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Mozy nixes unlimited backups; disappoints with lack of tools to manage data

by Philip Sellers

I have relied on Mozy backup for a few years now.  I really like their online backup service.  I’ve been a proponent of Mozy for a long time and I’ve written about their service several times on my blog.  But this morning, I found out that they had changed the rules of the game and removed the unlimited backup offering.  This is a big deal to me, but probably not to most users.  This change probably only affects the top 10% of their users, but I could be wrong.

First, lets start with what they changed.  Mozy moved from a backup plan of about $50 per year, per computer to a plan of $5.99 per month for 50 GB and one computer or $9.99 per month for 125 GB and up to three computers.

For many users, this is probably a non-issue.  I think of my friend Tammy who is using the service and this is probably sufficient for her — today.  But she’s a photographer, and the more she takes and imports, the larger her library will become.  I would not classify her as an excessive user, but what she was paying was fair for the service she gets.  And, she’s already gotten her money’s worth with one recovery under belt from the dead eMachine.  She will probably continue with the $5.99 a month plan (an an annual basis with one month free) and will net paying the same amount per year, until she goes over her 50GB.

But, as I said, I could be wrong.  Consumers behavior and habits have changed.  With larger megapixel cameras and lots of video and music files, the average consumer’s library of data is probably growing exponentially.  A remember an audiophile friend of mine had a 60GB iTunes library many years ago, and that was just converting his CDs into MP3 — before he started buying digital.

I’m am certainly in the top 10% of users.  I fit easily into the “blame me” category, as Stephen Shankland explains over at CNet, today.  I have a photo library of well over 100GB, a lot of iTunes music and video (to the tune of over 200GB ), and I have tons of personal video — much of it in 1080p — about 250GB in total.  The personal video and iTunes TV shows have never been backed up on Mozy, but even without them, I have well over 250GB backed up.  So, today’s change affects me greatly.

I would have a very difficult time choosing what to backup in attempts to get under a quota of 125GB.  Photos are most important to me, but equally important is all the music and video I’ve purchased from iTunes, things that I’ve spent my hard earned money on already.  [Sidenote: where is the iTunes cloud service, by the way?  Scan your library and provide access to the video online, on demand without having to push your video to the cloud — Apple already has it there, after all.]

But cleaning up my Mozy backup is proving very difficult.  First, how do you go about removing the items you don’t want in the Mozy backup cloud?  Kinda tough without any tools to do so.  So far, I can only find one method.  If a file is deleted from your computer, it will be marked for deletion in the cloud.  I may not want to delete the stuff on my computer.  But in other cases, it may force the healthy practice of cleaning up the bad or useless photos in my photo library.  I am hoping that removing a file or set of files like (all M4V video files) will mark them for deletion in the cloud.  Time will tell, I guess, since I’m waiting on my backup to complete.

The other solution for cleaning up is deleting your existing backup and starting fresh – something I really don’t want to do.  If I start fresh, it’ll likely be with BackBlaze, Carbonite or another vendor offering unlimited backups.

Other vendors will likely follow suit.  Mozy was a pioneer of online backup and since that time many other vendors have cropped up.  Peer to peer backup is another possibility using a service like CrashPlan.  I’m already talking that over with my co-worker.

The good news for users is that your unlimited plan will continue until its expiration date.  So, you are still set for any period that you have pre-payed.  And for most users, the $5.99 plan will suffice for you in the future.  One important note, however, is that Mozy is requiring users to login and set their “renewal” plan for the future.  In ominous, bold, red lettering, there is a notice in the Mozy site that your data is at risk for being deleted if you do not select a plan…  You’ve been warned.

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