One saying we used to have around the office was this: "Making backups is important but making restores is critical!"
While everyone seems to agree that making backups is a desirable thing, few people stop to think about how they will restore files after a computer failure. Most people assume they will restore needed files in the same manner they backed up the files originally: online. Indeed, that will work well if you only need a limited number of files. However, you might want to consider the speeds involved.
If you backed up a lot of files, such as an entire hard drive, you probably already know that the backup required several days to complete. The exact time required obviously depended upon the amount of data backed up and the upload speed of your Internet connection. I have heard stories of some backups requiring one or two weeks to complete for the first backup. For most people, that is not a problem. Of course, all subsequent backups complete quickly as only the newly-changed files need to be sent to the backup service. However, if you need to restore all that data, just how long do you think that will require?
Again, the answer to that question depends upon the amount of data to be restored and the download speed of your Internet connection. Most in-home Internet connections feature faster download speeds than upload speeds but I would not be surprised if a big restore would still require several days to complete. That may suffice for some in-home users who do not have time-critical requirements. However, for me and for millions of others who depend upon their computers daily, that may be too long.
Iron Mountain provided a faster solution with its LiveVault service: as an extra-cost option, the company would copy all the backed-up data to an external USB hard drive and send it by overnight air freight to a customer. Commercial companies were usually glad to pay the extra fees in order to get their business back online in a hurry.
I have looked at most of the available online backup services available to consumers but have rarely found such an option available. In a conversation with the folks from Backblaze at the recent FGS genealogy conference, I found that Backblaze has offered such a service for both Windows and Macintosh computers for some time. That makes the service more attractive than ever before.
Backblaze customers can select any of three restore options:
- An online Web restore via a .ZIP file (available anywhere via the web) - Free (this is the most popular method)
- Data restored to a 53 gigabyte flash drive and sent by overnight air freight - $99
- Data restored to a 3 terabyte external USB hard drive and sent by overnight air freight - $189
In all cases, the customer may keep the flash drive or hard drive. My former employer charged a lot more than that.
The Backblaze reps told me they don't make money from these restores. The restores are not intended as a revenue generator for the company but as a convenience for customers who need a faster method of restoring data. Those prices reflect the cost of the external drive or flash drive and also the overnight shipping charges associated with the delivery of the drive.
Below is an image of what the Backblaze restore page looks like. Click on the image to view a larger version of the restore screen.
You can learn more at Backblaze's web site.