This post has been updated to reflect new information for Android users. After posting about the Photos+ answer to iCloud, our first comment was a request to help our Android users—seek no further, there’s now a Photos+ app for that. You can try it for free, or sign up today for a 50% discount on your Photos+ subscription. Get started here.
“Storage Full” has to rank up there as one of the least favorite notifications on Apple and Android products, maybe of all products? For photographers, this message can be all the more frustrating, and eventually very expensive if you opt into a higher storage payment plan. That’s why we’re profiling Photos+ today. Photos+ is an application that leverages Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage to offer an easy and reasonable way to manage your data and put “Storage Full” notifications behind you.
Here’s the short story: If you’re storing 200GB or more of photos on iCloud or Google Photos, Photos+ can save you upwards of $100 per year.
With high resolution iPhone cameras, six hours of 4K videos and a few thousand photos is all it takes to exceed 200GB of storage, meaning your photos will no longer be backed up unless you upgrade to the 2TB plan at a cost of $120 per year. This is a steep jump from the 200GB plan at $36 per year. And for Android users, all photos uploaded to Google Photos now count towards the 15GB Google Drive limit, so that for photographers uploading high quality photos, upgrading to the 2TB Google One storage plan will also cost about $120/year. This leads many to ponder what their options are.
Alternatives to Storage Upgrades
Well, for those of you looking, here are your options:
Turn off cloud backups and don’t back up your phone? Not best practice—remember your 3-2-1 backup strategy!
Turn off cloud backups but remember to frequently back up your phone to your computer? This often ends in tears.
Transfer photos to your computer when you run out of space? It works, but it’s time intensive and means you lose access to photos on the go.
Use another service, like Dropbox, to offload photos? Unfortunately, they also feature a leap to 2TB of storage, so you might as well stick with upgrading iCloud or your Google One storage plan.
Use a service that charges you for exactly the storage you use at $0.005/GB. In this scenario, storing 200GB would cost $1 per month.
How to Avoid Storage Upgrade Bills
The Photos+ Cloud Library app is an iOS, Android, and web app that allows you to manage photos from your iPhone, Android device, or browser without incurring the costs typically associated with keeping photos on your phone. You can use Photos+ and pay for only what you store with no minimum fees and no upper limits on storage.
Test It for Free
The Photos+ Cloud Library app costs $6/year, and offers a free 14-day trial if you’d like to see how it works. Backblaze B2 costs $0.005/GB/month with the first 10GB free. So if you’d like to give this pairing a try, you’ve got some room to play around before you need to commit to the setup.
Storing 200GB using these two platforms will cost about $18/year instead of $120/year with iCloud or Google Photos.
Once your photos and videos are safely stored in your own Backblaze B2 account (where you can always verify they have been stored and download them directly from Backblaze or the Photos+ app), you can delete some or all of your photos and videos from your iPhone to open up space, and allow iCloud to back up the rest of your items without exceeding your 50GB or 200GB iCloud storage plan.
For a limited time, Android users can get started with the Photos+ Cloud Library app today and get 50% off your subscription. Sign up here for iPhone, or here for Android.
No More Upgrade Notices
With the lack of upgrade notifications, you’ll have more time to spend paying attention to “Scam Likely” calls and discerning the meaning of the badge numbers accumulating on apps you haven’t opened in years. We wish we could help you with those annoyances too, but for now, here’s hoping Photos+ can ease your cloud backup bill and give you some peace of mind.
Every month, millions of viewers tune in to their favorite channels live streaming League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dota, and more on Twitch. With over two million streamers creating live content each month, video games and streaming go hand in hand.
Whether you’re streaming for yourself, your friends, an audience, or you’re trying to build a brand, you’re creating a lot of great content when you stream. The problem is that most services will only protect your content for a few weeks before deleting it.
Whether you want to edit or rewatch your content for fun, to build a reel for a sponsor, or to distribute content to your adoring fans, backups of the raw and edited content are essential to make sure your hard work doesn’t disappear forever. Outside of videos, you should also consider backing up other Twitch content like stream graphics including overlays, alerts, emotes, and chat badges; your stream setup; and media files that you use on stream.
Read our guide below to learn:
Two methods for downloading your Twitch stream.
How to create a backup of your Twitch stream setup.
How to Download Your Twitch Stream
Once you finish a stream, Twitch automatically saves that broadcast as a video on demand. For most accounts, videos are saved for 14 days, but if you are a Twitch Partner or have Twitch linked to your Amazon Prime account, you have access to your videos for up to 60 days. You can also create clips up to a minute long of your streams within Twitch or upload longer videos as highlights, which are stored indefinitely.
Download Method #1
With this method, there’s almost no work required besides hitting the record button in your streaming software. Keep in mind that recording while streaming can put a strain on your output performance, so while it’s the simplest download method, it might not work best depending on your setup.
Continue reading to learn how to simultaneously stream and record a copy of your videos, or skip to method #2 to learn how to download without affecting performance during streaming.
If you, like many streamers, use software like OBS or Streamlabs OBS, you have the option of simultaneously streaming your output and recording a copy of the video locally.
Before you start recording, check to make sure that the folder for your local recordings is included in your computer backup system.
Then, go ahead with streaming. When you’re done, the video will save to your local folder.
Download Method #2
This second method for downloading and saving your videos requires a bit more work, but the benefit is that you can choose which videos you’d like to keep without affecting your streaming performance.
Once you’ve finished streaming, navigate to your Creator Dashboard.
On the left side of the screen, click “Content,” then “Video Producer.” Your clips and highlights live here and can be downloaded from this panel.
Find the video you’d like to download, then click the three vertical dots and choose “Download.” The menu will change to “Preparing” and may take several minutes.
Once the download is ready, a save screen will appear where you can choose where you’d like to save your video on your computer.
How to Download Your Stream Setup
If you’re using streaming software like OBS, most services allow you to export your Scene Profile and back it up, which will allow you to re-import without rebuilding all of your Scenes if you ever need to restore your Profile or switch computers. In OBS, go to the Profile menu, choose “Export” to download your data, and save it in a folder on your computer.
If you also use a caption program for your streams like Webcaptioner, you can follow similar steps to export and back up your caption settings as well.
How to Back Up Your Twitch Streams and Setups
Having a backup of your original videos as well as the edited clips and highlights is fundamental because data loss can happen at any time, and losing all your work is a huge setback. In case any data loss wreaks havoc on your setup or updates change your settings, you’ll always have a backup of all of your content that you can restore to your system. We recommend keeping a local copy on your computer and an off-site backup—you can learn more about this kind of backup strategy here.
Downloading your live streams will mean saving a collection of large files that will put a strain on your system to store. By creating a cloud storage archive of data you don’t need to access regularly, you can free up space on your local system. It’s quick and easy to organize your content using buckets where you simply drag and drop the files or folders you’d like to upload and save to the cloud. Take a look at how to set up and test a cloud storage archive here.
The difference between computer backup and cloud storage is that data is stored in the cloud for both options, but in backup, the data in the cloud is a copy of the data on your computer. For cloud storage, it’s just saved data without mirroring or versioning.
If you prefer to back up your files, computer backup services automatically scan your computer for new files, so all you have to do is make sure your local recordings folder is included in your backup.
Nowadays with our data scattered across multiple platforms, it’s all the more important to make sure you have a copy saved in case your media becomes inaccessible for any reason. Take a look at our other posts about downloading and backing up your data:
When it comes to having a backup plan, Navy SEALs go by the rule that “Two is one and one is none.” They’re not often one-upped, but in the world of computer backup, even two is none. The gold standard until recently has been the 3-2-1 rule—three copies of your data on two different media with one copy stored off-site.
The 3-2-1 rule still has value, especially for individuals who aren’t backing up at all. But today, the gold standard is evolving. In this post, we’ll explain why 3-2-1 is being replaced by more comprehensive strategies; we’ll look at the difference between the 3-2-1 rule and emerging rules, including 3-2-1-1-0 and 4-3-2; and we’ll help you decide which is best for you.
Why Is the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy Falling Out of Favor?
When the 3-2-1 backup strategy gained prominence, the world looked a lot different than it does today, technology-wise. The rule is thought to have originated in the world of photography in Peter Krogh’s 2009 book, “The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers.” At that time, tape backups were still widely used, especially at the enterprise level, due to their low cost, capacity, and longevity.
The 3-2-1 strategy improved upon existing practices of making one copy of your data on tape and keeping it off-site. It advised keeping three copies of your data (e.g., one primary copy and two backups) on two different media (e.g., the primary copy on an internal hard disk, a backup copy on tape, and an additional backup copy on an external HDD or tape) with one copy off-site (likely the tape backup).
Before cloud storage was widely available, getting the third copy off-site usually involved hiring a storage service to pick up and store the tape drives or physically driving them to an off-site location. (One of our co-founders used to mail a copy of his backup to his brother.) This meant off-site tape backups were “air-gapped” or physically separated from the network that stored the primary copy by a literal gap of air. In the event the primary copy or on-site backup became corrupted or compromised, the off-site backup could be used for a restore.
As storage technology has evolved, the 3-2-1 backup strategy has gotten a little…cloudy. A company might employ a NAS device or SAN to store backups on-site, which is then backed up to object storage in the cloud. An individual might employ a 3-2-1 strategy by backing up their computer to an external hard drive as well as the cloud.
While a 3-2-1 strategy with off-site copies stored in the cloud works well for events like a natural disaster or accidental deletion, it lost the air gap protection that tape provided. Cloud backups are sometimes connected to production networks and thus vulnerable to a digital attack.
Ransomware: The Driver for Stronger Backup Strategies
With as many high-profile ransomware incidents as the past few months have seen, it shouldn’t be news to anyone that ransomware is on the rise. Ransom demands hit an all-time high of $50 million in 2021 so far, and attacks like the ones on Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods threatened gas and food supply supply chains. In their 2021 report, “Detect, Protect, Recover: How Modern Backup Applications Can Protect You From Ransomware,” Gartner predicted that at least 75% of IT organizations will face one or more attacks by 2025.
Backups are meant to be a company’s saving grace in the event of a ransomware attack, but they only work if they’re not compromised. And hackers know this. Ransomware operators like Sodinokibi, the outfit responsible for attacks on JBS Foods, Acer, and Quanta, are now going after backups in addition to production data.
Cloud backups are sometimes tied to a company’s active directory, and they’re often not virtually isolated from a company’s production network. Once hackers compromise a machine connected to the network, they spread laterally through the network attempting to gain access to admin credentials using tools like keyloggers, phishing attacks, or by reading documentation stored on servers. With admin credentials, they can extract all of the credentials from the active directory and use that information to access backups if they’re configured to authenticate through the active directory.
Is a 3-2-1 Backup Strategy Still Viable?
As emerging technology has changed the way backup strategies are implemented, the core principles of a 3-2-1 backup strategy still hold up:
You should have multiple copies of your data.
Copies should be geographically distanced.
One or more copies should be readily accessible for quick recoveries in the event of a physical disaster or accidental deletion.
But, they need to account for an additional layer of protection: One or more copies should be physically or virtually isolated in the event of a digital disaster like ransomware that targets all of their data, including backups.
What Backup Strategies Are Replacing 3-2-1?
A 3-2-1 backup strategy is still viable, but more extensive, comprehensive strategies exist that make up for the vulnerabilities introduced by connectivity. While not as catchy as 3-2-1, strategies like 3-2-1-1-0 and 4-3-2 offer more protection in the era of cloud backups and ransomware.
What Is 3-2-1-1-0?
A 3-2-1-1-0 strategy stipulates that you:
Maintain at least three copies of business data.
Store data on at least two different types of storage media.
Keep one copy of the backups in an off-site location.
Keep one copy of the media offline or air gapped.
Ensure all recoverability solutions have zero errors.
The 3-2-1-1-0 method reintroduced the idea of an offline or air gapped copy—either tape backups stored off-site as originally intended in 3-2-1, or cloud backups stored with immutability, meaning the data cannot be modified or changed.
If your company uses a backup software provider like Veeam, storing cloud backups with immutability can be accomplished by using Object Lock. Object Lock is a powerful backup protection tool that prevents a file from being altered or deleted until a given date. Only a few storage platforms currently offer the feature, but if your provider is one of them, you can enable Object Lock and specify the length of time an object should be locked in the storage provider’s user interface or by using API calls.
When Object Lock is set on data, any attempts to manipulate, encrypt, change, or delete the file will fail during that time. The files may be accessed, but no one can change them, including the file owner or whoever set the Object Lock and—most importantly—any hacker that happens upon the credentials of that person.
The 3-2-1-1-0 strategy goes a step further to require that backups are stored with zero errors. This includes data monitoring on a daily basis, correcting for any errors as soon as they’re identified, and regularly performing restore tests.
A strategy like 3-2-1-1-0 offers the protection of air gapped backups with the added fidelity of more rigorous monitoring and testing.
What Is 4-3-2?
If your data is being managed by a disaster recovery expert like Continuity Centers, for example, your backups may be subscribing to the 4-3-2 rule:
Four copies of your data.
Data in three locations (on-prem with you, on-prem with an MSP like Continuity Centers, and stored with a cloud provider).
Two locations for your data are off-site.
Continuity Centers’ CEO, Greg Tellone, explained the benefits of this strategy in a session with Backblaze’s VP of Sales, Nilay Patel, at VeeamON 2021, Veeam’s annual conference. A 4-3-2 strategy means backups are duplicated and geographically distant to offer protection from events like natural disasters. Backups are also stored on two separate networks, isolating them from production networks in the event they’re compromised. Finally, backup copies are stored with immutability, protecting them from deletion or encryption should a hacker gain access to systems.
Which Backup Strategy Is Right for You?
