Jul 082010
 

In a previous post, I talked about disaster recovery strategies for the home and promised reviews on the services I use. Today I’ll take a look at Mozy.

I’ve been a satisfied Mozy customer since March of 2007.  I’ve yet to have a bad experience with it, and as I write this I currently have about 45GB of my stuff stored with them.

Versions & Pricing

Mozy comes in 2 flavors, MozyHome for home users, and MozyPro for businesses.  MozyPro’s additional features include a different pricing structure, 24×7 phone support, the ability to backup network drives, and the ability to run on Windows (and Mac) server OS versions.  MozyHome will only run on Windows & Mac consumer OSs and only offers live chat support.

MozyHome’s pricing structure is pretty straight forward.  You have 4 choices:

  • Free Trial – 2GB of backup space
  • Monthly Subscription – “Unlimited” space for $4.95/month
  • 1 Year Subscription – “Unlimited” space for $54.95
  • 2 Year Subscription – “Unlimited” space for $103.95

MozyPro works a little differently – you pay based on the OS and how much space you use:

  • Desktop OS – $3.95 + $0.50/GB per month
  • Server OS – $6.95 + $0.50/GB per month

All of the above prices are per computer.  If you want to backup other machines, you’ll need to add another subscription for each.

Security

Mozy Photo

Both MozyHome and MozyPro will encrypt your data with either a) 448-bit Blowfish with their own key or b) 256-bit AES with a key that you provide.  Should you use your own key and lose it, your data is of course going to be lost FOR-EV-VER.  During transmission, Mozy encrypts your (already encrypted) data using 128-bit SSL.

Backups

Mozy has two different ways you can select which files get backed up.  The first is by pre-determined “Backup Sets”, examples of which include “Music”, “Photos”, “My Documents”, “Spreadsheets and Databases”, “Videos”, “Word Processing Documents”, etc.  If you use that, it will scan your computer for all files of the appropriate type and that’s what gets backed up.  The other option (which I use) is the more traditional file system selector, where you can choose drives, folders, and/or individual files.

A scheduler is built in so you can schedule backups to run on a daily or weekly basis at a pre-determined day and time.  There’s also an “automatic” setting where backups will run when the computer is idle, subject to customizable values of CPU usage, how long it’s been idle for, or a maximum number of times per day.  There’s also a bandwidth throttle that can be enabled between certain hours of the day.

Mozy’s backup engine is intelligent in many ways, but two that I consider particularly important are that it only backs up portions of files that have changed and that it appears to utilize flyweighting across all accounts.  If you have a 500MB text file backed up and later change 3 bytes, very little will be uploaded by the next backup.  If you backup a file that’s identical to what someone else has already backed up, it will take almost no time at all because the file is already there.  My father and I have our own totally separate Mozy accounts, and when I backup photos he sends me my job completes incredibly quickly and the log mentions “File already exists on Mozy servers.”

Restores

Once your files are backed up, there’s a couple of ways you can retrieve them.  I should mention that Mozy does versioning in the sense that you can restore a file to it’s state during any backup, and it keeps these forever.  If I wanted to see what that document looked like when I ran a backup on October 11, 2008 at 9pm, I’m covered.

The first way you can restore your files are through the desktop client.  You can explicitly select the file(s) you want to restore, specify a destination directory if you want to restore them to a location different from where they were backed up from, and they’ll start downloading in a few seconds.  The client also has a virtual drive feature (which I admittedly haven’t tried) that when enabled will present your backed up files as if they were on a local disk and you can copy them to wherever you like.  Additionally there’s a right-click restore feature you can enable which allows you to revert a file to a previously backed up version from the right-click menu.

If the client isn’t enough for you, there’s also a web restore feature.  You can login to the Mozy website and request backup copies of files to download.  These requests take a few minutes, but once complete you can download the files.  I find this particularly useful when I want to copy a file or two to another computer but am not at home or am too lazy to use a thumb drive.

Finally, there’s the DVD restore option, though not for the faint of wallet.  Again from the web, you can select file(s) to restore and Mozy will burn them to DVD and overnight them to you via FedEx.  They’ll do all that for only a $29.95 processing fee PLUS $0.50/GB PLUS whatever the FedEx overnight rate happens to be.  Really?  You’re probably better off buying an external hard drive if you need to recover that much data that quickly.  I’d be interested to know how many people have actually used this.

What I Like

I’m a fan of MozyHome’s flat rate for “unlimited” data storage.  I have decent quantity of data I want to keep safe, and the last I checked there weren’t any other places that could compete with that price and offer a similar feature set.

What I Don’t Like

Mozy has an “excessive use” policy which isn’t exactly defined, hence why I am putting “unlimited” in quotes.  As I write this, it reads: “If Decho [Mozy’s parent company] determines that you have engaged in any excessive use, Decho may offer you an alternative pricing plan or another Decho product that will permit you to continue to use Decho’s services without interruption.”  To the best of my knowledge I’ve yet to have any of my usage patterns declared “excessive”, and I’m sure you’d have to do something fairly amazing to make that happen, but it’s something to keep in the back of your head.

Next Cloud Backup Product Review: Jungle Disk

  4 Responses to “Review: MozyHome Remote Backup”

  1. Bob,

    I have been once again looking at cloud backup solutions and oddly enough both Mozy and Jungle Disk are two I have thought most hard about.

    However, I have read a great many comments from users indicating they love the service until they need to restore files from Mozy after… say… a hard drive replacement. Have you had much experience with restoring from Mozy (over 20GBs)?

    In addition, I have read elsewhere of the concern regarding excessive use. I’m looking at backing up 250GB worth of data currently residing on my iMac. You avoided mentioning how much you have backed up on Mozy yourself. Does your amount to more or less (significantly less) than my 250 figure?

    Thanks!

    • Excellent questions –

      I’ve never tried an “all-at-once” restore like you asked about, but I have restored the entire contents of my backups for testing purposes – just I’ve done it a few folders at a time. I look at it like this – restoring my data a little bit at a time, even if it takes a week or more, is still way better than losing it altogether.

      As for your other question, I currently have about 90GB backed up with Mozy across 2 computers.

      Hope this helps and happy backups!

      Bob

  2. Thank you for the prompt reply Bob.

    Yes, your reply answers my questions. Of course, it doesn’t answer the question of how to pay for it all.

    If you’re in the mood, I noticed you had an update regarding Mozy and it’s new pricing structure, which makes it less a deal than it’s prior $5. I wasn’t aware of such as I hadn’t looked at Mozy (or Jungle Disk) in a while. However, recently a friend joined with Backblaze which also offers the former Mozy price of $5/month.

    Have you heard anything of them? Perhaps more importantly, one of the things their software does is to compress your files on your hard drive before uploading them for storage/backup. What do you think of such a practice and would it have any impact upon the performance of my computer in working with said compressed files?

    Thanks again.

    • There’s a couple of cloud-based backup solutions that still offer fixed pricing for an unlimited amount of data. Backblaze is one of them, CrashPlan is another. I opened a CrashPlan account and will be blogging my thoughts about it in the future after I’ve had time to evaluate it.

      Compressing your files before uploading definitely isn’t unique to Backblaze – Mozy and CrashPlan (and I’d imagine the vast majority of other cloud backup providers) do it as well. It only makes sense because most data can be compressed to some degree. Sure, it will take some CPUs to compress, however you’ll probably get that time back (and then some) in terms of reduced upload times. Most client software allows you to throttle it so that you can decide the maximum amount of CPU it uses for compression and de-duplication at a given time.

      Good Luck!

      Bob

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