Long-term Mozy for Mac review

Long-term Mozy for Mac review

Summary: Mozy for Mac was the first low-cost online backup service for Macs. But after using it for over 2 years at my own expense I dumped it. Here's why.

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I work online and live in a small town 30 miles of 2 lane road from Flagstaff, AZ. I don’t have a lot of options when my infrastructure FUBARs.

Redundancy keeps me up and running. A key piece is 3 backup systems:

  1. Hourly Time Machine backups of changed files.
  2. Nightly system disk backups to a bootable external drive.
  3. Online backup to cloud storage system.

Am I paranoid? When a recent OS upgrade failed due to driver conflicts, I needed 2 of the 3 systems to retrieve all my data. If a backup disk had failed I would have used all 3.

Mozy for Mac For over 2 years, at my own expense, I used Decho's Mozy for Mac client to back up critical data - some 40+ GB of it. About 3 months ago I switched to another provider.

Why?

It wasn't reliable. Worse, after 2+ years, it wasn't getting more reliable. I kept hoping, not wanting to go through another multi-week data backup, but I gave up after the latest version stopped working for several weeks and 2 reinstalls didn't fix the problem.

Mozy's tech support people are uniformly polite and responsive. But if the product doesn't want to work they can't do much about it.

A sample size of 1 I want to stress that this is only 1 machine's experience with Mozy - not a statistically valid study. I have almost 6 TB of disk on a 12 GB Intel quad-core Mac Pro. I capture hundreds of GB of video, surf a lot of websites, run several data collection utilities, support a GigE LAN and use data intensive peripherals such as a fast sheet-fed scanner and a firewire HD camcorder.

I started using Mozy for Mac when it was in beta. After a slow start I gave v1.0 an endorsement of sorts:

I started working with Mozy’s Mac client a year ago, blogged about it for a couple of months (see “Mozy Mac client beta watch” one and deux). But after many continuing bugs and failures I got depressed and stopped.

Progress was slow. Painfully slow.

New! Improved! Now It Works! Now I can to report that their client is out in v1.0 and it works.

At the time Mozy for Mac had no competition in the $50/yr backup space.

That was then. It did work, but as the OS upgrades continued, so did the Mozy client problems. The tech support response tended towards "uninstall and reinstall" although they would sometimes ask for logs. Mozy preserved the online data, so data didn't need a complete backup.

In the meantime some credible competition has arrived in the form of Backblaze and Crashplan. I've tried both and they both worked. Now I'm doing a long-term eval of one as a paying customer.

More on that in a future post.

The Storage Bits take Mozy's parent company, Decho, was created by EMC, a $15 billion company with 40,000 employees, that also owns Iomega, VMware and RSA. Plenty of software talent and plenty of money to hire anything they needed.

But they couldn't get the product to work to my satisfaction even though I installed the latest versions, trashed plist files and more. The same problems kept coming up.

It was the lack of progress to stability that finally made me dump Mozy for Mac. After more than 2 years it wasn't getting better.

Which meant it was getting worse. And that isn't acceptable in a back up product.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Apple, Data Management, Hardware, Storage

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23 comments
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  • Sad to read this

    I have not found a "cloud" solution to backup either.

    I tried Backblaze, but the 1 month for the initial backup was not for me. Then, when I UNinstalled it, I was shocked to find a bit of it running on my iMac over 3 months later.

    The problem that I see with online backup is that these companies do not want OUR business. They want the business of the typical home user with 600 MB to backup. The 200-1000 GB customer will always be "not profitable".
    davebarnes
    • Initial online backups take a long time

      At least until we get broadband uploads as well as downloads.

      The one I'm currently testing is Crashplan. The initial backup took several
      weeks, but their throttling when I was using the system was effective, so
      I didn't notice it.

      I'll let you know how I like it after I feel like I have some useful
      experience.

      Robin
      R Harris
      • Not Mac, but Crashplan here too.

        I've signed up for the Crashplan family plan and so far, I'm pretty happy with it. I use Windows and Linux clients with it and it seems to behave pretty well. The Linux client seems to actually be more robust than the Windows one. I also like the ability to back up to another system you own, or to friends machines.
        Joe Matuscak
  • After over a year

    Of using Mozy for Mac I just stopped using it this past week and moved to redundant external drives and a fire safe. I would like an off-site solution but I have noticed instability issues with Mozy that came up in Leopard and have become worse with Snow. Finally it stopped backing up weeks ago, for two separate Macs it simultaneously became unstable, and despite my attempts to get it rolling again it has not. I checked online and found many reports of the same issue. Maybe it's a simple issue but their online FAQ's and troubleshooting tips are worthless.

