Crashplan has been working ok for me for the past year, but it still has some rough spots and flakes. It occasionally just gets stuck and there is no obvious reason why. A reboot sometimes fixes it, but not always. I really want to find a rock solid backup so I never have to think about it again.
The new year is here, so i decided to try BackBlaze. I *loved* their writeup on hard drive reliability. It is nice to see that they think hard about this stuff. Their pricing model is also very generous at $5/mo for unlimited size.
Unfortunately Backblaze disappointed me.
The user interface is very simple – too simple in fact. There is no way to figure out what is going wrong when something goes wrong. It gives very unhelpful feedback. Does “Backup Paused” mean that I paused the backup – or it paused itself for some reason? Occasionally it would popup a box saying “Subscription expired” and take me to web web page showing my non-expired subscription. There is no way to tell it to not backup my C: drive, which on my machine is a small SSD boot drive with no data. Argh. But I think I could live with these annoyances if I had too.
But the real deal breaker came when I went to restore an older version of my Outlook PST file – which is probably the most important and most frequently updated local file on my system – and found that it was not in the BackBlaze backup at all.
A search for “Outlook” in BackBlaze’s support system brings up a page that assures…
My email is definitely stored locally on my machine, so i should be good. Maybe the backup was still running? The app window was clear in its message…
Further, the app’s “What is being backed up link?” brings you to a page with the title “BackBlaze backs up all your data”. Yet, clearly all my data was NOT backed up.
An email to BackBlaze support got a swift reply stating…
Backblaze cannot open files that are open, so if you are leaving your PST file open at all times Backblaze will never be able to back it up.
Outlook does keep the PST files open, so they will never be backed up by BackBlaze.
Wow. The failure here is not that BackBlaze can not backup open files (although it really should). The failure is that it told me that it backed up all my files, but in fact did not. There is no way I could have known that my data was not actually being backed up if I had not happened to check.
Silently not backing up data while explicitly stating that all data is backed up is about the biggest failure a backup program can have (short of deleting your local data!).
I am surprised that 10 years later, still no one can apparently get online backup right. This is not that hard of a problem.
Backup coop used to show you a list of files that had not been backed up yet, sorted with oldest first. It didn’t care why the file was not backed up – if the file on the local hard disk was different from the file on the backup – then the file was not backed up and you needed to know this. Fail-safe. You could set an alarm to let you know if the oldest not-backed-up-file was older than a certain amount of time (say, 1 hour or 1 week) so you’d know for certain that if you lost everything at this moment, you would never loose more than the specified amount of work.