Sunday, November 22, 2009

Online Backups Solutions – And The Winner Is…

Update: I have decided to remove Mozy.

Data. That’s an important part of our life for some time now. Documents, photos, music, you name it! For me, the data I would most like to protect is comprised of family photos I’ve been taking with digital cameras for the last 6 years (about 80GB of data). I also have ripped CDs, and I’m not sure the actual CDs have 100% survived (I have at least one CD which is almost not playable anymore).

In the past years, I have used CDs, and later DVDs to back up my files. The process was long, and as I know personally, a CD may not last very long. I once had a CD which was dead after only one year.

Today I use external hard drives to back up my data. I use a 500GB LaCie hard disk, and the backup software that came with it. They work pretty well. I back up about once a month, and keep the hard disk at work, to minimize risks.

This is not enough for me. I was looking for another solution, an online one, which is becoming more popular these days (the Cloud, you know…). I’ve played a little bit with DropBox, but it’s mainly for synchronizing files between computers, and not for backing up your files. As it only uploads files that reside in its own folder, it is not a good backup solution.

So yesterday I decided it was time to check the field of online backups.

Warning: if you just want to read the bottom line, and not what my tired mind has instructed my poor hands to write, scroll down to the bold, large font heading way down below.

I’ve read over several hours reviews of various services. To name a few: JungleDisk, Carbonite, Mozy, iDrive, Live Mesh, and Backblaze. I’ve read a lot of different opinions, and came down with three finalists: Carbonite, Backblaze, and Mozy. It was late, so I don’t remember why I ruled out Carbonite, but I also placed Mozy in second place because I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t find a lot of information on their web site (something which is not true, as I found out later… much later…).

So, at 12:24am, I had Backblaze installed (15 day trial – not limited to data amount). I wasn’t happy. Backblaze did not let me choose what I wanted to back up. Supposedly, you only choose which drives you want to back up, and Backblaze backs up only data files on these drives. However, looking at the list of files it was backing up, I saw it backed up meaningless junk, and that junk came at a price of 160GB of data.

I went to sleep.

Around 3:00am I woke up. I wasn’t happy with my choice. I had a lot of questions on my mind. 3:49am, I knew I couldn’t fall asleep, so I got up to check how Backblaze was doing. It was still backing up, 40 days to complete. I’ve checked the second runner, Mozy, again. This time I found lots of information in the Mozy support site, and understood how powerful, Mozy’s solution is.

I’ve checked Backblaze again. In 4 hours of work, it backed up 460MB of data (around 155MB an hour). I’ve uninstalled it, and installed Mozy instead.

Mozy provides a free 2GB account. I’ve selected around 1.2GB of files and went to sleep at 5am.

Woke up at 6:45am. Tired.

At 12:00pm I checked my account on the Mozy site. The backup was complete. 1.2GB at 7 hours – around 170MB an hour. Not too bad.

Tonight I purchased a monthly unlimited subscription ($4.95) for Mozy, and set up an 87GB backup (I’m currently not backing up audio, only focusing on photos and documents).

So, why did I choose Mozy?

  • It has advanced features. You can select a preset backup set (e.g. “Word processing documents”), select specific files or folders, or create backup sets of your own using rules (e.g. all of the doc files in a specific folder).
  • Backup open files (Backblaze doesn’t do this).
  • No size limit on individual files (Backblaze has a 4GB limit).
  • 3 ways to restore files: Web (that’s the only way Backblaze does it), the Mozy client, or using Windows Explorer.
  • You can also add files to the Mozy backup directly from Windows Explorer.
  • Let’s say you trashed a file (e.g. drew a mustache on a picture of your child by mistake) and it got backed up. You can still restore to an earlier version. I’m still checking this one though. I tried restoring a previous version using the client, and it just closed. I was able to do this with the Web restore. I’m also not sure how long and how many previous versions are kept. Deleted files are kept for 30 days, perhaps the same with different versions, I’m still waiting for the Mozy support with this one. Got a quick response from Mozy:
    ”We don't have any issue with the "Client restore" restoring previous versions. We keep the deleted data for 30days, and we keep 30days of file versioning.”
    They offered a solution which I will try later.
  • When switching to a new computer, you can install Mozy on the new computer, and you will have 30 days to download your files. With Backblaze, you first need to download the files. If you install it on a new computer, your old files are lost.
  • Probably more reasons, I’m getting tired now…

2 important notes for conclusion:

  1. Whichever online backup solution you choose, note that it’s a backup, not archive solution. If you delete a file from your computer, it will be deleted from the online backup. Mozy lets you restore your deleted files for 30 days.
  2. I don’t believe it replaces the need for a backup on an external disk. I still plan to back up my data every month on my external disk. Restoring files from an external disk is much easier, and I’m keeping all of the versions as well. I don’t delete anything.

That’s all for now.


Chili said...

Get 10% extra storage space on a free MozyHome account with this link:

Anonymous said...

by using this promotional link from current users, new users get a bonus of 20% extra space instead of the usual 10%:

Adi said...

Anyone interested in leaving a 30% bonus?
Seriously, while it's nice to get extra space, I'd be happy to hear from people using Mozy, if they are happy with the service.