Tag Archives: Backing Up

Future-Proofing Backups for Your Business

Post Syndicated from Natasha Rabinov original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/future-proofing-backups-for-your-business/

screenshot of PagerDuty dashboard

An alert from PagerDuty sets off alarm bells for anyone in IT. Alerts might signify that a disk is nearly full or has failed entirely. Although unpleasant and imminently critical, hard drive failures come as no surprise to IT Managers. They are prepared for those alerts and have likely seen such incidents and failures before. Experience has shown them that it is not a question of if hard drives will fail, but when.

In fact, from the moment they are hired, IT Managers begin protecting company data and assessing points of failure. On that first day, the threat of data loss may inadvertently come from internal mistakes.

When my execs are on the road, what happens if they lose their laptop? How can I get them the latest version of their files, no matter where they are?

Although execs may be the ones losing their laptops, they will surely turn to IT Managers to recover data right away.

Questions continue to build up when thinking about company growth and the impact on IT.

We just hired another five people and the server is almost full. When will I have both time and budget to spin up another one?

IT Managers are typically not lacking in projects; they are often short on time. Budgets certainly matter but time management is also a problem — there already isn’t enough time in the day.

Many of these IT issues can be mitigated if they are tackled early on. The right backup solution is simple, silent, and affordable. A low-touch solution can give IT Managers back two precious resources, time and budget. They can move on to other projects while their backups run automatically in the background, not interrupting their users. The best plan is something that scales as the company grows from its first IT manager through IPO.

A good example of a company that future-proofed their backups is PagerDuty. At the time of their first IT hire, they accurately assessed their current and future backup needs. Here is their story.

PagerDuty server rack

Case Study: How PagerDuty Future Proofed Backups

The first thing Matt Spring, IT Manager, noticed when he joined PagerDuty was that they worked in the cloud. While everyone carried around a laptop or perhaps had a desktop system, there were no file servers, no database servers, no mail servers, no servers of any kind located in the office. At first glance, it seemed everyone simply connected to the internet and used cloud-based applications, but as Matt soon discovered many people were also using Mac-based applications as well. Matt instinctively knew he had a backup problem and he had to act to ensure the organization would not lose important data.

The backup problem that Matt faced is one encountered by companies that use both cloud-based and PC/Mac-based applications in their environment. For example, a company might use a cloud-based HR system, but Office applications on their laptops and desktops. While Matt had some confidence the cloud-based data was backed up, the local data on the company’s laptops and desktops was not being backed up.

As Matt was building a list of backup vendors to consider, he included Backblaze. He was familiar with Backblaze because he had been following their Hard Drive Stats blog posts. He appreciated the company’s transparency and included them in the list. His primary criteria for selecting a backup service were:

  • Able to be installed with little or no user involvement
  • Automatically back up all the data on a laptop or desktop with no user intervention
  • Affordable

After a review process, he chose Backblaze Business Backup.

As PagerDuty grew, so did the number of laptops and desktops, and Matt and his team ensured that Backblaze was installed on all of them. This was especially important to PagerDuty as some of the newly hired employees worked in locations across the globe. Matt could send them a system provisioned with Backblaze and from the moment the new employee started working, they were being backed up to the Backblaze cloud.

One of the features that Matt likes is how Backblaze scans the users’ system looking for data to back up versus having to pick and choose folders and files. He points out how he once restored an Office autorecovery file from Backblaze when a user forgot to save several hours of work before their system crashed. He commented that, “no other cloud backup system that I know of would have automatically backed up that file.”

Over the years that PagerDuty has been a Backblaze Business Backup customer, they’ve had several instances where they needed to restore data. Every restore has been successful.

As a bonus, most users find the restore process easy enough so they can restore their own files, but Matt and his team have from time to time done complete system restores to replace a failed or lost system.

“No other cloud backup system that I know of would have automatically backed up that file.”

— Matt Spring, PagerDuty

Recently, Matt and his team upgraded for free to the most recent release of Backblaze Business Backup. This release included Business Groups. This feature allows administrators to organize users into groups for billing and management purposes. For example, groups might be created for administrators, executives, and staff. Groups can also be managed or unmanaged. Contractors and interns could be in a managed group where IT controls the restore process, while company employees could be in one or more unmanaged groups, as desired.

Matt Appreciates the Flexibility That Business Groups Provides

As PagerDuty continues to grow, Matt expects the organization to be more and more dispersed, with even more employees and contractors spread out internationally. While this presents many challenges for IT, one thing Matt already has covered is having the data sitting on the company’s laptops and desktops automatically and securely backed up to the Backblaze cloud.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read the PagerDuty case study. Or, if you would like to back up all of your end users’ data today and future proof your backups, we invite you to try out Backblaze Business Backup.

The post Future-Proofing Backups for Your Business appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

3-2-1 Backup Best Practices Using the Cloud

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/3-2-1-backup-best-practices-using-the-cloud/

Archive 3-2-1

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

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

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

Let’s first do a quick review of 3-2-1 backup strategy.

The 3-2-1 Backup Strategy

A 3-2-1 strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different media, and at least one copy that is offsite.

A Typical 3-2-1 Scenario

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

Why Two Onsite Copies and One Offsite Copy?

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

Synology NAS and cloud backup symbol

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

Backblaze data center

Most often, if the two devices you have as your local copies are close together, they’ll both be affected if the unfortunate should happen. A continuously updated copy of your data that’s not in the same physical location as the other two is paramount in protecting your files. Even the United States Government recommends this approach. In a 2012 paper for US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team), Carnegie Mellon recommended the 3-2-1 method in their publication titled: Data Backup Options.

