Online backup alternative to Crashplan or Backblaze

Discussion in 'macOS' started by bostich, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. bostich macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    I am looking for an online backup solution that essentially has the following features:

    1) I can manually select what folders I want to back up. I don't want to back up the entire HD.

    2) I can do the backups manually. I don't want a program that continuously runs in the background and I don't want to schedule my backups.

    3) Whenever I do a manual backup, I want the software to scan the folders I wish to back up for changes and update them so I get an exact copy of my local folders.

    With CrashPlan, I can't do manual backups. The program runs continuously in the background, takes up system resources and causes audio playback issues in iTunes. Tech support hasn't been able to help me.

    I haven't used Backblaze, but from what it says on their web site it seems I can't manually select which folders I want to back up.

    Thanks for your suggestions.
  2. Xe89 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2009
    I would recommend Arq. It is a Mac only program, so it behaves very nicely. It doesn't consume much resources, because unlike Crashplan it isn't built on Java. And when it is not backing up, it doesn't consume any resources at all (OK maybe 20 MB of ram). Arq doesn't watch folder and files changes all the time like Dropbox, only at set intervalls.

    It backups up to Amazon S3 or Amazon Glacier, and you pay for what you use. You can choose the folders you want to backup, and also exclude subfolders and files in such a folder.

    The default setting is that Arq has a background agent, that runs once a day or every x hour. You can disable this. But, may I ask why you don't like automatic backups? I think automatic backups are vital, because sooner or later you will forget to backup, if it is manual.

    The background agent can be quit, although that seems rather pointless if manual backups as enabled.

    The main selling point of Arq is that you have your own Amazon Web Services account. AWS is the cloud, so your backups are safe there. Think about this, Dropbox and Netflix and many other services uses AWS. So basically you are skipping the cloud middle man, instead going directly to the producer of clouds.

    Remember, when comparing online backup services and reading reviews: have the restore process really been tested? If you haven't tested your backup's restore capablities, then it is not a backup at all.
  3. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    You can select what you want Backblaze to back up.
  4. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Sort of. One preference screen lets you select/deselect the particular drives connected to your computer. Another screen lets you add folders to exclude, and this list is pre-populated with folders that BackBlaze will not backup in any scenario.

    I've just this day started a trial of BackBlaze, but I'm reserving judgement until I see how well it works. The above is the first annoying aspect I've run into. Better would be a selection method like the one in Carbon Copy Cloner with the user being able to exclude a folder but go into the the folder and include a sub-folder.
  5. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    The folders BackBlaze won't back up are, for example, folders that will be recreated by loading OS X on a fresh drive or machine. No point backing those up. Similarly, applications can be re-installed easily enough (especially those purchased from the App Store!), so they're excluded too. Backblaze isn't a disk-mirroring tool like Carbon Copy Cloner.

    Its default is to back pretty much everything else up. But, take a close look at what "pretty much" means to ensure the defaults make sense for your usage... there is a filetype-excusion list in its Preferences, and when I first signed up for the service two years ago, it would exclude my virtual machine files, which are pretty important to my work. So, I removed those from the exclusion list. That was easy enough, and I understand that at 2GB apiece they'd take a while to be uploaded, and a change to a single byte would necessitate re-uploading the whole thing, but in my case I chose to take them off the exclude list.

    One thing which Backblaze really has going for it is its pricing, $50 a year for unlimited data. That's marvelous. The service is reliable and seems shepherded by good folks who care. There's an iPhone app that lets you get to any file from wherever you are, too-- super-handy.

    I regard Backblaze or a similar service as a wise investment against loss, failure or theft of a drive or computer and disasters that might take out your home or office. It complements but IMHO does not replace local backups, which should be performed using at least two drives in alternation-- something which Time Machine automates nicely. Just keep in mind that any computer has a LOT of stuff on it, and it will take a while for that to back up over the Internet. You may need to choke down the throttle in Backblaze (or similar service-- I'm presuming all have manual throttle capabilities) to prevent saturating your LAN. I learned that the hard way after noticing people were bitching about network performance everywhere I went!
  6. Xe89, Oct 14, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013

    Xe89 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2009
    Except it is not unlimited, of course. Providing unlimited disk space to a customer for a limited price wouldn't make sense, business wise. If you delete a file on your computer, then Backblaze deletes the backup of it after 30 days. And if you backup an external disk and don't connect it for 30 days, Backblaze will delete the backup of it. This is unacceptable, because this will only protect you from catastrophic events when you know that your files are gone. It will not protect you from accidential file deletions that can go undetected for months, or even years. A true backup system should keep an unlimited history for a file unless you explicitly tell it otherwise.

    This is not Backblaze being incompetent. It is simply necessary to sustain their business. However, you as a customer has a responsibility not to accept their market speak about UNLIMITED.

    Let me clarify this: because you pay a fixed price, and can at a first glance backup unlimited, Backblaze has a financial interest in keeping your amount of backed up data as low as possible.
  7. datajunkie macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2013
    If you have over ~500GB of data, and especially if you're running a Mac server, I'd take a look at Zetta the backup speed is the fastest I've used, and it's very easy to recover a single file or entire server/endpoint.

    We use it at my job, and I recently started using it at home too since I have a large amount of important photos.
  8. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    Such a strategy is appropriate and acceptable for the target use case: guarding against theft or catastrophic damage. Personally, I rather doubt that if my machine (or external disk) is stolen I'd dawdle for 31 days before retrieving my backup.

    So, I understand where you're coming from, but for the target use case an indefinite backup is not needed. If for some user it is, then there are costlier alternatives available.

    As I mentioned upthread, my position is that Backblaze or a similar offsite backup service plays an essential role in a comprehensive backup strategy which (IMHO) should include redundant local backups.
  9. Xe89 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2009
    No arguing there. Every new Mac user should purchase an external drive and start using Time Machine. Unfortunately many users forget or are too lazy to connect external drives on a regular basis, so even if the backup program is easy to use and requires no user intervention, the backups are made only infrequently. And that may lead them to using online backup as a primary backup tool, and that requires that older versions are kept maybe not forever but at least a couple of months.

    Basically, you and me may understand that an actual strategy is needed, with different tools for different needs. But causal users will only care about their claims that "your files are safe with us". One can only hope people will make better informed decisions about which services they use.
  10. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    "Starts at $225 a month" for 500GB of storage? Ouch.

    It might be enterprise-class, but that pricing gives me a nosebleed. Is your home use piggybacking on your company's license or something? It's hard to imagine an individual paying that much for that little storage unless they serve you waffles or something.
  11. bostich thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    Now I finally had the time to evaluate some of the options mentioned here.

    For now, it seems to me that Backblaze might be my solution after all. I wasn't aware of the fact that Backblaze lets you exclude folders from being backed up. It's still in the process of doing the first backup now. I am just going to see how this works for me and if I don't run into any trouble as with CrashPlan.
  12. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    It's been a good service for my purposes, and I have found the iOS app to be very handy, but the conversation here has been illuminating. The 30-day reconnect requirement is certainly something to be aware-of.

    Probably the best advice is to not put all your backup eggs in one backup basket.

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