    IMHO such solutions really need to be "set it and forget it". If you need to babysit the software it's no better (and probably worse) than an external drive left in a firesafe or off-site.

    I also wonder about the "green-ness" of such solutions. Leaving the computer on for weeks sucking up bandwidth shipping Gig's of data across the country. Anyone know?
    oncall
    • Time to learn about rysnc

      A fabulous *nix utility that is available from your Mac command line.

      The source and/or designation can be local or remote.

      Secured using ssh and efficient only sending files, and parts of files,
      that have changed.

      Automate using ssh key authentication and cron.

      I use it for TBs of data, multiple systems, global deployment.

      Pair with a cloud solution (e.g. Amazon) if you like.
      Richard Flude
      • rsync

        Both Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! are friendly rsync front ends.

        Don't know if they support Amazon's S3, but once you figure in their
        bandwidth charges and the lack of recovery services they aren't a
        bargain.

        Lot of power on the Mac command line.

        Robin
        R Harris
  • Disappointed

    Private tests run over two years ago as part of an internal comparative analysis exposed problems with several online backup providers, including Mozy - primarily around ease-of-use and recovery. This was just prior to the EMC acquisition and announcement. I voiced my concerns and was invited down to HQ for a meeting. EMC assured me that the new infrastructure would resolve any past issues.

    While you do only represent a single data point, Robin, I am not at all surprised by this news. It is unfortunate that things seem not to have improved after two years.
    josephmartins
  • Paranoid? Who me?

    "Am I paranoid?"
    Is Fort Knox locked at night?

    "When a recent OS upgrade failed due to driver conflicts, I needed 2 of the 3 systems to retrieve all my data."
    I'm curious. Each of my multi-boot OS builds is separate from my data partitions and backed up to a different regime. If, sorry - when, I trash one OS partition I simply reload it from backup. Takes 15 minutes max. and doesn't affect any data.
    jacksonjohn
  • Mozy for PC

    While I sympathize in your problem with Mozy for Mac I would like to stand up and say that I've been using Mozy for my Windows box and it has been well worth it. I back up nearly 50GB and I've been able to recover contacts, emails, and Photoshop projects with no issue. I too also backup to external disks in conjunction with online backup since I'm paranoid about pictures of my newborn son. I simply didn't want this thread to be all mud about Mozy since my experience in a Windows environment has been quite positive.

    I'm glad to hear about your experiences though since we've considered purchasing a Mac at some point.
    brothaatwell@...
    • Informed consumer

      We are just sharing information. Though I do need to point out that a quick Google search revealed problems with Mozy are not unique to Mac users. I don't know if the Windows problems are identical to Mac, they sound different, I see references to system lock-ups and Windows Office crashes.

      My thoughts here are that this article brings up a concern we should all have. And that is what's the true reliability of these online services? Are you really getting true "piece of mind" for $5 a month or are you better off with your own solution? I don't know. Does anyone?

      P.S. has anyone done a really controlled testing of these services? I know reviewers are doing their best but it seems most are just feeding the service with maybe one computer and assuming it's OK if the data "seemed" to make it. Has anyone really challenged them? I mean multiple computers with Gig's of data and proven reliable restores?
      oncall
  • There's always RSync, Duplicity, and Related

    I tried to give Mozy a pretty good shake and ended up very
    disappointed with it. It would constantly cut out on me or
    require me to start my backups over again.

    I've since gotten sufficiently frustrated with it that I now
    use a combo of rsync (to mirror files), duplicity (to create
    encrypted incremental backups) and a utility called Time
    Drive which is a GUI for duplicity. I use Amazon S3 and
    I've been very happy with the arrangement. It has the
    additional benefit that all of the software is open source.
    You can find more information on the program at:

    http://www.oak-tree.us/blog/index.php/science-and-
    technology/time-drive

    For the most important files, I use Windows Live Mesh but
    consider it more of a sync program than a backup
    program.

    Rob Oakes
  • RE: Long-term Mozy for Mac review

    I have been using Mozy for several months and I too am
    disappointed. The "Restore" function in their Mac client
    just doesn't work.

    Been going back and forth with their text support for over
    a month now, sending logs, uninstalling and reinstalling
    the app etc. But the problem still persists.

    I'd be very interested in knowing your experience with the
    other online backup options.

    jhumroo
  • RE: Long-term Mozy for Mac review

    I needed something a little more robust than just a backup
    solution. I was looking for something that was a combination
    of services from Mozy, DropBox and Box.net. I found it in
    Nomadesk. Super easy to use, unlimited backup, secure
    sharing and access files online or offline and even from my
    iPhone. There was a slight hiccup when I switched to Snow
    Leopard but it was cleared up fast and I haven't had any
    other problems.
    Don Crossland
  • RE: Long-term Mozy for Mac review

    I use JungleDisk which is a front end for Amazon S3. It is great.
    It runs on the background (every 6 hours for me) and
    throughput to S3 is usually as fast as your connection will allow
    given Amazon's ample bandwith.

