I have been telling myself that I need to set up some sort of automated backup solution for my data for years now. In the past, I have actually used various tape backup solutions but I eventually gave up due to the cost of buying new tape drives that could keep up with the increasing large amount of data.
I decided to give Mozy a try. If you have not heard, Mozy is an online backup solution. Their main selling point is that they will back up your home computer for $4.95 per month. Your data is transfered over your Internet connection and is backed up to Mozy’s servers. I figure $60 a year for a fully automated backup solution and peace of mind is worth it.
Installation and Configuration
The installation and initial setup process is pretty straight forward. By default, the software will automatically select files to be backed up, but I am sure most people will need to make changes to the backup selection. Each Mozy account will only support one computer. Yes, I tried to include a network location in my backup sets, but it wouldn’t allow it. External drives connected via USB2 are fine.
There are several configuration options to tweak. In the Schedule tab, you can tell Mozy to backup when your PC is idle, or at specific times:
And under the Options tab, you can control many additional settings:
For my backup, I leave most settings at the default values, except I checked “Don’t show restore menu in Windows Explorer”. I generally do not let any application install context menu handlers for Windows Explorer. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but I suspect that misbehaving explorer context menu handlers are the source of most mysterious hangs and slow-downs in Windows.
Backing Up Data
The backup process works fairly well. The initial backup will take some time to complete. How much time depends on the size of your backup sets and the upload speed of your Internet connection. My initial backup took about 3 weeks to backup 75 GB of data over a Verizon Online FIOS connection with 2000 kbits of upload bandwidth. Since then I have added another 10GB of data and it has been keeping up just fine.
While the backup is in progress, you can check Mozy’s progress with this informative progress window:
There are currently four different ways to restore files with Mozy:
- Right-click Restore – Navigate in Windows Explorer to the folder you want and right click, then choose “Restore files in folder”.
- DVD Restore – Mozy will burn your data to a DVD and send it to you via snail mail. Good for large restores.
- Web Restore – Use Mozy’s web site to select folders/files to restore and download the files via the web site.
- Virtual Drive Restore – Navigate to Mozy’s virtual drive and select files to restore from there.
I had some problems initially with Virtual Drive Restore. Every time I tried, I would get an error saying that it could not connect to the server. The error went away after I reset my account password. This is probably the simplest and quickest way to restore a small number of files.
Web Restore is also pretty straight forward. You log into the Mozy web site, choose Restore Files and follow on-screen instructions. One minor issue is that the files are not available immediately. Instead, you will get an email once the restore is complete. Then you can go to the web site to download the files. An additional benefit of Web Restore is that you can restore files from any Internet connected PC. In this way, you can think of Mozy as an Internet mirror of your files.
If you want to restore everything, then DVD Restore is probably the way to go. I have not tried this option.
The last Restore method is Right Click Restore in Explorer. I did not test this method either because I chose not to enable explorer shell integration.
I had to use Mozy’s tech support to resolve an error that I could not resolve myself. Email did not work well as I didn’t receive a reply at all after several days. However, when I tried the “Chat Live” option on the web site, and was immediately connected to a live tech support person. She was able to help me resolve the problem fairly quickly.
I feel a lot better now that my important files are finally backed up at an off-site location. I am probably better protected now than many small businesses. I can get to the files easily and wherever I need. Mozy works very well once you understand and work with its main limitation: the upload speed of your Internet connection. I have not heard of anyone running into a problem for backing up too much data. Finally, for $4.95 a month… you can’t beat that.