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Lasers, Forklifts, and the Backblaze B


Backblaze had a large presence at Macworld 2014 this year, and we had a great time at the show. We love going to Macworld and spreading the good word about online backup. We spoke with lots of interesting people, met with tons of Backblaze users, and even got some of them on film. One of the questions that we kept getting though was, “Where did we get that big B?”

B-Pod-2Based on my napkin drawing, Andy’s blueprints that we sent to our vendors.

The B started as a fluke. Initially we wanted to have a small presence at Macworld this year. Last year we were in the Appalooza section and this year we wanted to have a little modest booth where we could film some of our Backblaze fans and spread the word about online backup.

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The bare pieces start coming together.

A few weeks before the show, a large space opened up and we were given the opportunity to occupy it. We debated for a few days about whether or not it was a good idea to go that big, but ultimately we decided to go for it. After all, how often do you get a chance at a primo spot on the Macworld floor? But then we were faced with a problem. With large booths come large responsibilities. What were we going to do with all that new-found space?

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The B starts to take shape.

We started brainstorming in the office, but the best idea came from our CEOs wife, Katia. Gleb came in to the office and said, “Katia thinks it would be pretty cool if we built a giant B out of our Storage Pods”. This got the wheels turning and we decided that we were going to try and pull it off, with two weeks to go before the show.

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Getting ready for a paint job.

I immediately started down the path of working with our existing pod builders to see if it would be possible to build 18 chassis (by my estimation) and set them up in a way that would resemble a big letter B, for Backblaze. I drew it on a napkin, Andy made a schematic (seen above) and we sent it to our vendors.

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Looks good in red! – Click here for a video of the painting process.

It quickly became apparent that our existing vendors weren’t going to be able to get it done in time without affecting our regular Storage Pod deliveries, so we had to think quickly and come up with a new place to get our Storage Pods bent in to shape.

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Taking delivery of the B.

Our savior came in the form Ally Bocchieri, of Power10 Sales, who found us Exact Corp, a farming equipment manufacturer. A weird choice? Not really! We needed metal bent. They bend metal. We had a two week deadline. They promised they could deliver on time. Perfect!

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Unloading the 300lb B is a team effort, Backblaze CEO Gleb helps push.

I had a little request of them as well. We’ve never actually seen what it looks like when our Storage Pods were assembled, and while these pods are for display only and will never go in to production, I asked Exact to take a few pictures of the pods being assembled, and just like the B, they delivered. A big thank you to Exact, who not only delivered the B ahead of schedule, but also provided the documentation of its construction which helped make this our most memorable Macworld ever! Enjoy the photos below and live the life of the Backblaze B.

2014-03-25 15.16.43Our newly allotted blank space.

2014-03-25 15.19.43One of the scarier unloading moments.

2014-03-27 10.14.43The final resting space.

2014-03-27 10.15.05What people saw when they walked on to the show floor. Great placement!

2014-03-29 18.02.20The Backblaze show team – (From Top Right – Tasha, Sona, Damon, Dave, Nathan, Gregory, Andy, Natalie, Yev and Chris – Not pictured: Gleb, Brian, Zack, Anna, Monika, James, and Ken)

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Data center Dave starts taking apart the B for transportation out of Macworld.

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The B comes apart.

2014-03-29 19.17.58Loading the B on pallets for the return trip.

2014-03-30 14.06.25Luckily, the pieces made the journey home safe and sound.

backblaze-b-pod-officeThe B’s fabulous new home at the Backblaze office.

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Backblaze was always safe from Heartbleed


You may have heard about “Heartbleed“, a security bug found last week that affected about 2/3rds of all websites.

Backblaze is safe
The Backblaze website was never vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. Your email address, password, credit card information, and all of your backed up data have always been safe. You do not need to change your Backblaze password.

A little more detail
The security bug was found in a particular version of an encryption library called OpenSSL. Backblaze never used that version on our website.

Most sites on the Internet were using the affected version, thus making it important to change your password once they patched their servers. Since Backblaze was never vulnerable, you can leave your password as is. Of course, if you prefer, you may change it as well.

