Backing up External Hard Drives

Backing Up External Hard Drives

During install Backblaze will backup any USB or Firewire hard drive you have attached to your computer. You can also add external hard drives from the Backblaze Settings panel.


Adding an External Hard Drive
You can add an external hard drive by opening the Backblaze Settings panel on your computer and clicking the "Settings..." button.

To be selectable for backup, a given drive must be:  

1) Natively read/write accessible by the operating system. For example, some utilities will allow NTFS drives to be read/write accessible on macOS systems. Drives mounted in this way may be selectable, but are not supported, and we highly recommend against attempting to backup these volumes. 

2) Directly connected to the computer (USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt, eSATA, etc) 

3) Not a Time Machine backup volume (macOS only) 

4) Not mount as a 'removable storage device', as many flash, SD card, CD, DVD, Bluray, and some external SSDs do (Win only)

5) In working condition

What Does Not Get Backed Up 
Network (NAS) drives, remotely mounted computers or volumes, or shared volumes do not get backed up. The reason for this is not technical, but a business decision. Backing up mounted or network drives can easily be abused. A user could mount the 10 or 20 computers in their home or small business and back them all up to one account for a single license. 

Time Machine Drives

To avoid duplicating data, Backblaze will not back up any drive that contains Time Machine data on it. The drive will be listed in Backblaze's "Select Hard Drives to Backup" as Time Machine and will not be selectable.

If you'd like to back up a Time Machine drive to Backblaze, you have two options:

1. Turn off Time Machine, delete the Time Machine data from the drive, and select the drive for backup in Backblaze.

2. Split the drive into two partitions, one for Time Machine, the other for data. The data drive can be backed up to Backblaze. 

How Do I Know my External Hard Drive is Being Backed Up Online
The best way to know for sure if a file on your external hard drive is being backed up online, is to sign in to the site and click "View/Restore Files". Another option is to view the "Files Scheduled for Backup" log in the settings panel. This log shows the next 1,000 files scheduled for backup.

Renaming External Drives
If you change the name of your external hard drive, you will need to reselect it for online backup in the Backblaze settings panel.

Unplugged External Hard Drives (also applies to failed External Hard Drives)
Backblaze works best if you leave the external hard drive attached to your computer all the time. However, Backblaze will backup external USB and Firewire hard drives that are detached and re-attached as long as you remember to re-attach the hard drive at least once every 30 days.  If the drive is detached for more than 30 days, Backblaze interprets this as data that has been permanently deleted and securely deletes the copy from the Backblaze datacenter. The 30-day countdown is only for drives that have been unplugged. There is no countdown for local files. 

(please note that the above conditions only apply to users on our standard /default Version History option, and users that have upgraded to either of our extended Version History options would not be subject to these restrictions)

When a drive is missing for 14, 21, and 28 days, Backblaze will email an alert to the account email on record. To resolve a missing drive,

• Connect all disconnected drives (if any)
• Review the list of drives selected for backup - unchecking any that shouldn't be backed up, and checking ones that should be (Backblaze system preferences/control panel -> Settings -> Select Hard Drives for Backup). Any that say both (unplugged) and are unchecked can be checked, which will combine the two.
• Ensure Backblaze is set to "Continuously" (Backblaze system preference / control panel -> Settings -> Schedule)
• Let the computer run for at least 4 hours with *all* your drives connected simultaneously, uninterrupted by reboots, sleep mode or shutting down


If you are going on vacation for a long time, you can shut down your computer with the external drive attached. Backblaze does not detect that the external drive has been unplugged and won't start the 30-day countdown. You can then leave your computer off and unplug your external drive for six months, and Backblaze will still keep all your files backed up including those on your external drive. When you come back from vacation, make sure to plug your external drive back in 30 days from after you turn your computer on. We have a full article on what to do if you're traveling as well.

When an external drive is plugged back in, it may take Backblaze 2 to 4 hours to schedule the files on the external drive to be scanned and backed up.

Extended Version History and Your External Drives

You can extend the time that Backblaze will keep your backed up files by 1-year or you can choose to keep everything that has been changed or backed up, by upgrading to one of the Extended Version History plans, please click here to see the instructions to set up Extended Version History, and to see the price scheme for it.  Once extended version history has been enabled from that point it will start keeping everything until the point that you have chosen, this will included external drives.

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