Mozy Online Backup Review

by Reads (10,392)
  • Pros

    • Very easy to use
    • Multiple restore options
    • Robust bandwidth manager

     

  • Cons

    • No file versioning
    • Can't restore OS
    • Requires good upload speeds

     


By: Rick Vanover

Mozy online backupoperates under the notion that protecting data doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive — as long as you back up data via an Internet connection. Does this work well? How do I get started? We break down what Mozy is and how the service works in this review.

PRODUCT OVERVIEW

Mozy is an online backup service for both personal and business uses. There are three main offerings from Mozy, and their base features are summarized below:

Feature

MozyHome Free

MozyHome Unlimited

MozyPro

Monthly Cost

Free

$4.95 per computer

Desktops: $3.95 + $.50/GB

Storage

Up to 2 GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

Supported Systems

Windows 2000, XP, Vista

Mac OS X 10.4

Windows 2000, XP, Vista

Mac OS X 10.4

Windows 2000, 2003, XP, Vista

Mac OS X 10.4

SQL Server

Exchange Server

Retention

30 Days

30 Days

30 Days

Note: There also is a MozyEnterprise product which is targeted to larger environments.

DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION

Getting started with Mozy first requires that you create an account. After this quick and easy process, the Mozy download is a straightforward install from the Mozy website; 9.2 MB for Windows clients and 5.4 MB for Mac systems. The figure below is the opening screen of the installation wizard:

Mozy online backup install wizard

From there we can review the license agreement and then determine a location for the Mozy client to install. This is not where the backups are kept, but simply the install directory for the Mozy service program files.

Mozy online backup install directory

At that point, you are ready to launch the installation.

Mozy online backup launch

Once the installation is completed, you will be notified as shown in the figure below:

Mozy online backup install complete

You can now launch the client, so have your account information ready before proceeding.

PROGRAM INTERFACE

After the straightforward installation of the Mozy client, we can log into the program to add the computer to the Mozy account.

Mozy online backup account setup

From here we can select an encryption option, the 448-bit key provided from Mozy will be best for most situations. Encryption is important for an online backup service to ensure the security of your data (online banking, anyone?) as it’s transmitted over the Internet at large.

Mozy online backup encryption

The Mozy program then wants to identify the default file locations that you want to have backed up with the service (these can be changed later).

Mozy online backup default backup location

One of the biggest considerations with this type of service is the Internet connection performance, which Mozy checks during the setup process.

Mozy online backup internet connection check

Here is a tip for most users, when Internet connections are provided to home users and small businesses, download speeds are generally the most important consideration. These are also the most heavily advertised speeds from most service providers. Online backup software will utilize the upload speed, and as most users aren’t even aware of their available upload performance, it’s best to be sure your provider hasn’t capped it. You don’t want to tie up your net connection with regular backups if the provider has upload limits. To do a quick and easy independent test of your Internet connection — including its upload speed — go to the Speedtest site.

For its part, Mozy tests the Internet connection and reports the results during setup:

Mozy online backup connection check results

In regards to performance, Mozy allows you to configure how aggressively the backups perform. The more comprehensive and frequent your backups, the more Mozy will affect your Internet connection, which could mean slower web surfing and email access. The figure below shows the sliding scale to configure Mozy’s backups:

Mozy online backup sliding backup scale

Withy your speed and location parameters set, we are ready to perform a backup with Mozy. To start a backup, right click on a folder or file and select the Add to Mozy Backups, shown below:

Mozy online backup add to backup

This will put the selected folder into the backup program to be sent online as configured earlier. On Windows systems, Mozy also maintains a System Tray icon for quick access to the configuration and scheduling of these backups.

Mozy online backup System Tray icon

IN USE & EFFECTIVENESS

The most important points to consider with an online backup solution how much does those affect your Internet connection, how long are the backup files available, and how easy is it to restore a file.

On the speed front, Mozy’s configuration wizard lets you determine how much of an impact it has on the Internet connection, which can be minimal if configured well. To get to the configuration, Right-Click on the Mozy Backup icon in the system tray and select configure. Set which folders are backed up, schedule your backup frequency, and even limit much Internet bandwidth Mozy is allowed to use. This can limit Mozy to a mere 200 kb/s if desired.

Mozy also performs well in regards to ease of restoration. Once a file is backed up, it is available in the restore tab of the configuration tool – literally just a couple of clicks away:

Mozy online backup restoration

The biggest gotcha with Mozy is the file availability timeline. Mozy restoration images go back 30 days, per file. When a file is backed up with a change, the prior version is replaced. (The pay versions of Mozy offer some mitigation of this.) Mozy is a snapshot, not a full versioning backup, so you can’t restore a draft of a constantly updated document from six months ago; only the most recent version is likely to be held in Mozy’s restoration file.

Also worth pointing out: Mozy is not a full disk imager. You can’t restore a complete version of your computer’s operating system with Mozy, just the files you kept on the OS.

Beyond the core feature points, Mozy offers a nice old-school option; in lieu of performing a large restore over the Internet, you can order a DVD hardcopy of your data shipped via FedEx at an additional cost.

CONCLUSION

Mozy can be a boon for the home user and small business where the daunting task of protecting data may seem overwhelming and expensive. Above all, you do not have to be overly technical to use the solution. If you can browse My Documents and perform a right-click, you can use Mozy. It doesn’t offer all the granular features of more robust disk-based backup applications — particularly versioning — but most home users don’t need these features anyway.

More to the point, any physical disaster that might befall your home or business, like a fire and flood, is just as likely to destroy any onsite backups along with your main PC. Mozy keeps your data physically somewhere else, which is a level of preparedness most users don’t bother with, even if they should.

PROS

  • The free version will suit most environments well
  • Very easy to use
  • Tiered offering of services
  • Multiple restore options
  • Scheduling and bandwidth options are rich

CONS

  • Lack of previous version of a file for free services can be a gotcha
  • Free service does not offer Windows operating system restore


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