First, any backup strategy is better than no backup strategy. As long as it meets the core principles of 3-2-1 backup, you can still get your data back in the event of a natural disaster, a lost laptop, or an accidental deletion. To summarize, that means:
Keeping multiple copies of your data—at least three.
Storing copies of your data in geographically separate locations.
Keeping at least one copy on-site for quick recoveries.
With tools like Object Lock, you can apply the principles of 3-2-1-1-0 or 4-3-2, giving your data an additional layer of protection by virtually isolating it so it can’t be deleted or encrypted for a specific time. In the unfortunate event that you are attacked by ransomware, backups protected with Object Lock allow you to recover.
Thank you all for being Backblaze customers and fans. We’re writing today’s post to let you know that effective August 16th, 2021 at 5 p.m. Pacific, the prices for the Backblaze Computer Backup service are increasing. At that time, our prices per subscription will change to:
In short, because of a double digit growth in customer data storage, significant increases in supply chain costs, and our desire to continue investing in providing you with a great service.
Here’s a little more information:
Data Growth and Component Price Increases
Our Computer Backup service is unlimited (and we mean it). Businesses and individuals can back up as much data from their Macs and PCs as they like, and we back up external drives by default as well. This means that as our customers generate more and more data, our costs can rise while our prices remain fixed.
Over the last 14 years, we have worked diligently to keep our costs low and pass our savings on to customers. We’ve invested in deduplication, compression, and other technologies to continually optimize our storage platform and drive our costs down—savings which we pass on to our customers in the form of storing more data for the same price.
However, the average backup size stored by Computer Backup customers has spiked 15% over just the last two years. Additionally, not only have component prices not fallen at traditional rates, but recently electronic components that we rely on to provide our services have actually increased in price.
The combination of these two trends, along with our desire to continue investing in providing a great service, is driving the need to modestly increase our prices.
The Service Keeps Improving
While the cost of our Computer Backup service is increasing, you’re going to continue getting great value for your money. For example, in just the last two years (most recently with version 8.0), we have:
Added Extended Version History, which allows customers to retain their backups for longer—up to one year or even forever.
Increased backup speeds—faster networks and more intelligent threading means that you can back up quickly and get protected faster.
Optimized the app to be kinder to your computer—less load on the computer means we stay out of the way while keeping you protected, leaving your resources free for whatever else you’re working on.
Re-architected the app to reduce strain on SSDs—we’ve rewritten how the app handles copying files for backup, which reduces strain and extends the useful life of SSDs, which are common in newer computers.
Improved data access by enhancing our mobile apps—backing up your data is one thing, but accessing them is equally important. Our mobile apps give you access to all of your backed up files on the go.
Easing deployment options—for our business customers, installing and managing backups across all of their users’ machines is a huge job; we improved our silent installers and mass deployment tools to make their lives easier.
These are just some of the major improvements we’ve made in recent years—nearly every week we push big and small improvements to our service, upgrading our single sign-on options, optimizing inherit backup state functionality, and much more. (A lot of the investments are under-the-covers to silently make the service function more efficiently and seamlessly.)
Lock In Your Current Price With a Subscription Extension
As a way of thanking you for being a loyal Backblaze customer, we’re giving you the opportunity to lock in your existing Computer Backup pricing for one extra year beyond your current subscription period.
Thank you for being a customer. We really appreciate your trust in us and are committed to continuing to provide a service that makes it easy to get your data backed up, access it from anywhere in the world, protect it from ransomware, and to locate your computer should it be lost or stolen.
Answers to Questions You Might Have
Are Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage Prices Changing?
No. While data flowing into our storage cloud is up across the board, our B2 Cloud Storage platform charges for usage by the byte, so customers pay for the amount of data that they use. Meanwhile, Computer Backup is an unlimited service, and the increase in our customers’ average storage amount plus the recent spike in rising hardware costs are contributing factors to the increase.
Will You Raise Prices Again?
We have no plans to raise prices in the future. While we expect the data stored by our customers to continue growing, we also expect that the global supply chain challenges will stabilize. We work hard to drive down the cost of storage and provide a great service at an affordable price and intend to continue doing exactly that.
Announcing Backblaze Computer Backup 8.0! As a great philosopher once said, “8 is great”—and we couldn’t agree more. Our latest version is pretty great: It cranks up the speed—letting you upload at whatever rate your local system can attain—all while reducing stress on key elements of your computer by an order of magnitude.
Here’s what’s new for our app on your Mac and PC:
Performance Boost: As we’ve described in the past, thread count matters, but until today your max threading was set to 30. You now can run up to 100 threads concurrently if your system and network are up to it. From go-kart to highway speeds in one update! It’s like nitrous for uploads.
Smarter Gas Pedal: If you’re worried about stressing your motor, we’ve greatly improved our autothrottle, which will keep your bandwidth and system load in mind if you don’t want to.
Easier on the Engine: We’ve reduced the client’s load on your HDD or SSD by up to 80% by reconfiguring how reads and writes happen before encryption and upload.
A New Coat of Paint: Sometimes it helps to look faster, too, so we updated our brand a touch to keep up with what’s under the hood.
There’s more detail below for those who need it, but these are the major improvements. We look forward to hearing about how they work for you, your machines, and your data.
If you feel the need for speed and have the bandwidth at your home or office to match, version 8.0 is going to help you get backed up a lot more quickly. We’ve increased the maximum number of threads to 100 (up from 30). That means our multi-threaded app can now perform even more backup processes in parallel. Threads have also gotten a bit more intelligent—if your maximum selection of threads would cause too much system load, we’ll use fewer threads to maintain your system’s overall performance.
In addition to making our threading more intelligent, we’ve also taken a magnifying glass to our autothrottle feature and introduced smart throttling. If you have autothrottle enabled, and you’re using a lot of your available memory or bandwidth, we ease off until more system resources are available, helping reduce strain on the system and keeping your bandwidth clear—we’ve made that process more efficient and a lot speedier. If you don’t have autothrottle enabled, the backups will go as fast as your manual throttle and threading are set to.
We’ve also re-architected the way we handle file copies. In our previous 7.0 version of Backblaze Computer Backup, the client app running on your laptop or desktop made a copy of your file on your hard drive before uploading it. In version 8.0, this step has been removed. Now the client reads the file, encrypts it in RAM, and uploads it to the Backblaze data center. This results in better overall system performance and a reduction in strain on HDDs and SSDs on your laptops and desktops.
One last minor (but helpful) update we’ve made under the hood is how we handle uploads and the transmission of larger files. In version 8.0, you’ll get more information about what is getting uploaded and when. When we transfer large files, sometimes the app will appear to “hang” on uploading a part of that file, when in reality that file’s already been transmitted and we’re starting to work on the next batch of files. The UI will now reflect upload status more clearly.
And if you haven’t checked out our mobile apps, we’ve been making improvements to them (like uploading files to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage) over the last few months as well. Learn more about them at: www.backblaze.com/mobile.html.
Join Us for a Webinar on July 29th at 10 a.m. Pacific
If you’d like to learn more, join us for a webinar where we’ll be going over version 8.0 features and answering questions during a live Q&A. The webinar will be available on BrightTalk (registration is required) and you can sign up by visiting the Backblaze BrightTalk channel.
After 14 years, a lot has changed at Backblaze. We started out in 2007 as a consumer cloud backup company. Today, we’re a leader in the cloud storage industry with over an exabyte of data under management and we serve a wide variety of use cases for customers ranging from developers, to IT pros, to media-heavy businesses, and many more.
In all that time, we haven’t needed to change the brand. Like the services we provide, our brand was easy, trusted, and affordable.
And while those core principles haven’t changed, we realized that an update to our website and other communications tools could make the experience on our platforms clearer, more frictionless, and just plain blazier. With that in mind, we hunkered down to deliver a rebrand that would achieve all of this and more.
The Backblaze Rebrand
I won’t bore you with stories about the months of color wheels; name association and SWOT exercises; comparisons to other brands; and the blood, sweat, and tears our Creative and Front End Engineering teams poured into what went live today. All that and more contributed to this effort, but I do want to share some explanations relevant to you: What we changed, what we will change, and what we definitely won’t change.
What Did We Change?
Here are a few of the primary changes we’ve made as part of the rebranding process:
The first thing many of you will notice is an updated logo. You can’t help but love our little flame that never stops burning—it’s a symbol of the blazing fast backup service we launched with, and today also serves as a representation of how we help our customers blaze forward with their businesses. For reference, here’s our old logo:
But you’ll notice below that our new logo features an update to the typeface and the color. We’ll talk about the updated color later, but the updated typeface is pretty straightforward. In its time, an all-caps name definitely worked, but today it feels a little “shouty”—we wanted a look and feel that says, we’re here to help you blaze on with whatever project comes next. We’re supportive and uncomplicated, if maybe a little irreverent. A side bonus is that we’d like the reporters of the world to know once and for all, there’s only one uppercase letter in our name… Here’s the new logo:
Changes to the User Experience
The overall user experience on the website has been updated to provide more ease for viewing on desktop or mobile. The navigation has been thoughtfully reorganized to make it easier to find the value each user needs within the site, especially within the robust footer we’ve added.
The design brings in more space (or padding) around and between content to allow for greater flow. And in many places, full-width sections have become islands to help you focus on key content, along with directional links to move you through the site.
If you head over to the Wayback Machine, or check the screenshots below, you’ll notice that our color palette is brighter, and, well, more “red” than before. Simply put, for the same reasons we doubled down on our blazing logo, we also doubled down on red. When you look around the cloud services space, it’s a sea of quiet blues. Feels a little cold.
We decided to own the heat: Whether you think of us as a catalyst, accelerant, or jet fuel, we’re here to help you blaze forward with whatever you’re trying to achieve—whether that’s a new app, business, or just backing up your precious data—we’ll keep you warm.
What We Will Change…
You don’t have to look farther than our familiar blog layout to see that this rebrand hasn’t touched the whole website, yet. We’re working through the remainder of our pages and assets over the rest of this year, but all of the changes to come will by and large just carry forward the new look and feel we’ve shared today.
…And What We Won’t Change
This rebrand covers a number of subtle and not-so-subtle changes, but an important thing to emphasize is that the substance of Backblaze won’t be changing. From day one, we’ve focused on being easy, affordable, and trusted for our customers. With the commitment to stick to those values in mind, the first thing we did in our rebrand was to reaffirm what exactly our foundation is, and I thought it would be good to share it with you today:
Backblaze’s Foundation: Data is the digital world’s most precious resource. We make storing and using that data astonishingly easy.
We hope this message comes through loud and clear in the new experience we’ve built for you.
Tell Us What You Think
As we work to continually serve our customers more effectively, we’ll keep improving the way you experience Backblaze products and services—hearing what works and what doesn’t from you is central to that improvement. So, let us know what you think if you have a chance. For a little incentive, we’re sending out some swag to the first 10 of you who respond to this post or share it on social media, so don’t be shy.
June is Backup Awareness Month and we’re now in our 13th year of working with The Harris Poll to ask a simple question: “How often do you back up all the data on your computer?” We’re always interested to see how average folks think about their data, and what they use for their primary backups. This year we also asked people about their history with data loss, and whether or not they are firmly grounded on how “the cloud” works. The results… may shock you.
How Backups Are Trending in 2021
Good news here, the results are positive! Of people who own a computer, more than ever are backing up daily, if not even more often: Our 2021 number is 11%. This is only an increase of one percentage point over last year, which may not seem like much, but does underline a positive upward trend over the years (6% in 2018, 9% in 2019, and 10% in 2020). As a computer backup provider, we’re thrilled that backups and disaster recovery are increasingly top of mind for people.
At the other end of the spectrum, 20% of those who own a computer have never backed up all the data on their systems, led by people 65 and older at 31%. It’s time to go visit the grandparents and help them back up their computers (I know I do!).
While the number of people who never back up their computers is down about 54.5% from when we first started the survey (35% in 2008 versus 20% in 2021), that still means one in five people are at risk of losing all their data should they have a computer or systems failure. That’s too much precious data at risk.
A Different Look
Below, we take a look at the detailed breakdown of backup frequency over the years that we’ve been conducting the survey.
In the chart above you can see that for the most part, things are pretty stable. The “never” category remains near the all-time low it reached last year, while yearly and monthly backups hold steady.
Looking at the pie chart, it’s nice to see that over the years the mix has become more spread out as the “never” category gets whittled down.
Overall, we take this to mean that data awareness remains at an all-time high, which is great news for people and their data.
Who Is the Mythical “Best Backup Person?”
If we were to try find a person who is likely to be a “backer upper” (we define this as a person who owns a computer and backs it up at least once a day) here are some of the characteristics we’d look for: A woman between 35-44 years of age (21% likely to backup versus 9% of those 18-34 and 6% of those 55-64), who lives in the Western United States (17% more likely to back up vs. the South and Midwest at 9% and 7%, respectively), and with a household income of over $100K (13% likely to back up their data versus those households of $50K-$74.9K which are at 6%).
Other Interesting Takeaways
Data Loss Is a Big Deal
Like we mentioned above, one in five of those who own a computer and never back up their data are at risk of losing all the data on their computer, which is problematic. Especially when you consider that of the people who own a computer:
62% have lost data at some point.
76% have deleted something by accident.
51% have had an internal or external hard drive crash.
52% have lost access to their data.
61% had a security incident (with 25% of those happening within the last year).
That 61% of those who report having a security incident is astonishingly high. When you consider that the best way to protect yourself from malware and ransomware is having up-to-date backups, we’re thrilled that 11% of computer owners are backing up daily, but we still have a long way to go.
