 and the expo hall, on-floor sessions, and select networking events are completely FREE.
Only in New YorkTop Picks from Backblaze Staff
Of course, a trip to New York City isn’t all business. The Backblaze folks attending the show make a point of carving out time for some of their favorite things you can only experience in New York. And we’d like to share some of our faves with you.
Nilay Patel, Vice President of Sales When Nilay can squeeze it in, he heads to the Upper East Side for a real gentleman’s haircut at Paul Molé barber shop, New York City’s first. After that, he’ll be ready to stroll in style down the High Line park and up to the rooftop bar at the Standard Hotel.
Terry LoBianco, Director of Sales Terry feels inspired by the grand architecture of New York City, and Grand Central Terminal’s Beaux Arts design is among her favorites. Her plan is to stop in for cocktails at the Campbell Bar inside the station. She’ll be having a Manhattan of course!
Skip Levens, Director of Product Marketing I don’t know if it qualifies as traditional New York pizza, but Skip is salivating just remembering the pizza the team had at Tappo Thin Crust Pizza last year. Like a good native Californian, Skip craves the salads at Tappo too. And after he tears down our booth, he hopes to catch the opening of the Chelsea Film Festival that’s a hop, skip, and a jump from Javits.
Elton Carneiro, Director of Partnerships Poor Elton. He’s been craving Goa-style food at Bombay Bread Bar. But alas, celebrity Chef Floyd Cardoz closed up shop just two weeks before his arrival. He’s crossing his fingers that it will reopen somewhere else in the city. Anyone know? If not, Elton will have to wait for a trip to Mumbai.
Vincent Montez, Business Development Representative Vincent was quick to report that the Flat Iron Room was his top pick. His dream is to splurge for the pricey Ultimate Japanese whisky flight, but given his budget, he’ll probably settle on the more reasonably priced and geographically appropriate New York flight.
Pavithra Hari, Senior Sales Engineer Pavithra has it all planned. First she’ll hit the Halal Guys original food truck on 53rd & 6th, then take the subway to the Empire State Building for the long elevator ride to the top. She’s well aware that there’s a Halal Guys restaurant a few blocks from Backblaze headquarters, but it’s just not the same.
Patrick Thomas, Head of Publishing Leave it to Patrick to find the most healthy and introspective activities of the team: jogging on the Hudson River Greenway, sipping Japanese matcha tea at Ippodo, and if he’s lucky, catching an event at the New York City Poetry Society.
Janet Lafleur, Senior Product Marketing Manager Sadly, Janet won’t be joining the crew in New York this year — someone has to hold down the fort. But she already has a plan for NAB New York 2020: jazz and soul food at Red Rooster in Harlem. Red Rooster comes highly recommended by Shaneika, a Backblaze account executive and native New Yorker. The seafood jambalaya will have to wait.
Over the past 11 years, Veeam has become a wildly popular solution for companies that need to back up their VMs, servers, Office 365, and other hosts. The only problem is, with the great amounts of data involved in VM computing, comes great responsibility: While Veeam’s Backup & Replication engine manages full restores of customers’ VMs, based on a retention period defined by you, the amount of on-prem storage this requires is high and acutely expensive for many companies. So what happens when something comes up — like new compliance guidelines or document retention rules — that require you to hold more data from your VMs than your on-prem storage can handle?
“Many of our customers use Veeam and they want a way to extend their recovery points, but don’t have the budget or desire to change their on-prem infrastructure and workflows.” — Nilay Patel, VP Product, Backblaze
You sized your on-prem storage to handle the number of backups you wished to retain when you launched your Veeam instance. If the number of backups you retain is seven days, then your backups have seven days worth of data. By tiering to the cloud, you can extend your backups further in time. This enables you to pull down subsets of files beyond the period of time your on-prem backups cover.
But before today, your options weren’t all that attractive. You could upgrade to a higher (and more expensive) license with Veeam…and then pay the expensive storage costs of Amazon S3. Or, you could purchase and configure more on-prem hardware. But now you have a new, affordable, seamless option: the B2 Cloud Storage partnership with Tiger Bridge! The solution allows you to back up your VMs in the cloud and easily restore files as far back as you’d like to go, for ⅓ of the price of using S3. This all occurs on a single pane of glass with no interruptions to your workflow — all backup copy jobs and restores are controlled directly from your Veeam Backup and Replication Console.
“Anyone looking to optimize their storage usage will love the integration between Backblaze and Tiger Bridge. Intelligent and automatic data tiering to Backblaze B2 helps increase the number of backups, reduce costs, and increase storage flexibility and agility, without additional, expensive on-premise hardware.” — Lance Kelson, Executive Vice President, Tiger Technology
Here’s how it works.
