Backblaze is constantly listening to customer feedback and innovating internally. The new features, bug fixes, and underlying enhancements that result from these become available in various releases of the Backblaze service. One of the pieces of feedback we heard was that some of you wanted to know more about these releases. We listened and I wanted to share our philosophy and approach:
Large releases with significant architectural changes are qualified internally and put through a rigorous beta testing period before being made available publicly. Small bug-fix or feature-enhancement releases are thoroughly qualified internally and tested with a smaller group of customers. While all customers are eventually automatically upgraded to the new release, larger releases are often rolled out gradually over a couple weeks or more.
Mac and Windows Simultaneous Release
By writing the system cross-platform from day one, we are typically able to do simultaneous releases – ensuring that Mac and Windows users have an identical experience and feature set. At times, there is a feature that is specific to one platform (for example, supporting Resource Forks is important on the Mac and does not exist on the Windows) which requires a slightly different release – but we tend to keep them nearly in sync.
Most people just want their computer – and their backup – to work behind the scenes. As such, Backblaze automatically upgrades its software to the latest version. However, some users requested the ability to see if there was a new version available and they had not yet been auto-updated. We listened and added a “Check for Updates” option in the menu bar. You never need to click this – but if we are doing a rolling update, this will let you know that there is a new version available.
New Release Communications
Historically we quietly made improvements to the service and users would silently benefit. For large releases, such as the launch of the Windows version or the Mac version, we would publicly communicate the availability via the press and our blog. However, in order to minimize the amount of email we send to our customers, we did not send any communication regarding incremental releases. Going forward, we will publish what is new in each release here on our blog and send a notification via our Twitter account. We believe this is a good balance of letting users who are interested know without over-emailing our customers.
When we set out to build a backup service anyone could use, we assumed this was something people wanted to just install and forget – and for most people this was the case. However, we also found there is an entire base of people passionate about backup who want to stay involved and educated. For those of you in this latter category, I hope you enjoy the enhanced insight.