Online backups: Backblaze, Crashplan, Carbonite??

For my online backups, I have been using Mozy for some years now. But when compared to other similar services, Mozy is rather expensive, and it doesn’t offer unlimited backups. So now I’m considering a change to another similar service. Does anyone have experience with Backblaze, which is rather cheap, declares itself very user friendly and offers unlimited backups? Or should I rather try Crashplan or Carbonite or some other company?

I’ve just started using Backblaze and, so far, have found it to perform extremely well. It’s certainly very easy to set up. All backups are encrypted for security, and this can be further enhanced by opting to apply a second-tier private key. I did try Spideroak a while back, but found it rather cumbersome and intrusive. By comparison, Backblaze is simplicity itself.

I’m interested that two posters whose views I respect are using online backups. Joe Kissell in his Take Control book on backups says that on speed, and, possibly volume, grounds, online is probably best only used as a supplement, and gives it only very limited consideration. I’ve been concerned - perhaps unjustifiably - about reliability; somehow an external hard disk that one can touch and see appears more reliable.

So - as a rider to the above questions about specific services, has the overall position changed? Have the online backup services - or at least certain of them - reached levels of reliability, user-friendliness and cost such that, as a principle, one can consider using them as one would in the past have used an external hard disk on one’s desk?

Of course at home I have an external hard disk for Time Machine backups. But for extra security I want a complete backup of my home folder outside my house too.

As said before, in the past few years I have been using Mozy, which is not very difficult to use, but not very user friendly either. And comparatively rather costly too. So now I think it’s time for a change.

I use CrashPlan (encrypted with a private data key before the data leaves my machine), mainly because Katherine (kewms) recommended it once and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I bought a long subscription for my children (students) so that I wouldn’t have to worry about them losing their university work if something happened to their five-year-old computers, and I’ve been using CrashPlan myself for 18 months or so. When my son’s TimeMachine disk failed recently, a few days prior to submitting a major project for his course, it was a relief to all of us that the CrashPlan backup was there, even though he fortunately didn’t need to call on it. So, I have no experience of other remote backup services and this is a relatively uninformed opinion, but we have been happy with CrashPlan.

The initial backup was hugely lengthy, and seemed interminable. Since then, I never even notice it’s there, apart from receiving a weekly email confirming the backup completion status. It offers unlimited data storage, as well as a continuous backup as you work. Occasionally, I have wondered whether it is actually doing what it is meant to be doing, so I have gone into the remote backup to check – and, lo and behold, everything has been as it should be, backed up to the minute. I would say that once you have done the initial setup, CrashPlan is as unobtrusive as it is possible to be.

I also use TimeMachine, connecting an external drive every few days (the schedule is based on when I remember, rather than on any sensible strategy). I intended using SuperDuper every now and then as well, for another local backup, but somebody in my family has appropriated the connecting cable for the drive I had in mind!

Thanks, both.

Another Crashplan user here… one thing that might be handy is that you can use Crashplan for free to back up to another machine (a machine you have somewhere else, or a friend or family member). Or you can pay to back up to their data center.

I use their data center, but also use the “free” feature to send data from some family members to my machine so that they have an offsite backup (they are lightweight, so its not a lot of data).

Has worked quite well, and I restore from it on occasion… once for a totally failed machine, and commonly for a random file I might accidentally trash. Actually did that tonight :slight_smile:

My Backblaze trial has now expired, so I’ve purchased a two year subscription. Yes, I’m that impressed! It was simplicity itself to set up, and I now have offsite data storage for two years for less than the cost of a run of the mill external hard drive.
My backup strategy now looks like this:
I carry a WD My Passport 1TB external hard drive that I back up to daily, using Time Machine. Every week I make an additional bootable back up to another external drive, this time using SuperDuper. Now Backblaze adds another tine to this forked approach by providing me with a further level of secure and encrypted data storage, and it does this in the background, automatically, requiring no input from me.
Family photographs; videos; music; critical personal information; it’s all now held in my own little binary data stream whose size and value—to me at least—seems to be growing exponentially, so augmenting my existing backup regime at this time seemed a prudent step to take.

In the meantime, I uploaded my entire home folder (ca. 175 GB) to the Backblaze server, which took some four days. Very simple, all worked well. After that, I tried to restore some documents and folders from Backblaze to my desktop: again, the process was very simple and worked as advertised.

All this inspired me enough confidence to buy two years of Backblaze online backups and storage for the modest sum of $ 95.

I can only comment on CrashPlan, which I use and like.

However, with any backup strategy, local or online, BE SURE TO TEST THE RESTORE FUNCTION.

We get a lot of support emails from people who say “My hard disk failed/my computer was stolen, and Scrivener won’t open my backup from [service]. Can you help me?”

Sadly, in a lot of cases the answer is no, because the backup doesn’t contain a complete Scrivener project. If the data isn’t there, there just isn’t much we (or anyone) can do. So make sure you know how to restore from a backup if needed, and make sure that whatever service you use really is backing up the data you want.


There is the rub. I tried a cloud backup to Proton, and it won’t restore. I can’t get all elements of the project to copy. I trust somewhere in the documentation there is a protocol to do this, to store and then restore a complete project, whatever the remote target. Can you tell me?

The simplest solution is to use ZIP backups. Either Scrivener’s automatic backup or the File → Backup → Backup To command can be configured to create a ZIP backup. That’s a single file, somewhat immune to mangling by overzealous software. Download the ZIP file to the local computer, uncompress it, and you should be good to go.

If it’s too late for that, and you’re currently trying to recover a damaged project, please open a support ticket. We may still be able to help, but we might need more access to the backup than is advisable in a public forum.

I have Idrive and plan based on total data backup. First pay tier is 5 terabytes and can backup multiple computers and external drives as well.
Do agree with using zip backups as insurance for a full project restore if problem occurs. I also use a usb key when actively writing.

1 Like