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brianwski1517 karma

Why do you force users to back up C:\

Disclaimer: I wrote the client, and I made that decision.

I had to write EXTRA code to enforce that rule (explanation at the bottom of this post). Very Short Version (TLDR) Explanation: It was to solve a very real problem for inexperienced/computer naive customers. The B2 product line was created for customers who want more control.

Longer Explanation here ->

We know that this frustrates some advanced customers, and we're working on a feature to make this less painful. Let me start by explaining the issue...

Backblaze Personal Backup is specifically targeted at naive computer users, and customers that do not want to "configure" anything and do not want to spend any time at all worrying about their backups. Naive computer users like my 85 year old father do not know where their files are. The only way we could figure out how to make a backup system that required ZERO CONFIGURATION was to "backup everything" and only exclude things we absolutely positively knew the customer could recover from another source such as C:\Windows. Also, Backblaze is profoundly meant to run on the ORIGINAL FILES in their original locations (not on a copy you carefully prepared). Many (most?) naive customers put files on their desktop, which is a folder on their C:\ drive (on the Macintosh it is on the "/" drive sometimes called the "root drive").

So when we launched Backblaze, we first allowed you to de-select the C:\ drive from being backed up. And a horrible problem appeared almost immediately -> naive customers, really inexperienced computer users were unable to restore files because they had UNSELECTED the C:\ drive. There are two reasons these customers would unselect the C:\ drive:

1) The naive users did not understand that C:\ contained their files, because Microsoft says the files are in "My Documents" or "Desktop" and these computer novices did not understand this maps to a drive letter.

... or ....

2) The naive users thought (mistakenly) that they had to "configure something" so they THOUGHT they were selecting the "C:\" drive when actually they were de-selecting it!! Imagine that the interface only lists the C:\ drive in a laptop with only that one drive. The interface was not idiot proof. They could damage themselves.

Ok, when these types of naive or dumb users had their laptop stolen, they would contact our support and they were unable to restore their data. This includes irreplaceable photos of children that had passed away already (we had two cases of that exact situation), and other irreplaceable data now gone forever.

I made the decision to stop these situations from happening. Me. I made the decision alone, I implemented it. And the fix worked spectacularly well. We get ZERO of these types of naive customers screwing up their backup configuration now. The naive customers are way, WAAAAAY more safe now than before. But it upset a different group of customers (that might include you?).

But here is the thing -> YOU can work around this problem, the naive customers CANNOT. Honestly, they are too computer-illiterate. But even computer illiterate people deserve to have their files backed up, and they are the target market for Backblaze Personal Backup. I know this inconveniences a subset of the knowledgeable people, and we're going to try to fix that for you in a future release.

One more thing that this clearly communicates: Backblaze Personal Backup is NOT a manual file transfer program. You are not allowed to carefully choose which files you want to archive to a server "offsite" and transfer them to the Backblaze datacenter only when you want to. If that sounds strange to you then this whole "C:\" thing worked! If you want a manual transfer product, you need to look into Backblaze B2. Backblaze B2 is designed for advanced customers with different use cases. Try out one of the hundred integrations listed on this web page: https://www.backblaze.com/b2/integrations.html Those are designed for manual backups and more control.

Backblaze Personal Backup is made to run continuously, in the background, on the original data on the internal C:\ drive to keep naive customers safe. It is also a good choice for customers who only have one drive (C:) that don't want to spend a lot of time configuring things. It is also an awesome choice for customers who have an external drive they keep plugged in all the time. However, Backblaze Personal Backup is a TERRIBLE choice of a product for a customer who wants more than a 30 day roll back history, or has ten external drives that are rarely plugged in at the same time, or who wants "long term cold storage archive" where they delete the original file from their local drive and expect Backblaze to keep a copy for more than 30 days after the customer deletes it from their local drive.

I hope that all makes sense and clears it up.

TL;DR - Backblaze Personal Backup is for naive customers and customers that do not wish to control things on too fine a level. Backblaze B2 was created for power users and computer knowledgeable customers who want finer grain control.

brianwski353 karma

who the heck is uploading 430TB of data?

Somebody who is costing Backblaze $2,150/month and is only paying $6/month? :-)

I haven't looked into that particular case, but in general, if you think about it, a normal consumer on a capped Comcast internet link would take tens of years to upload that amount of data. So my guess is it is a professional in a datacenter who knows they are costing Backblaze quite a bit of money.

By the way, this is a really important point -> Backblaze really wants to be "unlimited" so that naive customers don't stress out and worry. We do NOT do this to attract super large customers. My 85 year old father doesn't know if he has 5 MBytes backed up or 5 TBytes, and the best experience is to explain to him "it doesn't matter, the product is a fixed price, and there are no obnoxious extra charges to worry about". This removes what we call "sales friction" and allows naive users to purchase the product without worrying or a ton of analysis.

The only reason I like the really big customers is that if the product works for them, then it will work REALLY SMOOTHLY for the average customer. But if too many of these types of customers show up, Backblaze has to raise the price for all customers in order to stay in business. Backblaze doesn't have any deep pockets (no VC money, we are employee owned and operated), we are either profitable or we go out of business, there are no other choices.

We also ask "large data customers" to recommend Backblaze to their friends and relatives with less data. The philosophy here is even though you might have 20 TBytes, if you can convince 5 of your friends with smaller data sets to use Backblaze then BOTH Backblaze and you are very happy because your friends that you brought to us average to a profitable backup size.

brianwski279 karma

How sustainable is your pricing for ‘unlimited’ backup? Are most users only storing a small amount?

If you are curious, here is a "histogram" of the "Personal Backup Customers" backup sizes as of December 31, 2018:


You will need to zoom in to see the information. As you can see, we lose money on a few customers at the high end (we cannot store 430 TBytes of data for only $6/month), but since more customers just want to be reasonable and backup their laptops we are profitable and fully sustainable on the "average".

brianwski191 karma

So far, some of the biggest DoS attacks have been accidental from our own customers. :-) We had to add "rate limiting" for our B2 APIs (the raw object storage product line) because when developers are debugging their applications, their tight loops and bugs can hammer our API servers.

Specifically, when a pod (part of a vault) fills up or decides it doesn't want any more connections, our custom protocol specifies the client is SUPPOSED to go back and ask for a new pod to upload to. While developers are getting this working, they can just keep hammering on the pod trying to connect, and the pod keeps rejecting the connections.

brianwski134 karma

do you use drives till they burn out & fail, then replace, or do you ever rotate stock out and sell them as you upgrade?

If drives last long enough, we rotate them out purely for cost savings reasons. It turns out a 12 TByte drive takes the same physical space and about the same amount of electricity as a 2 TByte drive. So we can migrate 6 drives worth of space into a single 12 TByte of space, shrinking the physical footprint of the datacenter (saves on rent) and shrink our electricity bill.

I think the current philosophy is to migrate when the drives get 3x as dense, so we are migrating off the 4 TByte drives now kind of opportunistically.

When we do this, we SOMETIMES securely wipe the drives, then sell them for a small amount of money.

[Edit] Yeah, that wasn't worded perfectly. :-) If we don't sell the drives, we go through a different procedure where they are wiped, then physically shredded into little bitty pieces. SOMETIMES we sell them for a small amount of money after securely wiping them.