Free safe no-effort remote backups for all

"Backing up" is perhaps the most tedious activities in the world of computerness, and definitely one of the highest in the disaster-because-you-can't-be-bothered stakes. These days most everyone with a computer should probably be backing up their data somewhere. All those beautiful "artistic" photos, those genius secret writings you do, letters begging for mercy from the bank, mp3s you "forgot" to pay for and half-finished novels are all at the mercy of the great computer gods should you not back up.

The problem is it can be boring, expensive and time-consuming to copy everything you own to a disk and put it somewhere safe. So don't...use automagic free remote backups from Mozy.

It's so simple the Poorhouse feels a fool for not discovering it before. If you have broadband and Windows 2000, XP or Vista (or OS X if you want to apply for the beta) you can download and install the Mozy program. From that point on it will churn away backing up files of your choice - by default most of your documents, music and pictures are done - to the Mozy servers which are far, far away. Then should the worst happen and you lose your precious kitten pictures all you need to is press a few buttons and you can have the file(s) back right away.

It is nearly unbelievable how easily it works once it's installed. You never have to think of it again. Whenever your computer is idle (or even if it's not, should you tell it to get on with it) it will quietly start uploading your files to their secure servers as soon as it sees they've changed. It can even upload files you are actually working on at any given time. Set and forget. And when you mess up, log on and retrieve with your hands in the air like you just don't care.

Unlike many mass storage services, let alone free ones, it also keeps track of file changes for 30 days. Therefore should you accidentally mess up a file and get it backed up, you still have a month to get the original back. You can just right click the file in question and pick "Restore previous version".

Other advantages include that you can access your backed up files from any computer connected to the Internet. If you forgot to bring your presentation to work or the latest greatest piece of noise you and your home-made band made to your friends just log on to Mozy via the web and download an exact copy there.

It's also fairly super secure. Of course everything is password protected, and all transfers are encrypted. In fact if you opt to have your own choice of key, then not even Mozy apparently can read your data (so if you forget it, you are stuck).

It's free for any quantity of files up to 2gb which is plenty enough for a lot of people. You can get an unlimited version of it for $4.95 a month which is still really good value in comparison to many of its competitors. So why not go try it? Even better should you do so via the links on this page (or by typing 65TYW2 in the sign-up form as your referrer) you will receive an extra free 256mb of storage. Not only that but so will the Poorhouse. Be a love and do it to help save all the precious Poor-data.

(Those of you who hate us so much you can't bear to help, going to http://mozy.com/ direct will get you there and not help the Poorhouse's datacount, but as punishment for your sins you also will miss out on a free 256mb of data should you use it and opt for the free version.)


Comments

Backups

This sounds very interesting and helpful - just a few, somewhat paranoid, queries (from someone who has only just begun to come to terms with not backing everything up immediately onto floppy discs - no A: drive on new PC! - as well as, weekly, to CD):
How does the program affect security? If Mozy are retrieving my data all the time, does that mean they can actually "see" my PC - maybe even access it? How do firewalls, security settings etc. cope?
What happens if Mozy have a problem? Do they backup all the stuff they keep?
If backing up is done whilst I'm working on the PC, does it affect performance?
Presumably, one must be online for backup to take place; what if the connection has a brief break? Is data lost, does the process have to start again or can it just pick up where it left off?
If you can set the backing up to be done when the PC is idle, what happens if you interrupt it?
Can it be set to backup immediately before switch off, and if so, can it be relied on to actually closedown properly after it is finished?
Apart from obviously still needing the occasional system backup on both hard drive and CD/DVD, would you rely on Mozy entirely for file backups or would you recommend the occasional CD backup?
I guess you won't be able to answer all these questions, yet, but opinions would be welcome! I'm definitely interested and, if convinced of reliablilty and trustworthiness, will happily sign up via your link!

Hi,

Hi,

I've not been using it for long at all so don't take this as gospel truth and please correct me if wrong, but…

> How does the program affect security? If Mozy are retrieving my data all the time, does that mean they can actually "see" my PC - maybe even access it? How do firewalls, security settings etc. cope?

The Mozy mini-program you install on your computer pushes the data to their servers, so it doesn't "see" your computer any more than when you upload info via the website if that makes sense. Your firewall might block you at first - see http://mozy.com/support/firewall but if it does you just need to tell it that the Mozy program is allowed to open connections. Of course if Mozy was bad and evil they could be sending all sorts of bad stuff from your computer to theirs but I have no reason to believe they are….

> What happens if Mozy have a problem? Do they backup all the stuff they keep?

To quote them "The Mozy servers are housed in a secure facility near Salt Lake City that is capable of withstanding a massive earthquake and which contains a state of the art fire suppression system. Your data is stored using Reed-Solomon encoding, which breaks your data up into smaller parts of which we need only about 3/4 to actually rebuild your files. These are stored across several hard drives on several servers. If we lose a server or drive, we rebuild the data piece again someplace else for safe keeping."

>If backing up is done whilst I'm working on the PC, does it affect performance?

It could do, there are settings in the program to say when to back up and also whether you want faster backups or a faster computer. On its default settings I don't notice the difference, although there must be some!

> Presumably, one must be online for backup to take place; what if the connection has a brief break? Is data lost, does the process have to start again or can it just pick up where it left off?

Yep, you have to be online. It will pick up where it left off should the connection break or you turn your computer off etc. This is good because depending on the size of your initial backup it can take a while. Mine was around 2 gb and could have taken 2 days continuous connection but I just set it to go whenever I'm on the computer and bit by bit it gets sent. It's more than halfway there now. After the initial megaload is sent it should probably just take seconds or minutes to update stuff depending on how many new files you make in general usage, because it just sends the changes to files rather than the whole thing again.

> If you can set the backing up to be done when the PC is idle, what happens if you interrupt it?

Yep, and see above, it will just resume.

> Can it be set to backup immediately before switch off, and if so, can it be relied on to actually closedown properly after it is finished?

Not as such I think, it will back up either when you tell it to, or when stuff is idle dependent on settings. Generally it does it in the background so you won't notice it doing it.

> Apart from obviously still needing the occasional system backup on both hard drive and CD/DVD, would you rely on Mozy entirely for file backups or would you recommend the occasional CD backup?

If system backups include data files then I would probably just do those and Mozy…..but then I'm not the greatest at backing up! I guess you can never have too many copies of your files but people on the web generally seem to trust Mozy it seems. I have successfully restored files.

> I'm definitely interested and, if convinced of reliablilty and trustworthiness, will happily sign up via your link!

Cool - there are faqs about it at here and here. But bear in mind it's a free service (if you go for the free option….) so it probably wouldn't be wise to rely on it entirely for mission critical stuff. You can pay for an upgraded service if you want (more space mainly), or a special version for businesses to use.

Hope that makes sense. Comments welcome...especially if you think I'm putting too much trust into it by using it!

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