I'm interested in doing some analysis on the blockchain that would require specific information about all individual transactions within each block. I don't need the data to be updating in real-time, but I am looking for something that at least encompasses all the transactions made in the past year. I've tried to find downloads for this kind of dataset, but I haven't had any luck. Any ideas?
Any (full) Bitcoin client will download the entire blockchain. It's stored in files on disk which you can look at after it's been downloaded. The current blockchain size is 115 GB of raw data (the size on disk will be a bit larger because of indexes created by the client).
If you have access to a usenet client; there are often times uploads of the entire blockchain wrapped into zip files.
It's handy if you have to download or resync a full node... because at the chain's current size; even with lots of peers a sync from start takes at the very least a few days. Over usenet; you can acheive download speeds of 300mbps if you have fast internet and a good usenet client/provider.
I personally keep a sidecar copy of my node (I think my last backup was when the chain was around 90 GB); incase it corrupts. Which can happen if you have a computer crash.
That way I only have to sync from my last backup.