Change your password on other sites
This is a good time to change your password across other sites that were at risk from the bug and have patched their servers. Note that if their servers are not yet patched, you will need to change your password once they have. CNET is keeping a list of the status of the top 100 sites and whether they have been patched.



Anthony: Technical Support Technician


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A couple of months ago we highlighted Nathan who had just joined our support team. Nathan mentioned he knew Anthony, who was quiet, smart, technically savvy and looking for work. We added Anthony to the list of candidates vying for an open technical support position. Interviews ensued and after multiple rounds, Anthony had elevated himself above the competition to the top of the list. He accepted our offer and joins Backblaze as a member of the Backblaze support team.

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Maryland but moved to the California when I was very young. I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and then moved to the Mountain View where I currently live. I’ve been here for almost 12 years now.

Why did you move here?
My mom was a Civil Engineer in the Air Force for about 20 years. We had to move around a little bit because of that.

Where else have you worked?
I’ve worked at a food startup in San Francisco, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, and the Merced County Fairgrounds.

Where did you go to school?
I went to school at UC Merced and studied Cultural Anthropology. I really enjoyed my time there because since the university is so new, I had a great opportunity to be a trailblazer and help solidify a foundation for newer generation of UC Merced students and community.

Favorite place you’ve traveled?
I know I have to travel someday because I’ve never left the country (I know, I should!). Seattle was really nice. I really like the feel of the place, the people are nice, and I LOVE the weather.

Welcome to Backblaze Anthony.

 



Backblaze and Bitcoins


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Bitcoins certainly have generated a fair amount of interest over the last several months. From time-to-time we are asked when Backblaze will accept bitcoins as payment. No, we haven’t made the jump to accepting bitcoins yet, but one of our long time affiliate partners, CloudStorageBuzz, is dipping their toe into the water by offering to take bitcoins as payment for Backblaze. If you have some bitcoins burning a hole in your digital pocket and you need online backup, now you have no excuse. CloudStorageBuzz will also take old fashioned credit cards as payment for Backblaze too, just don’t try to use dollars or darseks.

If you’re not a bitcoin expert, here are a few places where you can learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin, http://en.bitcoinwiki.org, and http://bitcoin.org. There are also a fair number of less than reputable sites, although that’s not much different than most things on the Internet.

As you dig into bitcoins, you’ll notice the discussion rages around the globe. Individuals, organizations and governments are all debating the future of this digital currency. What do you think about bitcoins? Are they the future or just a passing fad? Will the current volatility eventually wane? Can they be secured? Are bitcoins another step in moving from physical to digital currencies? Let us know what you think.

 

Author: Andrew Klein



Backblaze Mobile Update 1.8


blog-ios7Backblaze Mobile 1.8 is here! We’ve added search, making it easier to find and retrieve files on the go!

What’s New:

  • Search – search for any backed up file by name
  • Speed optimization
  • Bug fixes

Why Is Search Important?
Search will help you find and view your files and folders while you’re away from your computer. You can search for specific files, through folders, or amongst your various computers.  Adding search makes it much easier to access all of your backed up data quickly and easily.

Next we’re going to go heads-down on an iPad app to add a bit more usability for larger interfaces (though you can use the current app on an iPad) and then we’re off to android!

Haven’t used the app before? The Backblaze Mobile app for iOS makes it easy for you to access all of your photos, documents, and other files backed up to Backblaze right from your phone.

Go to the iTunes store and get the updated app today!

The app is free for all Backblaze customers.



Welcome Aaron: Systems Administrator


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Maybe we should say “Welcome Back Aaron”. You see, Aaron is a native Californian, from Sacramento, who moved to Austin Texas a few years ago. As much as Aaron liked living in “The Live Music Capital of the World” or “Silicon Hills”, he is really excited to be back home where he’ll be working in our Sacramento Data Center.

Where else have you worked?
In Austin I was at Spiceworks, but prior to that I’ve also worked in a start-up and a few other tech companies. I eat, breathe and sleep IT, so both my personal and professional lives tend to have a heavy technology aspect.

