Backblaze + Time Machine = ♥

By | November 21st, 2014


“Why do I need online backup if I have Time Machine Already?” We get that question a lot. Here, we recommend you use both. Backblaze strongly believes in a 3-2-1 backup policy. What’s 3-2-1? Three copies of your data, on two different media, and one copy off-site. If you have that baseline, you’re in good shape. The on-site portions of your backup strategy are typically, the original piece of data, and an external hard drive of some sort. Most of our Mac customers use Time Machine, so that’s the one we’ll focus on here.

Raising Awareness
Apple did a great job with Time Machine, and with building awareness for backups. When you plugged in your first external hard drive, your Mac would ask if you wanted to use that drive as a Time Machine backup drive, which was instrumental in teaching users about the importance and potential ease of backups. It also dramatically simplified data backup, making it automatic and continuous. Apple knew that having people manually drag and drop files into folders and drives so they were backed up was not a reliable backup strategy. By making it automatic, many people used Time Machine for their local backup, but this still left a hole in their backup strategy, they had nothing off-site.

Why Bother
Having an off-site backup comes in handy when your computer and local backup (Time Machine in this case) are both lost. That can occur because of fire, theft, flood, forgetfulness, or a wide variety of other unfortunate reasons. Stories of people neglecting to replace their failed Time Machine drive then having their computer crash are well known. An off-site backup that is current, such as an automatic online backup can also be used to augment the local Time Machine backup, especially when traveling. For example, your hard drive in your laptop crashes while you’re on vacation. Time Machine can be used to recover up to the point where you left for your trip and your online backup can be used to fill in the rest.

Some Limitations
One thing about using Time Machine, is that as a hard drive, it doesn’t scale with the amounts of data that you have. When you purchase a 500GB drive, that’s all the space you have for your backup. For example, if you have your Mac Pro or MacBook and have a Time Machine hard drive connected to it, it will back up the data that’s on the computer. If you add an additional hard drive in to the mix as a storage drive, the Time Machine drive may not be large enough to handle both data sets, from the Mac and from the additional storage. So the more data you accumulate, the larger the Time Machine drive you have to use.

Additionally, if you store data on your Time Machine drive itself, those files are not actually going to be included in the Time Machine backup, so be wary! Apple and Backblaze strongly recommend using a separate, dedicated drive for your Time Machine backup, and not keeping any original data on that drive. That way, if the drive fails, you only lose one copy, and avoid potentially losing both copies. Backblaze works similarly, because you have an off-site backup with Backblaze, it’s another layer of protection from data loss.

So use both! And if you’re on a PC, use an external hard drive as your second media type (most come with their own local-backup software). There’s no such thing as too many backups. Backing up is like a retirement or stock portfolio, the more diversification you have, the less vulnerability you have!



Chief Smiles Officer at Backblaze
Yev enjoys speed-walking on the beach. Speed-dating. Speed-writing blog posts. The film Speed. Speedy technology. Speedy Gonzales. And Speedos. But mostly technology. He also runs social for Backblaze.

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Category:  Backing Up · Mac Love
  • Sadly for this service, I have slightly more than 1TB to backup. Looks like the pricing plans are a bit odd… 1TB and 10TB (at a heftier price!). Too bad. If there was something like unlimited like many other plans or something reasonable for 2TB or 3Tb I might jump on this.

  • TuckerdogNC

    Does Backblaze and Time Machine back up all the same data? 100%, including OS? My external HD died at 1:40am this morning for some reason, just spinning now. I’ve replaced it twice in 4 years. Once under warranty. So, I’m now looking for the “offsite” protection before I purchase another external as well.

  • Nick Savage

    The opposite for me. I have Time Machine and Backblaze so I thought I had double protection. Nope!, backblaze refuses to back up my data on the external drive because it contains a time machien backup. Pretty useless when you have 2 back up stratagies and they both don’t back up your files on your huge external drive lol. great job back blaze! you got my money and I don’t have my data. I’m screwed.

    • So glad I read this before I forked out the cash! I have Time Machine back up on my external harddrive and hoped Backblaze would just back up the whole lot :(

  • qfrisco

    Hi Yev – great article! I’ve recently been researching online backup solutions to back up (pun intended :-)) my Time machine backups and saw mention of BackBlaze on one of the reviews online.

    I have an iMac and several MacBook Pros around the house. The iMac serves as my photo and video repository and also has a bunch of external storage attached to it. In addition to its own Time Machine backups, it shares a partition to all the MacBooks so their Time Machines can store their backups to it.

