What Is Extended Version History?

Our recent Backup Awareness Survey showed that 61% of Americans who own a computer and back it up are not very confident that all of their data is being backed up. That just goes to show how complicated some backup solutions are.

And what good is a backup service if it’s hard to get your data back when you need it?

The Backblaze Computer Backup client is designed to stay out of the way and back up your data, while making restoring that data a walk in the park. One of the popular ways of enhancing our backup service is a feature called Extended Version History. But, we’ve found that some people still don’t quite understand what it does. With that in mind, I wanted to write an overview of the feature, how it works, and why it’s useful for anyone that uses our Computer Backup service, whether it’s for personal use or for their company or family group.

Extended Version History Explained

First, we need to define two key terms, “retention” and “version,” to help explain Extended Version History.

What Is Retention?

In simple terms, retention is how long something in your backup is kept backed up.

What Is a Version?

It seems simple enough, but it’s worth explaining what we mean by a “version.” Without getting in the weeds, whenever a file is added or created on your computer, that is a version. Whenever you change a file on your computer, whether you add more lines to a spreadsheet or edit your recent vacation photos, those changes also create another version of the file.

When you understand what retention is and what a version is, it’s easy to understand Extended Version History. It’s a feature that allows you to set a retention timeframe that specifies how long all the older versions—the version history—of your files should be kept as part of your backup.

How Long Is Backblaze’s Retention?

The standard Backblaze Computer Backup service comes with 30 days of Version History for the files that are backed up. This means that you can go back in time (using our roll back time feature) and access older versions of files for 30 days from the date they were last changed or deleted. After that 30-day mark, the version of the file that’s 30 days old will leave your backup, but any newer files will remain.

Note: If you last changed or added a file more than 30 days ago, but have not made any changes to it, it will remain in your backup as long as it remains on your computer (or is unchanged). If it gets removed or changed, that’s when the 30-day retention period starts.

What Does Extended Version History Do?

With Extended Version History, you can increase that 30-day period to one year or even forever. This essentially increases the duration for which you can roll back time when going to access your data.

A Very Simple Example (With Babies!)

As a new uncle, I have babies on the brain. Let’s say that a baby was born on July 1st and our family creates a spreadsheet to chart the growth of the baby. Every single day, we add a row to the spreadsheet to add in the baby’s weight, height, and maybe a cute note. The previous rows don’t get deleted, and so the spreadsheet grows by one row every single day.
On July 30th, our spreadsheet will have 30 rows (one per day). If that spreadsheet was being backed up by Backblaze, I could go back in time to July 1st and get a copy of that spreadsheet from the very first day, with just a single row of baby information. However, if I tried to do that on July 31, that original version would be gone, but I could go back and get a copy from July 2nd, the version with the first two rows of baby data. If I tried to go back on, say, August 30th, I could get a copy from August 1, which would have all of July’s rows of baby data.

To illustrate the point, here’s me as a Soviet baby.

With Extended Version History, using that same example, I have more time (a year or forever) to go back and retrieve that original copy of the spreadsheet created on July 1 with just the first row.

Why would you want the spreadsheet with just one row? Who knows, it’s an example!

Why Extended Version History? Because Mistakes Happen!

Our Backup Awareness Month survey found that 67% of respondents have reported accidentally deleting a file. 44% reported losing data, or access to data, because a shared or synced drive or folder was deleted. Having Extended Version History turned on for your Backblaze backup helps avoid data loss because of accidental deletions.

You may not always realize right away (or within 30 days) that you deleted a file accidentally. Or you may not regularly check that shared drive until it’s too late and your older versions are gone. With Extended Version History, you can go back in time up to a year later or forever later and get those files back.

How to Get Extended Version History?

I encourage everyone I know to enable Extended Version History as soon as they install Backblaze on their computer.
Step 1: Click “Upgrade.”

Step 2: Select how long you want to keep files—one year or forever.

One thing to keep in mind is that simply turning on Extended Version History won’t automatically extend the “life” of your files retroactively. For example, if you open your account on July 1 and enable Extended Version History on July 28, only the versions from July 28 onward will have Extended Version History, not the versions created between July 1 and July 28. Once enabled, any new or changed files will have their retention rate increased, which is why doing so when you first install Backblaze is the best policy.

Consider Extended Version History as getting additional “mistake insurance” for your data. If something happens, or you lose access to shared files and that goes unnoticed, we’ll have your back!


About Yev

Yev Pusin is the senior director of Marketing and sometimes Marketing chief of staff at Backblaze, which he joined in 2011. Yev has a degree in business and communications from the University of Iowa, where he developed an alliteration affinity. Yev enjoys writing in an amusing way about the "why" of things and how decisions are made, so that readers can learn and be entertained all at once. Follow Yev on: Twitter: @YevP | LinkedIn: Yev Pusin