The Cloud as Part of 3-2-1

a storage vault in the middle of a cloud

The cloud can make fulfilling the 3-2-1 strategy much easier. And, with recent advances in technology and cost competition, the cloud brings other advantages:

Broadband speed and coverage — Broadband bandwidth has increased and is more widely available while the reach of cellular data service has made many remote locations accessible. It’s possible to upload data to the cloud from home, office, and even when traveling to remote locations. For example, the summit of Mt. Everest now has mobile network service.

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

Advantages of Adding the Cloud to 3-2-1

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

Convenience
The two offsite copies of your data required by 3-2-1 can be anywhere that’s geographically separated from your primary location. That can be convenient for some, such as for a photographer friend who takes a backup hard disk to leave at his mother’s house during their regular Sunday dinner. It’s not so easy for others, who have to transport or ship disks to other locations to fulfill the diverse location requirement. The cloud handles this without any extra effort.

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

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

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

Challenges of the Cloud

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

Data center racks

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

  • Schedule your data uploads for off hours when the network load is light and the transfers won’t impede other data traffic.
  • Leverage multi-threaded uploads to improve transfer speed.
  • Take advantage of data ingest options to seed data to the cloud. It’s definitely faster and can even be more economical compared to other data transfer options.
  • Be patient. Once you get your initial files uploaded or seeded to the cloud, it becomes much easier to upload incremental updates. In the near-future we will see 5G mobile networks and higher broadband speeds that will make data transfers even faster.

Are you Using the Cloud to Best Advantage?

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

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

What’s the Best Use for Backup?

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

What’s the Best Use for Archive?

  • Finished projects for which you wish to retain all or just the primary data files used.
  • Photos and videos that you might use again at some time in the future.
  • Media that has value to your business for possible future sales.

Making the Most of the Cloud

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

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

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

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You Asked Us Anything on Reddit!

Post Syndicated from Natasha Rabinov original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/you-asked-us-anything-on-reddit/

Backblaze team members answering IAmA questions on Reddit

When you open the door to the internet, you have absolutely no idea what is going to come through. That is especially true for Reddit — the front page of the internet and one of the world’s most popular websites. Since Backblaze prides itself on the transparent way we do business, the decision to participate in an IAmA on Reddit was an easy one. It was an exciting opportunity to give people insight into Backblaze and start a conversation with anybody in the world that could lead pretty much anywhere.

If you’re not familiar with a Reddit IAmA (I Am a), it’s a subreddit (/r/IAmA) for question-and-answer interactive interviews. Redditors can ask the subject(s) whatever they wish, which is the reason it is called an AMA, short for “Ask Me Anything.” The resulting comment thread is preserved on Reddit. Backblaze did our first AMA in 2012, so we thought it was time for a second one.

How Did We End up on Reddit?

Twelve years ago, Backblaze was formed after our founder’s friend called to tell him that her computer had crashed. She had no backups and her data was gone. As a result, Backblaze was founded to help consumers and businesses back up their data in the simplest way possible to avoid data loss.

World Backup Day was similarly started when a Reddit user lost their hard drive and wished someone had reminded them to back it up. A small group within the Reddit community realized the importance of backing up and the rising trend of data loss. In an effort to raise awareness, they created World Backup Day. With our goals aligned, in partnership with World Backup Day and Reddit, Backblaze decided to do an IAmA.

In 2012, Backblaze was a smaller company with only 25 petabytes of data under management and fifteen employees. Most of us participated in the IAmA that year. At the time, people wanted to know about the future of Backblaze and the possibility of our company going out of business. Our CTO, Brian Wilson, responded with:

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re happy and profitable.”

Seven years later, both of those statements still hold true.

Of course, in almost a decade since, a lot has changed. We store over 750 PB of customer data from customers in 150+ countries. Our 15 person team has grown to almost 100. But, some things still stay the same — less than 6% of computer owners back up their data once a day or more. So, Backblaze decided to return to Reddit to promote World Backup Day and check in with the internet.

Once again, the most upvoted comment came from our CTO, Brian. When asked why Backblaze forced users to back up their C drive, Brian explained that he wrote the client that way “to solve a very real problem.”

The Problem

Originally, Backblaze allowed users to de-select their main drive. And a horrible problem appeared almost immediately. Customers began de-selecting their drive, either because they were unaware that the C drive contained data that they might need or simply by mistake. They would then contact our support and find that they were unable to restore their data. This included photos of children that had passed away already (we had two cases of that exact situation), and other irreplaceable data now gone forever.

The Solution

At that point, Brian re-wrote the client to force the inclusion of the main drive. It was a decision that some didn’t like. However, per Brian, “the fix worked spectacularly well” and we no longer have any customers accidentally losing data because they de-select their drive. Based on the numerous responses from people working in IT, Brian got it right. “Software has to be written for the end user”, one IT guy replied. “All the best and most popular software (and hardware) is simple and easy to learn.”

What Were Some Other Questions?

While we had originally scheduled two hours for the IAmA, we ended up going for five (our social guy, Yev, may still be on there right now).

Among the questions were a couple of requests to show off our Storage Pods. We talked podcast sponsorships, clarified our process for ordering hard drives, and answered hundreds of questions and comments. As of the publication of this blog post, we had over 1,300 comments.

