Inexpensive, Automated Online Backups

I’m a huge believer that the more stuff you have on your mind the more stress you will have in your life. I’ve done everything in my power to automate my bills, outsource repetitive tasks, stop buying junk I don’t need, get rid of junk I already own, and be on a constant search for services that make my life simpler.

About 4 months ago a friend of mine recommended Mozy, an online backup service. He said the installation was super simple, and that he had forgotten he had it installed until he accidentally deleted a file and was able to restore it in a few seconds. The hair on my neck stood up as I thought about the backup solutions I’ve previously investigated – solutions involving software with genome-esque complexity, or setting Outlook reminders and handling the process manually each day/week/month/never (the latter in my case).

I’ve been on an ongoing search for an inexpensive, completely automated solution that will backup my PCs to a secure, remote location. My laptop only has 70GB of data including my MP3s, but backing it up remotely with the solutions I’ve seen would involve a hefty monthly storage fee (not to mention my desktop I use for video editing with the 500GB hard drive). The beauty of Mozy, and the reason I decided to try it, is the $5/month per computer for unlimited storage.

So I signed up and downloaded the .exe. I had it configured in a few minutes, including specifying the directories I wanted backed up. Then I configured the backups to run nightly. The initial upload took about a week, and now each night it makes a differential backup that completes well before I start work in the morning.

My impression after 7 weeks: genius. I’ve previously used an automated software solution to backup to an external hard drive, but ran into problems because the hard drive kept filling up, I have more than 1 computer to backup (creating the need for a centralized server which I never purchased), and it would have been a moot point had a natural disaster come along and razed my house.

I’ve restored a few files using Mozy just for kicks; the installer added a “Restore Files in Folder” option to my right click menu, and the files came through without a problem. I would like to be able to step backwards through versions of files, but I do understand that Mozy isn’t source control, and for $5/month they can only store so much of my data.

My next step after installing on my other PCs is to get the rest of my family using it (since I’m the designated tech support guy for my relatives). Now that I’ve used Mozy I can’t imagine owning a computer and not having automated backups in place.

For $55/year (1 month free when you pay for a year) it’s a cheap insurance policy. And as our internet connections become faster I can see a day where I purchase a new laptop and simply download all of my data from Mozy instead of transferring it from my old PC.

Oh, the freedom of simplicity.

[tags]backups, automated backups, mozy, online backups, microisv[/tags]

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#1 Jacob on 08.30.07 at 6:47 pm

Nice. I’ll definitely be looking into this. Small point of math: a year of $5/mo. is $60 for the year.

#2 admin on 08.30.07 at 7:02 pm

Thanks for the comment, Jacob. I should have clarified that you get a month free if you pay for a full year.

#3 http:// on 08.30.07 at 10:05 pm

You /can/ look through multiple versions of your files if you restore your files from the Mozy web site.

#4 http:// on 08.30.07 at 10:26 pm

Been using Mozy about 6 months now. There are clients for both Windows and Mac – the Mac one is still labeled ‘beta’. I’ve also used it to get files while away from my desk. A simple web interface allows me to select files and directories, then a zip archive is generated and I am provided with a link to download that zip from any computer. I only had one problem, and that was with an earlier Mozy Mac client beta. It filled up the temp space during the initial upload. After manually clearing temp and restarting everything was fine.

#5 http:// on 08.30.07 at 10:32 pm

nice post. mozy does have basic versions control – check out: w00t.

#6 JD Conley on 08.30.07 at 10:32 pm

I love Mozy. I use it on all my systems. They also have a “Pro” version for businesses that want to backup Exchange, SQL, etc. The pricing model isn’t as sweet, but it’s still very cost effective (especially if you don’t pay for upstream bandwidth at your business and you compare it to offsite tape services).

#7 Jenny on 08.31.07 at 12:03 am

Hi Rob: One way of mitigating a risk of disaster is to have an online backup service. I have been reading about the online backup and storage industry for a while now. It is becoming a commonly accepted technology these days. 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. It also features a CEO Spotlight page, where senior management people from the industry are interviewed. Cheers,

#8 http:// on 08.31.07 at 9:29 pm

How about security/privacy? Not all our files are insensitive holiday pictures and hobby projects. /Casper

#9 Rob Bazinet on 09.07.07 at 3:39 pm

Great find Rob, thanks for sharing. I have been looking for the best solution for backing up my development PC, considering a NAS drive but it does not solve the off-site problem. I signed up with Mozy and the problems are solved.

#10 Eddy E on 09.07.07 at 3:40 pm

I’ve been using Mozy for about 7 months now and I have been very content. They are not expensive, and I backup mostly my pictures and music files. The thing that I appreciate about this company is that a few months ago, they had some technical difficulties, and offered all of their customers (regardless of whether we were affected) some sort of renumeration. I am sold on their business model too!

#11 http:// on 09.19.07 at 12:11 pm

In case anyone is keeping track, your referral just sold 2 annual subscriptions and I’ll be talking Mozy up amongst my friends. I had never heard of them, but now that I’ve seen it I’m quite impressed.

#12 J on 10.04.07 at 10:24 pm

Well, it’s certainly not perfect. Turns out that if you have to re-install Windows for ANY reason, you’re required to delete ALL of the uploaded files and start over, regardless if you’ve managed to restore all of the files to the EXACT SAME LOCATION. Frustrating, to say the least.

#13 Jon Peltier on 10.05.07 at 12:03 pm

I read your original post, forgot about it, then had a bad feeling one day. I went online and read a few reviews, decided on Mozy, and it’s been running for a couple weeks. I stumbled across your blog post again, and was reassured that Mozy is the service you were describing.

I haven’t had to restore anything, but in all my years of backups to network drives, CDs, DVDs, and external HDs, I’ve only ever had to go after a handful of files. I should test it for my own assurance.

#14 Nick on 11.06.07 at 6:42 pm

I’ve been using Remote Backup Systems (RBS) for backing up my files online for some time now, it is one of the most stable applications that I have used thus far. Any issues are answered right away because RBS has Technical support, Mozy and all the other online backup companies would probaly take days to respond to inquires.