The Importance of Data Backup with Gleb Budman, Co-Founder of Backblaze

Chris Dag via Flickr
Gleb Budman CEO & Co-Founder, Backblaze

Gleb Budman
CEO & Co-Founder, Backblaze

Gleb Budman is CEO and co-founder of Backblaze, a leading online backup service that automatically backs up unlimited computer data for $5 per month per computer. Previously, Gleb led the product teams from pre-funding through acquisition at Kendara and MailFrontier, and founded three prior companies. He received his MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School and has been a speaker at GigaOm Structure, Ignite: Lean Startup, FailCon, CloudCon; profiled by Inc. and Forbes; a mentor for Teens in Tech; and holds 5 patents on security. Gleb has been a FoundersCard Member Since 2012.


1. Lets start with the basics. What was your ‘aha’ moment that led you to start Backblaze?
Brian Wilson was the CTO of our previous company and acted as the ‘tech expert’ for friends and family, like many of us do. One of his friends called in a panic begging for help with a dead Mac. Brian said, “No problem. We’ll get you a new computer and get you all setup. Where is your data backed up?”
His friend pounded the table saying, “What I don’t need now is a lecture! What I need is for you to get me my data back!” Of course, she had no backup. Brian and I talked about this and asked our friends, family, co-workers what they did for backup and found that most did nothing. We realized this would be a huge problem and needed to be solved.
2. How has Backblaze made backing up files easier?
We agonized over every little decision at Backblaze, trying to figure out how to make it easier to get your data backed up. Now Backblaze automatically backs up all data from your Mac or PC, along with any external hard drives, over the internet, for just $5 per month. You don’t have to worry about how much data you have or how it’s organized – Backblaze is completely unlimited.
3. From your experience, when do most people’s computers fail to the point that Backblaze needs to come to the rescue?
Backblaze has recovered over 6 BILLION files, so we have certainly helped a lot of people. We have found that 1 in 2 people lose data every year. However, about 1/4th of the restores are people restoring a single file that they deleted or wrote over. Often it’s not a dead hard drive, but theft, user error, a virus, etc. that causes people to need Backblaze to get their photos, music, videos, and documents back.
4. What are some of the most common mistakes people make when backing up files/hard drives?
The 3 most common mistakes are thinking:


#1. “I’ll get to it soon”. I can’t tell you how many times people have come to us crying because they “meant to backup” right up until the point that they lost everything.
#2. “I have an external hard drive, so I’m fine.” Typically this means you have to copy files manually, which people forget to do; and even if they’re perfect, they only have a local backup – which gets destroyed by theft, fire, flood, and other local issues.


#3. “I have iCloud/DropBox/Google Drive, so I’m fine.” Those services are great for syncing data between devices and sharing files, but they don’t actually backup all your data. Lose a laptop and you’ll lose most of your files.
5. How does Backblaze back up all of their own data and have you ever had your own backup scares?
Backblaze stores over 100 petabytes (that’s 100,000,000 GB) of data for our customers. All data is kept redundantly across many hard drives in our custom-designed “Backblaze Storage Pods” with cloud storage software that we wrote that continuously checks all data in our data centers.
I had my own personal backup scare. Shortly after we started Backblaze, my Dell laptop had the Blue Screen of Death. I got lucky and was able to copy all the files to another computer using the command line, but it turned out my Outlook file didn’t copy over. I thought I lost all my contacts and calendar appointments until I realized the very early alpha version of the Backblaze software was backing up my computer. We hadn’t yet built the restore interface, but our engineers were able to restore my data for me and I became Backblaze’s first actual user!
6. We’ve heard Backblaze recoveries have resulted in some interesting stories. What is one of your favorites?
We help hundreds of people restore data every day, and most of them just self-serve and we never hear their stories. However, there have been some amazing stories that we’ve heard. One of my favorites is Ben Levy’s, a passenger on the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed in San Francisco. He helped a bunch of people get off the plane, never concerning himself with his MacBook or other stuff. When he got back home, he ordered a restore from Backblaze and got all his data from the moment he got on the flight.
7. What do you do in your free time to escape the excitement of running a company?
I spend time with friends and family, including our young daughter…and I love to hang glide and snowboard. I had a fantastic 9 hours of hang gliding in Mexico in February and got to over 14,000 feet. Though I also really want to try this Hoverboard.
8. What is one book you would recommend to everyone to add to their Summer reading list?
I’m currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks which is the crazy, true story of a poor black farmer who’s cancer cells became one of the most important tools for medicine in the last century. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to know how the Internet works on a physical level, I recommend Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet.
9. Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
Follow Om Malik. Great viewpoints – not just curation – on tech, data, and entrepreneurship.
10. What is one app that all FoundersCard Members should be using?
I love 1Password. It enables me to have different passwords for all my logins without having to remember any of them, auto-creates strong passwords, and auto-fills forms and credit card info.
11. Marissa Mayer recently slept through a meeting and it grabbed global business headlines, as a CEO, what has been your biggest “Oh no” moment on the job?
I think the biggest ‘oops’ moments are often people related. In my case, 5 years ago our vp of engineering was really stressed trying to scale the data center with our growth. Instead of alleviating his stress, I focused on how important it was for him to scale. Only later did I realize that it was completely clear to him how important scaling was and that as CEO, I should have been focused on reducing stress, not adding to it.
12. Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next?
We’re working actively on an Android app and some features that will make the Backblaze service even easier to use. However, we have a really big project that I can’t talk about yet, but when it launches a year from now, I think it will be dramatic both for Backblaze and for customers.
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