Classic Storage Pod

Of interest was how Backblaze continues to provide a truly unlimited computer backup solution. Our industry has seen almost all unlimited solutions vanish from the market. But Backblaze has doubled down on it over the past few years. That begs the question of how we continue to sustainably support the product line. We currently have one customer backing up 430 terabytes for $6 a month. At that price, we are clearly losing money on that customer. However, most of our customers have much less data. So, while we are losing money on that one customer, we are profitable on average. There are other reasons to support the outliers — those customers demonstrate that we are truly unlimited. No service that was throttling or selectively backing up files would enable 430 TB to get backed up. Yes, that ends up being a business cost, but those outlier customers become big evangelists as well. You don’t get that much data without being somewhat of a storage enthusiast. Our CTO, Brian, brought up another great reason: when the product works for the really big outliers, then “it will work really smoothly for the average customer.”

If you are interested in reading more of our IAmA conversation, you can do so on Reddit. Or, if you would like to back up all of your end users’ data in the most simple, reliable way possible, we invite you to try out Backblaze Business Backup.

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Introducing Furball — Rapid Content Delivery

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/introducing-furball-rapid-content-delivery/

Introducing Furball

When we first introduced Catblaze back in 2016, people called us crazy. Back then we thought we were onto something after our CAT scans filtered through our 200 petabytes of data and saw that over 50% of the material was cat pictures. Well, we couldn’t have been more right. We’re now backing up well over 750 petabytes of data and our Catblaze service accounts for almost one-third of it. Similarly to how we keep iterating on Backblaze Cloud Backup, we knew we had to keep working on Catblaze as well.

Introducing the Furball

With that many cat photos being uploaded to us, we saw the need to introduce a rapid cat delivery system to our Catblaze offering, which can concatenate your new cat content with your existing cat content in the cloud! We took a look at our B2 Fireball and realized that we could create a similar system that was integrated with our Restore by Mail service to deliver your cat content currently backed up to Catblaze. Introducing: the Furball!

Furball carrier

How it Works

You’ve uploaded all of your cat content to Catblaze, and you feel great. But oh no! Disaster has struck when your frisky feline flipped Fresca all over your computer. Now you need some way to get all of those feline files back. Fret not! Just log in to Catblaze, navigate to the Furball page, enter your address, et voila — all of your cat content will be coughed up to the Furball and sent directly back to you!

One thing to keep in mind is that Backblaze typically has 11 nines of durability, Catblaze and the Furball program are down to only 9 lives of durability, but don’t let that worry you.

Furball Pricing

You might be thinking that the Furball is priceless, but we’re pleased to announce that it won’t actually cost a paw and a leg! We recently increased our Restore by Mail capabilities and Furball pricing is similar at just $189 per Furball for up to 8 terabytes of frisky feline fun!

*Please note that the Furball ships as soon as we can actually get the cat contents inside the box. This might sound easy but herding cats has proven tricky in the past. Also, please make sure you send us clean data —- otherwise it takes us a while to scrub it. As the old saying goes, “litterbox in, litterbox out.”

Disk droppings

Availability and Pricing

Catblaze is available now for just $6/month per computer for an unlimited amount of cat-related content. We’ll also let you upload other content as well, but we know it’s not as important. Just cough up $189 and the Furball is yours — sent overnight by PetEx! Building on the success of our Restore Return Refund program, you can return your Furball to us within 30 days and we’ll refund you the money!

You can try Catblaze for free by visiting: http://www.catblaze.com though you might find that it says Backblaze once installed. We regret this typo.

Furball catbox

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

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

Home recording studio

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

Myspace: A Groundbreaking Online Social & Music Community

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

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

A Personal Story of Music and Myspace

by Ahin Thomas, VP of Marketing, Backblaze

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

Myspace missing song
Song missing on Myspace

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

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

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

Child

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

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

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

Nothing Holds a Memory (Like a Song)*

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

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

Back Up the Music

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

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

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

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

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

Preserve Your Memories and Your Songs with Backblaze

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

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

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Backblaze Reddit IAmA & World Backup Day 2019

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-reddit-iama-world-backup-day-2019/

Backblaze and Reddit stuffed logos

World Backup Day is March 31st and to celebrate this year, we’re going back in time and revisiting one of the most fun things we’ve done here at Backblaze, a Reddit IAmA!

When — Mark Your Calendars
On Thursday March 28th at 10am Pacific, join us on the official Reddit IAmA subreddit and ask us whatever you like!

Who — The Team Behind Backblaze
Joining in this IAmA will be: Gleb Budman, CEO of Backblaze; Brian Wilson, CTO of Backblaze; Yev Pusin, The Guy Writing This Post; and Andy Klein, the fellow who writes all of the Hard Drive Stats and Storage Pod posts! We’ll also have other Backblaze members popping in if they have some expertise to share!

What — Reddit AUA (Ask Us Anything)
We’ll be online answering your questions in real-time. Want to know about Storage Pods? No problem. Hard Drive Stats? Great! What video games we like to play? You got it. What our favorite meal is to eat when we travel? Yummo!

Reddit AMA with Backblaze March 28, 2019 10am Pacific
Reddit AMA with Backblaze March 28, 2019 10am Pacific

Why — Backup Awareness
Backblaze has supported World Backup Day since it started. Our first AUA (ask us anything) was about seven years ago and was in honor of World Backup Day, as well. We want to make sure that everyone is backed up, and World Backup Day is a great reminder that not everyone has a backup, and lets friends know that they should protect the important files they have on their computers. And, of course, if someone you know could use a service like ours, please send them to: https://www.backblaze.com/free-trial.html

World Backup Day 2019
Don’t be an April Fool. Be prepared. Back up your files on March 31st.

Note: This page is not officially supported or endorsed by World Backup Day.

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Farewell to Mozy

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/farewell-to-mozy-backup/

Mozy folder moving to Backblaze cloud backup

Around this time last year, we all learned that Carbonite was acquiring Mozy from Dell Inc. That deal closed on March 19, 2018 for $145 million. One year later, we’ve seen reports that Mozy users will be forced to update to the Carbonite service.

