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Trying out Mozy again…

by Philip Sellers

Since posting about Backblaze, I got some very good comments about Mozy.  They have also not been sitting idle and they’ve added a few features to the service.  One of those new feature is the ability to get your restore on external media shipped to you, a key differentiator to Backblaze, I said earlier.   The price of a similar service was Backblaze was a little costly, I thought, so Mozy’s options are a much better approach.   More on that soon.

So, I setup my iMac at home to use my Mozy account.  I had signed up for full service a long time ago, but I have to admit, I was too impatient to let the initial backup complete.  So, this time, I made a consious effort to backup only the data that I knew I didn’t want to lose and leave away things like the system files and applications which I knew that I could replace easily.  That brought my data total to about 60GB to backup on my intial.

I knew that I would be out of town for a few days and so I let the initial kick off and begin working.  Mozy has two parts to its process on the client.  It prepares the files for backup, encrypting, compressing and doing whatever other magic it does and then it streams that to the servers.  The problem that I see is that the client software seems to do things one at a time.  There have been many times when I log in and see that the backup stream has stopped (0/bytes per second) and there is seemingly no activity.  That doesn’t bode well for a service where I have already given up because of backup times.

But its not all bad.  I’ve been impressed with the amount of data moved to the Mozy servers.  I was away for 3 days and as of this morning, it has backed up about 12% of my 60GB, running all day and all night.  Across a cable modem with limited upstream, I didn’t think it was doing a bad job.

The client interface to Mozy is simple and offers the ability to selectively backup your data by file type, which is a nice feature.  But you’re not locked to that simple approach, you can choose or deselect particular files and folders to be backed up.  This is the route I took as I knew where my data was and I knew what I wanted to backup – mostly iPhoto, iTunes library (minus TV Shows & Movies) and my Documents where I keep all my important stuff.  With online backup, choosing what to backup is very important.  On a Mac, there is some benefit to the way the OS is constructed, however I’m not sure how you’d fare on PC where so much of your installations and data could be tied to the registry.

Crippled upstream on Internet connections seems to be the biggest hurdle that any of these backup services will face with home users.  Mozy, iBackup, Symantec, Backblaze, etc. are all affected by this.   The real golden answer is an offline initial to some media that is then shipped to the service – then incremental forever.  But, that has logistical problems.  I just wish I could find a home backup service offering this.

At this point, I’ve still got days left on my Backblaze trial, but already being a Mozy customer, I’m not sure there is enough different to make me switch.  Jury is still out for now…

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