Mozy at Home Review – Bad News, Bears.

Ok, let’s talk about Mozy. Mozy is this great deal for online backup where the home accounts allow you to backup an unlimited amount of data for only $4.95 a month, if you’re willing to pre-pay for 2 years of use. A killer deal. But, of course, there are the problems with Mozy, and indeed, with any online backup solution.

The Pros of online backup are easy: 1) It’s offsite 2) It’s affordable (if you use at home) 3) It’s automated. The Cons might not be so obvious: 1) It’s offsite 2) It’s slow 3) It uses a backup client. Mozy’s backup client is fickle and odd in UI, and if you’ve got a large number of files (I’m talking over a million here), waiting for it to look through your file set and “reticulate splines” as Mozy puts it, is sheer tedium. Each time you start a backup, it does this before sending any data, and it can do it for hours. When it has an issue, it’ll do it for days or weeks unless you figure out what’s wrong and stop it. And figuring out what’s wrong is far from trivial sometimes. But the real issue of online backup is speed. With Mozy’s client you can select the bandwidth you want to use for backup, so it doesn’t suck up all your available throughput, which is nice. But your choices are to throttle at 1mbps or less, or simply make it unrestricted, which is far from optimal if you have, say, a T3 and you want to move some data fast, but not so fast you take offline all your servers for outside users. Which, of course, forces me to a confession; I’m using Mozy at home at work.

Why, you might ask? Price. Mozy Business charges a base price of $4 a month + $.50/GB per month. So, if you have 700GB to backup, that’s $354 a month. Mozy at home was $8 a month when I signed up. That’s a pretty big difference. At that price I could buy a couple of 2TB drives every month, backup to them and bring them home, and have much faster access to my backups than Mozy can provide. Why would anyone do it? All it’s got going for it is it saves you from your laziness, but in reality, it doesn’t even do that, as the client is more fickle than you are lazy, so you end up with fewer backups despite the automation of the process.

I did mention speed was an issue, so let me give you an example. Assuming that Mozy successfully “Reticulates Splines” and “Collects Files”, both of which it must do before it sends any data, you’re probably stuck sending data at 1mbps. No realize this is 1 mega bit, not mega byte per second, which translates into 128KB (Bytes) per second. So, for every 1GB of data, it takes 2 hours. That may not sound too bad, but remember it had to think for hours before it sent anything. And you don’t move 1mbps consistently; the client takes coffee breaks and contemplates the universe regularly, probably bringing your actual throughput down to 1GB per 6 hours or so. And then there’s the deepest, darkest secret of Mozy.

So, you’ve done the time. You’ve run your Mozy backups software for 175 DAYS and gotten your 700GB uploaded, thereby completing your first successful backup. Congratulations! You must be feeling pretty good about yourself, eih? And all’s well for a few weeks. Until one day, it happens. That network volume you’re backing up is offline, or your usb drive got unplugged, and presumably Mozy’s hidden logic has decided you don’t want that stuff backed up anymore, so Mozy DELETES THAT DATA. Sounds crazy, but it happened to me. I freely admit I wept. I wept for the months of backing up and the tons of electricity I’d wasted sending that data to Mozy, only for it to be wiped out without warning, in an instant. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would think Mozy needed to free up a bit of room on their servers, or to send the message that 700GB was a little too “unlimited”, but it’s probable that Mozy simply has a program that says “Ok, haven’t seen this data the last three backups, and no one’s requested a restore, so it must have been intentionally deleted,” so it wipes it out. But to do it without warning? One day you look at your Mozy account and it tells you you’ve got 250GB backed up? Holy shit. That’s not the moment you want to share with your online backup provider. That’s reasonable cause for a homicide.

So, in a nutshell: don’t do it. Oh, sure, you can do it if you want to backup that 5GBs of critical data, in fact, Mozy will give you a 2GB account for free, but if you’ve got hundreds of GBs of photos you want backed up, for instance, Mozy is not for you. Don’t even think about it. Not a good use of the tech, or of the electricity, or of your time. Buy yourself a 2TB external, or a couple of them. Bring one to work, leave one at home, and switch them every week. There’s your offsite backup solution. It’s easy. In the long term, it’s cheap. It’s reliable.

1 comment

  1. Technology truly is an inescapable aspect of our daily lives, and I am fairly certain that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

    I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside… I just hope that as memory becomes less expensive, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It’s a fantasy that I dream about all the time.

    (Posted on Nintendo DS running R4i DS OperaMod)

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