We’re always sad to see a competitor exit the marketplace. When Backblaze burst onto the scene in 2008, Mozy and CrashPlan (also no longer offering a consumer service) were some of our most formidable peers in the online backup space. Much like after CrashPlan exited the consumer space, we’d like to reaffirm our commitment to simple, inexpensive, and unlimited cloud backup for businesses and consumers.

A Message to Mozy Backup Customers

If you’ve been using Mozy and are unsure about the transition to Carbonite, we invite you to take a look at our comparison page to see how Backblaze stacks up against the cloud backup competition. We invite to take a free trial of Backblaze. It takes less than 5 minutes to get started and once installed, Backblaze will automatically start backing up your computer — no credit card is required until you decide to buy a license.

As part of the transition from Mozy to Carbonite, Mozy customers will need to reupload all of their data to Carbonite. If you’re concerned about the time it will take to complete a new backup with Carbonite, Backblaze has recently made our service much faster with the release of Backblaze Computer Backup v6.0. Now is the perfect time to switch to Backblaze, where you’ll be able to back up more data, more quickly, and less expensively.

Set a Reminder

While Carbonite does have promotional pricing for existing Mozy customers, that pricing will expire after your first renewal and subsequent charges will be at regular Carbonite rates (Carbonite Billing FAQ). You can compare some of Carbonite’s plans against Backblaze on our comparison chart. If you’d like, we can send an email one month before your renewal, reminding you that it might be coming up, and that it would be a great time to try Backblaze. Just fill out the form below and we’ll send you the reminder.



Give Backblaze a Try

Backblaze has been a leader in online backup since 2008 — providing unlimited, inexpensive, and simple online backup to everyone. We currently store over 750 petabytes of data and have restored over 40 billion files for our customers. You can try Backblaze for free at any time by visiting https://www.backblaze.com/free-trial.html.

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to anyone joining us from Mozy and look forward to taking care of your backups and data!

The post Farewell to Mozy appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

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

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

computer and camera overlooking a lake

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

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

The Five Best Practices to Keep Your Digital Media Safe

1 — Keep Multiple Copies of Your Media Files

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

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

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

2 — Use Trustworthy Vendors

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

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

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

3 — Always Use Encryption (The Strongest Available)

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

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

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

4 — Automate Whenever Possible

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

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

5 — Be Mindful of Security in Your Workflow

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

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

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

Data Security Can Be Both Simple and Effective

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

•  •  •

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

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

How Reliable are SSDs?

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

an exploded view of a Samsung Solid State Drive

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

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

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

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

Reliability

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

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

Backing Up Is Great To Do

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

SSD Reliability Factors to Consider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SSD Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Reliability Factors Affect Your Choice of SSD

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

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

Signs of SSD Failure

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

1) Errors Involving Bad Blocks

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

2) Files Cannot Be Read or Written

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

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

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

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

SSDs Generally Will Last As Long As You Need Them To

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

Q: Do SSDs fail faster than HDDs?

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscription Updates for Computer Backup

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-computer-backup-pricing-change/

Backblaze laptop

Since 2008, we have offered unlimited Computer Backup for $5 per month. Today, after more than a decade of providing unlimited backup at that same price while also continuing to add features and functionality, we are announcing a price increase.

Effective for new purchases and renewals after March 11, 2019 at 5PM Pacific, our prices will change to:

2019 pricing

More than ten years ago, a friend’s computer crashed, taking with it all her writing and other files. Since she had no backup, she lost everything. As a result, we asked friends, family, and co-workers what they did for backup. The answers were primarily “nothing” or “not enough.” Five of us decided to quit our jobs and commit to working on this problem for a year with no salary in the hopes that we could help save a few people from this type of loss.

A lot has changed since then. Apple’s Time Machine, iPhone, iPad, Watch, and iCloud didn’t exist when we first started; Google Drive, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure were years away from being announced. Even for techies, the arrival of clouds mostly meant the need to bring an umbrella. Maxtor, at the time the third-largest hard drive vendor, had just been acquired by Seagate, and HGST was still a stand-alone hard drive company. The 1TB hard drive was a breakthrough in capacity.

Why The Change?

The short answer is that we have enhanced the service in many ways and storage costs have gone up. We have continually removed impediments to getting data backed up — no file size restrictions, speeding up uploads, all while data sets have grown larger and larger. We’ve worked hard to avoid raising our prices, which resulted in some great storage innovations and has allowed us to keep our original prices for more than a decade. By making this decision now, we are ensuring we can continue to offer unlimited backup and keep improving our Computer Backup service. I’d like to go into further detail on the two primary sources of our increased costs: 1) enhancements to the service, and 2) the market cost of storage.

1) Enhancements to the service

When we launched our service, we were (and still are) committed to providing unlimited backup. In addition, over the years, we’ve introduced many enhancements to improve the product in ways that have increased our costs. As consumer data has expanded, we have made sure that we continually back up all data as quickly as possible.

When we say unlimited, we mean unlimited. Here are a few examples of that commitment:

  • Removed all limits on what can be backed up. Originally 4GB was the maximum size any individual file could be and VM images, ISOs, plus other file types that aren’t typically user data were excluded.
  • Sped up backups. Combined small files into bundles, added threading to allow 30 backup processes at once, and added automatic thread management. This means your data gets backed up as fast as your setup allows.
  • Expanded restore options. Expanded the maximum size of Restore by Mail from 0.5 TB to 8 TB on a hard drive, and from a 4 GB DVD to a 256 GB flash drive. We also introduced the Restore Return Refund program. It’s a program our customers love but most other players in the industry have abandoned due to the costs of shipping, packaging, drive replacement, etc.
  • A bunch of other features. Locate My Computer, Preview/Access/Share, two-factor verification, iOS/Android apps, network management, Save to B2, and many of the other features/functions not only incurred development costs but have ongoing server/bandwidth expenses.

