Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

What Backblaze Doesn’t Back Up

I was recently looking into adding an offsite backup to my backup strategy — it is, after all, the smart thing to do. Backblaze is the obvious choice. It comes highly recommended, and it’s super simple. Unfortunately, as Michael Tsai explains, it isn’t a true backup solution:

My other concern is that Backblaze doesn’t actually back up everything. It fails all but one of the Backup Bouncer tests, discarding file permissions, symlinks, Finder flags and locks, creation dates (despite claims), modification date (timezone-shifted), extended attributes (which include Finder tags and the “where from” URL), and Finder comments.

Some of these things may not be that important to you, but attributes like creation dates and file permissions should never, ever be discarded. It would be ridiculous for me to suggest that no backup system is better than Backblaze, but it’s not as good as it needs to be; or, at least, it’s not good enough for me to pay for it.

So, what to do? Dropbox supports many more attributes, but it also does not retain creation dates. Arq supports everything, as does Crashplan. The latter is particularly appealing for its Seeded Backup and Restore-to-Door services:

Backing up many gigabytes over the internet might take longer than you’d like. Seeded Backup service can complete your backup in a just a few days. We’ll ship you a hard drive with instructions to seed your backup.

[…]

In an emergency, we can ship your backup to you on a hard drive, so that you can restore your files locally (processing and shipping times apply).

However, both of these fantastic services are only available in the US.

Right now, the most attractive option for many international users might be to buy three external hard drives: one for use with Time Machine, for quick, local backups, and two for use with SuperDuper!. They can be rotated on a weekly basis, with one onsite and one somewhere else, like a friend’s house or your office.