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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…



Asiana Air Crash Survivor’s Data Survives


When Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco Airport on July 6th, we all watched in horror at the wreckage on the TV screens and could barely imagine anyone could have walked away. Amazingly, as details began to emerge, it sounded as though there may be many who made it.

One of the first survivors I saw on TV, Benjamin Levy, would later be lauded for helping dozens of people escape from the burning plane. While some raced out of the plane and others grabbed their luggage, Benjamin calmly helped as many people as he could, saying it was just “gut instinct” to help.

A month later, I received an email from Nicolai Wadstrom, founder and CEO of startup accelerator BootstrapLabs, who I had met a few years back at a tech event. He said:

“So wanted to connect you with Ben Levy, a good friend and also a partner at BootstrapLabs, that was on the Asiana 214 flight that crashed on SFO, he luckily got away in once piece, but his Macbook Air was not as lucky. Fortunately he was using Backblaze per my recommendation…”

Ben happened to be a few blocks away at that moment and we met up. He talked about feeling incredibly lucky to be alive; said it felt like a second chance. He told me that while some asked him if it made him reexamine his priorities, he felt it just made him all the more grateful for the life he has – where he gets to enjoy time with his family and love the work that he does.

The next day, Ben signed into his Backblaze account and ordered a restore. His computer was ominously backed up right up to July 5th, 2013 at 9:45pm PDT.

Since he wanted approximately 50 GB of data back quickly, he chose to order a USB Flash Drive to have sent to him via FedEx with his data on it. The next day he had all his data back.

After getting his data back, Ben sent me this email:

“Among the millions of things you have to handle after such a horrific event, having all my computer data backed up with Backblaze was very comforting and the recovery process was effortless. I was concerned for a minute that my computer had not been backed-up for a while as I was hopping planes and jumping between countries for a few weeks, not staying connected for long stretches at a time, but it was, down to the last bit.”

Obviously the loss of data on someone’s computer pales in comparison to the other tragedies of that July 6th crash. But I am glad we were able to play one very small part in helping at least one person return to a normal life, and we’re sending our best wishes to everyone else aboard and affected.

Benjamin Levy with his data back on a Backblaze USB Flash Drive restore:
Benjamin Levy with his Backblaze restore



A Restory: When one file is all you need


Genealogy passion in "action"

For many people genealogy is a nice hobby. They spend a few hours a week chasing down distant relatives and creating family trees. They entertain their family with stories of potential connections to famous and infamous people in the past and give out family history albums as presents.

For some people genealogy is a passion. They spend countless hours searching and documenting. They can be found in libraries, courthouses, churches and cemeteries combing through yellowed records, scanning microfiche, or reading gravestones in search of the next clue or getting the final confirmation of a 3 year search for a long forgotten family member.

For Ilene genealogy is a passion and here is her Backblaze restory:

“My elderly mother lives in Florida and I go to visit her a few times a year. I always take my laptop with me so I can keep up with my work while I am there. This summer, I had placed a copy of a large genealogy file in my Dropbox folder, hoping to work on it while I was away. I was sitting in the Volusia County Public Library ready to do some research, when I opened the Dropbox file and discovered it was damaged. Unable to imagine a lost two-weeks without the updated information I needed, I went to your website and sent in a request for the last back up copy of the file from my desktop computer. Within hours I had a copy of the original file, which was in perfect shape, and I was able to use it to get quite a bit of work done for the rest of my stay. Thanks again for your quiet, efficient service. It’s certainly worth the cost to have peace of mind!”

Thanks for the restory Ilene, we’re glad Backblaze online backup could help.



Backblaze: The Strong Silent Type


Online Backup for Valentines Day

Our first Restory is actually two stories. Each lovingly crafted and delivered to Backblaze. And you thought online backup couldn’t be romantic…

A One Way Street

I think I should take this time to just tell you what our relationship is: a one-way street.

Honestly, I don’t think about you at all. You just go and go – constantly running behind whatever I do, and whatever files I create – and I really don’t pay attention in the least.

What’s even worse is that you’re whom I go to first when there’s a problem. I take advantage of the fact that you’re always looking after me. I never even acknowledge you’re around until I lose something – then you’re my only hope. You would think after saving me so many times, I would show more gratitude. The truth is, I kind of like what we have going. You do all the work of following me around and making copies of what I leave behind, and I’ll forget about you until I need you. Deal? Deal.

