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Backblaze + Pebble


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Backblaze and Pebble? Talk about worlds colliding. I (Yev) love the Pebble, and I’ve been wearing one ever since my “Kickstarter Edition” watch shipped last year. More recently I’ve upgraded to the shiny and new Pebble Steel. Anyway, I’m also the social media guy at Backblaze, so I’m constantly monitoring the social-sphere for any mentions of our company.

My original Pebble, and my new one, not yet set up.My original Pebble and its replacement, not even set up yet.

A few days ago, this came across my screen: http://joe.sh/using-pebble-control-mac. Ever since the Pebble came out last year people have been teaching and writing programs for it, but I never thought that it would ever be linked to Backblaze in any way. Joseph Schmitt was able to use Pebble Apps and the Keyboard Maestro program to control his Mac mini server and iTunes. On top of that, he’s also able to use his Pebble to pause and resume his backups with Backblaze. Genius!

So thank you Joe, for coming up with an awesome new way for me to use my Pebble and for mentioning Backblaze in your post. Hopefully folks come up with some fun new uses for the Pebble, especially now that 2.0 Pebble App has shipped for Android! Have any fun ideas? Post them below!



A Burger With a Side of Spreadsheets, To Go


The Day the iMac Died.
“The Mac died” my wife sighed into the phone. I wasn’t surprised. First, the dead Mac was our 7 year old iMac computer, which had worked flawlessly the entire time. And second, I was traveling for business and things always seem to “break” when I am on the road.

It was Sunday night. I had just finished a meeting and was walking to dinner when the “The Mac died” phone call came in. “That’s OK,” I said to my wife, “we’ll get another computer next weekend. Everything’s fine.” But, everything was not fine as my wife explained that she had a Monday deadline for a project she was trying to finish. She was trying to save the last couple of spreadsheets and then print everything when the computer hung and wouldn’t reboot. Now she had nothing and she was not happy. “There are 4 or 5 spreadsheets that I need so I can finish everything,” she begged, “we have them backed up don’t we?”

Lesson 1: One Mac is not enough

Yes, we had the iMac backed up, twice in fact with Time Machine and Backblaze. The trouble with Time Machine was that we only had the one Mac at home and it was now dead. Our other computer was a PC and at the time I had no idea if I could plug a Time Machine drive into the PC and read it. Later on, I researched the topic and found that the most popular answer to the question, “Can a PC read a Time Machine drive?” was “Buy another Mac.”

So I had a perfectly good back up of the data on my Mac and at that moment on Sunday night it was not going to help. In the mean time, I had arrived at the restaurant and grabbed a seat at the bar as there was a 30 minute wait for a table.

Lesson 2: Practice makes perfect

Now I know all of you are saying “Backblaze to the rescue,” well not so fast. My wife said that she had never done a Backblaze restore. I cursed myself. Whenever I talk to people about using Backblaze, I always tell them to do a restore just for practice. Sign in, pick a couple of files and request a restore. That way when they really need their data, like when their hard drive crashes a day before a project is due, they’ve been through the process before. Practice makes perfect and I forgot to tell my wife to practice.

I offered to talk her through restoring the files she needed from Backblaze. Three things changed my mind, 1) I didn’t think the other patrons in the restaurant would be thrilled, 2) my Lagunitas was getting warm and my burger was getting cold, and 3) my wife asked me to do it. That’s three good reasons as to why I would restore the files.

My wife texted me the names of the files, 5 in all, and I signed into the Backblaze account for my now dead iMac using the Backblaze Mobile app on my iPhone. While the 3G connection was slow I was able to navigate to each file, download it to my iPhone and then email the file to my wife. It took me about 30 minutes in between bites of my burger.

My wife was able to download the files onto our PC at home and plow ahead with her project. I was a hero, well, Backblaze and I.

Lesson 3: Beware the “Spinning Ball of Death”

On Monday morning, my wife informed me that one of the files I had sent over was not the most current version. It was from Sunday morning and she was certain she had worked on the file late Sunday afternoon. “When did our iMac die?” I asked. “It started acting funny about noon, you know, the spinning ball keep showing up,” she replied, “I rebooted it three or four times and it died for good about 5 pm.”