“The Cloud” Is Less Confusing Than We Thought…
This year we also asked people if they understood how “the cloud” works. It turns out that 31% of Americans don’t understand how the cloud works, which is a lower number than we had expected. One guess for why? COVID-19. As more of the world went virtual this year, people had to familiarize themselves with the cloud in a hurry, so overall awareness and understanding increased.
…But Cloud Services Continue to Confuse
While generally people say they understand “the cloud,” confusion over the protection and functionality that cloud services can provide continues to be a problem. When asked, “What is the primary method you use to back up all of the data on your computer?” 61% of those who have ever backed up all data on their computer indicated that their primary backup method was “the cloud.” However, only 9% indicated that they were using an actual cloud backup service (like Backblaze). 36% of those who have ever backed up all data pointed to their primary backup being a cloud drive service like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, and 17% said their primary backup method was a cloud sync service like Dropbox or iCloud.
That may be the most troubling bit of data from this year’s survey. Backup and sync services are very different in nature and should be treated as complimentary, not equivalent services. We have a great resource explaining the differences between cloud backup vs. cloud sync that you can read here.
The TL/DR is that backups should happen automatically, in the background, and shouldn’t rely on the person to take any action. They also shouldn’t be susceptible to someone removing the data from a shared or synced location. (Remember those 50% of people who lost access to their data?) Sync and cloud drive tools are great for collaboration (and we use them internally at Backblaze for just that reason) but they’re an “in addition to” tool, and shouldn’t be used in lieu of having proper backups in place.
Spread the Word…and Back Up!
You can help us get better results in next year’s survey and help us make sure that people never lose data again!
If you’re already a Backblaze customer, you can send your friends an extended trial and earn Backblaze credits for yourself with our Refer-a-Friend program.
Also, if you recall, 62% of those who own a computer had lost data, and since you’re already using Backblaze, you’re well on your way to preventing that fate for yourself. But if you want to protect yourself even further, take a look at our Extended Version History feature which increases your backup’s retention period from 30 days to one year, or forever.
If you are joining us for the first time, get started with your online backup today by partaking in a 15-day free trial. It’s risk free and you can be one of the people keeping your data safe by backing up on a daily basis!
We’ll also be hosting a webinar on June 23rd at 10am Pacifc to discuss this year’s results, backup best practices, and doing a bit of a Q&A. Please join us: Backup Best Practices and Q&A.
These surveys were conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Backblaze among U.S. adults ages 18+ who own a computer in May 12-14, 2021 (n=1,870); June 1-3, 2020 (n=1,913); June 6-10, 2019 (n=1,858); June 5-7, 2018 (n=1,871); May 19-23, 2017 (n=1,954); May 13-17, 2016 (n=1,920); May 15-19, 2015 (n=2,009); June 2-4, 2014 (n=1,991); June 13–17, 2013 (n=1,952); May 31–June 4, 2012 (n=2,176); June 28–30, 2011 (n=2,209); June 3–7, 2010 (n=2,051); May 13–14, 2009 (n=2,154); and May 27–29, 2008 (n=2,723). These online surveys were not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Backblaze.
We announced that Backblaze earned a Veeam Ready-Object with Immutability qualification in October of 2020, and just yesterday we shared that Object Lock is now available for anyone using the Backblaze S3 Compatible API. After a big announcement, it’s easy to forget about the hard work that went into it. With that in mind, we’ve asked our Senior Java Engineer, Fabian Morgan, who focuses on the Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage product, to explain some of the challenges he found intriguing in the process of developing Object Lock functionality to support both Veeam users and Backblaze B2 customers in general. Read on if you’re interested in using Object Lock (via the Backblaze S3 Compatible API) or File Lock (via the B2 Native API) to protect your data, or if you’re just curious about how we develop new features.
We were proud to be the first public cloud storage alternative to Amazon S3 to earn the Veeam Ready-Object with Immutability qualification, but the work started well before that. In this post, I’ll walk you through how we approached development, sifted through discrepancies between AWS documentation and S3 API behavior, solved for problematic retention scenarios, and tested the solutions.
What Are Object Lock and File Lock? Are They the Same Thing?
Object Lock and File Lock both allow you to store objects using a Write Once, Read Many (WORM) model, meaning after it’s written, data cannot be modified or deleted for a defined period of time or indefinitely. Object Lock and File Lock are the same thing, but Object Lock is the terminology used in the S3 Compatible API documentation, and File Lock is the terminology used in the B2 Native API documentation.
How We Developed Object Lock and File Lock
Big picture, we wanted to offer our customers the ability to lock their data, but achieving that functionality for all customers involved a few different development objectives:
First, we wanted to answer the call for immutability support from Veeam + Backblaze B2 customers via the Backblaze S3 Compatible API, but we knew that Veeam was only part of the answer.
We also wanted to offer the ability to lock objects via the S3 Compatible API for non-Veeam customers.
And we wanted to offer the ability to lock files via the B2 Native API.
To avoid overlapping work and achieve priority objectives first, we took a phased approach. Within each phase, we identified tasks that had dependencies and tasks that could be completed in parallel. First, we focused on S3 Compatible API support and the subset of APIs that Veeam used to achieve the Veeam Ready-Object with Immutability qualification. Phase two brought the remainder of the S3 Compatible API as well as File Lock capabilities for the B2 Native API. Phasing development allowed us to be efficient and minimize rework for the B2 Native API after the S3 Compatible API was completed, in keeping with general good software principles of code reuse. For organizations that don’t use Veeam, our S3 Compatible API and B2 Native API solutions have been exactly what they needed to lock their files in a cost effective, easy to use way.
AWS Documentation Challenges: Solving for Unexpected Behavior
At the start of the project, we spent a lot of time testing various documented and undocumented scenarios in AWS. For example, the AWS documentation at that point did not specify what happens if you attempt to switch from governance mode to compliance mode and vice versa, so we issued API calls to find out. Moreover, if we saw inconsistencies between the final outputs of the AWS Command Line Interface and the Java SDK library, we would take the raw XML response from the AWS S3 server as the basis for our implementation.
Compliance Mode vs. Governance Mode: What’s the Diff?
In compliance mode, users can extend the retention period, but they cannot shorten it under any circumstances. In governance mode, users can alter the retention period to be shorter or longer, remove it altogether, or even remove the file itself if they have an enhanced application key capability along with the standard read and write capabilities. Without the enhanced application key capability, governance mode behaves similarly to compliance mode.
Not only did the AWS documentation fail to account for some scenarios, there were instances when the AWS documentation didn’t match up with the actual system behavior. We utilized an existing AWS S3 service to test the API responses with Postman, an API development platform, and compared them to the documentation. We made the decision to mimic the behavior rather than what the documentation said in order to maximize compatibility. We resolved the inconsistencies by making the same feature API invocation against the AWS S3 service and our server, then verified that our server brought back similar XML as the AWS S3 service.
Retention Challenges: What If a Customer Wants to Close Their Account?
Our team raised an intriguing question in the development process: What if a customer accidentally sets the retention term far in the future, and then they want to close their account?
Originally, we required customers to delete the buckets and files they created or uploaded before closing their account. If, for example, they enabled Object Lock on any files in compliance mode, and had not yet reached the retention expiration date when they wanted to close their account, they couldn’t delete those files. A good thing for data protection. A bad thing for customers who want to leave (even though we hate to see them go, we still want to make it as easy as possible).
The question spawned a separate project that allowed customers to close their account without deleting files and buckets. After the account was closed, the system would asynchronously delete the files even if they were under retention and the associated buckets afterward. However, this led to another problem: If we actually allow files with retention to be deleted asynchronously for this scenario, how do we ensure that no other files with retention would be mistakenly deleted?
The tedious but truthful answer is that we added extensive checks and tests to ensure that the system would only delete files under retention in two scenarios (assuming the retention date had not already expired):
If a customer closed an account.
If the file was retained under governance mode, and the customer had the appropriate application key capability when submitting the delete request.
Testing, Testing: Out-thinking Threats
Features like Object Lock or File Lock have to be bulletproof. As such, testing different scenarios, like the retention example above and many others, posed the most interesting challenges. One critical example: We had to ensure that we protected locked files such that there was no back door or sequence of API calls that would allow someone to delete a file with Object Lock or File Lock enabled. Not only that, we also had to prevent the metadata of the lock properties from being changed.
We approached this problem like a bank teller approaches counterfeit bill identification. They don’t study the counterfeits, they study the real thing to know the difference. What does that mean for us? There are an infinite number of ways a nefarious actor could try to game the system, just like there are an infinite number of counterfeits out there. Instead of thinking of every possible scenario, we identified the handful of ways a user could delete a file, then solved for how to reject anything outside of those strict parameters.
Developing and testing Object Lock and File Lock was truly a team effort, and making sure we had everything accounted for and covered was an exercise that we all welcomed. We expected challenges along the way, and thanks to our great team members, both on the Engineering team and in Compliance, TechOps, and QA, we were able to meet them. When all was said and done, it felt great to be able to work on a much sought-after feature and deliver even more data protection to our customers.
“The immutability support from Backblaze made the decision to tier our Veeam backups to Backblaze B2 easy. Immutability has given us one more level of protection against the hackers. That’s why that was so important to us and most importantly, to our customers.”
—Gregory Tellone, CEO, Continuity Centers
This post was written in collaboration by Fabian Morgan and Molly Clancy.
Upgrading to a network attached storage (NAS) system is a great decision for a growing business. They offer bigger storage capacity, a central place to organize your critical files and backups, easier multi-site collaboration, and better data protection than individual hard drives or workstations. But, configuring your NAS correctly can mean the difference between enjoying a functional storage system that will serve you well for years and spending what might feel like years on the phone with support.
After provisioning the right NAS for your needs (We have a guide for that, too.), you’ll want to get the most out of your investment. Let’s talk about the right way to configure your NAS using storage deployment best practices.
In this post, we’ll cover:
Where to locate your NAS and how to optimize networking.
How to set up your file structure and assign administrator and user access.
How to configure NAS software and backup services.
Disclaimer: This advice will work for almost all NAS systems aside from the very large and complex systems typically installed in data center racks with custom network and power connections. For that, you’ve probably already advanced well beyond NAS 101.
Setup Logistics: Where and How
Choosing a good location for your NAS and optimizing your network are critical first steps in ensuring the long-term health of your system and providing proper service to your users.
Where to Keep Your NAS
Consider the following criteria when choosing where in your physical space to put your NAS. A good home for your NAS should be:
Temperature Controlled: If you can’t locate your NAS in a specific, temperature-controlled room meant for servers and IT equipment, choose a place with good airflow that stays cool to protect your NAS from higher temperatures that can shorten component life.
Clean: Dust gathering around the fans of your NAS is a sign that dust could be entering the device’s internal systems. Dust is a leading cause of failure for both system cooling fans and power supply fans, which are typically found under grills at the back of the device. Make sure your NAS’s environment is as dust-free as possible, and inspect the area around the fans and the fans themselves periodically. If you notice dust buildup, wipe the surface dust with a static-free cloth and investigate air handling in the room. Air filters can help to minimize dust.
Stable: You’ll want to place your system on a flat, stable surface. Try to avoid placing your NAS in rooms that get a lot of traffic. Vibration tends to be rough on the hard drives within the NAS—they value their quiet time.
Secure: A locked room would be best for a physical asset like a NAS system, but if that’s not possible, try to find an area where visitors won’t have easy access.
Finally, your NAS needs a reliable, stable power supply to protect the storage volumes and data stored therein. Unexpected power loss can lead to loss or corruption of files being copied. A quality surge protector is a must. Better yet, invest in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) device. If the power goes out, a UPS device will give you enough time to safely power down your NAS or find another power source. Check with your vendor for guidance on recommended UPS systems, and configure your NAS to take advantage of that feature.
How to Network Your NAS
Your NAS delivers all of its file and backup services to your users via your network, so optimizing that network is key to enhancing the system’s resilience and reliability. Here are a few considerations when setting up your network:
Cabling: Use good Ethernet cabling and network router connections. Often, intermittent connectivity or slow file serving issues can be traced back to faulty Ethernet cables or ports on aging switches.
IP Addresses: If your NAS has multiple network ports (e.g. two 1GigE Ethernet ports), you have a few options to get the most out of them. You can connect your NAS to different local networks without needing a router. For example, you could connect one port to the main internal network that your users share and a second port to your internet connected cameras or IoT devices—a simple way to make both networks accessible to your NAS. Another option is to set one port with a static or specific IP address and configure the second port to dynamically retrieve an IP address via DHCP to give you an additional way to access the system in case one link goes down. A third option, if it’s available on your NAS, is to link multiple network connections into a single connection. This feature (called 802.3AD Link Aggregation, or port bonding) gets more network performance than a single port can provide.
Wait. What is DHCP again?
DHCP = Dynamic host configuration protocol. It automatically assigns an IP address from a pool of addresses, minimizing the human error in manual configuration and requires less network administration.
DNS: Your NAS relies on domain name servers—DNS—that the NAS system can query to help translate users’ web server requests to IP addresses, to provide its services. Most NAS systems will allow you to set two DNS entries for each port. You might already be running a DNS service locally (e.g. so that staging.yourcompany.local goes to the correct internal-only server), but it’s a good practice to provide a primary and secondary DNS server for the system to query. That way, if the first DNS server is unreachable, the second can still look up internet locations that applications running on your NAS will need. If one DNS entry is assigned by your local DHCP server or internet provider, set the second DNS entry to something like Cloudflare DNS (220.127.116.11 or 18.104.22.168) or Google DNS (22.214.171.124 or 126.96.36.199).
Access Management: Who and What
Deciding who has access to what is entirely unique to each organization, but there are some best practices that can make management easier. Here, we share some methods to help you plan for system longevity regardless of personnel changes.