— Aaron

I Couldn’t Ask for a Better Partner

We met on a dark and stormy night. I was scared. She was not. She had it all. Tons of reliable storage for all my back up needs. She had the confidence, the stamina, and the strength to take all my fears away! The storm raged on. The power kept going out. I knew then that I needed a solution to my back up issues. No therapist could help me. I had to jump in with both feet. I took the plunge and signed up for Backblaze.

Now, 4 months later, I sleep at night knowing she is taking care of my back up needs without any effort on my part. I feel safe and protected. And it just happens. After that initial uncertainty I now love her simplicity, her total competence and loyalty to my data, keeping it secure and safe so I can rock my MacBook without reservation! I know now that every song I download, every video and picture I capture is safe and I will never lose anything, ever again!

I couldn’t ask for a better partner. I am secure in my relationship with her and now I have the confidence to forge ahead with my files, my music, my pictures. All I need to do is just keep on keepin-on and she does the rest.

— Michael

Giving the gift of Backblaze to back up your Valentine’s photos, videos, music and more probably isn’t the most romantic present you can give – we understand. But remember, Backblaze will silently and reliably back up your Valentine’s files long after the chocolates have been eaten and the flowers have died. Such is the calling of the strong silent type.



Data Restores: More, More, and Even More!


For all our talk about online backup, restoring data is what Backblaze is all about!

“Backblaze saved the day for me–not once, but twice in less than 6 months. My computer did one of those spectacular crashes where it seems most of its insides get replaced and I needed my BB restore files. Five months later both my new hard drive and my external hard drive died and I needed those BB restore files again…” —Marla, a Backblaze Customer.
“It works! My iMac crashed and I had to purchase a new one. All of my digital negatives, jpegs and documents were restored from Backblaze and in no time at all, I was back in business. I have more confidence in Backblaze than I do in my external hard drive backup…” —Kathy, a Backblaze Customer

2.5 Billion Memories Restored

Backblaze recently passed the 2.5 Billion mark for the number of files our customers have restored. We say files, but our customers think of them as graduation photos, videos of their children, music, financial records, genealogy data, scrapbooking designs, etc. That’s a lot of digital memories that have been returned home safe and sound to folks like Kathy and Marla. That’s nice.

Can’t quite comprehend what 2.5 Billion looks like? If each file were an 8×10 photo, printed out they would cover nearly 32,000 acres or 12,900 hectares for folks outside the US and Canada. In either case, that’s enough photos to cover the entire city of San Francisco or all of Walt Disney World in Florida, each of which is, coincidentally, the same size; 30,080 acres.

More Fun Backblaze Restore Facts

  • Users request more restores on Monday versus any other day.
  • In December 2012, we restored 280 TB of data
  • On average we restore the most files on the 5th of each month
  • On average we restore the fewest files on the 22nd of each month
  • The number of files being restored per user increased nearly 70% from December 2011 to December 2012
  • We estimate that we will restore our 5 billionth file in January 2014—stay tuned…

Big Gets Even BIGGER

We’ve doubled the size of our USB Flash Drive restore option from 32 GB to 64 GB, and we’ve tripled the size of our USB Hard Drive restore option from 1 TB to 3 TB. Even better, we didn’t raise prices.

So you can get a 64 GB USB Flash Drive restore for $99 (USD) or you can get up to a 3 TB USB External Hard Drive restore for $189 (USD). These prices include preparation and shipping anywhere in the world. We’ve sent restores to Singapore, Romania, Japan, and many other places all with free shipping. Of course you can always securely download your restore for free as a ZIP file over the Internet like 99% of our users requesting a restore, but just in case, we’ve made the USB restores bigger.

Things to Know About USB Restores

  • The 64 GB USB Flash Drive will hold about 60 GB of data after formatting, so if you have more than 60 GB of data to restore, you’ll to need buy 2 or more USB Flash Drives.
  • If you purchase an USB External Hard Drive restore, we will ship you a drive that will accommodate your data, up to about 3 TB in size. For example, if you are restoring 1.1 TB of data we could ship you a 1.5 TB drive. The price will be $189 no matter what size drive we send.
  • One more thing, if you order a USB Flash Drive or USB Hard Drive restore, you get to keep the drive we send you—enjoy.

