Mac online backup that works

Windows users have many online backup choices: Carbonite, Mozy and more. Windows small and medium business users have even more, like Amerivault.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Windows users have many online backup choices: Carbonite, Mozy and more. Windows small and medium business users have even more, like Amerivault. Mac users - not so much. Until now.

A long and winding road 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. You can have unlimited online backup for $50 year - half of what .Mac charges for 10 GB.

Try it for free Mozy offers 2 GB of free backup. I encourage you to download the software and take advantage of the 2 GB trial size so you can see the software for yourself. Unlimited personal backup is only $5 a month.

The Mozy software The software isn't as simple or intuitive as Apple's Time Machine - but what is?. Mozy's configuration interface offers 2 windows. One called "Backup Sets" and one called "Files and Folders."

Most people can simply check the box to back up their user account. But if you store stuff outside your user account - video on a 2nd disk for instance - you need to wade through the interface to ensure you've protected everything. The backup sets option is an unneeded and confusing-for-many remnant of traditional backup software.

The Files and Folders interface is clearer. But most people won't know that they need to backup up their Library folder to save their email. Now that the basic functionality if there, Mozy should tune the interface for real home users, not Mac geeks.

When you go to restore a file you are presented with something that looks like a Finder window. Just drill down to the files you want and click restore.

What about the competition? Right now there isn't any. I've been hoping that Carbonite - whose software is a little less geeky - would have their Mac client out by now.

I pinged them last week, but no response. I'm not holding my breath.

Online backup is part of this well-balanced diet I live and work online: BBU on my main system; backup Mac; daily backups to a local FireWire drive; and I'm testing Time Machine. Data preservation is a top priority.

If your data is important to you, I recommend a daily local bootable backup AND an online backup. The local backup gives you the fastest possible recovery while the online backup protects your data from disasters like fire, flood and lightning strikes.

Security Mozy encrypts your data before it leaves your Mac. They don't keep a copy of your password, so they can't access your data even if they wanted to.

And really, with the FBI reading your emails, the NSA listening to your phone calls and Customs riffling through your notebook files, Mozy is the least of your worries.

About Mozy's parent company, EMC Mozy was an independent company until last year, when storage industry giant EMC bought them. The backing of a $14 billion company may make you feel better, but I've watched EMC for the last 15 years and I wasn't pleased.

EMC has a well-earned reputation for playing hardball with customers - and the occasional blogger. I angered one of their dimmer execs last year and he sic'd lawyers on me with an incredibly stupid cease and desist letter. And they never apologized.

So far EMC has been commendably hands-off with Mozy. They want to build EMC as a consumer brand - they just bought Iomega as well - so maybe a kinder, gentler EMC is emerging. In the meantime I'll be watching their Mozy Terms and Conditions like a hawk.

The Storage Bits take Mac users now have a solid option for online backup. The initial backup can take days or even weeks, so don't wait.

I do hope other competitors emerge. Online back should be part of everyone's digital diet.

Comments welcome, of course. Disclosure: I've been a paying Mozy customer for about a year and I've met Mozy's founder at a couple of conferences. I have no other dealings with the company.

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