Configuring Administrator Access
Who has the keys to the kingdom? What happens when that person moves departments or leaves the company? Planning ahead for these contingencies should be part of your NAS setup. We recommend two practices to help you prepare:
Designate multiple trusted people as administrators. Your NAS system probably comes with a default admin name and password which you should, of course, change, but it’s beneficial to have at least one more administrator account. If one admin isn’t available, a backup admin can still log in. Additionally, using an organization-wide password manager like Bitwarden for your business is highly recommended.
Use role-based emails for alerts. You’ll find many places in your NAS system configuration to enter an email address in case the system needs to send an alert—when power goes out or a disk has failed, for example. Instead of entering a single person’s email, use a role-based email instead. People change, but [email protected] will never leave you. Role-based emails are often implemented as a group email, allowing you to assign multiple people to the account and increasing the likelihood that someone will be available to respond to warnings.
Configuring User Access
With a NAS, you have the ability to easily manage how your users and groups access the shared storage needed for your teams to work effectively. Easy collaboration was probably one of the reasons you purchased a NAS in the first place. Building your folder system appropriately and configuring access by role or group helps you achieve that goal. Follow these steps when you first set up your NAS to streamline storage workflows:
Define your folders. Your NAS might come pre-formatted with folders like “Photo,” “Video,” “Web,” etc. This structure makes sense when only one person is using the NAS. In a multi-user scenario, you’ll want to define the folders you’ll need, for example, by role or group membership, instead.
Example Folder Structure
Here is an example folder structure you could start with:
Local Backups: A folder for local backups, accessible only by backup software. This keeps your backup data separate from your shared storage.
Shared Storage: A folder for company-wide shared storage accessible to everyone.
Group Folders: Accounting, training, marketing, manufacturing, support, etc.
Integrate with directory services. If you use a directory service like Active Directory or other LDAP services to manage users and privileges, you can integrate it with your NAS to assign access permissions. Integrating with directory services will let you use those tools to assign storage access instead of assigning permissions individually. Check your NAS user guide for instructions on how to integrate those services.
Use a group- or role-based approach. If you don’t use an external user management service, we recommend setting up permissions based on groups or roles. A senior-level person might need access to every department’s folders, whereas a person in one department might only need access to a few folders. For example, for the accounting team’s access, you can create a folder for their files called “Accounting,” assign every user in accounting to the “Accounting” group, then grant folder access for that group rather than for each and every user. As people come and go, you can just add them to the appropriate group instead of configuring user access permissions for every new hire.
The Last Step: NAS Software and Backup Management
Once you’ve found a suitable place for your NAS, connected it to your network, structured your folders, and configured access permissions, the final step is choosing what software will run on your NAS, including software to ensure your systems and your NAS itself are backed up. As you do so, keep the following in mind:
Prioritize the services you need. When prioritizing your services, adopt the principle of least privilege. For example, if a system has many services enabled by default, it makes sense to turn some of them off to minimize the system load and avoid exposing any services that are unnecessary. Then, when you are ready to enable a service, you can thoughtfully implement it for your users with good data and security practices, including applying the latest patches and updates. This keeps your NAS focused on its most important services—for example, file system service—first so that it runs efficiently and optimizes resources. Depending on your business, this might look like turning off video-serving applications or photo servers and turning on things like SMB for file service for Mac, Windows, and Linux; SSH if you’re accessing the system via command line; and services for backup and sync.
Back up local systems to your NAS. Your NAS is an ideal local storage target to back up all systems in your network—your servers, desktops, and laptops. For example, QNAP and Synology systems allow you to use the NAS as a Time Machine backup for your Mac users. Windows users can use QNAP NetBak Replicator, or Active Backup Suite on Synology devices.
SMB: The most common storage access and browsing protocol to “talk” to modern OS clients. It allows these systems to browse available systems, authenticate to them, and send and retrieve files.
AFP: An older protocol that serves files for older Mac clients that do not work well with SMB.
NFS: A distributed file system protocol used primarily for UNIX and Linux systems.
FTP and SFTP: File serving protocols for multiple, simultaneous users, common for large directories of files that users will need occasional access to, like training or support documents. SFTP is more secure and highly preferred over FTP. You will likely find that it’s easier to create and manage a folder on your NAS with read-only access instead.
rsync: A file protocol for backups, allowing systems to easily connect to and backup their systems using the rsync file transfer and sync utility. If your local servers or systems back up to your NAS via rsync, this service will need to be enabled on the NAS.
The Final, Final Step: Enjoy All the Benefits Your NAS Offers
When you’re growing a business, every milestone often pairs exciting opportunities with serious challenges. Gavin Wade, Founder & CEO of Cloudspot, put it best: “In any startup environment, there are fires all over the place. You touch the door handle. If it’s not too hot, you let it burn, and you go take care of the door that has smoke pouring out.”
Expanding your business to new locations or managing a remote team has the potential to become a five-alarm fire, and fast—particularly from a data management perspective. Your team needs simple, shared storage and fail-safe data backups, and all in a cost-effective package.
Installing multiple NAS devices across locations and syncing with the cloud provides all three, and it’s easier than it sounds. Even if you’re not ready to expand just yet, upgrading from swapping hard drives or using a sync service like G Suite or Dropbox to a NAS system will provide a scalable approach to future growth.
This guide explains:
Why NAS devices make sense for growing businesses.
How to implement cloud sync for streamlined collaboration in four steps.
How to protect data on your NAS devices with cloud backup.
NAS = An Upgrade for Your Business
How do you handle data sharing and workflow between locations? Maybe you rely on ferrying external hard drives between offices, and you’re frustrated by the hassle and potential for human error. Maybe you use G Suite, and their new 2TB caps are killing your bottom line. Maybe you already use a NAS device, but you need to add another one and you’re not sure how to sync them.
Making collaboration easy and protecting your data in the process are likely essential goals for your business, and an ad hoc solution can only go so far. What worked when you started might not work for the long term if you want to achieve sustainable growth. Investing in a NAS device or multiple devices provides a few key advantages, including:
More storage. First and foremost, NAS provides more storage space than individual hard drives or individual workstations because NAS systems create a single storage volume from several drives (often arranged in a RAID scheme).
Faster storage. NAS works as fast as your local office network speed; you won’t need to wait on internet bandwidth or track down the right drive for restores.
Enhanced collaboration. As opposed to individual hard drives, multiple people can access a NAS device at the same time. You can also sync multiple drives easily, as we’ll detail below.
Better protection and security. Because the drives in a NAS system are configured in a RAID, the data stored on the drives is protected from individual drive failures. And drives do fail. A NAS device can also serve as a central place to hold backups of laptops, workstations, and servers. You can quickly recover those systems if they go down, and the backups can serve as part of an effective ransomware defense strategy.
Cost-efficiency. Compared to individual hard drives, NAS devices are a bigger upfront investment. But the benefits of more efficient workflows plus the protection from data loss and expensive recoveries make the investment well worth considering for growing businesses.
Hold up. What’s a RAID again?
RAID stands for “redundant array of independent disks.” It combines multiple hard drives into one or more storage volumes and distributes data across the drives to allow for data recovery in the event of one or multiple drive failures, depending on configuration.
The Next Step: Pairing NAS + Cloud
Most NAS devices include software to achieve cloud backups and cloud sync baked in. For our purposes, we’ll look specifically at the benefits of enabling cloud solutions on a QNAP NAS system to facilitate collaboration between offices and implement a 3-2-1 backup strategy.
NAS + Cloud + Sync = Collaboration
Pairing NAS systems with cloud storage enables you to sync files between multiple NAS devices, boosting collaboration between offices or remote teams. Each location has access to the same, commonly used, up-to-date documents or assets, and you no longer need an external service to share large files—just place them in shared folders on your local NAS and they appear on synced devices in minutes.
If this seems complex or maybe you haven’t even considered using cloud sync between offices, here’s a four-step process to configure sync on QNAP NAS devices and cloud storage:
Prepare your cloud storage to serve as your content sync interchange. Create a folder in your cloud storage, separate from your backup folders, to serve as the interchange between the NAS systems in each office. Each of your NAS systems will stay synchronized with this cloud destination.
Determine the content you want to make available across all of your offices. For example, it may be helpful to have a large main folder for the entire company, and folders within that organized by department. Then, use QNAP Sync to copy the contents of that folder to a new folder or bucket location in the cloud.
Copy the content from the cloud location to your second NAS. You can speed this up by first syncing the data on your new office’s NAS on your local network, then physically moving it to the new location. Now, you have the same content on both NAS systems. If bringing your new NAS on-site isn’t possible due to geography or access issues, then copy the cloud folders you created in step two down to the second system over internet bandwidth.
Set up two-way syncs between each NAS and the cloud. Now that you have the same shared files on both NAS systems and the cloud, the last step is to enable two-way sync from each location. Your QNAP NAS will move changed files up or down continuously, ensuring everyone is working on the most up-to-date files.
With both NAS devices synchronized via the cloud, all offices have access to common folders and files can be shared instantaneously. When someone in one office wants to collaborate on a large file with someone in the other office, they simply move the file into their local all-office shared folder, and it will appear in that folder in the other office within minutes.
NAS + Cloud Storage = Data Security
An additional benefit of combining a NAS with cloud storage for backup is that it completes a solid 3-2-1 backup strategy, which provides for three copies of your data—two on different media on-site, with one off-site. The cloud provides the off-site part of this equation. Here’s an example of how you’d accomplish this with a QNAP NAS in each office and simple cloud backup:
Back up the NAS itself to cloud storage. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this with Hyper Backup 3 to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, which is already integrated with NAS systems from QNAP.
With backup in place, if any of those office systems fail, you can restore them directly from your NAS, and your NAS itself is backed up to the cloud if some catastrophic event were to affect all of your in-office devices.
Adding Up the Benefits of NAS + Cloud
To recap, here are a few takeaways to consider when managing data for a growing business:
NAS systems give you more storage on fast, local networks; better data protection than hard drives; and the ability to easily sync should you add locations or remote team members.
Connecting your NAS to cloud storage means every system in every office or location is backed up and protected, both locally and in the cloud.
Syncing NAS devices with the cloud gives all of your offices access to consistent, shared files on fast, local networks.
You no longer need to use outside services to share large files between offices.
You can configure backups and sync between multiple devices using software that comes baked in with a QNAP NAS system or augment with any of our Backblaze B2 integrations.
If you’re sick of putting out fires related to ad hoc collaboration solutions or just looking to upgrade from hard drives or G Suite, combining NAS systems with cloud storage delivers performance, protection, and easy collaboration between remote teams or offices.
Thinking about upgrading to a NAS device, but not sure where to start? Check out our NAS 101: Buyer’s Guide for guidance on navigating your choices. Already using NAS, but have questions about syncing? Let us know in the comments.
As your business grows, the amount of data that it needs to store and manage also grows. Storing this data on loose hard drives and individual workstations will no longer cut it: Your team needs ready data access, protection from loss, and capacity for future growth. The easiest way to provide all three quickly and easily is network attached storage (NAS).
You might have already considered buying a NAS device, or you purchased one that you’ve already grown out of, or this could be your first time looking at your options. No matter where you’re starting, the number of choices and features NAS systems offer today are overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to buy something that will work now and in the future.
This post aims to make your process a little easier. The following content will help you:
Review the benefits of a NAS system.
Navigate the options you’ll need to choose from.
Understand the reason to pair your NAS with cloud storage.
How Can NAS Benefit Your Business?
There are multiple benefits that a NAS system can provide to users on your network, but we’ll recap a few of the key advantages here.
More Storage. It’s a tad obvious, but the primary benefit of a NAS system is that it will provide a significant addition to your storage capacity if you’re relying on workstations and hard drives. NAS systems create a single storage volume from several drives (often arranged in a RAID scheme).
Protection From Data Loss. Less obvious, but equally important, the RAID configuration in a NAS system ensures that the data you store can survive the failure of one or more of its hard drives. Hard drives fail! NAS helps to make that statement of fact less scary.
Security and Speed. Beyond protection from drive failure, NAS also provides security for your data from outside actors as it is only accessible on your local office network and to user accounts which you can control. Not only that, but it generally works as fast as your local office network speeds.
Better Data Management Tools. Fully automated backups, deduplication, compression, and encryption are just a handful of the functions you can put to work on a NAS system—all of which make your data storage more efficient and secure. You can also configure sync workflows to ease collaboration for your team, enable services to manage your users and groups with directory services, and even add services like photo or media management.
If this all sounds useful for your business, read on to learn more about bringing these benefits in-house.
The Network Attached Storage (NAS) Buyer’s Guide
How do you evaluate the differences between different NAS vendors? Or even within a single company’s product line? We’re here to help. This tour of the major components of a NAS system will help you to develop a tick list for the sizing and features of a system that will fit your needs.
Choosing a NAS: The Components
How your NAS performs is dictated by the components that make up the system, and capability of future upgrades. Let’s walk through the different options.
NAS Storage Capacity: How Many Bays Do You Need?
One of the first ways to distinguish between different NAS systems is the number of drive bays a given system offers, as this determines how many disks the system can hold. Generally speaking, the larger the number of drive bays, the more storage you can provide to your users and the more flexibility you have around protecting your data from disk failure.
In a NAS system, storage is defined by the number of drives, the shared volume they create, and their striping scheme (e.g. RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, etc.). For example, one drive gives no additional performance or protection. Two drives allows the option of simple mirroring. Mirroring is also referred to as RAID 0, when one volume is built from two drives, allowing for the failure of one of those drives without data loss. Two drives also allows for striping—referred to as RAID 1—when one volume is “stretched” across two drives, making a single, larger drive that also gives some performance improvement, but increases risk because the loss of one drive means that the entire volume will be unavailable.