Other services have moved away from unlimited plans in favor of tiered pricing options (and different feature sets for different customers). Our customers tell us they love simplicity and predictability. While we are changing our prices, we remain fully committed to providing simple, reliable computer backup.

2) Market cost of storage

The volume of personal data has been skyrocketing for the last decade. In many ways our daily lives generate more data. We now carry a HD video camera in our pockets, music/video downloads are ubiquitous, and no event goes by without memorializing it with a photo or a social media post.

Historically, Backblaze benefitted from hard drives growing in capacity and decreasing in price. Over our first few years, these two trends approximately canceled each other out (customer data grew at approximately the same rate as hard drives decreased in price). Unfortunately, the 2011 floods in Thailand caused a step-function increase in the cost of drives that the market has still not recovered from, and the rate of price decreases on hard drives has slowed down.

Our team works aggressively to reduce our cost of storage year over year. And we have managed to create enough efficiencies to have kept our 2008 pricing. We designed our own Storage Pods, wrote our cloud storage file system, used consumer hard drives and analyzed which had the best price/reliability mix for our use-case, built client-side deduplication, went to crazy extremes during the Thailand drive crisis, and continue working proactively every day to drive down the cost of storage.

As a result, we believe that we have the lowest cost of storage in the industry. (An indicator of this is that we offer our infrastructure-as-a-service cloud storage at 1/4th the price of Amazon, Google, or Microsoft.) Despite that, the amount of storage per customer has grown faster than the reduction in costs.

Going Forward

A lot has changed in the decade since we founded Backblaze. We now offer backup for consumers and businesses, as well as raw object storage. We store over 750 petabytes of data for hundreds of thousands of customers in over 150 countries, and have helped customers recover over 35 billion files. What hasn’t changed is our desire to continue providing a service we’re proud of.

With all of that, we determined that it was important for us to take this step. It was not a decision we took lightly. We are committed to unlimited backup and want to be able to continue to invest in the service. We spent months making sure that we made this change the right way, including providing something for our existing and loyal customers.

To say thank you, we are offering existing customers the ability to extend existing Computer Backup licenses by one year for $50 per computer (the price of our original annual plan from 2008). Please read the Subscription Extension Program FAQ to learn more about this program and how you can extend your existing license for one year at the current pricing.

Thank you for being a customer and we look forward to protecting your data for many years to come.

The post Subscription Updates for Computer Backup appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Save Data Directly to B2 With Backblaze Cloud Backup 6.0

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

Save Restores to B2 screenshot

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

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

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

No More Connecting Your External Drives Every 30 Days

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

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

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

What is B2 Cloud Storage?

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

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

How Does Saving a Restore to B2 Work?

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

screenshot of the View/Restore Files options

Creating a Restore Snapshot in Backup account

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

Name this Snapshot screenshot

Preparing Snapshot from Computer Backup account

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

Your B2 Snapshot is Ready!

Notice that Snapshot has been created

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

screenshot of user B2 Snapshots

User account page showing status of Snapshots in B2

Let Us Know How You’re Using Snapshots

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

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

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

Backblaze Cloud Backup v6.0: Larger Longer Faster Better

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-cloud-backup-v6/

Backblaze 6.0 -- The Larger Longer Faster Better Release
Announcing Backblaze Cloud Backup 6.0: The Larger Longer Faster Better Release!

This release for consumers and businesses brings a lot of new functionality to Backblaze Cloud Backup: Restore by Mail drives that are twice the size, archiving with Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, up to 50% faster backups, and a network blocklist feature to help avoid data caps. All that plus more efficient and performant Mac and Windows applications along with mobile enhancements and SSO support with Google. We hope you like it!

Backblaze Restores — Now With The Power of B2 Cloud Storage

Larger Restores — Twice the Size

The amount of data individuals accumulate each year keeps growing. As you store more data, you need bigger hard drives to restore that data. Backblaze is increasing the capacity of our restore hard drives by 100% for our Restore By Mail feature. Flash keys can now hold up to 256GB and hard drives can now hold up to 8TB in restore data. Best of all, you can still use our Restore Return Refund feature to return those restore drives for a full refund.
2x 8TB USB Hard Drive Restore / 2x 256 GB USB Flash Drive Restore

Saving Data To B2 Snapshots

Backed up files can now be zipped and archived to a Snapshot in B2 Cloud Storage. These selected files will be available until you delete the Snapshot, even if the files have been deleted from your computer and backup. This capability lets customers do new things like keep a copy of all your old computer’s data even when migrating to a new one, save a collection of files (e.g. tax returns) in the cloud as an archive, or free up space on your hard drive by moving data to a Snapshot and then deleting the original copy. Just like files in Computer Backup, your B2 Snapshot can be downloaded over the internet or delivered on a USB hard drive. Learn more about Saving Data to B2!
Save Files to B2

Keep Restores Longer

Extend the life of your .zip restore by archiving it to B2 Cloud Storage. Your restore will be kept in a private B2 Cloud Storage Snapshot bucket as a .zip file until you delete the Snapshot. Use this feature if you need more time to download your restore or want to keep a permanent copy. Get the data later by downloading it directly to your computer or using our Restore by Mail service. Learn more about Keeping Restores Longer!
V6 -- Keep Restores Longer

Mac and Windows Application Updates

Performance — a 50% Boost

We’ve increased the maximum upload threads to 30, creating speed increases up to 50% (depending on your computer and upload bandwidth). More threads allow more uploads to run in parallel thereby dramatically increasing backup speeds. Learn more about backup threads on Mac and Windows.

