A CNET review of Mozy's online backup software, entitled "Everyone likes Mozy, Except Me." makes one or two good points, but IMHO misses the boat and makes no sense to me, a backup person. If you want to know what he said and why I disagree with it, read on.
Mozy is one of a few online backup service providers that charges a minimal fee ($5/mth or $50/year) to back up an unlimited amount of data for home computers. (Carbonite has the same pricing. There may be others.) I have been a big fan of this idea, as I can simply tell my friends, "Just buy Mozy" or "Just buy Carbonite," and their backups are taken care of. Almost every reviewer has agreed that this idea is a great one.
But Michael Horowitz of CNET recently wrote a review that said "Everybody loves Mozy, Except Me." He takes a couple of shots at it that just don't make sense in my world.
- The software runs all the time
- Yes, and so do about 50 other things. The web browser I'm typing this blog entry on is using 146 MB, Norton AV is 61 MB, MSWORD (which doesn't even appear in my task bar) is using 61 MB. Mozy is using about 20 MB of RAM and none of my CPU. That's 1% of my RAM. BIG deal. The whole point here is that we want backups to just happen. We don't want the user to have to remember to do them, schedule them, etc. So to do that, it needs to run all the time. Sorry. It's the way REAL backup systems (like the ones I work on in big data centers) work.
- It only has 30 day retention
- If you delete a file and don't notice it for 31 days, it's gone forever. This is a valid complaint, as most people don't understand it. I would argue it meets the needs of about 99.9% of restores. You lost your C drive and you want all the files that used to be there. You just deleted or corrupted a file and you want the old version back. (If you have a corrupted file, you can right click on it and select previous versions.) He argues that they do this to reduce storage. I argue that they do it to reduce storage so they can give the service at $5/mth, which meets the needs of 99.9% of users. If that .1% of users wants more than 30 days, go somewhere else, but be prepared to pay a LOT more.
- You can't right click on a file to back it up
- Neat feature, and maybe they should consider adding it. BUT, the whole point I installed this thing was to set it and forget it. I live backup, and I don't think about it. It's like the old HP printer commercials. "What do you think about your HP printer?" one guy says. The other says, "I don't." I just install it and magic happens. If something messes up Mozy and it doesn't run for 3 days, it warns you. The average user isn't going to think to right click on a file to back it up. If they're really want a backup of a file before they modify it, then they can just select Copy and copy the file. I know it's not perfect, but it works.
- Restores took too long
- He was critical of the web interface, zip file mechanism. He must have not noticed the other methods. The first and easiest method is to navigate to the "MozyHome Remote Backup" drive under my computer. Select the file(s) you want, and click Restore. They restore instantly! You can also right click on a file and select "Previous Versions."
- It backs up open files!
- He doesn't want it to do that. What? Does he have any idea how many open files Windows has on a regular basis? What about Outlook's PST that is ALWAYS open? He's criticizing it because they figured out how to back it up? Seriously?
- Block level incremental backups are bad
- He talks about this like it's voodoo and scary. Dude, the concept has been around for about two decades and really isn't that spooky. It's also the reason I can back up my laptop when I'm on the road. It only copies the changed files.
He touts some other services that are more expensive and, in his opinion, better. (He picks on Mozy because he can't transfer files to them via FTP. Come on!) The problem with something that costs $15-$50/mth is that the home user won't buy it. (I can hear them now: "I don't pay that for my cable modem!") They'll start doing cost comparisons to CD drives and things like that, and in the end, they'll be far worse off than if they had just paid $5/mth and lived what the limitations that Mozy and Carbonite come with.
OK, that's all I've got to say about that. I think that Mozy and Carbonite bring enterprise level backup to the end user at $5/mth. It means that millions of people now have backup that didn't have it before. I think that my friend who just lost their laptop hard drive would have loved to have had it.
----- Signature and Disclaimer -----
Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technologist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.