Refresher: How Does RAID Work Again?
A redundant array of independent disks, or RAID, combines multiple hard drives into one or more storage volumes. RAID distributes data and parity (drive recovery information) across the drives in different ways, and each layout provides different degrees of data protection.
Three drives is the minimum for RAID 5, which can survive the loss of one drive, though four drives is a more common NAS system configuration. Five drives allow for RAID 6, which can survive the loss of two drives. Six to eight drives are very common NAS configurations that allow more storage, space, performance, and even drive sparing—the ability to designate a stand-by drive to immediately rebuild a failed drive.
Many believe that, if you’re in the market for a NAS system with multiple bays, you should opt for capacity that allows for RAID 6 if possible. RAID 6 can survive the loss of two drives, and delivers performance nearly equal to RAID 5 with better protection.
It’s understandable to think: Why do I need to prepare in case two drives fail? Well, when a drive fails and you replace it with a fresh drive, the rebuilding process to restore that drive’s data and parity information can take a long time. Though it’s rare, it’s possible to have another drive fail during the rebuilding process. In that scenario, if you have RAID 6 you’re likely going to be okay. If you have RAID 5, you may have just lost data.
Buyer’s Note: Some systems are sold without drives. Should you buy NAS with or without drives? That decision usually boils down to the size and type of drives you’d like to have.
When buying a NAS system with drives provided:
The drives are usually covered by the manufacturer’s warranty as part of the complete system.
The drives are typically bought directly from the manufacturer’s supply chain and shipped directly from the hard drive manufacturer.
If you choose to buy drives separately from your NAS:
The drives may be a mix of drive production runs, and have been in the supply chain longer. Match the drive capacities and models for the most predictable performance across the RAID volume.
Choose drives rated for NAS systems—NAS vendors publish lists of supported drive types. Here’s a list from QNAP, for example.
Check the warranty and return procedures, and if you are moving a collection of older drives into your NAS, you may also consider how much of the warranty has already run out.
Buyer Takeaway: Choose a system that can support RAID 5 or RAID 6 to allow a combination of more storage space, performance, and drive failure protection. But be sure to check whether the NAS system is sold with or without drives.
Selecting Drive Capacity for the NAS: What Size of Drives Should You Buy?
You can quickly estimate how much storage you’ll need by adding up the hard drives and external drives of all the systems you’ll be backing up in your office, adding the amount of shared storage you’ll want to provide to your users, and factor in any growing demand you project for shared storage.
If you have any historical data under management from previous years, you can calculate a simple growth rate. But, include a buffer as data growth accelerates every year. Generally speaking, price out systems at two or four times the size of your existing data capacity. Let’s say that your hard drives and external drives to back up, and any additional shared storage you’d like to provide your users, add up to 20TB. Double that size to get 40TB to account for growth, then divide by a common hard drive size such as 10TB. With that in mind, you can start shopping for four bay systems and larger.
Formula 1: ((Number of NAS Users x Hard Drive Size ) + Shared Storage) * Growth Factor = NAS Storage Needed
Example: There are six users in an office that will each be backing up their 2TB workstations and laptops. The team will want to use another 6TB of shared storage for documents, images, and videos for everyone to use. Multiplied times a growth factor of two, you’d start shopping for NAS systems that offer at least 36TB of storage.
((Six users * 2TB each) + 6TB shared storage ) * growth factor of two = 36TB
Formula 2: ((NAS Storage Needed / Hard Drive Size) + Two Parity Drives) = Drive Bays Needed
Example: Continuing the example above, when looking for a new NAS system using 12TB drives, accounting for two additional drives for RAID 6, you’d look for NAS systems that can support five or more drive bays of 12TB hard drives.
(( 36TB / 12TB ) + two additional drives ) = Five drive bays and up
If your budget allows, opting for larger drives and more drive bays will give you more storage overhead that you’ll surely grow into over time. Factor in, however, that if you go too big, you’re paying for unused storage space for a longer period of time. And if you use GAAP accounting, you’ll need to capitalize that investment over the same time window as a smaller NAS system which will hit your bottom line on an annual basis. This is the classic CapEx vs. Opex dilemma you can learn more about here.
If your cash budget is tight you can always purchase a NAS system with more bays but smaller drives, which will significantly reduce your upfront pricing. You can then replace those drives in the future with larger ones when you need them. Hard drive prices generally fall over time, so they will likely be less expensive in the future. You’ll end up purchasing two sets of drives over time, which will be less cash-intensive at the outset, but likely more expensive in the long run.
Similarly, you can partially fill the drive bays. If you want to get an eight bay system, but only have the budget for six drives, just add the other drives later. One of the best parts of NAS systems is the flexibility they allow you for right-sizing your shared storage approach.
Buyer Takeaway: Estimate how much storage you’ll need, add the amount of shared storage you’ll want to provide to your users, and factor in growing demand for shared storage—then balance long term growth potential against cash flow.
Processor, Controllers, and Memory: What Performance Levels Do You Require?
Is it better to have big onboard processors or controllers? Smaller, embedded chips common in smaller NAS systems provide basic functionality, but might bog down when serving many users or crunching through deduplication and encryption tasks, which are options with many backup solutions. Larger NAS systems typically stored in IT data center racks usually offer multiple storage controllers that can deliver the fastest performance and even failover capability.
Processor: Provides compute power for the system operation, services, and applications.
Controller: Manages the storage volume presentation and health.
Memory: Improves speed of applications and file serving performance.
ARM and Intel Atom chips are good for basic systems, while larger and more capable processors such as the Intel Corei3 and Corei5 are faster at NAS tasks like encryption, deduplication, and serving any on-board apps. Xeon server class chips can be found in many rack-mounted systems, too.
So if you’re just looking for basic storage expansion, the entry-level systems with more modest, basic chips will likely suit you just fine. If deduplication, encryption, sync, and other functions many NAS systems offer as optional tools are part of your future workflow, this is one area where you shouldn’t cut corners.
If you have the option to expand the system memory, this can be an easy performance upgrade. Generally, the higher the ratio of memory to drives will benefit the performance of reading and writing to disk and the speed of on-board applications.
Buyer Takeaway: Entry-level NAS systems provide good basic functionality, but you should ensure your components are up to the challenge if you plan to make heavy use of deduplication, encryption, compression, and other functions.
Network and Connections: What Capacity for Speed Do You Need?
A basic NAS will have a Gigabit Ethernet connection, which you will often find listed as 1GigE. This throughput of 1 Gb/s in network speeds is equivalent to 125 MB/s coming from your storage system. That means that the NAS system must fit storage service to all users within that limitation, which is usually not an issue when serving only a few users. Many systems offer expansion ports inside, allowing you to purchase a 10GigE network card later to upgrade your NAS.
Some NAS vendors offer 2.5 Gb/s, or 5 Gb/s connections on their systems—these will give you more performance than 1GigE connections, but usually require that you get a compatible network switch, and possibly, USB adapters or expansion cards for every system that will connect to that NAS via the switch. If your office is already wired for 10GigE, make sure your NAS is also 10GigE. Otherwise, the more network ports in the back of the system, the better. If you aren’t ready to get a 10GigE capable system now, but you think you might be in the future, select a system that has expansion capability.
Some systems provide another option of Thunderbolt connections in addition to Ethernet connections. These allow laptops and workstations with Thunderbolt ports to directly connect to the NAS and offer much higher bandwidth—up to 40GigE (5 GB/s)—and are good for systems that need to edit large files directly on the NAS, such as is often the case in video editing. If you’ll be directly connecting systems that need the fastest possible speeds, select a system with Thunderbolt ports, one per Thunderbolt-connected user.
Buyer Takeaway: It’s best to have more network ports in the back of your system. Or, select a system with network expansion card capability.
Caching and Hybrid Drive Features: How Fast Do You Need to Serve Files?
Many of the higher-end NAS systems can complement standard 5.25” hard drives with higher performing, smaller form factor SSD or M.2 drives. These smaller, faster drives can dramatically improve the NAS file serving performance by caching files in most recent, or most frequently requested files. By combining these different types of drives, the NAS can deliver both improved file serving performance, and large capacity.
As the number of users you support in each office grows, these capabilities will become more important as a relatively simple way to boost performance. Like we mentioned earlier, you can purchase a system with these slots unpopulated and add them in later.
Buyer Takeaway: Combine different types of drives, like smaller form factor SSD or M.2 storage with 5.25” hard drives to gain improved file serving performance.
Operating System: What Kind of Management Features Do You Require?
The NAS operating systems of the major vendors generally provide the same services in an OS-like interface delivered via an on-board web server. By simply typing in your NAS’s IP address, you can sign in and manage your system’s settings, create and manage the storage volumes, set up groups of users on your network who have access, configure and monitor backup and sync tasks, and more.
If there are specific user management features in your IT environment that you need, or want to test how the NAS OS works, you can test them by spinning up a demonstration virtual machine offered by some NAS vendors. You can test service configuration and get a feel for the interface and tools, but obviously as a virtual environment you won’t be able to manage hardware directly. Here are some options:
Buyer Takeaway: The on-board NAS OS looks similar to a Mac or PC operating system to make it easy to navigate system setup and maintenance and allows you to manage settings, storage, and tasks.
Solutions: What Added Services Do You Require?
While the onboard processor and memory on your NAS are primarily for file service, backup, and sync tasks, you can also install other solutions directly onto it. For instance, QNAP and Synology—two popular NAS providers—have app stores accessible from their management software where you can select applications to download and install on your NAS. You might be interested in a backup and sync solution such as Archiware, or CMS solutions like Joomla or WordPress.
However, beyond backup solutions, you’d benefit from installing mission-critical apps onto a dedicated system rather than on your NAS. For a small number of users, running applications directly on the NAS can be a good temporary use or a pathway to testing something out. But if the application becomes very busy, it could impact the other services of the NAS. Big picture, native apps on your NAS can be useful, but don’t overdo it.
Buyer Takeaway: The main backup and sync apps from the major NAS vendors are excellent—give them a good test drive, but know that there are many excellent backup and sync solutions available as well.
Why Adding Cloud Storage to Your NAS Offers Additional Benefits
When you pair cloud storage with your NAS, you gain access to features that complement the security of your data and your ability to share files both locally and remotely.
To start with, cloud storage provides off-site backup protection. This aligns your NAS setup with the industry standard for data protection: a 3-2-1 backup strategy—which ensures that you have three copies of your data, the source data and two backups—one of which is on your NAS, and the second copy of your data is protected off-site. And in the event of data loss, you can restore your systems directly from the cloud even if all the systems in your office are knocked out or destroyed.
While data sent to the cloud is encrypted in-flight via SSL, you can also encrypt your backups so that they are only openable with your team’s encryption key. The cloud can also give you advanced storage options for your backup files like Write Once, Read Many (WORM) or immutability—making your data unchangeable for a defined period of time—or set custom data lifecycle rules at the bucket level to help match your ideal backup workflow.
Additionally, cloud storage provides valuable access to your data and documents from your NAS through sync capabilities. In case anyone on your team needs to access a file when they are away from the office, or as is more common now, in case your entire team is working from home, they’ll be able to access the files that have been synced to the cloud through your NAS’s secure sync program. You can even sync across multiple locations using the cloud as a two-way sync to quickly replicate data across locations. For employees collaborating across great distances, this helps to ensure they’re not waiting on the internet to deliver critical files: They’re already on-site.
Refresher: What’s the Difference Between Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup, and Cloud Storage? Sync services allow multiple users across multiple devices to access the same file. Backup stores a copy of those files somewhere remote from your work environment, oftentimes in an off-site server—like cloud storage. It’s important to know that a “sync” is not a backup, but they can work well together when properly coordinated. You can read more about the differences in this blog post.
Ready to Set Up Your NAS With Cloud Storage
To summarize, here are a few things to remember when shopping for a NAS system:
Consider how much storage you’ll need for both local backup and for shared user storage.
Look for a system with three to five drive bays at minimum.
Check that the NAS system is sold with drives—if not, you’ll have to source enough of the same size drives.
Opt for a system that lets you upgrade the memory and network options.
Choose a system that meets your needs today; you can always upgrade in the future.
Coupled with cloud storage like Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, which is already integrated with NAS systems from Synology and QNAP, you gain necessary backup protection and restoration from the cloud, as well as the capability to sync across locations.
Have more questions about NAS features or how to implement a NAS system in your environment? Ask away in the comments.
Are New Year’s resolutions still a thing after 2020? Given the way most of ours were blown out of the water in March of this past year, we’re not sure. At the least though, we learned that no matter our good intentions, the unexpected can still have its way with us. Thankfully we also learned new ways to plan and prepare (and we don’t mean buying 20 packs of toilet paper) to ensure that the unexpected isn’t quite as unpleasant as it might have been.
With this post, we want to help ensure that data loss is one challenge you can take OFF your list of potential unpleasantness in 2021. By preparing for accidental deletions and computer crashes with a computer backup or cloud storage plan, you can shelve at least one uncertainty for the rest of 2021 and beyond.
Best Practices for Starting Your Backup Plan
With the holiday season (and the sales that come with it) coming to an end, you may have updated to a new computer or need to set up a computer for one of your family members. If so, you may have heard about the importance of backup and want to know how to set it up yourself. First thing to know: It’s super easy!
To back up pictures and other files on your computer using a cloud backup system, you simply need to choose a service and install the software on your computer or laptop. Depending on what you choose, you may need to go through all of your files and folders and select what you’d like to protect. We’re partial to our backup service, however, which backs up everything on your machine for you. You don’t need to worry about anything getting missed. You won’t notice the Backblaze backup client is there, but it will store a backup of everything on your computer, and whenever you modify a file or add something, it will back that up, too. Other than ensuring your credit card is up to date and that you connect to the internet long enough for it to upload data, you don’t need to do anything else to keep the service rolling.
