Backblaze nets $5M to boost cloud backup

Backblaze, the 5-year-old company that backs up everything on your PC for $5 per month, has snagged $5 million in funding from TMT Investments, an investment house out of the U.K. It will use the money to beef up sales and marketing efforts.

New Year’s resolution checklist: Daily backups

A new year is a perfect time to talk about ways to protect your data. You should be backing up and you know it, and if you are already backing up, it’s time to test your strategy and include things you may be forgetting.

Getting started with an online backup service for your Mac

Whether you got an online backup subscription as a holiday gift or just decided it’s time to have your backup offsite, it’s a good idea to keep your data protected, and one that never goes out of style. Here’s the right way to get started.

5 absolute last-minute gifts for Apple lovers on your list

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of disappointment ran through your head because you waited until the very very last minute to buy gifts. Here are some options for gifts that while thoughtful, don’t require you to meet shipping deadlines.

Today in Cloud

Ben Kepes draws my attention to some interesting news for customers of Barclays bank here in the UK. As part of a broader package of support for their small business customers, the bank will be pushing online backup with Mozy, online accounting with FreeAgent, online business planning with LivePlan, online training from MindLeaders, and online forms and legal docs from Rapidocs. It also looks as though the bank’s MyBusinessWorks package will include the hand-holding that some new customers may require before gaining the confidence to proceed on their own. I’m impressed; I sometimes wonder if my UK bank (not Barclays) even knows what “online” is… FreeAgent is particularly popular with small UK businesses (I’ve used it myself for several years), but Barclays’ backing could take them and the other featured companies to a whole new level of audience reach.

The Backup Barrier: Obstacles to Online Storage Strategies

The combination of having both local and offsite storage is something large enterprises routinely base their backup and disaster recovery strategy on, but cost and complexity have made it difficult for smaller companies and individuals at the consumer level to follow suit. But this week, Hitachi GST announced a new range of external hard drives that also ship bundled with 3GB of cloud-based storage, and such a device demonstrates that the storage industry is beginning to respond to the gap in current provision.
Cloud-based solutions like Mozy and Dropbox have been available for a number of years, and while these certainly meet the requirement to store backups offsite, they tend to become expensive as data volumes grow, particularly in the enterprise setting. Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Apple’s new North Carolina data center play in the same area, although marketing around these products tend to focus upon the storage of larger media files.
Moreover, both traditional cloud backup solutions like Mozy and hybrid products such as Hitachi’s remain constrained by the limitations of consumer broadband. Ad hoc uploading of individual files as they are created or altered is perfectly feasible, but typical upload speeds make it unrealistic to expect most customers to complete their initial backup of applications, images and other large files. Without that ability to simply upload everything at the outset, online backup strategies remain reliant upon a process of manual selection, and typically therefore too time consuming to contemplate. For both large enterprises supporting home-based remote workers and smaller organizations that might rely consumer-grade internet connections, the upload speeds of many consumer broadband packages remain a major hurdle to overcome in delivering effective backup solutions.
In the Enterprise
As we often discuss here at GigaOM Pro, consumerization of the enterprise is a hot topic right now, with (mostly) younger employees bring modes of working learned on Facebook, Twitter and other consumer-grade services and devices to their professional interactions. Slowly, enterprise IT systems and procedures are adjusting to cope. And while the this consumerization ultimately benefits everyone, the space is far from perfect, particularly when it comes to safely backing up files.
In most circumstances, data stored on a server will be backed up somewhere else, either on another machine in the data center, to tape, or offsite via a service like Iron Mountain or Nirvanix. An effective backup and disaster recovery plan for the data center will typically involve some combination of all three.
Data stored on company desktops and — especially — laptops is a very different matter, as machines move around, and are often switched off or offsite when backups are scheduled. One provider of solutions for laptop backup, Druva, claims that currently “over 38 percent of corporate data resides on laptops that are never backed up.” In a press release this week to mark the launch of its new cloud-based backup solution for enterprise laptops, Druva cites another statistic: According to the company, “73 percent of laptop users across industries [complain] that ‘intrusive backups’ create a major obstacle to personal productivity.”
In the Consumer Space
Unfortunately those “intrusive backups” remain the primary solution available to people — especially when it comes backing up files in the home. Typically, they require manual intervention by the computer user, and performance of other applications may often be impeded as the machine devotes its attention to scanning and copying files for the backup. My wholly unscientific observation of behavior suggests that, for the minority who do any kind of backup at all, irregular copying of key files to a CD or DVD remains by far the most popular backup strategy.
For those persuaded to invest money rather than time, automated local solutions such as Drobo or Apple’s Time Machine go a long way toward making the consumer backup process relatively painless, but the need to site computer and backup device near one another causes further problems; theft, fire, flood and other unfortunate events are likely to have an equally detrimental effect on both, lessening the value of having made a backup in the first place.
There’s a clear business opportunity for someone to crack the problem of that initial backup, but until that happens — or broadband upload speeds improve — effective backup will remain the preserve of the enthusiastic and the paranoid.

Mac Backup Strategies for Worldwide Backup Day

Today is Worldwide Backup Day, when we celebrate taking precautions so as not to lose data. The best backup strategies take a layered approach to provide different levels of protection. I’m going to focus on three layers for protecting your Mac: online, nearline, and offsite backups.