Tiger Bridge is a software-only solution that expands Windows NTFS capabilities to include tiering to cloud, other storage, or tape. Once the files are tiered, they are replaced with zero-byte stub files in the NTFS. These stub files are placeholders that allow users and applications to work normally, as if the data exists in its original location. Simply opening or calling for the file triggers a restore. In this way, it is possible to have access to petabytes of data while using a modestly sized local volume.
As the most affordable and scalable public cloud storage platform available — with a robust REST API that is being consumed by 100’s of integrations — Backblaze B2 is the perfect tiering solution for Tiger Bridge customers, allowing for infinite copies of their backups in the cloud.
The key benefit with this solution is that you do not have to change your backup job. Instead, you can make a copy of the job and have it executed once the existing backup completes. This is excellent news for anyone who needs for their backup process to be invisible to end-users or for teams that need to create separate retention policies that allow for VM backup storage for any period of time.
Deploying a proof of concept for this solution is simple and takes about 30 minutes:
Spin up a new VM and install Tiger Bridge, then configure it to use your B2 bucket.
Create a Tiger Bridge repository within Veeam and configure it as a backup location.
Create a backup copy job for each of your backup jobs.
After each backup job is completed, the backup copy job copies the backup to the Tiger Bridge repository. As soon as that happens, Tiger Bridge will upload these files to B2 and replace the files on disk with zero-byte stub files. When you need to restore a file, use the Veeam Backup and Replication console’s restore feature. Tiger Bridge will automatically bring back the files you need in a transparent way. You won’t even know the backups being restored are from B2 via Tiger Bridge!
While this solution will have your entire VM backed up in the cloud, you don’t need to download your entire VM to find a file. Using Veeam and Tiger Bridge partial restore, you can search your backed up copies for the file you want and just download that file. If the VM is 100GB and the file you want is 10MB, you only pay to download the 10MB.
Here is a price comparison:
Download Price per GB
B2 + Tiger Bridge*
* B2 Cloud Storage is $5/TB/month & Tiger Bridge is $2/TB/month. Tiger Bridge is free for the first 5 TB in any given month. ** Amazon’s S3 has tiered pricing. This comparison uses Amazon’s lowest published price. To create a more detailed pricing comparison, please use our price comparison calculator.
New versions of Apple’s operating systems are coming to your iOS devices and Mac. iOS 13 for iPhones and iPads will be available today, September 19, and macOS 10.15, aka Catalina, will be available in October for Macintosh computers. If you’re planning to upgrade your Mac or iOS devices with Apple’s newest software, you should make it a point to back up before you install these new versions.
We first heard about these new releases this past June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which gathers thousands of Apple developers each year from around the world. It’s a yearly ritual: Apple introduces new versions of both the Mac and iOS operating systems and then they’re tested by developers and the public throughout the summer and released to everyone in the fall.
Remember to Back up Early and Often
Changing your Mac or iPhone’s operating system isn’t like installing a new version of an app, even though Apple has tried to make it a relatively simple process. Operating system software is essential software for these devices, and how it works has a cascading effect on all the other apps and services you depend on.
Backblaze wants you to keep all your data safe and secure. If you’re not currently backing up, it’s easy to get started using our 3-2-1 Backup Strategy. The idea behind the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy is that there should be three copies of your data: the main one you use, a local backup copy, and a remote copy, stored at a secure offsite data center like one of Backblaze’s (we just launched a data center in the European Union, as well. The 3-2-1 practice has served us and thousands of our customers very well over the years, so we recommend it unabashedly. Also check out our Mac Backup Guide.
Our advice is to make sure to back up all of your systems before installing operating system software, even final released software. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry, especially where the safety and security of your data are concerned.
Backblaze is coming in hot to Austin, Texas for SpiceWorld 2019, from September 23rd through the 25th at the convention center, and hundreds of bottles of Backblaze brand hot sauce is just the beginning. If you’re attending, we hope you’ll visit us at booth #26 to say hello and join us for a little of what we’ve got going on:
Our very own Andy Klein will be joining us. He’s the “real deal” at Spiceworks, according to credible sources:
Known for his love of our Backblaze Storage Pod and famous for his authorship of our Drive Stats series, Andy will be at the booth to talk in depth about hard drive failure rates, the current drive populations of our four data centers, and:
The Storage Pod! We’ll have a sixth generation production storage pod for you to take a gander inside of. Sure, we’ve open sourced our pod design since 2009, so you shouldn’t be surprised by what you see, but it’s always good to take a look under the hood of the real thing, even if you’ve already built your own. Come for a chat with Andy and the Storage Pod, stay for…
…a complimentary bottle of Backblaze hot sauce, a chance to win a drone (for participants of the Passports to Prizes raffle), and, for just a handful of visitors, the chance of mystery swag for any current customers willing to talk to us about their experience with our services.
Come for the backup, stay for the blazing flavor. We hope you can join us at SpiceWorld!
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