    Since I already have Time Machine configured and running on all the computers, and have all the backups consolidated on one machine (the iMac), I was thinking the simplest transition to online backups was to setup BackBlaze on the iMac and have it just backup the Time Machine storage to the cloud – thereby backing up all the computers in the house in one fell swoop.

    I then see @kerryritz:disqus’s post that this is not possible, and your confirmation that it is by design that Time Machine data is not backed up by BackBlaze. Given my architecture this is really too bad. How would you suggest I go about setting up BackBlaze on my network? I would like to avoid having to install BackBlaze on all the computers and avoid sending the backup traffic twice over my network.


    • Hello! Yes, unfortunately Backblaze does not back up Time Machine drives (since they’re already a backup). You can reach out to support -> for a detailed list of things that you could do though!

      • GemStateLou

        When I first got Back Blaze it didn’t want to include my Drobo drive because Time Machine had been using it, so I turned off Time Machine. Maybe I am now doing it wrong. Here is what I am doing now, please let me know if this seems ok.

        I used Carbon Copy Cloner to:
        1. Copy my Hard Drive to Drobo
        2. Copy my Photo Drive to Drobo

        Then I set Back Blaze to:
        1. Copy my Hard Drive to Back Blaze
        2. Copy my Photo Drive to Back Blaze
        3. Copy my Drobo to Back Blaze.

        I’m thinking that means:
        My Hard drive info is on itself, 2. on Drobo and 3. at Back Blaze.
        My Photo Drive is on itself, 2. on the Drobo and 3. at Back Blaze.
        My Drobo is on itself, and 2. at Back Blaze.

        I read that information is supposed to be in 3 places, so does this seem right or should I also be using Time Machine?

  • Joe Tunon

    I have a similar question in reverse: why bother using Time Machine if you already have BackBlaze?

    • Because it is not a clone – you CANNOT simply click restore from BackBlaze if you lose your machine and have to backup. With Time Machine you CAN do that. Why BB do not offer this service is beyond me.. they are saying we are stupid and that we will only find out when it is too late that we have to spend HOURS reinstalling all our softwares and setting etc to get our new machine as the old one was. Unbelieveable oversight from them as OBVIOUSLY all mac users will want this very useful and simple service even if we have to pay more for it!

      • Dan

        hey buddy you are looking for exactly the same solution as me. Would not be surprised if you are also a DN, work remotely, travel & run a business direct from your computer. If you have found a way to do a 1 click restore online for a Mac, the same way you can on an iPhone, would be hugely helpful to know how to do this :-) email is [email protected]

  • somewhere there is contradiction between what is being proposed by backblaze and their policies. If you have an external hard drive and you back that up to the Time Machine, Backblaze will EXCLUDE that hard drive from it’s backup. therefore, you won’t be able to back that up to the cloud. the only way you can do that is by removing the data from the Time Machine so that you end up backing up the external drive just to BackBlaze. I would prefer to backup to the cloud via backblaze and the time machine.

    • Kerry, allow me to clarify a bit! Since Time Machine is a backup of your computer, and we backup your computer, backing up Time Machine would be redundant, as it would have no additional information that your computer wouldn’t have. If you partition your Time Machine drive so that part of it is used for a Time Machine backup and the other is used as a regular external drive for data storage, we’ll absolutely back up that partition as well! Just not the Time Machine component, since we’re already backing that data up from your computer.

      • apologies i wasn’t clear. i wasn’t referring to my main computer. I was referring to the external hard drive that is connected to my laptop that i use to store files that no longer fit on my HD. I wanted to backup those files to the time capsule as well as backing up backblaze

        • You can still do that, we definitely back up external drives. I think it would just be a matter of including it in to your backup, and then separately setting up a Time Machine backup of it as well. If I understand correctly!

          • this is what backblaze says: To avoid duplicating data, Backblaze will not back up any drive that contains Time Machine data on it. The drive will be listed in Backblaze’s “Select Hard Drives to Backup” as Time Machine and will not be selectable.”

          • Kerry, correct! Backblaze will not back up your Time Machine drives. However, if the data is on your computer or an external hard drive, we will back it up, as long as that external hard drive is not a Time Machine drive.

          • i think there might be some confusion about terminology. I have an external portable hard drive and i have a time capsule. both the computer and the portable hard drive are backed up to backblaze. i also back up the computer to the Time Capsule using time machine. I want to backup both my primary computer and portable hard drive to the time capsule (which is a physical backup) and off-site via backblaze. based on the info from backblaze I can’t do this, unless I partition the time machine. is there another way?

