Backblaze: A Complete Tour

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Control Panel

A screenshot of the Backblaze Control Panel
Backblaze Control Panel.

The "Control Panel" is the first screen you see when you open Backblaze after having installing it.

From here, you can stop an ongoing backup with the Pause Backup button. The same button is used to resume a backup or start a manual backup, but when that's the situation, the button will say Backup Now.

Settings... is used to change pretty much anything you can imagine in Backblaze, like the backup schedule, backup sources, exclusions, and other preferences. You'll see all of these screens as you move through this tour.

The Restore Options... button shows you the different options you have for restoring your data from Backblaze's servers. We'll look more at that screen in the last part of this walkthrough.

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Settings Tab

A screenshot of the Backblaze Settings tab
Backblaze Settings Tab.

Choosing the Settings button at the "Control Panel" screen in Backblaze opens all of available preferences that you can change in the program. Separate tabs represent different categories of options, with Settings being the first one.

Change the text next to the "Online Name for this computer:" section of this tab if you want a description of the computer that's a bit more friendly. You'll see this when you're viewing your account online. You can change this at any time.

If you want to be warned when the computer hasn't been backed up for a certain period of time, select an option from the "Warn me when not backed up for:" section. You can choose to activate the warning after anywhere from 1 day to 7 days of no backup, or you can completely disable the warning altogether by choosing the Never option.

At the bottom of this tab, in the "Hard Drives" section, is where you can choose which hard drives you do and don't want backed up.

The "Exclusions" tab of Backblaze's preferences is where you tell the program which files and folders among those selected hard drives are those that you don't want backed up. There's more on this in the "Exclusions Tab" a bit further in this walkthrough.

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Performance Tab

Backblaze Performance Tab screenshot
Backblaze Performance Tab.

How Backblaze affects your network and computer performance can be adjusted from the "Performance" tab. This set of options is accessible via the Settings button from Backblaze's "Control Panel" screen.

Enabling "Automatic Threading/Throttle:" will automatically determine how fast Backblaze will back up your data.

Unchecking this option lets you adjust the "Manual Throttle:" option, where you can choose between a faster network with slower backups, or a slower network with faster backups. In other words, for the fastest backup option, slide the option to the far right. This could mean that you'll have less bandwidth for other tasks, like internet browsing, but I doubt you'll notice a slowdown, especially if you're on a faster high-speed connection.

If this option is unchecked, you'll also be able to edit the "Number of Backup Threads:" option, which lets you specify the number of processes Backblaze uses to back up your data. This can be helpful if latency is an issue between your network and Backblaze's servers. As more threads are chosen, each additional process is able to handle uploads independently of the others by using up the latency time to continue uploading files.

As you adjust the throttling, the approximate speed at which Backblaze will be able to back up your data will be shown at the top of the screen.

The "Backup when on batter power:" option, when checked, will still let Backblaze backup your data even when your laptop is unplugged, running on batter, or when your desktop computer is getting power from a battery backup device. Leaving this option checked will drain your battery quicker than it otherwise would.

Finally, to prevent Backblaze from backing up your data while on specific Wi-Fi networks, use "Add..." to choose the networks. You might do this if you sometimes use a mobile hotspot that has a monthly data cap; using Backblaze on that network will most likely put you over the top quickly.

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Schedule Tab

A screenshot of the Backblaze Schedule tab
Backblaze Schedule Tab.

You can change when Backblaze backs up your data by altering the option in the "Schedule" tab. This tab can be accessed from Backblaze's "Control Panel" screen, through the Settings button.

There are three options that you can pick from: Continuously, Once Per Day, and Only when I click .

The first option, Continuously, is the recommended scheduling preference because it assures your data is always being backed up online and doesn't rely on a schedule or any manual input.

Once Per Day can be chosen if you'd rather have your files and folders backed up during a certain time of the day. Select a "Start At:" and "End At:" time for Backblaze to run the backups.

Selecting Only when I click  will require you to click the Backup Now button from the "Control Panel" section of Backblaze before a backup will start.

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Exclusions Tab

A screenshot of the Backblaze Exclusions tab
Backblaze Exclusions Tab.

Backblaze will backup everything it finds on your computer... except for the files and folders defined in this tab. The "Exclusions" tab can be accessed by clicking the Settings button from the "Control Panel" section of Backblaze.

As is probably obvious, the "The following folders will not be backed up:" area holds all the folders Backblaze ignores when backing up your data. Anything located in any of these folders will not be backed up. You can add and remove any folder to this list with the Add Folder... and Delete Folder buttons.

