If you know anything about backups, you have heard that an offsite backup of your Mac is a necessity. I have several different backups of my iMac Data, but no offsite backup. There is no way I am going to do like some people and take an external hard drive to a safe deposit box or something like that. For offsite backups most people use a service like BackBlaze, iDrive, Crashplan and so forth. I decided I needed an offsite backup and went with BackBlaze. Here is how it works.
Why An Offsite Backup
What got me started on all this is wanting to remove the iCloud Drive folder from my iMac to gain more space. So, I turned off the iMac iCloud Drive on my Mac. The stuff on the actual iCloud Drive is still there, but it is not connected to my Mac. But, why use a cloud type offsite backup anyway. I think cloud backup is for convenience, you have access through the Web to all your data everywhere. But, I also think it is perfect for catastrophes. If some type of catastrophe strikes, sometimes we do not have time to collect all our computers and backup drives. Hopefully this never happens to any of us, but it is a reality none-the-less.
To replace the removal of the iCloud Drive mirror on my system, I decided to try BackBlaze (BB). BB is cloud backup, but does not mirror your stuff on your HD like iCloud Drive. It offers unlimited storage, you can also backup your external drives if you wish. All of this costs about $50 a year which is pretty reasonable. BB uses SSL encryption and you can activate two-factor authentication for added security.
BackBlaze: How It Works
You signup for BackBlaze on their website for a free 15 day trial. After signing up, you are presented with this window:
BackBlaze installs a System Preference Pane which controls all of your backup settings and runs the backups. When that is first installed, it opens and runs a diagnostic on your hard drives:
I had to go into the Settings area and tell it to Exclude my external drives, more on Settings in a minute. This analysis took about 45 minutes or so on my iMac. When it is finished analyzing, it begins backing up to the cloud:
The initial backup of my system took about 24 hours. You do not need to do anything, just leave your Mac running overnight. If you have more Data than I do, then it may take a couple of days, especially if you are backing up some extra external hard drives. When the backup is finished you are notified in the Pref Pane window:
If you look right below the “Settings” button you will see “What is being backed up?”. If you click on that you are taken to the BB website page that describes what type of files are omitted and what is backed up. The bottomline is BB backs up your Data. It omits files like disk images, ISO files, system files and applications. The idea being if you can reinstall something like an App or the macOS, then BB does not need to back it up. It is a service that is all about preserving your Data. Speaking of preserving your Data, BB keeps deleted files for 30 days only. BB is not a longterm archiving system, it is for more immediate preserving and restoring of files. Think of it as a mirror of your hard drive Data.
BB has several Settings that can be monitored and altered to fit your backup needs:
The main Settings area is very important. Here is where you select what you want to backup. Initially, I just backed up my Macintosh HD. After that had completed, I decided to backup a few things on Carol Backup. However, I did not want to backup the whole Carol Backup Drive, so I clicked on the Exclusions Tab to exclude certain folders:
All you have to do in this window is click on the “Plus” symbol, navigate to the drive and folders in question and select them for exclusion.
If you look in the Schedule Tab you can set how often BB runs it’s backups:
They recommend Continuously, but Once Per Day may be more than adequate for some people, especially if you already run an hourly backup like I do.
As previously mentioned, BB has good security features:
You can activate Two-factor Authentication and also have a Private Encryption Key. Your Data is very secure in my opinion.
So far, I am really liking BackBlaze. It seems to work quite seamlessly. I run the recommended “Continuously” backup setting. I do not notice any slowdown on my iMac, but if you did notice this on your machine you could set the backup to Once A Day during the night for instance. The BackBlaze people suggest to do a couple of practice Restores of Data after your first complete backup. I have done this, it works very nicely. By the way, Restoring files is quite simple. You just click on the Restore button in the main Settings window:
You will be taken to your account login on the BackBlaze website. Once you login click on “Restore Files” in the sidebar and scroll down the page to your current backup:
Select the file or folder you wish to Restore and click on Continue with Restore. Some people report having problems with this procedure, but it worked seamlessly for me.
I think using BackBlaze for an offsite backup for $50 is just a really good idea. It is an inexpensive insurance policy to protect your Data. I have gone ahead and activated Two-factor Authentication. I am still using BackBlaze in trial mode, but will purchase in the next few days. It cannot cost you anything to do the trial and see if it works with your workflow.