How did you get into IT?
I’ve been interested in computers ever since I was “old enough” to play DOS games on our 286 and was furiously typing BASIC games copied from pages in magazines. Later, I disassembled the family computer to learn how it worked and it didn’t quite go back together… At that point I wasn’t allowed on the new family computer, but did have the previous one for tinkering.

Favorite hobby – that’s not IT?
It’s hard to name a single hobby, I enjoy cycling (both road and mountain), radio control trucks and video games. Most weekends I can be found doing one of those activities, ideally a couple of them.

Where do you go to think?
Into the land of music. A pair of headphones, playing nearly any genre of music at a low volume, and I’m in my own world. Friends have joked that they’ll tap me on the shoulder if we are evacuating because I am able to become so focused with music in the background.

What attracted you to Backblaze?
I first heard about Backblaze when the pod 1.0 design was released in the blog. I thought it was amazing that a company would share their hardware design so openly and I’ve visited the blog since. I really enjoyed the posts about drive farming and the drive reliability statistics.

Why did you move back to California?
I moved back to California to be closer to family and of course to join Backblaze! The actual move to NorCal involved a 26’ rental truck towing my car on a trailer with a cat riding shotgun. Fantastic experience and I gained perspective on the challenges faced by professional truck drivers, but for me it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime solo moving adventure.

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(Editor: Wouldn’t it be wicked funny if we opened our next data center in Austin?)

 



Looking for an excellent Java engineer



Want to work at a company that helps customers in over 150 countries around the world protect the memories they hold dear? A company that stores over 100 petabytes (1/4th as much as Facebook) of customers’ photos, music, documents and work files in a purpose-built cloud storage system?

Well here’s your chance. Backblaze is looking for another fantastic Java engineer.

You will work on the server side APIs that authenticate users when they log in, accept the backups, manage the data, and prepare restored data for customers. You will work with artists and designers to create new HTML web pages that customers use every day. And you will help build new features as well as support tools to help chase down and diagnose customer issues.

Must be proficient in:
- Java
- JSP/HTML
- XML
- Apache Tomcat
- Struts
- UTF-8, Java Properties, and Localized HTML (Backblaze runs in 11 languages)
- Large scale systems supporting thousands of servers and millions of customers
- And some ‘C’ and Javascript is helpful
- Cross platform (Linux/Macintosh/Windows) – don’t need to be an expert on all three, but cannot be afraid of any

Looking for an attitude of:
- Passionate about building friendly, easy to use Interfaces and APIs.
- No platform bigotry – Linux good, Windows good, Macintosh good!
- Has to believe NoSQL is an Ok philosophy to build enormously scalable systems.
- Likes to work closely with other engineers, support, and sales to help customers.
- Believes the whole world needs backup, not just English speakers in the USA.
- Customer Focused (!!) – always focus on the customer’s point of view and how to solve their problem!

If this sounds like you – contact us on our jobs form.



Storage Pod 4.0: Direct Wire Drives – Faster, Simpler and Less Expensive


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For the first time since the original Storage Pod, Backblaze is announcing a completely redesigned approach with the introduction of the first “direct wire” Storage Pod. This new Storage Pod performs four times faster, is simpler to assemble, and delivers our lowest cost per gigabyte of data storage yet. And, once again, it’s open source.

The Original Storage Pod

In order to provide unlimited online backup for $5 per month when Backblaze first started in 2007, we needed to figure out the least expensive way to “attach a hard drive to the Internet.” This meant cost-efficiently attaching as many drives as possible to a single motherboard. We tried USB hubs, daisy-chaining Firewire, and various other approaches. In the end, we found one that worked: port multiplier backplanes.

We used these port multipliers to design a system with 9 five-drive NAS backplanes that connected via 3 SATA cards to the motherboard. The results were incredibly dense storage, currently 180TB in a 4U rack, from off the shelf consumer commodity parts. This design has served us through Storage Pod versions 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, and today stores 100 petabytes of customer data in the Backblaze cloud.

However, the port multiplier backplanes had three key issues:

  1. They were one of the least reliable hardware components,
  2. When they had an issue, they affected 5 drives at once, and
  3. They were not completely a commodity part, thus making them somewhat difficult to buy (especially for someone building a single Storage Pod on their own.)

The New Storage Pod Design
Continue reading…