/ Code

THERE'S A BETTER WAY

IT'S CALLED BACKBLAZE
UNLIMITED STORAGE
FOR FIVE BUCKS A MONTH
(five bucks a month)
UNLIMITED FILESI- okay I'll stop now

I moved a couple of things over to Backblaze's all-new B2 service this week. I mean how could I resist? Until now, cloud storage had sort-of been a premium service where you'd pay more per GB than hosting yourself, in return, the service would handle all the complicated stuff of keeping your files backed-up, available and easily accessible across multiple servers.

Backblaze took that idea, and flipped it on its head. - Don't get me wrong, their service works similarly, but it's cheaper. Something that quite frankly amazes me. Even if you buy one of online.net's cheap dedicated servers, which are popular among budget sites for storage and backup. The price per GB is still twice that of B2.

Purpose

I started using B2 more as an experiment. I've tried Amazon's S3 service a bit, but quite frankly it's too expensive to pose any real value for a guy on a budget like me. I had been looking for a service like this, something i could use to offload some data from my servers. I host a lot of old stuff. Like ShareX uploads from 2013 that are accessed once or twice a year.

In total, I store about 120 GB of old crap that just sits there and mostly rots, which is a tenth of my entire hard drive. I want to keep the content in case it ever becomes useful again, but at the same time I kinda don't want to waste 100+ GB of my hard drive.

The move

The move was fairly simple. For smaller amounts of data (like the images on this blog), I just uploaded them via the Web UI). For larger amounts of data (Like openings.moe backups) I used the b2_python_pusher tool on their website.

So honestly, the entire move was child's play. I just had to update some links here and there.

The experience

This is probably the part you were waiting for, did it work well? Before I go an further, I just want to clarify:

During my testing (and as of writing this), Backblaze B2 is an open beta product. Since it is a beta, I won't be too harsh on it.

The good

Let's start with the happy stuff

Using it

It was simple. Really simple.

From the web it felt like I was using something simple, like Dropbox:

b2-web-ui

From the command line. It was a simple b2_python_pusher <account id> <application key> site to back up all of openings.moe. Overall, I'm really happy with how simple it was to use. Their API seems pretty horrible though, but I haven't used that so I can't really say much.

Free stuff

In addition to being simple, they give you a lot for free. 10 GB of storage for free, to deliver all this content you also get 1 GB of bandwidth per day. For a little hobby site or a blog, this might even be all you need, it also makes it easy to test the service, since you don't need a credit card to sign up for it.

Statistics

Now this one I /really/ like, pretty images of your usage. Not just regular ones either, they have two types. They have regular reports, which show your storage use, bandwidth use, transactions (transactions are basically requests) and even what API features you use most, which is great when you're trying to optimize your infrastructure to match:

reports

The second thing they give you is a page to manage spending caps. This makes it easy to set daily caps for how much you spend and avoids making your bandwidth charges rocket through the roof. They can warn you via both SMS and E-mail:

caps

The ugly

Everything can't be a piece of cake, especially when you're in beta. If the Backblaze team reads this, treat it as feedback.

Speeds

It was sluggish. Really sluggish. Uploading from my online.net box in France, connected at 1 gbit/s with 200 mbit/s guaranteed, my speeds were usually sitting between 20 and 30 mbit/s during upload, which is just ridiculous. Backing up openings.moe took around 3 hours. Something that used to take 9 minutes on average when I used my own backup server.

For backups, this isn't the worst, since they just run automatically and I like to think that I'm a patient guy. But when you advertise using it to back cloud applications, speed is a critical thing. Downloads were a bit better, hitting 40 to 50 mbit/s.

Barebones

This is probably something I can blame on them being in beta. But the lack of features shows. No thumbnails in the Web UI? Really? Nor do you support uploading entire folders with your official application? In addition you have a 5GB upload limit per file, so putting everything I want to back up into a .tar and uploading that file doesn't work either.

But I'll give them some slack here, I mean it is a fresh service and in beta

Monthly limits

Setting monthly limits is something I really want to see. Daily limits just don't work, spikes happen when you host websites. And due to this, it's pretty random if I hit my daily cap or not. Sometimes it can happen so often that it annoys me, like this time at 11PM on a weekday.

Of course I could set my daily limit to something like 100 GB and not worry about it, but this would allow 3TB of bandwidth a month (a whopping $150), which is something my wallet can't handle. For many users (Including me), monthly limits would be way better than daily limits.

Overall

So here comes the TL;DR version:

I'd recommend Backblaze B2 to most people on a budget. It's a really good place to back up your data at really low cost.

With that being said, I'd ask you to hold off for now if you're a power user who stores a lot in the cloud to power your applications, their speeds can be a bit low. In my testing, I also got over 600ms in TTFB on all occasions, compared to 120ms when I host it myself.

I'm guessing that B2 is going to improve, but better speeds and more functions are what I want to see the most. For now, I'd call it the best backup solution on a budget, and a "meh, not bad, but not great either" service for serving static content.