The last Backblaze backup was at 2:15pm. I can only guess that the iMac was pretty unstable at that point as it spiraled towards its death. My wife, faced with a project deadline crossed her fingers and plowed ahead with the spinning ball of death appearing in ever increasing frequency. Even Backblaze is no match for the spinning ball of death.

RIP iMac

When I arrived home I was able to confirm the obvious, our iMac was dead. I requested a full restore of our files from Backblaze. When we get another Mac, I’ll start with the Time Machine backup to get up and running and use Backblaze to fill in the gaps if there are any. Once, my work MacBook hard drive failed while I was traveling and with my Time Machine drive back at the office, Backblaze filled in the gap very nicely, but that’s another story…



Recent Malware Forcing Victims to Pay For Data Retrieval


Lately, Backblaze has been seeing a few reports stating that a very specific type of ransomware, known as CryptoLocker, that takes control of a victim’s computer and holds it hostage until that victim pays to get it removed. It is known as ransomware because if Cryptolocker is not paid within a specific timeframe, it will destroy the key that is needed to unlock your computer’s data, making the data and files on your computer and any attached external or backup drives permanently inaccessible.

Backblaze is Not Anti-Virus

Some Backblaze users have been writing in to ask us if Backblaze protects them against their data being held hostage by such programs. The answer is, yes.

While Backblaze is not anti-virus or anti-malware software, in this particular case Backblaze would be useful in ensuring that the data is retrievable.  How does that work and what makes Backblaze different than an attached local backup? In cases like these, where the ransomware or malware takes control of and encrypts all the data on the user’s computer and external drives, the data is essentially locked with a very strong encryption key. The only way to unlock the data is to either break the encryption, or pay to have the key sent to you so that you can once again access your data.

We want remind our users to be very careful when opening up email attachments, and if something looks out of place, make sure you check it for malicious content before downloading and opening it.

How Backblaze Can Help

Since Backblaze is an unlimited, and continuously running online backup solution and is not locally connected to your machine, all of your backed up files would be available for restore with minimal or no data loss (depending on the last backup time before the machine was infected).

What this means is that if you are a victim of ransomare like Cryptolocker, you could order a Backblaze restore from a date before your machine got infected, and then have your computer reset back to its factory settings, essentially removing everything, including the ransomware from it. You would need to reinstall all of your programs, including Backblaze, but the data that was on your computer before the infection, including your: photos, videos, movies, music, and work document, could all be safely restored.



MobileMe’s Complimentary iCloud Storage Is Shutting Down


Apple announced the closure of MobileMe on July 1st, 2012, hoping that its users would flock to the newly announced iCloud service. As part of the push to enhance iCloud usage, MobileMe users were given a complimentary 20GB iCloud storage plan if they moved over to the new service. Those plans are now expiring, and customers will need to either reduce the amount of data they store to below the free 5GB limit, or pay for the difference, which for that same 20GB of data, would be $40/year (the largest tier of 50GB is available for $100/year).

A lot of people frequently ask us what the difference between Backblaze and iCloud is, and should they use one or the other, or both. So here’s a quick rundown of what iCloud can and cannot do.

iCloud and Backblaze Comparison

What iCloud can do for you:
• Sync content from your various devices. This includes, contacts, calendars, iTunes, and the 1,000 most recent photos on your Macs, PCs, or iOS devices.
• Sync supported documents like iOS apps, some Mac apps, but not all apps are supported by iCloud, like Word for example.
• Back up most of your iOS device including: device settings, app data, iMessages, and ringtones (more information).

What iCloud cannot do for you:
• Back up content. Calendars, and contacts can by synced, but they are not backed up. Meaning there is no revision history, or the ability to restore from a previous version, should an error occur. Once syncing occurs, the changes are permanent.
• Back up anything from your Mac or Windows computer.
• Back up documents that are not supported by iCloud
• Provide unlimited back up. The current prices are: 5GB/free, 20GB for $40/year, or 50GB for $100/year.