    There is a simple web interface to access the backup structure
    but I prefer the network disks that will mount on the desktop
    for Finder access to all your backups every time JungleDisk is
    running as an app and not as a BG process.

    You can also have more than one disk of course. So I have one
    for backup and one for archiving... things like old series
    purchased on iTunes that I don't plan to view again but hate
    throwing away to save disk space I just drag on here. So far I
    have never had an invoice over $15, except for the initial
    backup which was about $50. I have about 50GB backed up.

    I have never had a problem with backups or the software.
    sadex76
  • RE: Long-term Mozy for Mac review

    I also tried Mozy (for Windows) and had trouble making it work properly despite valiant efforts by tech support to help. I had similar issues with Carbonite,by the way.

    Now, I use BackBlaze to back up almost 1.5 TB of data and things seem quite good.
    mkrigsman@...
  • Try GigaBank for really long term data storage

    You may want to give the GigaBank a shot: supports Macs
    and FAST LTA takes long term (your data is guaranteed for
    30+ years) really seriously.
    Bart-Jan
  • Thanks for the updates .....

    I haven't used Mozy for Mac (yet) but I have clients who are always asking about Internet backup solutions for their small businesses. Every time I've recommended one (including Mozy for Windows in a couple cases), I've regretted it in the long term. What seems like a great solution at first never seems to pan out quite like it should.....

    I guess one part of the problem is, these solutions seem most tempting to put in place for the largely computer illiterate folks out there. (I'm talking about the legions of people out there who use and rely on their computers to get work done every day, but don't know how to do anything that falls outside of 4 or 5 software applications they've taken courses or received on-the-job training on how to use.) These people have no concept of which files and folders in a "tree" need to be selected to back up, and about concepts like "file locks" preventing something from being backed-up if the application using it is still running.

    When their online storage quota is exceeded, or some index gets corrupted and a backup gets "out of sync", they usually don't even realize it for a long period of time, and have no idea how to correct it. They may falsely assume the backup contains data it doesn't, or lack the understanding to restore it properly if and when they need it. To top it off, it seems like a lot of these services come and go - leaving people with defunct backup solutions and at a loss how to migrate it to a new service.

    I think Apple's "Time Machine" for OS X, pointed to an external hard drive, is about the best solution yet for these people. It's not perfect either, but the "genius" in it lies largely in the fact that the backup drive never gets "full". It simply auto-removes the oldest data to make room for the newest backups, and is completely invisible to the user as it works. I'd like to see an Internet-based version of something like it, vs. these services that charge based on storage quotas and backup utilities that just stop working when the quota is exceeded!
    kingtj
  • RE: Long-term Mozy for Mac review

    Hmm, just added my 3rd Mac to Mozy, which I started on more than 2 years ago -- now have over 150 GB backed up with them. Works reliably and restores fine. Takes a very long for the first backup, of course.

    Robin, it does sound like your daily backup needs are at the far extreme end of what's typical for the average user. If Mozy is not working reliably for you, obviously you should make a switch. I am not taxing the nightly backup nearly so much just creating emails, text documents and spreadsheets with the occasional batch of photos or newly purchased MP3 album. I wonder if perhaps you should move beyond these kinds of inexpensive, lightweight services and opt for something aimed at enterprise users.

    There was a week in August when a Mozy update interfered with my (and a lot of people's) Time Capsule backups but it was corrected within days. I doubt any backup solution, online or off, is 100% reliable, which is exactly why we all need multiple strategies.

    It is very difficult to compare online backup services by long-term reliability since so much of what we read and see is anecdotal. I have argued that Mozy is a good deal and works well for most Mac users (http://gravitationalpull.net/wp/?p=1094) but I'm sure there are some people who disagree.
    ampressman
  • Carbonite for Mac???

    I've been using Carbonite on Windows for over a year and a half with no problems. I haven't used the Mac version of Carbonite so I can't say if it's just as trouble free. I'm also backing up only around 9 GB.

    Whatever online backup service works best for you, having multiple (3 or more) backups is necessary to protect your data. In addition to an online backup service, having an on-site backup for quick restores and off-site copies (in case the on-site backups are destroyed) would provide the minimal data protection needed.

    In any event, backups should be automatic and must support your specific recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). With all the backup options available these days, there's no excuse for losing data.
    Harry.Hiles@...
  • Extra 256 Mb Mozy Space

    Get an extra 256 Mb of space on a free Mozy Home account by using the following link:

    https://mozy.com/?code=D685JF
    ChiliPepr