Efficiency

Logging and system resource usage have been streamlined so Backblaze continues to be nearly invisible on your computer.

Network Management

We’re not big fans of data caps here at Backblaze, and one bit of feedback we’ve received over the last year or so was that people were blowing past their ISP’s monthly bandwidth allotment while backing up using their hotspot or mobile device-tethered internet connection. With that in mind, we’ve added a blocklist feature so you can choose to prevent backups from occurring while you are connected to specific Wi-Fi networks of your choosing. Backblaze will still transmit little bits of data (we call them heartbeats) to let us know your computer is still active, but no backups will be transmitted. Learn more about Network Management!
Block chosen WiFi Networks

Mobile Overhaul

Increased File Download Size

In the spirit of our increased maximum Restore by Mail hard drive and flash drive sizes, we’ve also increased the maximum size for downloads on our iOS and Android mobile apps. You can now download larger files, but keep in mind that your phone or tablet needs to have space available to hold them!

Security Enhancements

We’ve spent the last few months enhancing our sign-in security choices, and with the newest versions of our mobile apps, we’ve added support for 2FV via ToTP, biometric support, and SSO support.

Ease Of Use

We’ve cleaned up the mobile apps and made them a bit more intuitive to enable faster navigation and increased speed for browsing and downloading files.
V6 -- Increased File Download Size and Security Enhancements

SSO Support with Google

We’re rolling out SSO support for Gmail. Our Backblaze Groups have had SSO support for G Suite businesses for a few months, and now everyone can use this alternate sign-in method. You can enable SSO login from the My Settings page in your account and we’ll change your login preferences to SSO with the Gmail address associated with your account. New accounts can also be created using SSO on account creation. Learn more about Enabling SSO!

Backblaze 6.0 Available: January 17th, 2019

We will be slowly auto-updating all users in the coming weeks. To update now:

This version is now the default download on www.backblaze.com.

Want to Learn More? January 30th, 2019 at 11am PT

Want to learn more? Join Yev on a webinar where he’ll go over version 6.0 features and answer viewer questions! The webinar will be available on BrightTalk (registration is required) and you can sign up here by visiting the Backblaze BrightTALK channel.

We hope you enjoy Backblaze Cloud Backup v6.0!

The post Backblaze Cloud Backup v6.0: Larger Longer Faster Better appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

How Much Photo & Video Data Do You Have Stored?

Post Syndicated from Jim Goldstein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-much-photo-video-data-do-you-have-stored/

How Much Photo and Video Data Do You Have?

Backblaze’s Director of Marketing Operations, Jim, is not just a marketing wizard, he’s worked as a professional photographer and run marketing for a gear rental business. He knows a lot of photographers. We thought that our readers would be interested in the results of an informal poll he recently conducted among his media friends about the amount of media data they store.You’re invited to contribute to the poll, as well!

— Editor

I asked my circle of professional and amateur photographer friends how much digital media data they have stored. It was a quick survey, and not in any way scientific, but it did show the range of data use by photographers and videographers.

Jim's media data storage poll

I received 64 responses. The answers ranged from less than 5 TB (17 users) to 2 petabytes (1 user). The most popular response was 10-19 TB (18 users). Here are the results.

Digital media storage poll results

Jim's digital media storage poll results

How Much Digital Media Do You Have Stored?

I wondered if the results would be similar if I expanded our survey to a wider audience.

The poll below replicates what I asked of my circle of professional and non-professional photographer and videographer friends. The poll results will be updated in real-time. I ask that you respond only once.

Backblaze is interested in the results as it will help us write blog articles that will be useful to our readership, and also offer cloud services suitable for the needs of our users. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments about cloud backup and storage, and about our products Backblaze Backup and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.

I’m anxious to see the results.

Our Poll — Please Vote!

How much photo/video data do you have in total (TB)?

Thanks for participating in the poll. If you’d like to provide more details about the data you store and how you do it, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

The post How Much Photo & Video Data Do You Have Stored? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

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

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

Mars Curiosity Rover at JPL in Pasadena

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

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

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

Two Brains Are Better Than One

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

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

Tweet from @MarsCuriosity on October 17, 2018

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

Inside the Curiosity’s Brains

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

RAD750 radiation-hardened PowerPC space microprocessor

RAD750 radiation-hardened PowerPC space microprocessor

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Right Stuff for Space Exploration

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

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

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

Curiosity Rover Compute Elements (highlighted)

Curiosity Rover Compute Elements (highlighted)

Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Backup is a Good Idea on Both Earth and Mars

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

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

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

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

Backblaze’s Custom Data Center PDU

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

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

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

Backblaze's 6.0 Storage Pod with 60 drives

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

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

Identifying the Problem — the PDU

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

Vertically-mounted PDU blocking rear access to Storage Pods

Vertically-mounted PDU blocking rear access to Storage Pods

What’s a PDU?

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

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

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

The Backblaze Storage Pods and Cabinets

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

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

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

A Better PDU

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

Jon’s PDU Requirements

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

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

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

The Custom PDU

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

Custom PDUCustom PDU (back)Custom PDU display

Custom PDU

Custom PDU (back)

Custom PDU display

Guido, A Valued Member of Backblaze’s Operations Team

Guido, a valued member of Backblaze's operations team

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

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

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

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

Custom PDU in a cabinet between two Storage Pods

Custom PDU in a cabinet between two Storage Pods

Storage Pod open at rear of cabinet

Storage Pod open at top

We Value Our Culture of Doing Things Differently

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

Continuing the Backblaze Tradition

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

Thanks Jon. Well done!