For many of us, accomplishing this first step is good enough to keep us feeling safe and sound for a long time. But if you’ve been reading about ransomware attacks, had a friend lose data, or you’ve ever lost data yourself, there are six more easy steps you can take to ensure MAXIMUM peace of mind going forward.
Top Six Things to Keep in Mind When Monitoring Your Backup and Cloud Storage Strategy in 2021
1. Lay Out Your Strategy.
When you’re just starting out, or even later on in your computer backup journey, it’s a good idea to have a basic backup strategy. Here are three questions to help you establish one:
What data needs to be backed up?
“Everything” might be your answer, but it’s a little more complex than that. Do you want to preserve every version of every file? Do you have external hard drives with data on them? Do you want to back up your social profiles or other data that doesn’t live on your machine? Make sure you’re truly considering everything.
How often should it be backed up?
Important files should be backed up at minimum once a week, preferably once every 24 hours. If your data changes less frequently, then scheduling a periodic backup might be better for you. If you have older hard drives you don’t use often, you might want to simply archive your backup for them, rather than needing to plug them in whenever you get close to the edge of your version history.
How should I continue to monitor my backup?
It can be devastating to find out that your data backup has been failing at the time when you may have lost your data. If your backup job has been running quietly for months, it is a good idea to check and make sure it’s doing its job. Testing the restore feature on your backup gives you the ability to check that all the data you deem important is going to still be there when you need it most.
2. Keep Data Security in Mind.
At the end of 2019, we shared six New Year’s resolutions to help protect your data, but we realize that some of your New Year’s resolutions may have been deferred. So here’s a little reminder that data security is always important! We’ll keep it simple: If you take one security step in 2021, make it to set two-factor authentication on all of your accounts.
Two-factor authentication notifies you whenever someone tries to log in to your account and will not give them access until you enter the second identification code. You can choose from many different delivery options to receive the code, like an SMS text, voicemail, or using an application like Google Authenticator (we recommend the latter as it’s the most secure).
Either way, two-factor authentication means that not only will hackers have to steal your credentials and password, they’ll also have to get access to one of your personal devices. Needless to say, this will greatly decrease the chances that your data will be compromised.
3. Know Where Your Data Lives.
Over the years, our data often becomes “scattered.” Bits and pieces of our data are strewn from place to place as we create new data on different platforms and services. Between new and old computers, multiple hard drives, sync services like Google Drive, all of your social profiles, and all the others, it’s easy to lose track of where your most important data is when you need it. Especially because many of these locations will not be covered by standard backup services.
Mapping out where your data lives will help you to track what’s being stored off of your computer (like on a hard drive or USB), what’s being synced to the cloud, and what data is being backed up.
Once you have an idea of where your data is, your backup strategy comes into play. If there are important files that are being synced or that live on a hard drive, you may want to think about moving those files to a device that is being backed up or to an archive. Once you do, you’ll never have to worry about them again!
4. Consider Which Retention Span Fits Best for You.
Backup retention—also known as data retention—is how long you would like your data to be archived. At Backblaze, you have three options for your data retention: 30 days (the default), 1 Year, or Forever Version History. Picking between the three can feel tricky but it really just depends on your needs. If you have a college student away at school for a year and want to make sure their data is retrievable in case of emergency (like a coffee spill on their computer in the library), then yearly may be the best option for you. If you are a writer who constantly needs to look back on past versions of material you have written, then forever version history may be the best option for you.
Any retention plan should work just fine as long as you are monitoring your backup and understand what data is still being retained.
5. Testing Restores
There’s an old saying that “Data is only as good as your last backup, and your backup is only as good as your ability to restore it.” When data loss occurs, the first question that comes to mind is, “Who is responsible for restoring those backups?” and the answer is simple: you are!
Think of testing your restore as a fire drill. When you go through the steps to restore your data you want to make sure that you know what the steps are, what files are backed up when you want to recover them, and what options you have for restoring your data. When testing out your restore, this may clue you in on potential holes in your backup that you can fix before it’s too late.
6. Archive Your Data
Backups are great for things you are actively using on your computer, but when you’re done with a project or your computer starts underperforming due to the amount of data on it, you may want to think about archiving that data. In cloud storage and backup, an “archive” is a place to keep data for long term storage. This ensures your computer can run its best with some freed up storage space.
Archives can be used for space management on your computer and long term retention. The original data may (or may not be) deleted after the archive copy is made and stored—it’s up to you! You can always store another copy on a hard drive if you want to be extra careful.
With our Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage product, you can create an archive of your data in various different ways. You can experiment with setting up your own archive by creating a B2 Cloud Storage Bucket within your Backblaze Computer Backup account. It’s easy (we even outlined a step by step process on how to do it), and more importantly, free: Your first 10GB of data stored are on us!
These are some of the recommendations we have for utilizing your computer backup and cloud storage account. If you could just try one, three, or more, then you are starting 2021 out right!
Writing a “year in review” for 2020 feels more than a little challenging. After all, it’s the first year in memory that became its own descriptor: The phrase “because 2020” has become the lead in or blanket explanation for just about any news story we never could have predicted at the beginning of this year.
And yet, looking forward to 2021, I can’t help but feel hopeful when I think about what we did with these hard times. Families rediscovered ways to stay connected and celebrate, neighbors and communities strengthened their bonds and their empathy for one another, and all sorts of businesses and organizations reached well beyond any idea of normal operations to provide services and support despite wild headwinds. Healthcare professionals, grocery stores, poll workers, restaurants, teachers—the creativity and resilience shown in all they’ve accomplished in a matter of months is humbling. If we can do all of this and more in a year of unprecedented challenges, imagine what we can do when we’re no longer held back by a global pandemic?
Looking closer to home, at the Backblaze community—some 190 employees, as well as their families and pets, and our hundreds of thousands of customers and partners around the world—I’m similarly hopeful. In the grand scheme of the pandemic, we were lucky. Most of our work, our services, and our customers’ work, can be accomplished remotely. And yet, I can’t help but be inspired by the stories from this year.
There were Andrew Davis and Alex Acosta, two-thirds of the IT operations team at Gladstone Institutes—a leader in biomedical research that rapidly shifted many of its labs’ focus this year to studying the virus that causes COVID-19. After realizing their data was vulnerable, these two worked with our team to move petabytes of data off of tape and into the cloud, protecting all of it from ransomware and data loss.
And then there were Cédric Pierre-Louis, Director of Programming for the African Fiction Channels at THEMA, and Gareth Howells, Director of Out Point Media, who worked with our friends at iconik to make collaboration and storytelling easier across the African Fiction Channels at THEMA—a Canal+ Group company that has more than 180 television channels in its portfolio. The creative collaboration that goes into TV might not rival the life-saving potential of Gladstone’s work, but I think everyone needed to escape through the power of media at some point this year.
And if you had told me on March 7th—the day after we made the decision to shift Backblaze to mostly 100% work from home status until the COVID-19 situation resolved—that the majority of our team would work for 10 more months (and counting) from our kitchens and attics and garages…and that we’d still launch the Backblaze S3 Compatible APIs, clear an exabyte of data under management, enable Cloud to Cloud Migration, and announce so many other solutions and partnerships, I’m not sure which part would have been harder to believe. But during a year when cloud storage and computer backup became increasingly important for businesses and individuals, I’m truly proud of the way our team stepped up to support and serve our customers.
These are just a sampling of the hopeful stories from our year. There’s no question that there are still challenges in our future, but tallying what we’ve been able to achieve while our Wi-Fi cut in and out, our pets and children rampaged through the house, while we swapped hard drives while masked and six feet distant from our coworkers, there’s little question in my mind that we can meet them. Until then, thanks for your good work, your business, and sticking with us, together, while apart.
Top 10 lists! You know them. You read them! You love them? As 2020 comes to an end and we look longingly at the new year ahead of us, I wanted to take a moment and look back at what you, our blog readers, have found amusing, entertaining, and informative over this past year.
To do that, we looked at our analytics and picked out the top 10 most-viewed stories that we published in 2020. The results may not shock you, but they may entertain you, especially if you missed any of these the first time around. Without further ado, let’s jump into the results!
Top 10 Backblaze Blog Posts From 2020
1. 2019 Hard Drive Stats. It’s not surprising to see a year-end hard drive stats post in the first position. Readers show up for these posts in a big way and this one took a look at the entirety of 2019 as a year-end wrap up.2. The Complete Guide to Ransomware. With huge organizations like Foxconn, Kmart, many K-12 school districts, and hospitals being targeted by ransomware in recent years—and those attacks increasing—it’s no wonder that people are seeking to understand how to protect themselves.
3. & 4. Q1 2020 Hard Drive Stats and Q2 2020 Hard Drive Stats. The quarterly drive stats set the stage for our popular yearly reviews and provide a “heartbeat” of how our spinning disks are doing throughout the year.5. A Beginner’s Guide to External Hard Drives. We took a look at some best practices for folks looking to increase their on-site storage capacity and how to make sure all that data is safe, as well. It would appear a lot of readers were onboarding new hard drives in 2020.6. Synology Backup Guide. Other readers already have a series of external hard drives connected to their PC, meaning the natural progression is getting a NAS system like Synology in place and making sure that it, too, is backed up.7. Q3 2020 Hard Drive Stats. Looking at how the stats are progressing, we find that even when some drive models have over 4,029 failures, their annualized failure rate can be below 3%—that’s scale!
8. Backing Up Google Drive. Far be it from us to claim that we saw the future, but when we published this post in June it was a touch ahead of its time. A few months later, Google announced the end of their unlimited storage plan and as people looked for alternatives, this resource on downloading and backing up Google Drive information became invaluable.9. Backblaze S3 Compatible APIs. One of our biggest Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage releases for 2020 was the Backblaze S3 Compatible APIs suite. This launch cleared the way for a ton of new partner integrations, use cases, and happy cloud storage customers.10. Cloud Sync Is Not Backing Up. A common misconception is that someone is backed up if they only use iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this post, we dig into the differences between cloud backup and cloud sync, why they’re both useful, and how to leverage both for maximum efficiency.
The “Up-and-coming” Top Ten
Looking at the top 10 list for 2020, we see a lot of series and subjects that are popular every year. This got us thinking, what about the stories that broke new ground? Posts that aren’t hard drive stats and yet still drew an admirable number of readers? When we removed the big hitters we found an alternative top ten that will appeal to anyone looking for some more in-depth solutions, some nice news, and answers to a few evergreen questions!
1. What Is an Exabyte? What the heck is an exabyte anyway? We take a look at how much data that really is, and how it compares, on a cosmic level, to a gigabyte.2. Object vs. File vs. Block—A Cloud Storage Guide. The word “cloud” can sometimes feel amorphous. For readers just starting to look cloudwards, this post aims to help put a finer point on clouds! We take a look at the different types of cloud storage and how to most effectively use each.3. Duplicati + Backblaze. We love when B2 Cloud Storage gets integrated into popular apps, and Duplicati makes backing up data securely and easily from pretty much any system a piece of cake. No wonder it pairs so well with Backblaze B2!4. Metadata: Your File’s Hidden DNA. Metadata surrounds pretty much every digital thing we do on a day to day basis, but a lot of people don’t fully understand what it is or how it works. This post defines metadata and looks at how it helps programs keep track of the information about files for both humans and computers.
5. Free Cloud Storage? What’s the Catch? There are a lot of “free” offers in the cloud storage marketplace positioned to help entrepreneurs get their application or website off the ground. In this post we go into some of the pitfalls that might come about when you take cloud storage providers up on an offer that might seem too good to be true.6. Computer Backup Version 7.0.1. We took some time at the beginning of the year to make some adjustments to our cloud backup software, improving performance and enhancing our Inherit Backup State feature to help folks avoid reuploading data if they switch computers!7. Exabyte Unlocked. In March, Backblaze crossed a data storage threshold that few other companies have achieved, storing over an exabyte of data for our customers, and we couldn’t be prouder.
8. How to Wipe a Mac Hard Drive. As people get new computers and sell off their old hardware, sometimes they want to make sure that all of their data has been deleted from their computer (just make sure you have a backup first).9. Upgrading to an SSD. Once readers finish wiping their old drives, they often want something a bit more speedy. SSDs are dropping in price and getting more common, so this post gives you a few things to consider when upgrading.10. RAM vs. Storage. This post takes a look at one of the most commonly asked questions when people talk about gigabytes—“Do they mean RAM, or do they mean storage size?”—and what’s the difference between the two anyway?
We love writing about the ins and outs of our industry, infrastructure, and the business in general, so it’s always fun to look back at what resonated with you over the past year. Was your favorite blog post not listed? Let us know in the comments below what resonated with you this year!
Ever wonder if your feedback is heard when you tell a company why you are cancelling your subscription? Well, at Backblaze, customer feedback isn’t just heard—it’s read, considered, and used to improve the product over time.
Most companies seek to understand the reasons customers leave by setting up a formulated poll with a multiple choice style list of common reasons for why you may be leaving. We decided to manage this process a little differently by giving customers who decide they no longer want to use Backblaze Computer Backup an open forum.
This format allows people to be specific about their reasoning, and in some cases to vent about their frustrations. By sifting through these responses and grouping them under common causes, we gain insights into the customer experience that allow us to create a better product.
When customers choose to cancel our service, we send this email:
Over time, the responses to these messages have helped us enhance our Computer Backup product and add new features to it that we knew customers would like thanks to this process. Because our approach is somewhat unique, we wanted to illuminate it for you, both to be transparent and also for anyone that might find our model useful.