So if your cat knocks water on your laptop or you’ve deleted the playlist for your wedding, Backblaze can be there to help you out. And if you’re one of our many customers who has done a restore with Backblaze tell us your story, we’d like to hear it. Just email us at:

Thanks.



Honoring Our Drive Farmers


Drive Farmer Drives

Back in November our Drive Farming Brigade was asked to farm hard drives for us over the Thanksgiving holiday. Hundreds of drives showed up and we dutifully sent them to our warehouse. They joined our drive stockpile and patiently waited for their chance to reach their hard drive destiny and be part of a Backblaze Storage Pod. Is there any greater honor for a hard drive than to be part of a Backblaze Storage Pod, backing up our customers’ data?  We think not!

Now it their turn for these farmed drives to be installed in Storage Pods. To honor our intrepid drive farmers, we decided to “tag” drives to their farmer. These photos, courtesy of our Operations Team, are from the first batch of farmed drives, 5 each from Olivier, Jeannine, David and the rest. Once installed, they will undergo rigorous testing to make sure they are ready for the task at hand – safely backing up photos, videos, documents and more for thousands of customers until such time as that data is needed.

So thank you drive farmers in your efforts to help Backblaze deliver truly unlimited online data backup. While everyone else is raising prices we continue to be just $5 a month and we’d like to keep it that way. Thanks again!

Drive Farmer Drives



Cats, computers and calamity


Cats can be so darn cute, and popular. Don’t take my word for it, there are thousands and thousands of cat videos on YouTube with millions and millions of views. I would guess if you added up all the “cat views” they’d easily surpass Bieber and PSY. Please don’t spend your time figuring out if this is true, it’s not worth it, really. Let’s just agree there are cats watching themselves on TV, cats sleeping in bags, cats playing in bags, cats playing with cats sleeping in bags, lots of cats doing cat things. Cats, cats, cats.

But if you have a cat and a computer, cats can quickly become a calamity…

    “My cat once walked over my keyboard when I was using Windows Vista and deleted library/registry files so Windows gave me a blue screen of death and then wouldn’t reboot/restart until I wiped my computer and re-installed Windows Vista.”

Could you type in the correct commands to delete your library/registry files – without looking at the keyboard?

Not convinced that cats and computers don’t mix? Read on.

    “Around a year ago, I had what could have been a real tragedy. I carelessly left a glass of water next to my 15-inch MacBook Pro which was then knocked directly onto the notebook’s keyboard by my cat.

    This computer had years and years worth of files saved, irreplaceable documents. Fortunately, thanks to renter’s insurance and you, Backblaze, I was able to get a new computer and replace every single file from the destroyed hard drive.

    Hardware is replaceable, but pictures, documents, and other files are not. Thanks for having my back for the important stuff.”   ‐Dann, Backblaze Customer

Lesson learned; if you have a cat and a computer you need Backblaze online backup. Just don’t let your cat know your Backblaze account and password, as we’ve seen, cats can type.

Disclaimer: I have 2 cats, 2 computers and Backblaze.

Author’s Note: I purposely did not link to any cat videos in this story to save you from watching countless hours of cat videos. You’re welcome.



10 spooky data loss stories


Recently Yev, our resident keeper of the meme, asked our community to tell us their scariest stories on data loss. From the avalanche of bone chilling stories we picked 10 we thought would tingle your spine without scaring you breathless. Some folks had online backup, others did not, but all are scary. You’ve been warned, read on if you dare…(Insert sinister music here).

“I work as a graphic designer for a TV-Station. Some years ago, early in the morning (not my time), I thought it was a good idea to make some manual backups of my work. I started to transfer all of our onair designs and graphic elements to the backup drive. After a few minutes, I realized, that I was deleting them instead of moving. My face turned white and I was shocked. Thanks to a rescue software, I was able to recover nearly 80% of the files but I spent more than a day to rearrange the folder structure. That was the moment, I started to learn everything I could about backup solutions.” –Pascal

“I was doing my initial back up with just over 1TB of data, I went out for a couple of hours and came back to find that we’d had a power surge that pretty much fried my new back up drive and all of the drives in my pc… fortunately i had all my stuff backed up on a couple of smaller drives. but it was still the scariest moment in my life. feel much safer with backblaze!” –Ed

