Backblaze B2, Cloud Storage on a Budget: One Year Later

By | June 27th, 2017

B2 Cloud Storage Review

A year ago, Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage came out of beta and became available for everyone to use. We were pretty excited, even though it seemed like everyone and their brother had a cloud storage offering. Now that we are a year down the road let’s see how B2 has fared in the real world of tight budgets, maxed-out engineering schedules, insanely funded competition, and more. Spoiler alert: We’re still pretty excited…

Cloud Storage on a Budget

There are dozens of companies offering cloud storage and the landscape is cluttered with incomprehensible pricing models, cleverly disguised transfer and download charges, and differing levels of service that seem to be driven more by marketing departments than customer needs.

Backblaze B2 keeps things simple: A single performant level of service, a single affordable price for storage ($0.005/GB/month), a single affordable price for downloads ($0.02/GB), and a single list of transaction charges – all on a single pricing page.

Who’s Using B2?

By making cloud storage affordable, companies and organizations now have a way to store their data in the cloud and still be able to access and restore it as quickly as needed. You don’t have to choose between price and performance. Here are a few examples:

  • Media & Entertainment: KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, is using B2 to preserve their video catalog of the world renown musical anthology series, Austin City Limits.
  • LTO Migration: The Girl Scouts San Diego, were able to move their daily incremental backups from LTO tape to the cloud, saving money and time, while helping automate their entire backup process.
  • Cloud Migration: Vintage Aerial found it cost effective to discard their internal data server and store their unique hi-resolution images in B2 Cloud Storage.
  • Backup: Ahuja and Clark, a boutique accounting firm, was able to save over 80% on the cost to backup all their corporate and client data.

How is B2 Being Used?

B2 Cloud Storage can be accessed in four ways: using the Web GUI, using the CLI, using the API library, and using a product or service integrated with B2. While many customers are using the Web GUI, CLI and API to store and retrieve data, the most prolific use of B2 occurs via our integration partners. Each integration partner has certified they have met our best practices for integrating to B2 and we’ve tested each of the integrations submitted to us. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • NAS Devices – Synology and QNAP have integrations which allow their NAS devices to sync their data to/from B2.
  • Backup and Sync – CloudBerry, GoodSync, and Retrospect are just a few of the services that can backup and/or sync data to/from B2.
  • Hybrid Cloud – 45 Drives and OpenIO are solutions that allow you to setup and operate a hybrid data storage cloud environment.
  • Desktop Apps – CyberDuck, MountainDuck, Dropshare, and more allow users an easy way to store and use data in B2 right from your desktop.
  • Digital Asset Management – Cantemo, Cubix, CatDV, and axle Video, let you catalog your digital assets and then store them in B2 for fast retrieval when they are needed.

If you have an application or service that stores data in the cloud and it isn’t integrated with Backblaze B2, then your customers are probably paying too much for cloud storage.

What’s New in B2?

B2 Fireball – our rapid data ingest service. We send you a storage device, and you load it up with up to 40 TB of data and send it back, then we load the data into your B2 account. The cost is $550 per trip plus shipping. Save your network bandwidth with the B2 Fireball.

Lowered the download price – When we introduced B2, we set the price to download a gigabyte of data to be $0.05/GB – the same as most competitors. A year in, we reevaluated the price based on usage and decided to lower the price to $0.02/GB.

B2 User Groups – Backblaze Groups functionality is now available in B2. An administrator can invite users to a B2 centric Group to centralize the storage location for that group of users. For example, multiple members of a department working on a project will be able to archive their work-in-process activities into a single B2 bucket.

Time Machine backup – You may know that you can use your Synology NAS as the destination for your Time Machine backup. With B2 you can also sync your Synology NAS to B2 for a true 3-2-1 backup solution. If your system crashes or is lost, you can restore your Time Machine image directly from B2 to your new machine.

Life Cycle Rules – Create rules that allow you to manage the length of time deleted files will remain in your B2 bucket before they are deleted. A great option for managing the cleanup of outdated file versions to save on storage costs.

Large Files – In the B2 Web GUI you can upload files as large as 500 MB using either the upload or drag-and-drop functionality. The B2 CLI and API support the ability to upload/download files as large as 10 TB.

5 MB file part size – When working with large files, the minimum file part size can now be set as low as 5 MB versus the previous low setting of 100 MB. Now the range of a file part when working with large files can be from 5 MB to 5GB. This increases the throughput of your data uploads and downloads.