Syncing and back up are not synonyms. Backblaze and iCloud are actually complimentary services:

• Use iCloud to keep your calendars, contacts, reminders, iTunes store music and most recent photos in sync between your various iOS devices and computers.
• Use iCloud to back up your iOS devices and iOS application settings
• Use Backblaze to back up everything on your Mac and PC including data that you sync from your iOS devices and iCloud enabled computers.
• Use Backblaze to have an unlimited backup of all the data on your iOS devices. Even if you keep your iCloud set to only accept 5GB of data, if you manually sync your device to your computer, Backblaze will back up that data as well.

Simply put, iCloud is an iOS device backup and content sync program. If you need that content backed up and also your Mac and PC backed up, Backblaze is the right service for you!



Battery Powered Backups, It’s Your Choice


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Laptops will make up more than half of the computers sold in 2013. With that in mind we wanted to let you know about a great little feature in Backblaze online backup that lets you choose whether or not we will back up the data from your laptop while it is on battery power.

Making the choice

On your system open the Backblaze Preferences panel. Choose the “Settings” button and then select the “Performance” tab. You will see a window similar to one of those shown below. Make your selection, and then press “Apply”.

Mac - Battery Power

Backblaze Performance Preferences – Mac
(This example shows the “Backup when on battery power” setting off)

 

PC Battery Power

Backup Performance Preferences – PC
(This example shows the “Backup when on battery power” setting on)

Things to know

  • The default setting is “unchecked” or “off” meaning that Backblaze will NOT back up the laptop while it is on battery power.
  • To change the setting, merely click on “box” and hit the “Apply” button on the lower right.
  • You can change this setting as often as you wish.
  • When you change the setting to backup on battery power, it may take a few minutes to get started.
  • We don’t shut down all Backblaze processes when the setting is off. Some Backblaze processes will sleep, while others will continue to monitor the system.
  • When you are plugged into power, the “Backup when on battery power” setting is ignored.

What does this mean to you?

If you’ve never changed the default setting, you will not back up your data while your laptop is on battery power. If you are on battery power a lot (a whole lot), this could lengthen the time it takes to back up your data, especially your initial back up. If you are worried about this, try changing the setting so it will back up on battery power. If you find that doing backups while on battery power doesn’t work well for you, simply turn it off.



How to Restore a Single File


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Over the years, Backblaze online backup has helped our customers restore over 3 billion files. That’s a lot of photos, videos, documents and more. While a majority of our data restores are to “Restore All My Data”, many of our customers have also restored a single file or a handful of files and folders. You too can restore any of the files and folders you have backed up to backed up to Backblaze. For example, Ilene was able to restore a file she needed while traveling – it’s easy, convenient and secure.

To help you restore the files you have stored with Backblaze, we’ve put together a little step-by-step below:

  1. On any PC or Mac open a web browser.
  2. Go to the Backblaze web site and log in with your Backblaze account information.
  3. Choose the system that contains the file or files you wish to restore and select “Restore File” for that system.

restore_files_overview

  1. You will be taken to the View/Restore Files screen for that computer and your folder/directory list will be loaded.

restore_files_start

  1. To navigate to the file you wish to restore, start by clicking on the folder name, in this case “Macintosh HD”. For you, this folder will be the name of your system.
  2. Continue clicking on folder names to reach the file you are seeking. Once you have located the file you wish to restore click on the box to the left of the file name.

restore_files_pick_one

  1. Once clicked, the box will turn blue and show a checkmark. Also, the “Folders” list will show a “dash” in the blue box next to the Folder meaning at least one file in the Folder is selected for restore.
  2. Using this method you can select any combination of files and folders you wish to restore.
  3. Helpful Hints:

    1. If you wish to “deselect” a file, simply click on box next to the filename and the checkmark will disappear and the file will not be restored.
    2. If you click the box next to the Folder name in the Folder list and a checkmark is displayed in that box then all of the files and folders in the “checked” folder will be restored.
    3. If you wish to “deselect” a folder simply click on the box next to the folder name until the box is empty and that folder and its contents will not be restored.
    4. While navigating to the files and folders you desire, if you wish to close an open folder, simply click on the black “triangle” to the left of the folder name (see below).

restore_files_triangle_1 restore_files_triangle_2

  1. Once you have selected all the files and folders you wish to restore, press the “Continue with Restore” button.
  2. At this point your files will be located, copied and packaged into a ZIP file.
  3. Once packaging is complete you will be sent an email informing you that your restore is ready along with instructions on how to securely download the ZIP file containing your files.
  4. For a ZIP file larger than 2GB, you can use the Backblaze “Downloader”, otherwise you can use your browser to download the file.
  5. Once downloaded to your system, you unZIP your files and use them as desired.
  6. The ZIP file containing your restored files is kept on the Backblaze restore server for 7 days, after which it is deleted. You can also delete the restore file any time you wish before the 7 days is up.

