Mozy Online Backup Service Review

Mozy to the rescue ! After the loss of my laptop and external HD, I was able to use the Mozy backup service to restore most of what I needed. I’ve been using Mozy for nearly 3 years, and this was really the first time I had to “use it” — so a few thoughts:

The good::
– Hey it worked 🙂 They are now owned by EMC so that gives you a bit more confidence too.

– I paid for the “DVD restore” option after the web option didn’t quite work for me ( more on that below ) and I was pleasantly surprised to see a fedex package appear a few days later. But instead of a few dozen DVDs, they sent a 160 gig Iomega external HD. Very cool ! Not sure if I got some extra nice service or if that’s standard for them now with HDs being so cheap — but I was glad to not have to manually copy over all those DVDs.

– I used the live chat support option a few times and they were pretty helpful and always followed up via email later to make sure I was all set.

– For $5/month per machine this seems like a really great option.

The bad:
– The web restore option, which is an instant way to retrieve your backup, has a somewhat clumsy interface. There is a web interface for data under 20 gigs, and then you can use the Mozy client (OS X and Windows ) to restore files as well.

For me I was restoring from another machine, so I wanted to use the web restore version and not sync up another machine into Mozy.

For some reason, which may have a sound technical explanation, the web restore is available only in 1.8 gig DMG files. So downloading and then stitching it back together is a manual process.

– The other issue is on how to actually pick the restore. When I selected the entire backup, the web restore was actually twice the size of my backup HD. The external HD backup they sent me was smaller than their 2X web restore. Maybe it was a bug, or maybe I did something wrong, but that seemed very odd.

– Related to the above, when I got the backup there was lots of duplicated files which i had moved to different directories on the original machine. Looks like Mozy always keeps a backup of what you had and then keeps adding to it. There is an option to restore a “backup set” by date, but when I looked at it I saw lots of missing files.

The “not Mozy’s fault” but an issue with our lousy internet access
– I mentioned at the top that I was able to “restore most of what I needed”. The reason I couldn’t restore everything was because some of the files I was working with were huge and Mozy had not had a chance yet to back them up. For me, and I suspect many of you, Mozy was often a few days behind on uploading all the new stuff. Om Malik talked about this issue last month, The Ugly Truth About Broadband: Upload Speeds.

Conclusion:
I’m thankful that I had some kind of online backup in place for when the unthinkable happens and happy that Mozy worked.

When I asked the question of what kind of backup strategy people use, I was surprised by how few use an online service:

I’ve also rethought what I’m actually backing up and if I can streamline it a bit. I use a bunch of cloud services already, so lots of what I had backed up was available from other services.

I’m also looking at using DropBox and Syncplicity to handle the task of light backup, but really for syncing across multiple machines.

And since it’s been 3 years since I looked at this space, I’m going to test out Jungle Disk and a few others just to see if they are a bit more elegant on the restore side of things. Jungle Disk in particular seems attractive since they don’t charge you for each extra machine you link up.

13 thoughts on “Mozy Online Backup Service Review

  1. I am wondering if you would be interested in reviewing a new CloudBerry Online Backup powered by Amazon S3 with friendly user interface, strong data encryption and scheduling capabilities.

  2. Raanan: Have you taken a look at the Drobo yet. I haven’t heard any personal reports but that thing looks like an amazing device. I am seriously considering getting one at some point.

  3. Chad Marksum says:

    I’m in the situation where I use Amazon S3 personally and Mozy at work which is a pain (and I use a Mac !). I’ve used a variety of different tools and finally settled on a service by SMEStorage.com. This service provides support for Mozy and Amazon S3 (as well as many others) and what is great for me is that I can see both sets of files in one interface (after configuring the providers) and even drag and drop between the two. This is on the web interface although I tend to use the Firefox plug-in which handles batch well and is pretty slick. There are some windows tools but I don’t use these. I have been testing an Adobe Air app’ that is in Alpha and this is shaping up to be nice for us Mac users.

  4. john says:

    im having a horrible experience with mozy. 4 days not and they have to restored one file and are mostly trying to get me to spend $400 to get DVDs sent.

    • Sounds odd. Can’t you pull a single file from the web restore interface ?

      And $400 is a few factors higher than what I paid for the DVDs/HD — are you trying to restore everything and it’s 20 TBs+ ?

  5. Martin says:

    I haven’t tried Mozy but I do use ElephantDrive (which I think in turn uses Amazon S3).

    I use it on a Mac and a Windows machine. When I started, the Mac version looked awful but worked well and the Windows version looked good but worked poorly. They must have figured something out because now it looks the same on both and works well on both.

  6. Robert says:

    I’ve tried the paid version of both Safecopy and SpiderOak with my Mac. Safecopy just didn’t work for me, despite the professional and prompt help from their customer support folks. It kept hanging up after working for a while, getting “stuck” for hours (once over 14 hours) on a single small file (a different file each time), requiring a restart/refresh of their client. SpiderOak, on the other hand, has worked well for in a mixed XP/Mac environment. YMMV…

  7. Bonne Marie says:

    I am a subscriber with a year paid for in advance (11 mo in). Evolving software for MAC and really poor customer service prevents this from being the safety net you need.

    App loses preferences (mine reset lots of my folder choices) and had to reinstall then re-upload files.

    BUT the proof is in the restore and it is definitely not as advertised. My external hard drive died June 6th. I am still downloading files from the site in an attempt to restore the drive. It takes forever, with multiple tries. The DVD’s I paid for ($100+) are incomplete. When I asked for support from their people, first operator’s advice was uninformed and boiler plate generic; second operator’s attitude was rude and information provided unhelpful and non-specific. Little exists on their site to help you try and DIY.

    I am still waiting for a refund or resolution to my problems with this company. 30+ days is not acceptable for this. Losing a hard drive is nerve wracking enough but being subjected to disrespectful and snippy tech support during the meltdown is just a major deal breaker.

    • Roger says:

      Mozy is cheap, but I had several problems using it. Just now I discovered that the temp-folder was not set properly. It tried to use /tmp/mozy, but that folder didn’t exist. I don’t know how this happened, as it has worked before. The consequence was that no new files could be uploaded, as they have to be processed first into this folder. After I created it manually it seems to work again.

      Several months ago I had another problem with this folder. I had about 80GB uploaded, still another 80 to go. In one weekend I got the message that the backup was succesful. I couldn’t believe it. Several weeks later it turned out that these files weren’t backup up at all. In the log files I found lots of error messages. The status window didn’t display them, which is very bad. I believe they have fixed this now, but something critical like this was a big stupid mistake by Mozy. I reported this error to the support desk, but the support guy didn’t understand what I meant and gave me standard replies which showed he was totally incompetent or just not interested.

      It turned out that my harddisk was full, and I needed to switch the location of the temp folder to another partition in the preferences. Because of the way Mozy is setup, with just a menu icon, not dock icon when the status window appears, I just had missed the preference menu altogether. I think the interface can still use some improvements, especially error reporting. When a backup is not completed succesfully I want to know it!!! And I want to know why.

      Another nice option would be if it was possible to set priority which files need to be updated regularly or with absolute priority. I have some very big files which take up lots of time, but they are absolutely not critical. Stuff like mail, documents, pictures are. Music is not important if it is outdated several weeks or even months. I want to be able to set this and know for sure that the important documents are never more than a a week behind.

      And I always keep at least one external harddisk with a timemachine backup.

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