SHA-1 at the end – This feature allows you to compute the SHA-1 checksum and append it to the end of the request body versus doing the computation before the file is sent. This is especially useful for those applications which stream data to/from B2.

Cache-Control – When data is downloaded from B2 into a browser, the length of time the file remains in the browser cache can be set at the bucket level using the b2_create_bucket and b2_update_bucket API calls. Setting this policy is optional.

Customized delimiters – Used in the API, this allows you to specify a delimiter to use for a given purpose. A common use is to set a delimiter in the file name string. Then use that delimiter to detect a folder name within the string.

Looking Ahead

Over the past year we added nearly 30,000 new B2 customers to the fold and are welcoming more and more each day as B2 continues to grow. We have plans to expand our storage footprint by adding more data centers as we look forward to moving towards a multi-region environment.

For those of you who are B2 customers – thank you for helping build B2. If you have an interesting way you are using B2, tell us in the comments below.

Andy Klein

Andy Klein

Andy has 20+ years experience in technology marketing. He has shared his expertise in computer security and data backup at the Federal Trade Commission, Rootstech, RSA and over 100 other events. His current passion is to get everyone to back up their data before it's too late.
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  • Peter Chan

    So I have a very very basic question. I just tried B2 with the Synology Cloudsync and it appears straightforward…EXCEPT I don’t understand how this process is going to work as a backup for any photo or video files. The creation date of these types of media are preserved when copying/backing up between computers, but when Cloudsync uploads to B2 the date of file is changed to the actual sync date. It’s further complicated when you go to restore or download the image or video and the file is once again changed to the date of the download. Can someone help me understand how these other enterprises, like Vintage Aerial are using the cloud as data asset management if every time they upload or download an asset it loses it’s original creation date?

  • Kristian

    I’m missing a append only option, so hackers can’t delete my backup if they get access to API keys through the backup server. :)

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  • Chris Cookley

    I’m loving B2 so far. Was on Amazon Drive when it was unlimited for $60, but since that ended, B2 seems like a great option. Am slowly moving my ~1TB backup over. CloudSync on my Synology has been perfect.

    • Peter Chan

      Chris, see my question above. How are you dealing with the creation date modification? This was my issue with Amazon Drive as well. Sure it’s unlimited, but when you go to view your photos on Prime Photos, many of your photos or videos are lumped in “Other” because it lost the creation date.

      • Chris Cookley

        To be honest Peter, I haven’t really looked into this much yet. I organize my photography fairly intensely. For example, my file structure is something like:

        Archive > 2017 > 01_01_17 – New Years > 01_01_17 – New Years – 001

        I put all my photos into an archive folder, then they’re sorted by year, then into a folder for each event. When I import photos into Lightroom I always rename the files to the date and place the photos were taken.

        So I usually sort and order files by file name and not by the embedded data in the file.

  • gavingreenwalt

    Every new storage pod brags about how much cheaper per GB the storage is. Any chance we’ll see those savings trickle down into cheaper B2 pricing soon? Glacier in spite of all its limitations still is superior in a number of applications.

    • We’re already at $0.005/GB so doubt a price decrease is coming soon (though we did just drop the price of downloads to $0.02/GB). We compete where we can :D

      • nalvarez

        Not too long ago, Glacier was more expensive than B2 *and* was a pain to deal with the long retrieval delays (which B2 doesn’t have) *and* had super complicated retrieval pricing. Now it’s $0.004/GB vs B2’s $0.005/GB but the rest of the pain continues.

        Cost-wise, the only reason to use Glacier is if you already have everything else in AWS, so you don’t have to pay a ton for bandwidth from AWS to B2.

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  • Stefan Seidel

    Have been a user almost since day one, and still loving it. Although my dataset is small (<1TB) I hope you'll still care for small customers like me :)

    Back in the beginning I checked the stats on the web dashboard almost every day to watch out for surprise charges etc., but after a while I could just relax, because things just work. I'm using duplicity/duply by the way.

    Only improvement I would wish for (as others too) would be datacenters in other parts of the world (Europe for me).

    • We can only grow as quickly as we can grow, but we hope to get there!

    • Anurag Bhatia

      +1 for datacenter in Europe & Asia (Singapore or HK?) !

  • harro

    Love the work you’re doing! Best cloud storage period! If you had a data centre in Australia that would just be icing on the cake

    • Hah, we can only grow as quickly as we can! But we hope to get there! :D