We recommend that everyone be familiar with how to restore their data from Backblaze. While the process is easy, it never hurts to practice.
 



Flickr Announces 1TB of Photo Storage.
Awesome!


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Big news in the technology industry this week as Yahoo’s board authorized the purchase of Tumblr, and Flickr announced 1 terabyte of photo storage. One terabyte of storage. That’s a lot of photos. By their estimates over 500,000 of them, maybe even more, depending on the resolution and quality. We think this is great! Having your pictures in more than one spot is a great idea, and one that we whole-heartedly recommend. That’s why we started the Backblaze online backup service, to make sure all of the photos, videos, documents, and memories you’ve accumulated along the way are backed up and ready for you, should anything happen to your computer.

The Flickr news is great for folks that have a lot of pictures and want a place to store them, but what about the other data? You may not think about it too much, but the documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, and videos you’ve accumulated throughout the years is just as important as the photos you’ve taken. For that, we’d like to recommend ourselves!

What do we offer? Well Backblaze is:

Unlimited – We’ll take all of your user generated data, no matter how much you have!

Unthrottled – Have a great internet connection? Awesome! We won’t hamper your upload speeds.

Uncomplicated – Get started in under 5 minutes. Just create an account, download the trial, and go!

Unexpensive – That’s not a word, but for $5/month per computer, we figured we could make it fit the “un-scheme”, plus that’s the most you can pay!

Want to use Flickr, or a service like it, and Backblaze together? Fantastic! The more places you have your data, the better off you are in case of data loss on your machine. Plus, folks tend to upload less than 1% of all the photos they take to various services; we’ll back up all of them! A good backup strategy is a lot like a good investment strategy, diversification is good!



Backblaze Mobile is Alive!


We announced Backblaze Mobile a few months ago, and while it took a little longer than expected (we couldn’t help but add in features) Backblaze Mobile for iPhone is now ready for you! That’s right! If you have a Backblaze account, you’ll now be able to access your online backup on the go, from your iOS device! What about Android? That’s coming up next, stay tuned!

What Does Backblaze Mobile Do?
Backblaze Mobile is a free app, available in the App Store, that allows you to access, download, experience, and share all of the data that’s been uploaded from your desktop or laptop and to your active Backblaze account.

Access Download Experience Share
(click on any picture above to see it in full size)

How it Works:

Access: After signing in to your Backblaze account, you’ll see a list of all the computers (Windows and/or Macs) you are backing up with Backblaze online backup. Select one of these computers. Next you’ll see all the drives for that system that Backblaze currently has backed up. This can include multiple internal as well as connected external USB, Firewire and Thunderbolt drives.

Download: The folders and files are organized just like those on your computer, so the files you want are easy to find. Once you’ve located your file it can be downloaded to the iPhone. Remember, the current the file size limit for a single file is 30 MB. You can download as many files as you want and you can see a list of your recently downloaded files by selecting the “downloads” button.

Experience: Once the file is downloaded you can see and/or hear the file. Viewing a PDF, listening to a MP3, or previewing a Microsoft Word doc are all possible. You’ll be able to see and/or hear all the file types your iPhone knows how to present.

Share: Once you’re sure you have the right file you can share it. The options you get depend on the type of file, for example, if the file is an MP3, you may not see the “print” option, but it will be present for a JPG or GIF file.

Take Control!

The Backblaze Mobile app will give you greater access to all the data you’ve backed up with Backblaze throughout the years. Forgot a presentation? No problem, just download it to your phone. Have a picture on your computer that you want to show to a friend? No problem, just download it to your phone. Hanging out with friends and remember a fun picture you took, and then have an urge to post it to Facebook and tag them in it? No problem, just download it to your phone and share it! With Backblaze Mobile you can finally take control of your data.

Have questions? Check out the Backblaze Mobile FAQ!