My sister called me last night asking for help locating some possibly deleted files on her laptop. As we went through the process of locating these possibly permanently lost files, we had a brief discussion about backup options and how to prevent this in the future. I mentioned a service I use called Mozy that has been working well for me for about a year now. I’ve never blogged about data backup solutions before, so I thought I would take a moment to give a brief review of this service. In this day and age of questionable pay per post services, the only disclosure I have to make in this review is that the link to Mozy is a referral that gives me extra storage space for everyone who signs up. Basically, I’m not getting rich off them, but I’ll take the extra space just the same.
As a free service operated by Berkeley Data Systems, Mozy is hands down the best automated backup system I’ve used for a Windows based computer. I say that for two reasons – ease of use and automation.
First, Mozy is easy to setup and doesn’t require any specialized knowledge of your file system to get started. Anyone, even a novice user, can install and operate Mozy. The option to specify specific folders and files exists (which is what I do), but the initial setup starts by asking you to select types of files you want to backup in what they call backup sets. For example, the user is given the option to select all spreadsheets and databases, word processing documents, presentations, email, music, etc. For the average person (or simply as a great time saver), this is a wonderful solution. What do I want to back up? All my photos, images, music, and movies? Done with a couple clicks off a check box.
The second area where Mozy excels is its automation. A backup solution is simply no good if it doesn’t occur automatically, in the background, so you don’t have to think about it. This is where every other solution I’ve tried has failed. They always left some element of the backup to human intervention and thus error. I never think about Mozy. The only time I notice it is when the service asks me if I want to install a new, updated version. Otherwise, the only other cue that Mozy exists is an icon on the Windows task bar.
Finally, security is important in any backup solution. Mozy takes care of this with 128-bit SLL encryption when you send data to the service and 448-bit Blowfish encryption when the data is on their servers.
So where’s the catch right? How can they offer 2GB of online storage for free? Well, the initial business model when I started using Mozy was that they would send emails with advertising to users in exchange for use of the service. They took some heat from Mashable for that, but to be honest I thought an occasional email was well worth the trade-off. I suppose some people were expecting them to spam the hell out of users, but to date I’ve never received more than a single email per month from them. It appears their new business model harks to the “freemium” approach. Mozy offers 2GB for free and you can then upgrade to their premium service for $4.95 per month that provides 30GB of storage. Their terms still reference their right to send you advertising emails, but I personally have not seen more than one per month.