Mozy backups didn't run for a year and never complained

Anyone that’s read this blog knows I’m a big fan of Mozy.  I’m a fan of other online products as well, but I use Mozy for my own data and it’s always done me very well.  Well, I’ve got my first gripe and it’s kind of a big one.  It wasn’t backing up and it never told me.

First let me give you a little back story.  I used to have a different laptop about a year ago when I swapped it for my latest Windows laptop (which will probably be my last Windows laptop).  Before that time I had Mozy installed and running and backing up all my stuff on the older laptop.

Then one day I changed laptops and never got around to installing Mozy on the new one.  I made sure I was backing up my data, of course.  And I knew that if I were to reinitialize with Mozy it was going to take a while, so I just kept putting it off.

Meanwhile, time went by.  They billed me $5 a month.  And I wasn’t backing up.  And they never said squat.  Not one single email that said anything like “Hey!  Did you realize that the system that you’re paying us $5/mth to back up hasn’t been seen or heard from for a while.”

As important as backup is to me, I knew that i was backing up my laptop data to my external drive, so I just kept putting it off.  I put it off until tonight when I finished moving things over to my new Macbook and decided to tell Mozy to start backing it up.  When I logged in, it said that it had been 309 days since I last backed up to Mozy.  That’s when I realized that they had been charging me for 11 months worth of service and never said word one that I wasn’t actually backing up.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not blaming them that I didn’t have backups. (First off, I had backups.) I’m not saying that the fact that I didn’t use their service for 309 days was even their fault.  Had they been emailing me the result might have actually been the same.  One of these days I’ll stop procastinating so much.

What I’m saying is that for almost a year they took my money to perform a service, they knew I wasn’t using that service, and they never said squat. This is a typical business model for an ISP.  No ISP is going to proactively contact you to tell you that they noticed that you weren’t using their service. it’s counterproductive to their business model: charge hundreds of people for unlimited service and hope none of them ever use it.

But this isn’t an ISP. It’s a backup service.  They don’t know I’m Mr. Backup.  I could just as well be my Mom (who is on Mozy) and have no idea that I’ve done something dumb like accidentally uninstall the application or set it never to backup.  When you’re selling a backup service directly to the consumer, the least you owe them is an email if they’re not backing up, don’t you think?

I still like Mozy.  But I think they should change this practice, and I’d like to know if any of their competitors have a different practice.  And I also think anyone who is using Mozy should check to see if their backups are working.

----- 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 Technical Architect 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.

4 thoughts on “Mozy backups didn't run for a year and never complained

  1. jkeener1 says:

    I’ve got Mozy on one machine and Carbonite on another and haven’t really decided which I like better overall, so I’ve been using both for the past year or 2 on different machines. One thing I have noticed though is that Carbonite does send emails when you haven’t connected for a while. (I hadn’t noticed that I was missing the emails from Mozy though, until your blog mentioned it.)

    I get the following email after one week:

    ——————————————————
    Dear Jonathan,
    We’re writing to alert you that your computer XXXXXXXX has not contacted our backup servers for one week, and your backup may not be up to date.
    If your computer has been turned off (or disconnected from the Internet) during the past week, make sure to reconnect soon so that Carbonite can update your backup.
    If you have any questions, please email us at customersupport@carbonite.com or just reply to this email.
    Sincerely,
    The Carbonite Team

    ——————————————————

    Looking at some of my old emails, it seems Carbonite continues to send emails weekly until you reconnect.

    Also, I get emails from them for reinstalls of the software:

    ——————————————————-
    Dear Jonathan,
    You are receiving this automated email because Carbonite has been REINSTALLED on your computer, XXXXXXXXX. As a security precaution, we’re alerting you to make sure that you are aware of this update and verify that you were the one who logged into the Carbonite website to reinstall your Carbonite software. If you recently logged in to reinstall Carbonite, please ignore this email.
    However, if you have not recently reinstalled Carbonite and think someone else may be attempting to use your Carbonite account, please contact Customer Support.
    Sincerely,
    The Carbonite Team

    ————————————————————

    Jon Keener

  2. cpjlboss says:

    I checked with Carbonite, CrashPlan, & Backblaze and they all had systems that notify you if your computer doesn’t talk to them for a while. Mozy does have this — but only if the software is installed. But their competitors catch those who uninstall it unintentionally or forget to reinstall after a system change.

  3. vagrey says:

    I use Mozy on my personal machine, and every time I wake it up a dialog box appears that tells me a backup was completed so long ago. I know that if I wake the computer up and that’s not there – no backup was done. Not as nice as what you want, but I would notice if that went away.

  4. cpjlboss says:

    @Victoria

    I know it does that (although I think you can and many people do disable that). However, I’m thinking more about non-tech savvy people that wouldn’t notice that.

    Again, I think Mozy’s a fine product. This is a limitation that I think is a big one, and I think it’s one they can fix with a single SQL Query and a couple of lines of shell code. Here’s my mostly pseudo-code version of it:

    SELECT EMAIL FROM CUSTOMERDB WHERE LASTBUDATE > 30 DAYS| while read i
    do
    echo “Our backup system misses you.”|mail $i
    done

    What bothers me more is that both the official response from Mozy and the unofficial response from @SToragezilla via twitter is that I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I’m sorry, I’m a backup guy and a backup service that charges me for backups that aren’t happening — and never says a word — is simply unacceptable. They have your email address. They can at least drop you an email letting you know something is up.

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