I advocate a strong backup strategy and I regularly talk about this on the blog and on Mac Power Users. Listeners to the podcast may know, Backblaze became a sponsor earlier this month and in the ad spots I’ve talked about my use of the service. This came as a surprise to long time listeners as I’ve been a user of CrashPlan, Backblaze’s main competitor, for many years. Since the ad spots started airing, I’ve received dozens of emails and tweets asking if I really switched to Backblaze and why. I felt I had to address them so here’s the story…
I originally choose CrashPlan for my offsite backup because they offered the most features and options. I specifically liked their support for network attached storage (I have a Drobo 5N that I want to be backed up off site) as well as their support for free peer backups. I have a few family members who have small amounts of data (less than 15 GB) who won’t perform their own regular backups so I installed CrashPlan on their machines to back them up to my Drobo. CrashPlan also offers deeply discounted family memberships which is a significant savings if you have multiple Macs in your household.
CrashPlan worked well for me in my first year of use and when I caught one of their promotions, I signed up for a four-year plan at a substantial discount. The biggest pain point with CrashPlan was, and still is, they don’t have a native Mac application. I found that the App required occasional “fiddling” to get or keep things working and even on my i7 machine with 8GB of RAM CrashPlan was a resource hog. CrashPlan promised a Mac App was on the way, but years later, I’m still waiting.
A series of problems in the last six months with CrashPlan, both on my computer as well as family Macs, made me reconsider using it as a backup service. I won’t go into details, but I have had extensive conversations with CrashPlan support and there was ultimately no good resolution, though CrashPlan did extend my membership for the trouble.
When I went to Macworld/iWorld in March I was pretty fed up and planned to visit the CrashPlan booth and talk to their management about my concerns. Except CrashPlan wasn’t there, but Backblaze was. Several of my friends, including David, used Backblaze and I was introduced to their CEO, Gleb Budman. I spoke with the Backblaze team at length about my concerns, how their service worked and how their features compared to CrashPlan. They were very up front about what they did and didn’t do and why. I also had an opportunity to learn about the infrastructure they’ve built and it’s clear this is a team that is passionate about what they do. By the end of the show, I was convinced to sign up for a trial of Backblaze and the folks at Backblaze talked to some of our podcast sponsors at the show and decided to sign up for a trial run of sponsorships on our podcast.
My Backblaze trial went very smoothly. I kept an eye on my processor and memory use using iStat Menus and Backblaze used far fewer system resources than CrashPlan. The backup to Backblaze was faster and my Mac ran better than when CrashPlan was installed. In short, Backblaze just worked. It backed up all the data on my hard drive, quickly, quietly and efficiently. At the end of the day, that’s more important to me than anything else.
I wish Backblaze had support for network attached storage so I could directly backup the data on my Drobo 5N (Backblaze supports direct attached storage such as USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt drives). Family pricing would also be nice. But at the end of the day, having a reliable solution is more important than anything else. I still have CrashPlan installed on my Drobo and a few family members are backing up there. But I’m encouraging backup independence. Several people will be receiving Backblaze gift memberships or external hard drives with tutorials this year so they can start taking care of their own backup needs.
So, that’s my online backup story so far. If CrashPlan gets a native Mac App that addresses my complaints, I may reconsider their service again. Just because I switched, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re currently using a service for offsite backup and you’re happy with it, keep using it. But if you’re not backing up offsite, you really need to start.
Disclosure: Backblaze sponsored Mac Power Users, as of the posting of this article, their ad run has ended. If you want to try Backblaze, use this link and we'll each get a month free.