Online Backups

We’ve been testing online backup software here at el-Studio for a while now. Remarkable how the slipping of the little rubber band inside our tape drive – the one that connects the motor with the thingy that spins the tape – brings online backups to mind.

Plus there’s the appeal of saying “We backup to the cloud, man.”

Anyway, our favorite online backup software/service is Mozy.

First, we could tell by the way the folks at Mozy write that they feel our pain:

Alternatives to Mozy

  • Burn a new CD or DVD every Sunday night and store them at your brother-in-law’s office.
  • Pay $200/year for an online backup service that uses old, mediocre software.
  • Buy a $200 external hard drive and hope your office doesn’t burn down.
  • Do nothing and don’t worry about backup. (We suggest closing your eyes, plugging your ears and repeating “I’m in my happy place, I’m in my happy place.”)
  • Run a cron job of rsync, gzip and mcrypt piped over ssh to your friend’s server over his DSL line.

That last option, by the way, isn’t so bad. For one server. Until your friend’s IP address changes.

But Mozy, it turns out, backs up really well – the best set-and-forget backup software we’ve seen.

We use the Mac version of their software, which is still in beta. Here’s how it works –

  1. Download the software and install it
  2. Pick the files you want to back up
  3. Let it run. In the background. Automatically.

That’s it. First run will take quite a while (like days) – but you can work normally in the meantime. And after that, the software runs whenever your machine sits idle for a bit.

Restores are a matter of going to the Mozy website and using an online file picker. You can download the results – or, if you want, Mozy can FedEx you a DVD.

Cost? Free for 2G, or $5/month for unlimited storage.

Or if you use this link to Mozy, you’ll tell ‘em we sent you – and they’ll throw in an extra quarter gig for free.

Aside in the voice of a media outlet: We have no financial stake in Mozy, and don’t know anybody there. And, as paying customers, that Mozy code gets us nothing. We just like their software. If you’re in the market for online backup, you might, too.


Mac Mozy is beta software, and there have been some issues with earlier versions.

That said, versions since 0.5.1 have worked for us (latest as of this writing is 0.6.0). And the software does update itself.

Besides the beta software issue, there are a couple of things worth thinking about before relying on Mozy:

  • Online means that somebody else could get to your data. While Mozy encrypts your backups – using a key you provide, if you wish – its web-based restore can mean these are only as secure as your password.
  • Backups are saved at a single data center in Salt Lake City. Redundancy here would be nice.

But for us, the software’s ease-of-use – and the tape drive’s slipping rubber band – trump these concerns.

We backup to the cloud, man.