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

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


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

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

New for Business Backup: Single Sign-On (SSO)

Post Syndicated from Ahin Thomas original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/new-for-business-backup-single-sign-on-sso/

Single Sign-On (SSO) for Backblaze
In 2017, we relaunched our Business Backup platform with a focus on providing administrators better tools for managing their teams. We’ve been busy enhancing the platform since the addition of Groups and thought we’d take a moment to review some of our latest enhancements.

The most recent is our support of Single Sign-On (SSO) using G Suite by Google Cloud. This has been one of our most requested features and we’re happy to be able to launch it today.

SSO Support for Groups

Effective immediately, SSO via G Suite is available for all Groups. There is no fee for turning on SSO or for creating a Group.

We created our Business Backup platform to help make managing your team’s backups easier. Whether your team is inside your household or a globally distributed workforce like charity: water (or somewhere in between), we want to make the process of getting your data backed up astonishingly easy and affordable.

As your team uses more and more software-based solutions, the challenge of managing all the logins gets more difficult. And as your team grows, so do the security issues. In addition, the simple act of administering the services can get complex. Administrators want to know they can onboard and offboard easily and efficiently.

SSO can be enabled for a specific Group, a collection of Groups, or all of your Groups. The flexibility, coupled with the ability to control access privileges at a Group level, provides administrators more tools to accomplish their goals.

You can enable SSO for your Groups inside of your preferences panel where you control all of your Group level customizations.

Groups Preferences Pane — Enable SSO

For more detail & FAQs, please visit our Knowledge Base article on Enabling Single Sign-On (SSO) In Backblaze Groups.

With the addition of SSO, we provide one more tool to manage your teams as you wish. With this roll out we are supporting G Suite based credentials. In Q1 of 2019, we’ll add support for organizations using Office365 credentials.

Mass Install with Microsoft Group Policy & SCCM

Another set of challenges for administrators is the deployment of software. Most users would prefer if their IT team simply “took care of everything.” For the user, a glorious world of having your machine updated and working flawlessly is great. For anyone who’s been in the IT Admin role, you know that things aren’t quite that simple.

Many administrators seek what’s known as Mass Silent Install (MSI). This allows the deployment of software without any end user interaction. Some do the scripting themselves, while others use Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools. We recently added SCCM support to our existing list of MSI options.

We are constantly striving to make getting your data backed up as easy as possible, and adding SSO is another strong step in that direction.

The post New for Business Backup: Single Sign-On (SSO) appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Credential Stuffing Attacks: What They Are and How to Protect Yourself

Post Syndicated from Ahin Thomas original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-protect-yourself-from-credential-stuffing-attacks/

a hacker wearing a hoodie running a credential stuffing attack
While we often see warnings about password best practices (different passwords for different services, change passwords frequently, 123456 is never a good password), we rarely get into why we need to do these things. Incremental security comes at a cost: usually convenience. Every individual must decide her personal tradeoffs. Today, we want to share one of the ways malicious actors try to take advantage of online services and poorly-crafted passwords: credential stuffing attacks.

What is a Credential Stuffing Attack?

A credential stuffing attack occurs when an attacker takes a set of stolen user credentials and automates the entry of those credentials into popular websites. Let’s unpack that:

Credentials
A user name and password combination used for logging in to service x.
Breached credentials
A list of user name/password combinations that have become public in some form. As an example, an enterprising cybercriminal exploits credentials from Adobe, Coachella, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Ticketfly, Yahoo and other sites that have leaked personal information for over 500 million accounts.
Automated entry
The cybercriminal will go to the login page on service x and systematically cycle through each user name and password combination hoping to get lucky enough to find a match. Some will even go further by using one email address and cycling through all the passwords in the database — the logic being that users tend to come up with similar passwords, such as 123456 or Pa$$word$.

What is Backblaze Doing to Defend Against Credential Stuffing Attacks?

Every service of scale, including Backblaze, has defense mechanisms to inhibit this sort of activity. For instance, when you see “too many attempts, try again later,” on a popular site, what is likely happening behind the scenes is something called rate limiting. This is when a web page has a rule akin to: if there are x number of login attempts in y seconds, it’s probably a robot; we should cut them off.

The problem is balancing security with the user experience. If we limited every account to two login attempts per hour, that would hamstring the efforts of any automated attack. However, it would also impede the efforts of legitimate users who made a simple typo when they were entering their password.

Revealing our exact rate limiting policies would pose a security risk to our users, allowing the attackers to fine-tune an attack. That said, we do have rate limiting, we do constantly monitor our systems, and we also have algorithms and humans that will adjust our rate limiting depending on a number of environmental variables that our security team monitors.

The Three Steps We Tell Everyone In Our Family to Take

With the large number of data breaches over the past few years, it’s more likely than not that you’ve been exposed. If you’ve been using the same email and password combination for three years and have a Comcast account that old, you could be exposed. It’s the same story for Ticketfly accounts older than May of 2018. We mention these not to single out any particular service, but to point out how prevalent these things are.

However, if you have different passwords for every website, you effectively protect yourself from being hacked as a result of leaks like these. While that might be true, trying to remember and manage all those different combinations is cumbersome.

How to Fight Back Against Credential Stuffing

Protecting yourself from credential stuffing attacks can be as simple as adopting the following three tactics:

1 — Monitor Your Email Addresses

Troy Hunt runs a phenomenal service called haveibeenpwned.com. He tracks major breaches and will let you know if your credentials were included in them. It’s free, although you can donate to the service. Signing up is one of the easiest ways to take control of your own security.

