15 February 2014

Online Backups Can Kill Internet Speeds

Several months ago, I decided to get an online backup service so I had an offsite backup of all my pictures, files, etc. After a lot of research, I went with Backblaze. They offer unlimited storage and will grab any external drive attached to the computer that isn't a "backup" drive (like a Time Machine partition). At $5 a month, it is also reasonably priced.

Fantastic! I went off without a care. However, without realizing it, I made a small fatal error when setting up the service: use unlimited bandwidth for backups. Little did I know this would cause lots of fun and games as for the last few week I've been trying to diagnose why my internet was suddenly so slow!

Today, I finally figured it out, my Backblaze uploads suddenly got faster. It now saturates my upload bandwidth. For those that understand how networking works no explanation is needed, but suffice it to say, this can easily cause all network activities to grind to a halt. <- that link explains it fairly well. Below is a picture of my degraded situation =)

After determining the issue, I have now throttled my backups to about 25% of my standard bandwidth. Everything is back to normal! However, I still wanted to understand what changed. A little bit of perusing the Backblaze blog revealed something that may be related: recently (past 6 months) they brought online a new data center.  Congratulations! I wonder if their bandwidth has suddenly increased to fill up those disk drives?

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