          • Kerry, oh Time Capsule is a different story. We don’t actually support Time Capsule unless it’s directly hooked up to the machine. Maybe ping support, they can give you a full run-down based on your system ->

          • jesseali

            while I think you have probably resolved this. It is clear to a third party reader that neither of you understand what the other one is saying in this thread.

            kerryritz mistakenly thinks(thought) that when time machine (let’s say drive T) is used to backup an external drive (let’s say drive E), then DRIVE E, the external drive cannot be backed up by backblaze.

            He mis-understood the terminology. Backblaze is saying they won’t backup a time machine drive, but he thinks you are saying you won’t backup a drive that is being backed up to time machine.

            kerryritz, your drive T is the only drive that cannot be backed up.

            He also mistakenly thinks/thought (due to a second misunderstanding of your reply) that there is an exception to the rule if (and only if) he partitions his time machine.

            kerryritz. Backblaze will backup ALL EXTERNAL DRIVES (if you select them) no matter what, except for time machine drives.

            It will backup external drives that are also being backed up to time machine. It will pass go, and if it were monopoly, you would still collect $200.

            There is no problems AT ALL, backing up an external drive to both time machine AND backblaze. I do it all the time.

          • Peter Varvaris

            Yev, would you please clarify:
            1.) Can BB backup a non-Time Machine partition that is on the same physical external hard drive that also has a Partition that is being used by TM?
            2.) Can BB backup an external hard drive that is connected to the LAN router, not the MacBook directly?

          • 1) Yes ->

            2) No -> we do not currently support networked attached storage.

      • But YevP this is RIDICULOUS! ALL I WANT IS OT BACKUP MY TIME MACHINE ONLINE AND BE ABLE TO VIEW MY FILES IN THAT LOCATION ANYWHERE I AM IN THE WORLD. Now why is that so difficult to do? I dont mind paying extra for the operating system and softwares space… but you MUST understand that if i lose my machine i want to be able to simply download my download my time machine backup so that i can one click restore my new machine to be back like it was. I DO NOT want to spend days remembering what my softwares and settings were! That is the whole point of a backup! Am I missing something very obvious here???? Or is BackBlaze doing the same?!?!?!

        • Hello Nic, Backblaze won’t back up your applications/programs so unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to do what you indicated, Backblaze may not be the right solution if that’s what you’re looking for!

          • Well thank you – but they are very unclear in what they offer. They promise they will back everything up and send a usb of your whole machine if you lose it, but they DONT say that you have to spend days installing all your softwares and settings. Ibackup and dollydrive to both SAY they offer time machine backups

  • manxman1

    Hi, can time machine backup to a server? I looked at the control panel and it only selects drives, unless I missed something. I have to dupe the 3TB hard drive as apple wants to replace my imac hard drive after a year (annoying).

  • Russ Vaught

    I have long used Time Machine and made daily incremental clones of my files to external hard drives. I have recently started running MacOS 10.10 Server on my primary Machine.

    I use the Server to run Time Machine for all Macs save itself. The Server is backed up with Time Machine to alternating external drives. The Server machine is now backed up to Backblaze. I do an incremental clone of every primary machine drive on a daily basis.

    The result is I have hourly backups to Time Machine for all computers plus a clone of my Server drives on a daily basis and offsite of the most critical data via Backblaze and Dropbox for shared information.

    You might call this overkill. I don’t. I have had many hard drives fail over the years. You only have to be burned once.

  • roy


    I tried, unsuccessfully, to add to my external disk option also will perform backup via the software.

    What am I supposed to do?

    Is this option open for me at all?

  • Marino Di Napoli

    My MacBook Pro is backed up to a 2TB Time Machine, and BackBlaze.

    The MBP is now full. I can partition the TM, but it is not backed up by BB. BackBlaze doesn’t back up anything that is not wired to the MBP. What if I connected an external drive to the TM, and then connected it to the MBP to back up? Would BB see it? Would the MBP see the drive wirelessly while it is connected to the Time Machine?

  • Sheri

    What a nice informative article! I’m a photographer planning a year long trip around the world. I have a new Macbook Air with 500GB of space. I know I will surpass that eventually and would even like to keep most of my photos off the computer itself so it doesn’t slow down over time. I was thinking of storing on an external drive after I am done editing each batch of photos, and then backing everything up to Back Blaze. But i don’t want to be dragging and dropping folders of photos to my external drive. I had a crash once doing that and lost all of my photos in both locations. Can you recommend a good option for me? Do you think my options will work? Thanks!!

    • Hello Sheri! You can certainly do that. Once you’re done with the items on your computer, you can place them all on to an external hard drive where they’ll live. As long as that drive is connected to your computer at least once every 30 days (we’ll send you up notifications if we haven’t seen it for a while), Backblaze will back up that external drive in addition to the computer!