What Is Churn Analysis, and Why Is It Important?
When a customer leaves a service or cancels an account, it’s called “churn.” Churn can be calculated as the percentage of customers that stopped using your company’s product or service during a certain time frame. The churn rate calculation for subscription or service-based products is an excellent metric to gauge their performance.
As much as you wish it wouldn’t happen when running a business, customer churn is a real thing and important to keep an eye on. You may already know about some issues your service has that need to be addressed, but by tracking churn over time you can also identify new issues or discover that issues outside of your scope are more important than you thought. When these issues turn out to be easily fixable, they provide a direct path to decreasing churn and often also attract new business. This is churn analysis: identifying the reasons people are leaving and prioritizing their resolution.
The Nuts and Bolts of Churn Analysis at Backblaze
Every month, 10% of the customers that churn actually offer substantive responses for their departure. On the 10th day of each month, one hearty staffer sifts through all of the messages that we receive and adds them to a large spreadsheet. Unsurprisingly, every month, the reasons people cite for leaving are relatively similar, so she’s able to group the messages into 10–15 different categories. These categories range across different feature requests that we are tracking, like issues with our safety freeze feature, as well as trends with different accounts, like their desire for two-factor verification set up, and various other reasons.
When different reasons begin to gain or lose ground, it’s a sign that we need to do something. Depending on the reason, it might mean that we need to write a more informative FAQ, or that we need to work with Marketing to highlight a feature better, or that we need to notify engineers that there is something that needs to be fixed or built.
So Why Do People Churn From Backblaze?
To illustrate how we go from churn analysis to product development, we gathered the five top reasons customers churned from Backblaze, and what we’ve decided to do about it (or not).
Reason #1: “I No Longer Need My Data Backed Up”
Customers use Backblaze Computer Backup for various reasons. Some of them have long term needs, like wanting to protect the files on their home computer. Others may be thought of as temporary, like backing up freelance businesses or college projects. The former tend to stick around, while there’s not much we can do to convince the latter that they might want to rethink their approach.
As a result, “I don’t need it anymore” is one reason that’s always on our list. But that’s not to say we’re not doing anything about it. If you read this blog, you know that we’ll take any opportunity to remind people that there are more reasons for long term backups than most folks assume.
Financial documents, legal correspondence, essential application settings, system information, and all of the important data you’ve forgotten you have on your machine until it crashes are great reasons to second guess a spotty back up strategy. If you have a computer, you should have a backup in place to protect yourself from accidental or incidental data loss. In fact, we recommend a 3-2-1 backup strategy to ensure that you’re always covered.
Resolution #1: No specific response in product development, but a rigorous marketing campaign to argue against the premise of their departure.
Reason #2: “30 Day Deletion”
All Backblaze Computer Backup accounts have 30 Day Version History included with their backup license. That means you can go back in time for 30 days and retrieve older versions of your files or even files that you’ve deleted. For years, we had customers respond that they would continue to use Backblaze if we retained their files a little bit longer than 30 days.
We took that feedback and created the ability to keep updated, changed, and even deleted files in their backups for a longer period of time by extending Version History for the computers backing up in their accounts. We chose to build this feature because the engineering investment was easily offset by the number of customers we could retain and/or gain by offering some customized approaches to data retention.
Since 2013, customers who told us that they were cancelling due to our Version History being set to only 30 days hovered around 5.91% out of the total responses to reasons for leaving. Since we made a change in 2019, and started educating people that the feature exists, we’ve now seen a large number of people enabling Extended Version History. Reports of customers leaving for Version History reasons is now down to 3.37% for 2020 and is dropping quickly.
You can now increase your peace of mind by enabling Yearly or Forever Version History on your account—all thanks to the customers who wrote in and told us why it was important to them.
Resolution #2: Build a new feature set to answer a reasonable request with a reasonable offering.
Reason #3: “Leaving For a Sync Service”
There’s unfortunately still some confusion between backup (which Backblaze provides) and sync and share services, like Dropbox and iCloud.
So what’s the difference? We wrote a blog post to explain it, but to summarize: Sync services will synchronize folders on your computer or mobile device to folders on other machines, allowing users to access the same file, folder, or directory across different devices. This is great for collaboration and reducing the amount of data you’re holding on any number of devices. But it’s completely different from a backup. In a sync service, only the files, folders, or directories you add to the service are synced, leaving the rest of the data on your computer completely unprotected.
Backblaze’s cloud backup automatically backs up all user data with little or no setup, and no need for the dragging and dropping of files. If your friends tell you they are using a sync service to back up their personal data, let them know they may need a backup service as well—before they learn that lesson the hard way.
Resolution #3: Similar to resolution #1, the response to confusion about what different services do is: Education. Tens of thousands of folks have already read our post about the difference between sync and backup, so hopefully we see this reason decrease over time.
Reason #4: Too Expensive
We’ve all been there. We look in our bank account and realize we accidentally signed up for a few too many monthly services and we need to cut back to pay the essential bills. At Backblaze, we realize that times can get tough and occasionally you will need to cut back on expenses.
Keeping this in mind, we strive to be the most affordable unlimited online backup service for our customers. Over the course of 10+ years since Backblaze started backing up customer computers, we have only raised our prices once, by $1 (and wrote about how hard it was to do even that).
When deciding which monthly service to keep, we hope you consider the value of keeping all your files safe and protected and the cost of losing precious memories or important documents.
Resolution #4: Sometimes your product may be too expensive for people’s budget and they will leave. All you can do is work to be as affordable as possible and stress the value of your service.
Reason #5: Switched to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage
“Hey Backblaze, we love your product but we are leaving to use B2 Cloud Storage!” Some Computer Backup customers occasionally write in with this response and we get a good chuckle from it… because B2 Cloud Storage is also a product of Backblaze. Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage was created to be a simple and flexible cloud storage platform and, with the help of integration partners, it can be a very nifty backup solution for more tech-savvy users!
We actually love when this reason pops up! It lets us know that people are moving on to the product that’s right for them. Backblaze B2 was created as a result of customers writing in and saying “I love your backup service, but I need a place to just store the data on my server or NAS device. Can you give me direct access to your cloud storage? Is that possible?” So we created a product that could do just that.
If you have been backing up your computer for a while, you may be curious about cloud storage or have heard about cloud storage and thought it might be too technical for you—don’t worry, we have all been there. We put together a quick starter guide that highlights how simple Backblaze B2 can be.
Resolution #5: When the customer starts to outgrow your starter product, guide them to the product that fits them best.
What Churn Responses Look Like Over the Years for Computer Backup
About 10% of our customers that leave respond to our “how can we do better” email after cancelling their accounts. This number tends to be pretty constant, but when it rises above that range it usually indicates that something unique happened that month.
An uptick in churn isn’t always a bad thing. We saw a rise in responses when we announced our first European data center because customers were switching their accounts to the EU region. It was a good sign that people were excited about the availability of different regions for storing their data.
Giving the option for customers to share personal responses also notifies us when a new issue arrives. This can help us identify and fix bugs in our system that might only be caught in very specific situations that may not be seen by our engineers in our initial testing.
They can also clue us in on world events. We started to see high trends of customers reporting COVID-19 related reasons for cancelling their accounts back in January 2020. This helped us assess in a timely manner how we could support our customers during a worldwide pandemic.
The following graph shows you how a few different reasons for leaving have changed over the past few years:
All Feedback Is Good Feedback
You may find it a bit crazy but there really is a person at the other end of your responses—reading your feedback and sharing it with the rest of the gang at Backblaze. That feedback has provided us useful updates, new features, and peace of mind knowing that our customers feel heard.
So, we want to say thank you to all the previous customers that took the time to write out why they were breaking up with Backblaze. Without that feedback, we wouldn’t be the company we are today.
To this day we are still updating our products to meet our customers’ needs and we love to hear what our customers hope to see as our next feature. Do you have a feature request? Share it in the comments below!
The new operating system from Apple, MacOS 11.0 Big Sur (a reference to a lovely stretch of California’s central coast, if you’ve never been) releases on November 12, 2020. We’ve been preparing for this release for quite some time and are glad to report that the Backblaze Computer Backup client is “Big Sur-ready.” As always, a couple of notes to keep in mind before updating to a new OS: make sure you have a good and up-to-date backup in place, and that you are running the latest Backblaze version.
If you’re already running the Big Sur beta, or are planning to upgrade to the latest MacOS version on day one, please make sure you are running the latest Backblaze client version. You can download and install the latest build by doing the following:
Perform a Check for Updates (right-click on the Backblaze icon in the Mac menu bar)
Or download the latest from www.backblaze.com/update.htm
Note, if You Are on MacOS 10.9 Mavericks or older: And you want to update your client before upgrading your macOS, you will need to download the latest version of Backblaze here.
Recently, there’s been speculation about the U.S. banning TikTok due to privacy concerns. As fellow TikTok enthusiasts, my friends and I quickly took to the app to download all our favorite content. Today, the addictive social media app is still available in the U.S., but concerns remain that it may not be for long.
For many people, TikTok has been a great source of entertainment during lockdown. If you’re like my friends and I, you probably want to save some of the dances, recipes, skits, and some of the other totally indescribable things you’ve encountered there.
We don’t know what will happen in the future, but at Backblaze, we are all about saving precious memories. And social media is one place where things you want to hold on to can suddenly disappear or become inaccessible for reasons beyond your control. In fact, we’ve gathered a handful of guides to help you protect content across a number of different platforms.
But today, our focus is the 15 to 60 second clips you know and love on TikTok. So here are some ways to be prepared in case you can no longer access the app in the future.
How to Download Your Personal TikTok Data
You can request a copy of your TikTok data and download information like your profile (username, profile photo, profile description, and contact info), your activity (videos, comment history, chat history, purchase history, likes, and favorites), and your app settings (privacy settings, notification settings, and language settings). The steps to download your TikTok data are the same for both iPhones and Androids.
1. Open TikTok on your phone and go to your profile.2. Click on the three dots that appear at the top right corner.3. Under “Account,” select “Privacy and safety.”4. Click on “Personalize and data” → “Download your data.”
5. In “Download your data” you will see more information about what you can download. Scroll to the bottom and click “Request data file.”6. In the second tab titled “Download data,” you will see that your request is pending.
7. Once your data is ready for download, you will receive a message in your TikTok inbox that says “System Notifications: The file you’ve requested containing your Tiktok information is now ready for you to download.” Tap that message and select “Download.”8. When the file is downloaded, you can find all your comments, direct messages, activity, and more. To save your TikToks, click on the “Videos” folder → “Videos.txt” file.9. Warning: You are not done yet! The file you’ve received has information about your TikToks like the date you published them, the video link, and the number of likes you got. But it doesn’t include the actual video itself. To archive the video, you need to copy and paste the video link into your web browser, then download the TikTok to your device. Yes, it will take some time to download all your videos, but if they’re worth it, they’re worth the time!
Keep in mind that these are the steps to download the TikToks that you have personally created and uploaded to your account. If you’d like to save TikToks made by other people, keep reading.
How to Download TikToks by Other Creators
The process of downloading other peoples’ TikToks is a little more manual, but unlike requesting your TikTok data like above, there’s no waiting time. Here’s what you’ve got to do:
1. Open TikTok on your phone and go to the video you want to save.2. On the right side of the video, click on the arrow which indicates the “Send to” button.3. Under “Share to,” click “Save video.”
4. That’s it—the video is now saved to your phone!
Note: Some people may have set their videos to be non-downloadable. They probably have a good reason for that! It should go without saying, if you’re downloading other people’s content, don’t use it for any purposes they might not offer consent for.
How to Back Up Your TikToks
Once you’ve got all your TikTok data on your phone, it’s time to back it up. Those of you with iCloud may think you’re in the clear. Unfortunately, iCloud is not a backup service; it simply syncs your data with your other Apple devices. This means that if your Mac and iPhone are synced and you lose the saved TikToks on your iPhone, you will lose them on your Mac too. You can read more about using iCloud here.
Since iCloud shouldn’t be used as a backup service, we recommend you use a computer backup or cloud storage service instead. To do this, you first need to transfer your TikToks from your phone to your computer. And then, it’s time to back it up!
Lucky for you, we already have a detailed blog post about backing up your social media content. The post covers the difference between computer backup vs. cloud storage and how you can use Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage to archive your social media data. With Backblaze, you can store as much data as you’d like with no limitations. So whether you’re an avid TikToker with thousands of videos or just getting started on the social media platform, we’ve got you covered.
In the beginning there was the World Wide Web and, for us common folk, it was used to send electronic mail and instant messages. Then the internet became a place where the average user could share their voice, videos, and pretty much everything else. But how permanent are these things we share? When it comes to the memories we want to hold on to, will they always be there?
We’ve all lived through our own different phases of the internet age. There was the AIM phase, Napster phase, Wikipedia phase, Skype phase, and of course the boom of social media with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Some of these websites and apps are still here, some look a little different, and some are not around anymore. (Like Vines, boy do we miss Vines!)
In 2019, it was reported that internet users spend an average of two hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking. If we are spending even a fraction of that time each day creating content to be shared with family and loved ones, don’t we want to make sure we have those creations forever?
We think so! And so we’ve developed a series of posts to help you retrieve your data from social media profiles, ranging from Facebook to Tiktok, and other services where the long term reliability of or your data might be in question. In this post we will go more in depth about best practices of how to back up this data once you’ve downloaded it.
Review: Retrieving Your Data
If you’re like most people, you probably have your data spread out across multiple platforms. Depending on where you like, share, and post, there are various ways to download your data to keep a copy of it on your computer. But how do you figure out how to do this for each platform? We’re glad you asked! Here’s our list of guides you can consult right now. We’ll work to grow this list over time, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to see different platforms covered.