“Driving back from a beach in rural Nicaragua we were robbed by a highwayman. he had a tshirt over his face, and stuck a machete in my girlfriend’s face and demanded money. Sadly, we only had $6 which just made him angry. He demanded my backpack… which had my unbacked up computer. A sad day indeed.” –Dave

“It was in a time before I knew of BackBlaze. In my times of PC repair and troubleshooting. A frantic user enters and is clearly distraught. A flash drive is practically thrown my way, in pieces… I do my best to see if there is anything I can do, but we both know how this is going to end. As I go to tell her the bad news, tears begin to gush as she realizes the gravity of loosing……. her dissertation. All the time she’d spent. All the research. Hundreds of pages. Tens of thousands of words. No backup. Gone.” –Joshua

“I use TimeMachine and Backblaze on my MacBook Pro. Back in August, after upgrading to Mountain Lion, my MacBook started crashing sporadically. During these crashes that got more frequent within one week, my TimeMachine backup went corrupt, and then within another day, it crashed for good and my computer wouldn’t even boot up. Fortunately, Backblaze had me covered and 300 GB of data saved for me. Without that, I would be in very sad shape… Now the thought of that is scary :)–Jared

“I was talked into being the wedding photographer for my sister-in-law’s wedding. After shooting the wedding I uploaded the photos to my main harddrive. I had an external drive that was set to backup my files nightly. I then formatted my memory cards because I had another shoot to do on Sunday. When I can home from work Monday evening I could hear a loud sound from down the hall. As soon as I entered my office I knew the harddrive was toast. The logic board had fried and it had been spinning as max RPM all day. The head had impacted the disks and it was beyond saving. I went to my backup drive, and to my horror my data had not been backing up properly for weeks. I had to tell my sister-in-law that her wedding pictures were lost forever. I now have BackBlaze do my backups automatically for me. I will never have to make THAT phone call again.” –David

“I once lost 60GB of photos because my laptop hard drive died. The saddest part is that I decided to delete my backup an hour earlier to free up space for a large file transfer. After the transfer I was going to re-backup my photos. During the data transfer my laptop hard drive died. I never saw those photos again.” –Ryan

“My almost data loss story happened yesterday when a full glass of water fell on my laptop! I was almost crazy because I could not lose my data and I had no backup of everything. But after I calmed down, grabbed a dryer and after a lot of failed attempts finally started my laptop.” –Francisco

“I wanted to reinstall the operating system on my Macbook Pro once, so I backed all my data to an external harddrive, wiped the laptop clean, reinstalled the OS, and went to reimport my data. Unexpectedly, the reimport step wasn’t working correctly, and my data was floating on an external, unable to get back onto my laptop. Thankfully my friends and I found a fix, but my heart stopped for a few minutes when I was panicking over whether I’d need a new OS or a new laptop, and how long it would take before I could see my files again.”
-Elaina

“Nearly one year ago I was awoken suddenly from a deep sleep by a creaking sound downstairs. I often hear our cats rustle about the house, but this sound was distinctly different as though there was a larger movement. I’m usually the one checking on weird sounds for my wife just to reassure her that everything’s okay. But this sound didn’t awake her, and it had me a little startled. It was dark in the house, except for a halloween moonlight that peeked it’s way through a skylight. I slowly made my way downstairs to investigate. My heart was pounding — I gripped tightly on the banister. A few steps from the bottom, I heard the sound again, this time more pronounced. I froze in my tracks, not knowing whether to shout out in fear or sneak even more carefully. Finally I reached the bottom and rounded the corner to peer into the front room of our house. There in the moonlight was a large figure, human-like yet monstrously tall and wide. It was wearing a black jacket and a black mask. It was twice my size. I didn’t move, and I couldn’t move. Suddenly the figure spoke, and it said, ‘I’m taking this.’ I saw it had our family PC in it’s arms with the power cord hanging down to the ground. ‘Just let me leave, and there will be no trouble,’ the figure continued in a deep, determined voice. I stepped back and let the figure leave — I just wanted the situation to end without incident. Out the figure went, PC in hand, all my life’s data with it. For a moment I panicked, called 911, and scrambled to check doors and windows throughout the house. But then I stopped to gather my thoughts and take a deep breath. I realized in that moment that I was safe, my family was safe, and who cares about a little old PC. All the data was safe with Backblaze.” –Paul