The next area in this tab, called "The following file types will not be backed up:", is similar to the folder exclusion list except instead of defining a certain location that won't be backed up, you certain file extensions from being backed up. Thinking about this the other way around - any extension you remove from this list will start being backed up by Backblaze.

The final option in the "Exclusions" tab is called "Do not backup files larger than:". Select one of the limits to ensure only files smaller than that size will be backed up, which could speed up your initial backup and exclude those really large files you may not want backed up at all.

File size limits are completely voluntary with Backblaze. Just choose No Limits to make sure Backblaze doesn't exclude a file based on how big it is.

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Private Encryption Key Option

A screenshot of the Backblaze Private Encryption Key option
Backblaze Private Encryption Key Option.

From the "Control Panel" section of Backblaze, through the Settings button, you can access the "Private Encryption Key" option from the "Security" tab.

Using a private encryption key is completely optional and is not required to secure your backups online. Think of it as an extra layer of security, should you choose to include it. If enabled, it will be required along with your regular password when you go to restore your data from a backup.

To set it, enter your private key in both text areas, and then tap or click the Set Private Key button to save the new settings.

You must remember the private key you choose here because Backblaze will NOT be able to help you retrieve it if it's lost or forgotten.

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Files Scheduled for Backup Tab

A screenshot of the Backblaze Files Scheduled for Backup tab
Backblaze Files Scheduled for Backup Tab.

This tab can found in the Settings button from the "Control Panel" section of Backblaze.

"Files Scheduled for Backup" is just what it sounds like: a list of all the files that are currently slated to be backed up to Backblaze's servers. 

No, you probably won't need to check this out very often. However, this could be useful if you're not sure whether some of your files have been backed up yet. Just come here to see their status... curiosity settled!

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Reports Tab

A screenshot of the Backblaze Reports tab
Backblaze Reports Tab.

The "Reports" tab is part of Backblaze's preferences, and can be found via the Settings button in the "Control Panel" section of the program.

Backblaze's "Reports" tab gives an overview of all the data you've selected to back up. It gives you the total size of the backups, as well as a broken down list of the general types of files you're backing up.

Photos, Music, Movies, Documents, Zips and Archives, and Browser Favorites and Bookmarks are some of the file types you can see, and they each describe what fraction of the total backup they're taking up.

Your allowed backup space with Backblaze is unlimited so you don't need to come to a report like this to see what's using up "all your available space" but it can be nice to see if you're curious.

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Issues Tab

A screenshot of the Backblaze Issues tab
Backblaze Issues Tab.

This is the last tab in Backblaze's preferences, and can be viewed through the Settings button in the "Control Panel" section of the program.

The "Issues" tab lists all of the files that should be backed up but haven't been because of a particular problem.

Backblaze will keep trying to upload these files even after they've failed to backup, but it's still important to keep an eye out for this list to be sure things are working smoothly.

In this screenshot, you can see that half a dozen files were skipped because they were in use, which is what TEMPORARY_FILE_BUSY means. As soon as those files are closed, either by you or your operating system, then Backblaze will promptly back them up.

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Restore Options

Backblaze Restore Options screenshot
Backblaze Restore Options.

To restore files from your backups, click the Restore Options... button from the "Control Panel" section of Backblaze.

There are three options for restoring your files: Web Download, USB Flash Drive, and USB Drive. Any option can be used to retrieve some or all of your files, and clicking any of them will open your account in your web browser for further instructions.

The first option, Web Download, is completely free and lets you restore your files through your web browser. If the file you want to restore is less than 30 MB, you can download it directly from your account. Anything bigger has to first be put into a ZIP file and the download link emailed to you, where you can then unzip them and replace or overwrite your originals if you want to.

The other two options are not free. The USB Flash Drive option ships you a flash drive with your data already on it, and supports up to 256 GB. The USB Drive option is the exact same thing except it comes as an external USB based hard drive and allows for up to 8 TB of data to be saved to it.

If you're using a private encryption key with your Backblaze account, you'll be required to unlock your files with that password, as well as your email address and regular account password, before you can restore your files.

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Backblaze is my favorite cloud backup service. For most people it's just the easiest route to go thanks to the super-easy software, never-think-about-it backup, and unlimited backup space.

Don't miss my complete Backblaze Review. There you'll find updated pricing and feature information, plus a lot more on my thoughts about the service.

Here are a few more online backup resources on my site that you might find helpful:

Still have questions about Backblaze or cloud backup in general? Here's how to get a hold of me.