Facebook: When your uncle saves the family’s treasured reunion photos only on Facebook, it’s time to consult this guide.
Google Drive: You know that college paper is going to be Pulitzer-worthy someday—make sure you have it backed up!
Due to the vast variety of options available on the internet, we may have missed a few you want to know about. While there’s not one solution for every platform, there are some typical steps that could help you with a service we haven’t covered yet:
Some websites and apps have an area in your account settings or privacy settings where you can request your data, like Twitter, which has built this feature into their user account section. If functionality like that isn’t immediately apparent, your next best option is to search the support FAQs to find the process for user data requests. Some platforms do not have this feature available at all yet, so you should be careful to understand the guidelines for retrieving data at any company before you start storing your photos, audio files, and more there.
Once you’ve downloaded your data successfully, the next challenge is safeguarding it for the future.
Now That It’s on My Computer, What Should I Do Next?
Downloading the internet memories you’d like to keep is step one. If you’re reading this, you probably already use Backblaze Computer Backup to safeguard the data on your PC or Mac. (If not, make sure your computer is backed up, preferably with a 3-2-1 backup strategy.) But just because you back up your data, that doesn’t mean you want to keep archival memories on the computer you use every day.
Depending on the size of the data you downloaded, you may now have a far larger quantity of files on your computer than you’d prefer. Those YouTube videos you made with your friends back in 2008 might be old, but they ain’t small. Your computer may be thinking the same thing. Even if you choose to store the memories on an external hard drive, remembering to plug in and back up multiple drives can be hard over the long term.
Backups are great for things you are actively using on your computer, but when you’re done with a project or want to store a memory safely, you may want to think about archiving that data. In cloud storage and backup, an “archive” is a place to keep data for long term storage. Most importantly for this post, an archive helps to protect data you want to retain, but don’t need regularly, while ensuring your computer can run its best with some freed up storage space.
Archives can be used for space management on your computer and long term retention. The original data may (or may not be) deleted after the archive copy is made and stored—it’s up to you! You can always store another copy on a hard drive if you want to be extra careful. This is the difference between computer backup and cloud storage. In both cases, data is stored in the cloud, but in backup, the data in the cloud is a copy of the data on your computer. In cloud storage, it’s just saved data—there’s no mirroring or versioning.
Our Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage product allows you to create an archive of your data in various different ways. You can experiment with setting up your own archive by creating a B2 Cloud Storage Bucket within your Backblaze Computer Backup account. It’s easy, and more importantly, free: your first 10GB of data stored are on us!
Creating a B2 Archive
For this example, I downloaded data from my personal blog, hosted on WordPress. My blog has various types of files (photos, videos, text, audio) so it’s a good example of the diverse set of files that are good candidates for storing in the cloud.
After downloading my data from WordPress and creating a new folder on my desktop filled with the files I want to archive, the next step is to sign into my Backblaze account. After signing in, I navigate to the left sidebar and select “Buckets” under the section “B2 Cloud Storage.”
On the B2 Cloud Storage Buckets page I select “Create a Bucket.” You can think of buckets as a folders feature when storing data in B2 Cloud Storage. There is no limit to the number of files you can keep in a bucket, but there is a limit of 100 buckets per account.
When I select “Create a Bucket” a pop-up appears, guiding me to create a unique bucket name and decide whether the bucket will be “private” or “public.” Setting the bucket to “private” means that every download requires an authorization token. Setting it to “public” means that everybody in my group (if your account is a group) is allowed to download the files in the bucket.
When I create a bucket, I get to pick the name. The name must be unique—never been used before by you or by anybody else. In other words, a bucket’s name is globally unique.
For my example, I named my bucket “WordpressNicolePerry” and set the bucket to private. Once the bucket is created you can start uploading files and folders.
When I click the button “Upload,” a pop-up appears, prompting me to drag and drop files or folders I want to upload to that bucket. And then, bazinga! Your files are now uploaded to the cloud!
Wow! Cloud Storage Is Easier Than I Expected
If you have been backing up your computer for a while, you may be curious about cloud storage or have heard about cloud storage and thought it was too technical for you—don’t worry, we have all been there. But, the internet and social media seemed hard at first and now look at where we are at! Play around with buckets in B2 Cloud Storage. If you feel like they’re the right spot to keep your memories, you can learn more about pricing and other functionality here.
At the end of the day, when it comes to making sure my long lost Vines, Facebook photos, and Google data are somewhere safe without gunking up my computer’s memory, I’ve found that the few bucks a month I put toward B2 Cloud Storage seem like a small price compared to juggling hard drives and other archiving practices.
Creating content for social media, whether for a business or personally, is an ever changing process as new platforms appear. So, keeping that data in an easily accessible place where I can download it and upload it to a new platform is worth the cost for me. But that’s one solution coming from this social media guru. How have you kept up with the times? We would love to hear your solutions in the comments below.
We recently released an update for Backblaze Computer Backup: version 7.0.2! This release comes with improvements to our Safety Freeze feature, and some enhancements to the Mac and Windows applications. Enjoy!
What’s New for Windows & Macintosh:
Improvement: Safety Freeze
Safety Freezes exist to protect your data from corruption, but lately, they’ve been a touch over-cautious. This improvement updates Safety Freeze to reduce the amount of false-positives users experience.
Bug fix: Multiple hard drives listed
Some users experienced duplicate volume listings in the application, which led to confusion. This release addresses that issue.
Minor improvements to logging.
What’s New for Macintosh:
Bug fix: Location Services
This feature has been reworked to reduce the amount of pop-ups received when Locate My Computer is enabled on more recent macOS versions. This also fixed an issue where disabling Locate My Computer on the web would still result in a pop-up asking for Location Services permission.
Release Version Number:
Mac — 188.8.131.524
PC — 184.108.40.2063
Free for Backblaze Computer Backup consumer and business customers and active trial users.
Immediately when performing a “Check for Updates” (right-click on the Backblaze icon and then select “Check for Updates”).
With so many services out there that offer businesses a way to store and protect files online, they might all seem like the same service. When considering backup and sync strategies, owners often ask, “Can’t we just store all our files on Google Drive or Dropbox and call it a day?” The short answer is no, not if you want to properly protect your business from data loss.
While cloud-based sync services may seem to operate with backup-like functionality, they will not protect you from total data loss. For Pierre Chamberland—founder of NetGovern, an informational governance solution—making this distinction between sync and backup was a vital realization for his company’s information security.
Before rolling out a cloud backup solution for his business, Chamberland designated Microsoft OneDrive as the central source for storing his team’s files and projects. This served as an excellent tool for collaboration and quick and easy access to files. But when Chamberland suspected that not everyone was keeping copies of their data in OneDrive, he decided to conduct an audit. He found that only 20% of his staff had properly backed up their work.
“In the event of a catastrophe, we could lose hours to potentially weeks of work,” Chamberland explained. He needed a way to safely protect all of the company data, which he was able to do by rolling out a proper cloud backup.
Chamberland’s story ends well, but plenty of business owners only learn the difference between backup and sync services in the most painful circumstances: after data loss. This post aims to provide information to help you understand how to best use sync, backup, and cloud storage services together to ensure that your business’s data is stored both securely and in the most optimal way for productivity.
What’s the Difference Between Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup, and Cloud Storage?
It’s helpful to understand how cloud sync, cloud backup, and cloud storage services differ from each other, and how they complement one another. Each performs a unique, helpful service, but learning the differences will help you more effectively put them to work for your specific use case.
You’re probably familiar with services like OneDrive, Dropbox Business, or Google Drive. These services sync (short for “synchronize”) files or folders on your computer to your other devices running the same application, ensuring that the same and most up-to-date information is merged across each device.
Sync services allow multiple users across multiple devices to access the same file, making it incredibly useful for collaboration and for sharing information with others. But because these services are designed for syncing, if your coworker deletes a shared file, that change will be reflected across all devices, and you may lose access to that file forever. Though most sync services offer a limited way to restore changed or deleted file versions, they aren’t true backups and remain susceptible to major data loss.
A cloud backup tool takes all of the data on your computer and stores it safely somewhere remote from your work environment. It works similarly to a traditional backup which would catalog and save all of the files on your computer to an external hard drive or a storage server on your local network. Except, in this case, your data is stored in an off-site server—also known as “the cloud.”
Cloud backups are optimized to allow businesses to easily recover their data in case a computer is lost, stolen, or compromised. Backups offer various options for data recovery allowing users to quickly access files via web and mobile applications or have their data directly shipped to them via a USB hard drive. The point is, cloud backups ensure complete protection from data loss and are meant to help your business recover swiftly.
Cloud storage is what makes cloud sync and cloud backup possible. Cloud storage providers like Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage offer the backend infrastructure for the storage of data, which services like Dropbox or Backblaze Business Backup are built on top of. It is the physical location where backups are stored and syncing occurs.
And yet, while a simple definition of cloud storage is that it is the raw storage that these other services are built on top of, it is also true that you can utilize cloud storage to build a unique service or application.
Most cloud storage providers offer an application programming interface (API) that lets you directly connect to the cloud storage of your choice, giving you the ability to create a service that does exactly what your business needs it to do. Alternatively, you can choose an integration partner that pairs with the cloud storage provider giving you the same direct connection to the cloud without having to do any technical development.
Cloud Sync Is Not the Same as Cloud Backup
Sync services were not built with backup in mind. They often rely on the user having a folder on their computer that is designated for OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Users place files into that folder when they want their data to appear on other devices via the sync service.
This is an excellent way to avoid having to email yourself or your team files that need to be shared or worked on together. However, it’s important to remember that files outside of your team’s designated folders, i.e. in Documents, Downloads, Photos, etc., will remain locally stored on your device, and not synced to the cloud.
Just as sync services aren’t the same as cloud backup services, the reverse is also true. Though backup services may allow you various options to remotely access your data and share individual files when you need to, they are not suitable for use as collaboration tools. Instead, cloud backups ensure that all data on one device is backed up safely elsewhere. Instead of having to manually drag and drop files into designated locations, a backup will typically work automatically and in the background of your computer, backing up any new or changed data on the device. In the event of a computer crash, data loss, or ransomware hijack these backed up files will be available for recovery.
When recovering files from a business cloud backup service, it’s important to understand the versioning options they provide. Say you accidentally delete a file, but don’t realize it until a few months later. You may be unable to access the file if versioning limits apply, or you may only have access to the most recent version of the lost file. However, many services now offer features like extended version history, which allows you to recover files from past points in time, so you can easily restore older work.
Here is a table that provides a quick overview and comparison of cloud sync, cloud backup, and cloud storage:
Ensures that the same and most up-to-date information is merged across each device.
All of the data on your computer is stored off-site and in the cloud.
The infrastructure on top of which cloud sync and backup services are built.
Allows multiple users to access the same file, or files, across multiple devices.
Protects and recovers all of the files on your workstation in the event of data loss.
Backs up servers or NAS devices, or allows you to build unique services and applications.
Share and collaborate on work files seamlessly amongst your team.
Reliably protect all of the data on your computer automatically.
Gain more control and functionality beyond what pre-built services offer.
In the event of a major data loss, files that aren’t synced (or are outside of your sync folders) will not be recoverable.
Not great for file sharing and collaborating, and some services may have data and bandwidth caps.
May require additional resources if you plan to build out custom applications and services for your business.
Automatic or Manual?
Manual. Sync services rely on users dropping the files they wish to keep into designated folders on their devices. Files outside of these folders will not be synced to the cloud.
Automatic. With little to no configuration, a backup solution regularly and automatically backs up everything, even your designated sync folders.
Depends how you choose to set it up. Cloud storage providers will often have integration partners that offer the functionality you’re looking for.
Sync solutions may retain older or deleted versions of your files but these options vary from service to service.
May come with features like extended version history which help to recover older files.
Great for long-term data archiving and typically priced based on the amount of data stored.
Should My Business Use Cloud Storage?
It’s easy to understand how sync and backup services can help to foster collaboration and data protection in an enterprise because they deal with something we all do: manipulate, share, and save files and data. The question of whether cloud storage might serve a role in your tech stack is slightly more complex.
While cloud backups like Backblaze Business Backup are great for backing up the data on your Mac and PC laptops and computers—these often are not the only devices storing precious information. Some businesses require additional functionality to back up their on-premises server and NAS devices or create applications with unique functionality that serves their purpose. That’s when utilizing a cloud storage service is particularly useful.
Cloud storage providers supply data storage just as utility companies supply power, gas, and water. Cloud storage can be used for data backups, data archives, application data, media libraries, records, or any other type of data. They typically charge by a combination of data ingress, egress (in other words, the data coming and going), and the amount of data stored.
Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage supports integrations with NAS devices, as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux servers. We provide a complete solution for storing all types of data, in partnership with vendors who integrate various solutions into the Backblaze B2 ecosystem. These integration partners offer both hardware and software solutions that pair with B2 Cloud Storage, giving businesses several options when it comes to data storage and management.
“Our business has a backup strategy in place, so I think we’re done here.”
If only it were that easy. Once your business has a backup plan and has an idea of how to properly utilize sync, backup, and storage, the next step is to routinely check-in and test your backups.
You should test your most important, mission-critical data first, such as tax returns, legal documents, and irreplaceable media. Ensure that the files that are important to you are recoverable and intact by actually trying to recover them.
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to test your restore process and recovery. Seriously. Data loss emergencies are incredibly stressful, and doubly so when you have no idea how to properly find and recover your data. Set a schedule to test your backups and restore processes regularly. If you have more questions about keeping your business data protected, drop a line in the comments below and our team will be happy to help!
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