  • alimoeeny

    I wish Backblaze provided a timemachine compatible solution, like a virtual machine that acted as a time capsule, but actually synced with the backblaze servers behind the scene. or something that we transparant from the user’s perspective. just install backblaze software and you see a timemachine compatible thing, which backs up to backblaze.

    • That would be so sweet! I agree from a UI standpoint this would streamline so nicely.

  • I have Time Machine backup on RAID1 NAS and Backblaze on top of that. I strongly support the need of having off-site copy. Just in case.

  • I was so glad to have BackBlaze this summer in addition to Time Machine when my wife’s computer crashed horribly. The primary disk was unrecoverable but during the recovery process, I didn’t think to unplug the Time Machine drive. Somehow, it was completely corrupted as well. If it wasn’t for the BackBlaze backup, she would have lost ALL of her data. So, yes, super important to have both!

    • Mick’s Macs

      Hiya Masen! I think we might have had something to do about that. ;-) Mick’s Macs is a BackBlaze evangelist and we may have installed a trial version on that machine or maybe just preached about it? Always happy to hear stories like this. :-)

  • AW

    I use time machine and backblaze and I never have to worry about losing my data.

  • FredWallace18

    Having a RAID can’t hurt either. While there are issues with trying to set one up at home yourself (finding compatible drives, buying and setting up the hardware and/or software, etc), it is extremely useful to have one. Swapping a drive and waiting for a rebuild is easier than waiting for a backup to download. And the data is guaranteed to be up-to-date!

    I use a RAID, a home backup, and Backblaze, and couldn’t be happier and feel safer.

  • I am using both ways to backup: a local backup for fast recovery (and an occasional quick undelete action) and Backblaze (= online backup) for when everything goes terribly wrong. However, I have stopped relying on Time Machine (which I have always seen not as a backup but as a combination of backup and versioning) and I use Carbon Copy Cloner instead. CCC not only adds super-perfect 1:1 cloning of your internal to an external harddrive, but also the ability to startup your Mac from an external harddrive.

    So I absolutely agree that it is important to have an offline *and* an online backup, but I would strongly recommend to use Carbon Copy Cloner (or SuperDuper!, for that matter – both are excellent) in addition to Backblaze.

    • Yup! Clones are great too! The more things, the better! :)

    • GrandpaReindeer

      I have often spent more time recovering software (some old and cannot find original sources; new versions, if available are often very different) and Windows settings than data. Data can be easy to throw onto a CD/DVD or external (well, it used to be, until the volume grew and I now longer have all data on logical drive D:). Is there something similar to Carbon Copy Cloner for Windows that does an incremental clone?

      Right now I’m using Norton to do a local backup of all our PCs to an external drive on our wireless router, but it often fails on my main PC. My secondary was a monthly, manual backup onto the oldest 1 of 3 external drives stored in home safe and newest off-site in safety deposit box. One drive was large enough to put full clones onto it (free Linux Clonezilla), so I’d have a quarterly backup with all software and settings. Alas, the procedure was long and often forgotten, so I added Backblaze to my main PC. Once a month, or so, I’ll copy some data from wife’s PC and our USB drive sticks to my PC, so it ends up in the Backblaze backup. Only downfall has been I’m relying too much on Backblaze and haven’t done the manual copy to externals in quite a while.


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    • Mick’s Macs

      CCC is a fantastic piece of software and we use it everyday to archive client data temporarily whilst we work on their machines. Mike Bombich is a cherished name in our halls (and a really nice guy too). But CCC’s not really suitable for the vast majority of our end users. Simple as it is (even the latest version), CCC is just not as user friendly and “grok-able” as TimeMachine.

      We remember well the pre-TimeMachine days when awful pieces of software like Retrospect (which will likely still have its supporters) were about the only thing out there and you could never quite remember what version you had done or where it was archived, etc… In the old days, backing up was an onerous chore only slightly preferable to a root canal and you were never sure you were going to get it right.

      TimeMachine is not perfect, but it’s a backup plan for the masses. Seriously, over 97% of our end user clients will never find anything easier to track and use. We sell BackBlaze as a complement to that and our clients are about as secure as they can be in today’s world. We still have to explain to clients on a weekly basis that “iCloud is not a backup plan, but rather a syncing location,” but once we make that clear, they’re usually willing to try out BackBlaze.

      BackBlaze needs to advertise that it’s not “$5/month,” but actually closer to $4 when you purchase a year or two in advance. And why wouldn’t you? :-)