As a work-from-home’r I figured it was high time I implemented a real backup solution. I’d uploaded work docs and other important files to online storage from time to time, and I use Google Docs to write anything that matters, which gives me de facto online backup for those files. But I needed something real.
So I checked out two online backup services, Allmydata.com and Mozy.com. Both offer unlimited storage for US$5 per month (which shows just how cheap storage is these days), along with a free level of service (2GB of free storage with Mozy, 1GB with Allmydata).
I started with Allmydata.com. It’s something of a bare-bones service in that you gain access to online storage, but need to use other software to perform the actual backups.
The client will theoretically start built-in Windows backup software, but I don’t seem to have the file it looks for on my PC. So I tried it with Microsoft SyncToy, which despite the name is a powerful file sync tool.
That setup worked, but left me wanting more. Specifically, I wanted a setup that was built for big uploads, and would let me pause or throttle traffic when I was working and didn’t want to bring my Internet connection to a crawl.
Which, I was happy to find, is what Mozy delivers. Since I only need to back up one PC, I went for Mozy Home (the Mozy Pro version offers a business solution with more features for backing up multiple PCs and servers).
Mozy’s big selling point for me is a robust backup client with features that are customized for online backups. A useful wizard walks you through creating backup sets, where you can choose to back up certain types of data, such as word processing documents, photos or Thunderbird e-mail contacts. You can also directly select particular drives and folders.
You can also choose a schedule for backups, or let Mozy handle it automatically. If you go the automatic route you can set parameters such as ‘don’t back up if the CPU is more than X percent busy.’
The best option is one that allows for throttling backup traffic so that it doesn’t bog down your connection. You can adjust the throttle during an ongoing backup as well.
To restore files you can right-click a backed-up file (to restore a previous version), select files or folders in the Mozy client, browse through the ‘MozyHome Remote Backup’ folder in Windows Explorer, or use the Web interface.
You’ll need to wait for Mozy to create a zip file for your restored files if you use the Web interface; the other three options allow for immediately restoring files or folders to their original place or a destination of your choosing.
I’m happy with Mozy so far, and I think $5 a month for an easy, unlimited backup is a pretty good deal. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. For one thing, when I checked to see just what files the wizard chose under the ‘financial documents’ category, I found only saved e-mails.
Also, during some of my restore tests, I got repeated connection errors. I was running a huge backup at the time after upgrading to the paid service, and I was able to restore the file eventually, but it was annoying.
It’s also worth noting that Mozy is specifically for backups. There aren’t any file sharing or online collaboration features to speak of. Plus, while online backups do away with the need to buy additional hardware, they can take a good deal longer to restore or backup large amounts of data.
Overall, Mozy has what I’m after. There are of course plenty of other backup options out there, though, so if you’ve found another solution that works great for you, by all means share with a comment below.