2 — Use Two Factor Verification

2FV, as it’s commonly called, is when you are asked for an incremental authentication — usually numbers generated by a dedicated app (including a password manager) — after you enter your password. Backblaze offers it as a complimentary service as do many other service providers. 2FV is a good defense mechanism against credential stuffing.

3 — Use a Password Manager

We highly recommend using a password manager such as Bitwarden, LastPass, or 1Password. Those services can help create new account credentials for every website you frequent, and help you manage those credentials when you visit those sites. Many people at Backblaze use these services and are quite happy with them.

One of the advantages of password managers is that they let you create passwords you can’t possibly remember. You just need to remember the master password to your password manager; they do the rest. That means you can set complicated passwords to any service. Each of the password managers integrate well into all major browsers and into Android and iOS devices. Not only will a password manager make your life secure, it makes your login experience much faster.

The Best Protection Against Credential Stuffing Is…

Of course, the best protection in the world is never being exposed in the first place. We encourage everyone to do business with vendors that can articulate how they protect their customers and have a sustained investment in doing so. At Backblaze, we’ve outlined our approach to security on our website.

All that said, the reality is we’ve all created accounts with service providers that may not have the best security practices. Even still, any website with the best intentions can still be felled by a skilled attacker, which is why the the need to protect ourselves and use credential best practices is very real. We hope, and strongly recommend, that everyone follow the three steps mentioned here.

If you have other other tips for the community, please feel free to share in the comments below!

The post Credential Stuffing Attacks: What They Are and How to Protect Yourself appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Stories of Camera and Data Catastrophes

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

Salt water damaged camera

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

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

— Editor

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

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

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

Camera Data Catastrophes

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

The Salty Sony A7sII

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

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

Sony A7sII disassembled into partsSony A7sII salt water damage

The Color Run Cleanup

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

Color run damage to camera lens

Color run damage to camera

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

The Eclipse That Killed Cameras

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

Eclipse camera lens damage

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

Eclipse camera damage

Eclipse camera shutter damage

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

Damage from Burning Man

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

Burning Man camera damage

Burning Man dust damage

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

Burning Man damage to Nikon camera

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

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

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

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Migrating from CrashPlan: Arq and B2

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/migrating-crashplan-arq-backup-b2/

Arq and Backblaze B2 logos on a computer screen

Many ex-CrashPlan for Home users have moved to Backblaze over the last year. We gave them a reliable, set-and-forget backup experience for the amazing price of $5/month per computer. Yet some people wanted features such as network share backup and CrashPlan’s rollback policy, and Arq Backup can provide those capabilities. So we asked Stefan Reitshamer of Arq to tell us about his solution.

— Andy

Migrating from CrashPlan
by Stefan Reitshamer, Founder, Arq Backup

CrashPlan for Home is gone — no more backups to CrashPlan and no more ability to restore from your old backups. Time to find an alternative!

Arq + Backblaze B2 = CrashPlan Home

If you’re looking for many of the same features as CrashPlan plus affordable storage, Arq + B2 cloud storage is a great option. MacWorld’s review of Arq called it “more reliable and easier to use than CrashPlan.”

Just like CrashPlan for Home, Arq lets you choose your own encryption password. Everything is encrypted before it leaves your computer, with a password that only you know.

Also just like CrashPlan for Home, Arq keeps all backups forever by default. Optionally you can tell it to “thin” your backup records from hourly to daily to weekly as they age, similar to the way Time Machine does it. And/or you can set a budget and Arq will periodically delete the oldest backup records to keep your costs under control.

With Arq you can back up whatever you want — no limits. Back up your external hard drives, network shares, etc. Arq won’t delete backups of an external drive no matter how long it’s been since you’ve connected it to your computer.

The license for Arq is a one-time cost and, if you use multiple Macs and/or PCs, one license covers all of them. The pricing for B2 storage is a fraction of the cost of any scale cloud storage provider — just $0.005/GB per month and the first 10GB is free. To put that in context, that’s 1/4th the price of Amazon S3. The savings becomes more pronounced if/when you need to restore your files. B2 only charges a flat rate of $0.01/GB for data download, and you get 1 GB of downloads free every day. By contract, Amazon S3 has tiered pricing that starts at 9 times that of B2.

Arq’s Advanced Features

Arq is a mature product with plenty of advanced features:

  • You can tell Arq to pause backups whenever you’re on battery.
  • You can tell Arq to pause backups during a certain time window every day.
  • You can tell Arq to keep your computer awake until it finishes the backup.
  • You can restrict which Wi-Fi networks and which network interfaces Arq uses for backup.
  • You can restrict how much bandwidth Arq uses when backing up.
  • You can configure Arq to send you email every time it finishes backing up, or only if there were errors during backup.
  • You can configure Arq to run a script before and/or after backup.
  • You can configure Arq to back up to multiple B2 accounts if you wish. Back up different folders to different B2 accounts, configure different schedules for each B2 account, etc.

Arq is fully compatible with B2. You can configure it with your B2 account ID and master application key, or you can use B2’s new application keys feature to restrict which bucket(s) Arq can write to.

Privacy and Control

With Arq and B2 storage, you keep control of your data because it’s your B2 account and your encryption password — even if an attacker got access to the B2 data they wouldn’t be able to read your encrypted files. Your backups are stored in an open, documented format. There’s even an open-source restore tool.

The post Migrating from CrashPlan: Arq and B2 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

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

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

whats the diff? SSD vs. HDD

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

— Editor

In This Corner: The Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hard Disk Drives Cost Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Range of SSD Form Factors

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SSDs Fail Too

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

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

Planning for the Future of Storage

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

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

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


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

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