Don’t Use BackBlaze

It’s Wednesday. I’m sitting at my Mac listening to Elle King sing Wild Love. On Monday I wasn’t sure that any copy I had of that song would ever play again. You see, last Saturday morning I walked by my Mac to see the external hard drive indicator light blinking. Furiously. I thought nothing of it. Hard drive indicator lights blink. Saturday afternoon it was still blinking. Furiously. I sat down to see what was the matter. The computer woke up to hundreds of messages from a drive I had not touched in three days.  The drive had not ejected properly. Apparently 483 times. Long story short, my beloved decade-old Hitachi was in its death spiral.

As Alfred E. Neuman said, “What? Me worry?” All of my critical files were neatly backed up off site using BackBlaze. In this case, it was a blush less than a terabyte of files. Not much. But more than I wanted to jam through my internet connection. So at 8:00 PM Saturday, I opted to have Backblaze send me a hard drive. At the same time I had Amazon send me a brand new Seagate Pro 4TB drive and an Inateck enclosure. The fantasy world inside my head saw the two coming together on Monday night. Hard drive crash? It’s like it never happened.

But Backblaze had a different vision. When you start a restore—that’s what they call it, a restore—it prompts one of those swirly things that all computer programs use nowadays to tell you that something is happening. But that it hasn’t happened.

On Tuesday morning my tiny terabyte restore was still swirling. You didn’t have to be the geeky kid in school to know that much swirling was a bad thing.

I canceled my order explaining that if it was going to take more than 72 hours getting the files onto the drive, I’d be until the cows came home getting them off. Backblaze didn’t respond with so much as a “Sorry for the inconvenience. This usually goes pretty well.” In fact their response made it seem like this was business as usual.

So there I was. My Barracuda, or Cheeta, or whatever fast animal Seagate names their drives after, was sitting lonely in its enclosure waiting to be fed data. And I had none to feed it. I had no Wild Love from Elle King.

What BackBlaze had given me, then, was two days to think about my past and future backup options, I found an app on my Mac called Intego Backup Manager Pro. Ah. I once had a LaCie external drive. With that came the slickest little backup manager I’d ever seen. Like all things slick, it had its day. So when I got my new Mac, the backup manager informed me that we could no longer be together. But, it said, you can upgrade to Intego Backup Manager Pro. I decided to give the trial version a whirl. As a test I made a backup of my critical files onto some old external drive I had laying around. Wow! It was even better than its slick predecessor. Then I unplugged it and promptly forgot. Cuz, hey, I had Backblaze.

So I pulled that drive out of its shoebox and copied everything from it. That got me up to about a year ago. My music and photos came back from their safe haven in iCloud. My Scrivener files, and 2Do, get synced through Drop Box and so were safe. All of the Grand Canyon stuff was still in Google Drive. After that it was a matter of locating more recent files on Backblaze, painstakingly creating restores, and slowly downloading them to my machine.

Lessons learned? Always backup your data. But think about how you do it. A backup is only as good as your ability to recover your files. With BackBlaze my options sucked. Offsite backups seem great. And I did finally manage to wrest some files from Backblaze. But offsite backups for personal use are a little underwhelming. And business sites like Backblaze apparently care less about your little terabyte corner of the world.

You probably have some sort of cloud service. Maybe it’s from your internet provider; maybe iCloud; maybe DropBox or Google Drive. Use those for files that change daily. Long term, hard drives are cheap. USB 3.0 is fast. Apps like Intego Backup Manager Pro give you granular control over what you backup, where, and when. Files that change weekly or monthly can go there. So from now on I’m going to bake my own cookies. The advantage of offsite is fire protection. But I have to have a fireproof safe anyway. I just need a bombproof backup plan.

So thanks, Backblaze. Thanks for nothing. I’ll take it from here. Elle King, take it away…

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