Saturday, June 9, 2007

Mozy Online Backup Service

Keeping in the spirit of technological products and services that keep my digital world turning… For anyone who has ever lost data due to a computer crash, lost CD, hard drive crash, or just wandering fingers of a toddler, Mozy has the solution.

Mozy is an internet-based, online backup service, which after using for 6 months, I highly recommend! Having experienced a hard-drive crash recently at work, the importance of a data protection plan was pounded home. While work data is clearly important, what with the Powerpoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, hundreds (if not thousands) of Word documents and eons of email, one may wonder what personal data at home warrants the kind of protection that is often afforded to more business critical data. While there are many things that one should probably backup at home, there is one category of data that trumps them all: Pictures. Sure, if you lose your Quicken data, you are in a world of hurt, but there are ways to get back on your feet after such a loss. But if you lose the picture of your 5 year old daughter placing sunglasses on the cat, you are lost forever. This is where Mozy comes in.

At our house, we have four desktop PCs, two laptops and a couple of printers. The primary computer for our pictures, banking, etc is our primary home computer in our game room. In the past, we used Rewritable CDROMs, and then DVDs, to back up our critical banking data, pictures, etc. However, this only works if nobody has removed the CD/DVD from the drive (remember those wandering fingers?). Further, I recently found that CD-ROMs don’t necessarily make good long-term storage media. I used CD-ROMs at work to annually backup Outlook PST files (a.k.a mail folders). At the request of the legal guys, in response to pending litigation, I attempted to search those disks for specific mails, presentations, etc, to no avail. Some of the discs have unreadable sectors, rendering files comprising those sectors, useless. Lesson learned. Note to self: don’t backup important data on CDs/DVDs.

On our home PC, I have added a RAID-5 array which serves as my primary backup mechanism. For the non geeks out there, RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks and level 5 is one of the better, fault tolerant versions of RAIDs. Anyway, this has served us well. Should one of the disks in the array die, I can remove it without losing ANY data. If you are interested in doing the same, Tiger Direct has many solutions for RAID arrays. There is one chink in the armor though… If we experience a fire, tornado, etc, (flashback to New Orleans…) we stand to lose the data we are protecting on the RAID 5. In order to truly protect the data, an off-site mechanism is required.

Historically, internet-based backup services, such as those offered by Verizon and others, were fairly pricy and were priced on a per-Gigabyte basis. Mozy is different. Mozy is much cheaper! Mozy offers two flavors of backup. First is a free, online backup service for up to 2GB of data. Second, is an unlimited service which costs $4.95 per month. In looking through the data I wanted to protect, I discovered I needed more than 2GB so I signed up for the Unlimited Service. I am currently backing up over 50GB of pictures, Quicken data, emails and MP3s.

Mozy provides a small application that resides on your computer and performs daily, incremental backups. This means that it backs up only the information that has changed, greatly expediting the process. However, the first backup is killer! Mine took over a week and I have Verizon FIOS with a 2 Mbps uplink. If you have a cable modem or DSL it will take longer and don’t even think about it via dial-up. However, as I mentioned, once the initial backup is done, the daily backups are quick and painless.

Fortunately, I haven’t had to restore from the Mozy backup yet, so I can’t comment on how well that works. However, I have played with the web-based access to the files and restored a single file quite nicely.

One of the obvious questions is security. To maintain the security of your data, the files are encrypted using either a Mozy-provided key or a customer-provided key. For most users, this level of security should easily suffice considering that it is more secure than my home, where someone could break in and steal the computer (which contains un-encrypted data)… Hmm… Maybe that should be my next project.

Overall, I highly recommend Mozy Unlimited Backup. Check it out!

Next time, life with a SqueezeBox is good!


Anonymous said...

For online backup news, information and articles, there is an excellent website:

This site lists more than 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

Any one can add their company in the directory. Just click on the "Search" button found at the top.


PS: Check out Mozy's rankings ...

June 9, 2007 3:25 PM  

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